Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's Been Done

According to IO9:

Tom Scott imagined a scenario where everyone else in the universe was afraid of humans. It's fantastic.

The premise of the video, Danger: Humans, is simple, it's a PSA from the Interstellar Safety Council notifying alien races how terrifyingly dangerous and awful humans can be. The video is perfect because it turns basic everyday things that humans do into something much more frightening (and completely true), like eating other life forms for sustenance. The PSA video also admits some of our weak points which is our need for oxygen and comedically, our self-delusion but it does stress that if humans reach another planet that has oxygen, we will take it over.

It's fascinating to imagine the other side in a sci-fi story, like if we were the aliens who invaded somebody else's home planet and wanted to take it over and not the other way around (as it is in most movies). It's a premise—humans as the bad guys—that should be explored in more movies and stories. We don't know what's out there, we don't know where we rank, so why can't we be the people most feared in the universe?

It's been done. This was common in Campbell-era ASF, based on the theory that humans are about to take over the universe and, since any ETs out there have not taken over the universe, they must be inferior to humans in the universe-taking-over business.

It was enough of a cliche to create reactions. For example, Asimov tended to avoid including interstellar colonialism by writing about an all-human galaxy. (The reason ETs have not taken over the galaxy is that they aren't there.) Another reaction could be found in “Original Sin” by Vernor Vinge in which the ETs were more aggressive than humans but too quarrelsome to cooperate enough to build a civilization.

This type of story hasn't been that popular recently. I was about to cite Birthright: The Book of Man by Mike Resnick as a recent example but it was written over three decades ago.


Anonymous TJIC said...

I recall one great story by - I think Alan Dean Foster. Or, at least, I thought it was great when I was 12.

Ten thousand years after the alien alliance has (barely) beaten overly war-like humanity back to Earth, they encounter even worse they decide that they need humans to help them.

They send an emissary to Earth, which is locked inside a force field, which keeps humanity in. At first the emissary is dubious, because the surface of the planet is covered with low-tech farms and forests. The emissary contacts one human, who consults with the others. "OK, we'll help you fight, once you drop the shield."

The alien is dubious - what can these simple farmers do? Perhaps they've been caged up too long.

The alien takes a deep breath and says "OK, the shield is down; we'll send ships."

"Oh, no, that won't be necessary".

And then a huge crystaline pyramid, a thousand kilometers tall, rises from the Atlantic ocean...and the entire Earth begins to accelerate towards the battle.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Cambias said...

Humans as a menace or blight is such a tedious old SF trope. I for one am sick of it.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Rick T said...

The ADF story is "With Friends Like These"

3:54 PM  

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