Once the monsters of the deep, dark sea and the deep, dark woods seemed less probable — with exploration and development chipping away at the possibility of monsters lurking just beyond the reach of civilization — monsters in the sky took hold.
Science fiction is filled with monstrous alien beings. Sometimes they visit the earth, causing panic. Orson Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ is the most famous extraterrestrial induced panic-attack, but the invasions continue to inspire fear. I’m particularly fond of the original ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’
Many of these alien invasion films are metaphors for the foibles of humanity. ‘District 9’ is an outstanding example. Who, you ask yourself, are the true monsters in this film — the humans or the giant, scary creatures? Warning, if you haven’t seen this one, I was so engrossed and on the edge of my seat, I ignored my overpriced popcorn. I simply couldn’t eat with my heart in my mouth. (Great film!)
In many science fiction books and films, humans are the explorers and/or invaders. The astronauts encounter ‘monsters’ on their own turf. If you’re interested in a trip back to an earlier kind of adventure story, check out Edgar Rice Burroughs ‘The Princess of Mars.’ It reads like an old-fashioned Western adventure merged with familiar science fiction concepts of monsters.
If you read a lot of current science fiction, it will strike you as quaint but it’s still fun and a good way to get an insight into another place and time. It was written in 1912 and is now available for free as an ebook. At that price — no fan of Martian fiction should miss it.