Monsters & Martians — Science Fiction Monsters

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.


  1. Ah 🙂 Now we’re getting into my kind of monsters! Sci-fi does have some spectacular monsters but for me, the best are not monsters at all but simply alien, as in different.

    Given that humanity is the only role model we have, coming up with something truly different is…difficult. The following are a few of the best, imho.

    Top of the list is Ursula K. LeGuin’s ‘Left Hand of Darkness’. Probably one of the best explorations of what an intelligent alien race might be like.
    Next comes C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series. The first trilogy is probably the best.
    John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up is fantastic with a twist.
    And last but not least a little known book by Donald Kingsbury called Geta. There are hints that Geta’s aliens evolved to their present state from some form of humanity but that doesn’t detract from the innovative ideas in the book – not all of which are ‘pleasant’.

    • Candy

      ‘Left Hand of Darkness’ is my all-time favorite Science Fiction book. I don’t want to think about how many years ago I read it, but it still resonates! LeGuin’s handling of ‘the other’ is poetic and real. I may have to read it again, with my new monster-centric perspective and find out how I respond this time. Historically, people have demonized ‘the other.’ Anyone who is different is an outsider and is therefore suspect. The monstrous things people do to outsiders is always ripe for horror fiction — as well as Science Fiction. Umm… lots of territory here for writers.

  2. marvin korman

    Monsters, of course, come in all sizes and shapes, and can turn up in the strangest places: castles, dungeons, the Halls of Congress. The venues are endless. I, for one, am looking forward to reading many of their stories.