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Why on Earth Would Aliens Attack Us?
A popular, over-used theme in science fiction literature and movies is aliens from another planet invading the earth and taking over human civilization. Sometimes there is a slightly different slant on this idea and the aliens don't take over our planet, but they do try to destroy the earth and wipe out the human race. This theme was first made popular by HG Wells in his 1898 novel “War of the Worlds”. Wells was not the first to describe an alien invasion, but he popularized the idea and now we are constantly bombarded by this theme of alien invasion in countless SciFi novels, short stories and movies. As our culture should reflect reality, I feel compelled to ask the question-where are all these aliens?
Since the 80s, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been searching the heavens for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other worlds. So far they have found no signs of alien civilizations much less civilizations that want to invade and take us over. Still, because it plays on our human fears, the SciFi world is full of stories of aliens with superior technology invading our planet. Is this realistic? It should be noted that in the story lines of the Star Trek TV series and movies, Kirk and Spock have saved the planet earth from destruction a total of 5 times. This is unrealistic and brings up the question of how, in the Star Trek world, did our planet managed to survive all these billions of years without Kirk and Spock?
Let's look at some of the weak justifications over the years that SciFi writers have given for the horde of alien invasions. There is an old justification that aliens might decide to use us as food. Damon Knight's 1950s short story “To Serve Man” is probably the first to use this idea. The story was later adapted into an unforgettable episode of The Twilight Zone. The original “V” television miniseries also used this justification. This justification is hardly likely. Wouldn't an alien race find the species on their own planet tastier and more nutritious? I find it hard to believe that human beings would be such a delicacy that aliens would travel millions of light years to earth to eat us. Think about it. If you were exploring Mars or Europa, and you found a strange looking lizard or insect creature crawling along the ground, would you feel an urge to pop the thing in your mouth and start chewing on it? I don't think so.
Another old invasion justification is that the human race has become capable of space travel and therefore somehow become a threat to the alien race. Examples of this SciFi idea are: Arthur C Clarke's 1946 short story “Loophole”, Orson Scott Card's 1991 novel “Ender's Game” and the 1951 classic movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. This justification doesn't make much sense ether. Any alien civilization is probably so far away that we represent no threat. Also how can an alien race with a superior technology and faster than light speed travel be threatened by the humans on earth who are just beginning space travel?
interesting justification in SciFi culture is that the aliens might invade the
earth for entertainment. This is seen in Robert Silverberg's 1967 novella “Nightwings”-where
aliens invade the earth so they can use it for tourism and the 1987 movie
A more modern excuse in SciFi culture for aliens attacking us is our poor stewardship of our planet's environment. Examples of this are the 1987 movie “Star Trek: the Voyage Home”, The 2008 remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, and Robin Cook's 1997 novel “Invasion”. Well let's think about it. If the aliens have the technology to travel light years to earth and destroy the human race, they would have the ability to talk to us and teach us how to better take care of our planet and protect all the diverse life on our world.
Lastly, it was suggested in the 1996 movie “Independence Day” that aliens would attack the earth in order to exploit our planet’s natural resources. This was an idea that was also used in reverse in the 2009 movie “Avatar”. Once again I have to be a kill-joy and destroy this absurd fantasy. Wouldn't it be more cost effective for an alien civilization find natural resources on a world that is closer to their home planet? It is a matter of logistics and economics. Also, wiping out the human race is an extra cost that would cut into profit margins. It's best to go to closer uninhabited planets to exploit natural resources.
I'd love to write some more on this absurd, over-worked SciFi idea, but a huge Martian cylinder has just landed in my backyard. There are some odd creatures coming out of the cylinder and they are now erecting a tall, tripod-walking war machine. They have a very sinister-looking death ray mounted on the top of the war machine. Umm, forget about all the stuff I just wrote. I think I better sign off now. I think it's gonna be a really bad day.
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