Vast and Cold and Unsympathetic

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An excerpt from an email conversation I've been having with a friend:

"That being said, a different sort of story about an alien invasion modeled on the conquest of the new world would be extremely interesting. Better yet, model it on China or India, which were carved up by colonial powers then mastered the alien technology, gained independence, taught the aliens something new, and became major world players.
My problem with War of the Worlds is that I am far more interested with the long term consequences of the invasion than with the invasion itself. I don't like how the disease makes everything go back the way it was.  That never happens with a foreign conquest. Look at Africa, which is a pretty good match for war of the worlds. Even though the foreigners were subject to African diseases and set up few successful colonies, they still radically changed Africa's history. Imagine if that happened in war of the worlds.  The Martians mostly die, but they still have destroyed most of Earth's infrastructure. The next time they come, they do not try to live here, but enslave us to mine resources. Earth is carved into regions controlled by various Martian factions, and as the factions fight, humans are conscripted, traded, killed, or ignored.  When human states are left to become independent, they'd evolve into anarchy or dictatorship.  A story set in this world would consist of solving these problems, and readers would learn something about the situation in Africa, and what they might do about that.

Actually that's kind of an awesome idea.  The story could be set now, in the 2000s.  The history of the 20th century was one of war with various Martian colonial powers.  Some of them want to establish colonies on Earth, which necessitate pressurized domes and sterilization of huge tracks of land.  Others want resources or slaves.  Others want to set up missionaries to spread their religions.  Others don't particularly care about the Earth, but want to use it as a staging point to get to Venus (imagine human slaves being taken to work on the Venus terreforming, forming a triangle trade rout between Mars, Earth, and Venus).  The moon is also useful real-estate.  The history of the twentieth century is composed of some countries falling apart, others striking deals with the Martians, and others frantically trying to reverse-engineer Martian technology and build some sort of defenses.  The Martians, meanwhile, are busily having their own wars and technological developments.  This could be a fascinating way to examine Africa, Europe, and the New World in the 15 and 16 hundreds.  Dude!"
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anonymous's avatar
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d4rk3ry's avatar
good idea...that will be a good story i would read.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Thanks! I actually wrote a short story set in that universe. PM me with your email address and I'll send it to you ;)
bensen-daniel's avatar
By the way, here are the rsults so far of these discussions:
The original discussion of the idea: ([link])
The design of a Martian: ([link])
Map of mars: ([link])
Continents of mars: ([link])
Martian races: ([link])
Martian religions: ([link])
Martian economic blocks: ([link])
Rayn-Hammer's avatar
Rayn-HammerHobbyist General Artist
Would diseases from Earth (or any other planet for that matter) even effect organisms from another planet, or would something so "simple" effect anything no matter it's origin, even if it takes some time for it to evolve to take on a new type of host?
bensen-daniel's avatar
Well, usually I'd say no, of course we have absolutely no basis for comparison, but it seems like it would be a huge coincidence for the life of two planets to share all the same amino-acids. There would probably be problems with any kind of interactions between the two biotas.

That being said, this project of mine is based on the premise that H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds is History. So obviously Earthly and Martian biotas can interact, since our bacteria kill them. Let's say this is because (due to asteroids carrying single-celled organisms from one planet to the other) Martian and Earthly life share their basic chemistry. Our diseases are interchangeable, and we can eat food from eachother's worlds and get nutrition from it.
Rayn-Hammer's avatar
Rayn-HammerHobbyist General Artist
These are my opinions as well, just wanted to see if others felt the same. Thank you!
Piatnitskysaurus's avatar
In the vein of HG Wells, what about the post-story scenario for some of his other works.

What strikes me here is "Food of the Gods" where the story leaves you completely in the dark about who wins and who loses, it's only indicated that there's a huge conflict.

I can't help but imagine the main characters losing or going into exile, and "the food" still spreading unstoppably through the ecosystem. This of course would produce more giants, both human, animal, invertebrate, and plant. Then I could imagine the situation gradually pushing the "pygmies" into more and more marginal positions, either that or someone develops a chemical to counteract "the food". It would be interesting to see what would dominate in 1000 years time.
bensen-daniel's avatar
eh. The laws of physics make this one kind of hard to swallow. Humans just can't grow that big. Besides, there's a reason the median heights for different species are what they are. It seems like 9 feet is the absolute upper limit, and there are all sorts of associated health problems. Natural selection would push HARD to bring things back to normal.
Piatnitskysaurus's avatar
Well, mind you, if all that was included in the book's continuity, it wouldnt have been written at all. Humans and animals can't be hybridised by a magic serum, but Wells still wrote "The Island of Dr Morau".

By mentioning Food of The Gods I'm obviously stating that there's some big suspension of disbelief involved, in order to stop the whole individual idea from tanking badly. And some would say that just as much is needed in a story of Alien Invasion, seeing as we know about as much about aliens now as we did back then.

And the whole Natural Selection thing just doesnt hold in the actual book, the bigger animals somehow manage to do even better than their smaller counterparts, just look at the rats, for example.
Piatnitskysaurus's avatar
Wow, that sounds neat :D

So long as it doesnt feature Tom Cruise, I'm all for it.

It would be interesting if the Martians developed a liking for humans as pets. I would guess it would be like keeping an alligator, great while they're small and cute, but then they get released/killed when they get too big and ornery.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Well, they'll probably keep humans as slaves. But yes, that would be an interesting character:
Man raised as a pet in a Martian upperclass family. They kick him out though when he gets into a fight over a girl.
Piatnitskysaurus's avatar
Yeah, I agree. That would be cool.
souhjiro's avatar
Very cool setup, but aren´t the Wellsian Martians looking to Homo sapiens more like an edible animal than a slave species prospect?
bensen-daniel's avatar
I need to read the book again. I've been skimming it, and as far as I can tell no one knows why they are capturing humans. One guy thinks they want to breed us as pets or domestic animals.

Anyway, although I'm sure the Martians would have no moral problems eating people, there are more efficient ways to get meat. What people are good at is building things and following orders, and that is what the Martians will use us for.
Sphenacodon's avatar
That's a fascinating idea. The ending of WoTW always did seem too deus ex machina, and this one makes a lot more sense. The aliens would probably get resistant to the viruses with time, too.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Well, H.G. Wells's purpose wouldn't have been served by talking about the aftermath of the invasion. He wanted to tall people that what the British Empire was doing with native peoples was wrong. So I don't want to change that, I just want to extend the story. Clearly, the Earth has resources the Martians want, and even though the first invasion fails, a second invasion takes place in 1924, during the next great Opposition. This time, the Martians take pains not to expose themselves to the Earth's atmosphere, and the whole thing is done in a more organized and professional way by an alliance of seven martian nations. (the first was a private venture composed of Martians from only one nation). Rather than landing immediately, they set up orbital platforms and a base on the moon, from which they bombard the earth with rocks. Only then do they descend and begin to organize colonial domains. Sterile habitations are erected for the Martians, and steps are taken to develop drugs that will protect them from Earth's bacteria.
Sphenacodon's avatar
Ah, okay. I got the wrong idea, sorry.

What hope is there for humanity, then?
bensen-daniel's avatar
Well, if by hope you mean "hope that things will return back to the way they were before the invasion" the answer is "none."

I choose to define hope, however as "hope that we can do the most good for the great number of people." In the same way, invaded and colonized peoples on Earth can never have things back they way they were (and I am willing to bet many don't actually want that). However, they can become players in the world. Look at China, look at India, look at the Middle East. They are in no way the same as they were before the Europeans came, but they have become major world powers.

So no, the humans will never defeat the Martians, drive them off the Earth, and return to the idyllic days of a human-only Earth, but they can make themselves equal players to the Martians, politically, economically, militarily, and culturally. That's the happy ending.
Sphenacodon's avatar
That... just makes sense, actually, from an entirely utilitarian point of view. So it's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine?

But I digress. That's a refreshing alternative to the general idea of aliens as "we come in peace, shoot to kill!" Frankly, right now, maybe Martians dominating the Earth as more-or-less benign dictators would be the only thing that could hold humanity together. They might get to live (and perhaps evolve) into some sort of symbiosis.

What about the other Martians? Might there not be extremists/fundamentalists/whatever bent on eradicating the human plague? Is all of Mars backing the invasion?
bensen-daniel's avatar
Those are some really good points. In terms of positive effects of the invasion/occupation. I am thinking
a) a space-elevator (which we will never build on our own unless they resurrect Arthur C. Clarke and make him the zombie-emperor)
b) industrialization of what would otherwise be third world countries in South America, Africa, and Asia
c) prevention of the nastier instances of genocide in the 20th century (no Holocaust, no ethnic cleansing in Africa and the middle east, no forced resettlement in the USSR etc)
There might also be some fellow-feeling amongst humans fostered by the fact that there are these non-human invaders hovering over them. On the other hand, some disgruntled nations will use the Martian presence to settle scores. India might lash out against the English Raj, for example, when Martian rule breaks up the British empire. There will be Martian collaborators, both individually (profiteers eager to sell to the Martians) and nationally (mostly disadvantaged nations hoping to gain favor with the new power). Resistance groups might form around the “we’re all humans together” idea, or as “keep Zimbabwe pure!” xenophobia, or “The Lord Shield us from Evil” religious zealotry. Probably we’ll see all three kinds or freedom fighters, and of them will be regarded by the Martians, of course, as terrorists. In places where education is poorest (those nations hit hardest by the invasion, in other words the pre-invasion world powers), terrorist organizations will be the strongest and the most violent. These areas will be the most destabilized when the Martians begin to pull out at the beginning of the 21st century, and the more developed countries (South and Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America) will be called upon to pacify Europe and North America.
That being said, the will probably also be some atrocities committed by the Martians against humans. National borders will be drawn in ways that are convenient for Martians, not for us (imagine Europe with its borders redrawn into nice big squares. Russia and china chopped into smaller segments. The British empire ruthlessly truncated). Troublesome populations might be relocated. Martian political factions will play local human leaders off each other (as NATO and the USSR did in Africa and South America), making political stability impossible. Valuable resources stripped out of the land and sold out from under the people on top of them. Likely the places with the most resources will end up the worse off (as in modern Africa---the most horrible dictatorships are the countries that have the most oil or gold).
Interspecies cooperation is possible. In the districts that support high-level Martian-style education, humans will work with Martians in scientific fields. Human politicians might gain high level positions interfacing with the Martian Administration. Artistic prodigies might receive high regard on both worlds. Eventually, recourse-rich Earth may end up manufacturing most of Mars’s space fleet, which both worlds can use to explore the outer solar system.
Certainly Martian opinion on Earth should run the gamut from “don’t hurt the pretty natives” to “ANOTHER uprising in Manhattan? Someone drop a meteor on the damn island already” to “sterilize the Third Rock from the Sun! The Tentacle of God demands it!” Likewise, there will be a diversity of opinion about the morality of human slavery.
The Martians themselves, meanwhile, are not politically unified, any more than Earth is. There are seven distinct powers behind the second invasion (there was one behind the first), and several more that do not take part in the invasion. There are at least two major alliance groupings, and several major religions. There are Martian races, and Martian ethnicities. There may or may not be a Mars-wide war (hot or cold), which the Earth gets dragged into. More details than that, I do not know. I’ve downloaded a high-res map of Mars. I intend to draw national border lines all over it :) Any input?
Sphenacodon's avatar
Wow. So much to read through and digest...

Also, if there are different Martian factions at work on Earth, each might have different attitudes to their "charges", with some allowing them autonomy and others oppressing them.

The politicking that'll go on as government evolves also has the potential to be labyrinthine (coming from a country which changed hands several times over the last century, I can really see that happening on a huge scale). Will Martians allow humans to self-govern with a Martian diplomat looking over, or will the Martians rule directly? Probably both, depending on the Martian faction and the cooperativeness of the humans.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Yeah,the Martian stuff is kind of scattered around. I can email you the .doc file with a table of contents.

I agree with you exactly. There will be different regimes. All I know so far is the one in England will be unusually brutal. One of the equatorial regimes (either in Africa or South America) will be fairly progressive and will build a space elevator.

Yes, Lebanon is (sorry) a good model for what would happen to the whole Earth during the invasion. There are several foriegn and domestic powers, each with a different picture of what it wants any particular region to do and be. I'm thinking that by the end of the 20th century, there will be a few independent human states, probably still economically tied to their colonial powers, but relatively free. Others will have independent Martian governments. A few will have colonial governments with appointed Martian ministers. There will also be chronically unsettled regions, where no government is possible.
whalewithlegs's avatar
"huge tracts of land" XD

I read a comic a while back that had some similar premises, though it involved no aliens per se .. just explored what the technological influence would have been from captured martian technology after the 1st invasion.
bensen-daniel's avatar
XD I wasn't even aware of that when I said it

Yes, I saw it on the sight that thomasapir recommended. It looks really cool. Kind of naive, though. First, was England the only landing site of that first invasion?

Second, and more importantly, the scenario doesn't make sense. Think about sub-saharan Africa, which had contact with Europe in the form of Portuguese traders from at least the 1500s. There was a period of three hundred years between those first contact events and serious European colonization of Africa in the 1800s. Many attempts at European colonies failed because of disease (just like in War of the Worlds) and yes no African nation reverse-engineered muskets or steam power.

In my scenario, the first Martian invasion is the failed gambit of wild-eyed speculators like Cortez and Pizaro. The difference is that whereas disease helped the Conquistadors, in WotW it kills them. Likely the same thing happened to many would-be African conquerors. But we can expect more colonization attempts to follow.
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