We see alien invasion of Earth in fiction all the time, but reverse is a rare sight.

There's only one example of this on top of my head right now: Avatar (2009)

I don't believe that Avatar was the first to show human invasion of an alien planet. Or, was it?

Which Sci-Fi work first showed human invasion of alien planets?

  • 5
    Do you mean invasion or colonisation? For example, Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein (published in 1959) depicts human military invasions of several alien planets, but not subsequent colonisation and resource exploitation as in Avatar.
    – Mike Scott
    Aug 4, 2020 at 4:52
  • @MikeScott Just the invasion. The purpose of invasion can be resource exploitation or other things.
    – user931
    Aug 4, 2020 at 12:32
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - 1968 by PKD.
    – Möoz
    Aug 7, 2020 at 3:46
  • Ender's Game, 1985 by OSC.
    – Möoz
    Aug 7, 2020 at 3:46
  • Depending on the accepted values of 'invasion', 'alien' and 'planet': 'From the Earth to the Moon': Jules Verne 1865. Members of a gun club attempt to 'invade' the moon (They end up getting stuck in lunar orbit due to an asteroidal near miss.)
    – mcalex
    Aug 7, 2020 at 8:40

7 Answers 7


Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898) by Garrett P. Serviss was an unauthorized sequel to H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds.

The plot is basically about Earth arming after repelling the Martian invasion, testing their fancy new ray gun (created by the titular Edison) and then embarking on a counter-invasion of Mars.

Set after the devastating Martian attack in the previous story, the novel depicts Edison leading a group of scientists to develop ships and weapons, including a disintegration ray, for the defence of Earth. Edison and company fight the aliens in space and on Mars, eventually causing a flood that defeats the enemy and forces an end to hostilities.

The book is now out of copyright, so it can be read at Project Gutenberg.

Note that while the Earth forces defeat the Martians, they don't remain as colonists; I have an alternative suggestion from 1900 if that is important.

  • 5
    This got accepted, so I guess it wasn't important. However, might as well add it to the bottom just in case someone else reading this question feels it is important (and not at all selfishly to satisfy my own personal curiosity. No siree!)
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 4, 2020 at 21:09
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    @T.E.D. I'll put it in a comment, since it isn't properly part of the answer. :) The story is The Struggle for Empire (1900) by Robert Williams Cole and if you ever find a copy, I'd love to hear about it! (I've only found references and brief summaries.)
    – DavidW
    Aug 4, 2020 at 21:14
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    The Earth forces won? You spoiled the ending! I never would've guessed! :) Aug 5, 2020 at 2:03
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    @DavidW good reading! Aug 5, 2020 at 11:41
  • @MichaelLowman That's excellent, thank you! I don't know how I missed that.
    – DavidW
    Aug 5, 2020 at 14:24

1887: Man Abroad: A Yarn of Some Other Century, an anonymous novel. Humans from earth invade the planet Venus. The Venusians are human colonists rather than indigenous lifeforms, but the question does not make this distinction.

WorldCat summary:

A fantastic classic science fiction tale from an anonymous late-19th century author. In a far-flung future, humanity has colonised the solar system. The story is set against a background of interplanetary war, with mighty electric spaceships riding the inter-system electric currents to battle in epic space warfare.

From Everett F. Bleiler's review in Science-Fiction: The Early Years, which you may be able to read at Google Books:

The time is not specified, but is far enough away for man to have colonized the whole solar system. The other planets and the asteroids are like earth, with similar atmosphere and gravity, and presumably similar vegetation.

[. . . .]

As the story opens, the Jupiterns [sic], who resent the earth's attempt to annex Luna, declare war. In a space battle the Jupiterns defeat the terrestrial navy, but this leads to their downfall, for among the prisoners of war are many highly skilled agents provocateurs who set off a general mutiny among their captors in the Jupitern armed forces. Other earth agents subvert the Jupiter–Venus alliance and sidetrack the Venusians into invading Jupiter to capture women, since women are in short supply on Venus. Venus then declares itself a republic.

At this point the earth counterattacks by invading Venus, thereby falling into war with Mercury, which resents earth interference on Venus. But then earth suddenly and inexplicably withdraws its forces when victory seems in sight.

The journalist Weber Lockmore, who is the central character for the later part of the novel, has a roving commission throughout the solar system. He makes a huge fortune on Mercury and accidentally discovers why earth withdrew its forces: The Senate was bribed. [. . . .]

  • Wow, look what you can find when you're given a challenge! :) Very nice.
    – DavidW
    Aug 5, 2020 at 13:41

Even earlier is the 1930 Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, a novel of vast scope which follows the development of humanity and its successors for hundreds of millions of years into the future. The Fifth Men invade and colonise Venus when Earth becomes uninhabitable.

From the Wikipedia article:

After clashing with and finally eliminating the Third and Fourth Men, they develop a technology greater than Earth had ever known before. When Earth ceases to be habitable, they terraform Venus, committing genocide on its marine native race which tries to resist them.

  • It's kinda sobering that it took until the Fifth round for another planet to be colonized...
    – anon
    Aug 4, 2020 at 14:19
  • 1
    @pplat It has been a few years since I read it, so I'm not sure, but if I recall correctly the 2nd Men already had colonies on Mars and had a war with the Martians.
    – Tonny
    Aug 4, 2020 at 14:31
  • Was also going to point to E.E. "Doc" Smith's work from around this era, though I'm not sure the Galactic Patrol bothered invading anything smaller than a galaxy... Aug 4, 2020 at 22:27

1932: A Conquest of Two Worlds, a novelette by Edmond Hamilton, first published in Wonder Stories, February 1932, available at the Internet Archive, reprinted in Startling Stories, January 1948, also available at the Internet Archive.

The two worlds conquered by Earthmen, against bitter resistance by natives who are ruthlessly suppressed, are Mars and Jupiter.

Here is the editorial blurb from the original publication in Hugo Gernsback's Wonder Stories:

Just as the white man had nothing to be proud of in his early conquest of the Americas, so the human race will hardly look back with pride if it manages to conquer the solar planets. The dominating force of greed is not expected to suddenly vanish when enterprising men roam the interplanetary spaces.

It is unfortunate that after brave and unselfish men have opened up new lands, the great profits that they bring go to financiers and business men who risk neither their lives nor their money.

Suppose, as Mr. Hamilton shows so dramatically, the selfish exploitation of other planets was being accomplished for greedy exploiters, and to conquer those worlds meant the decimation of its harmless population, would you aid in that process? Read this absorbing story, and then write us your opinions of the conduct of Mart Halkett. We will print the best letters.

Hamilton's protagonist, Mart Halkett, is a Terran commander who defects to the Jovian resistance.


I can certainly push this back to 1962 and H Beam Piper's novel Little Fuzzy (which has many similarities with Avatar).

Protagonist Jack Holloway lives a solitary life in a wilderness of planet Zarathustra, itself "owned" by the Chartered Zarathustra Company (under Victor Grego), which installed basic services and colonial outposts initially, and now reaps the benefits of new discoveries, such as the valuable "sunstones" mined by Holloway until he befriends a tiny, golden-furred humanoid that he names "Little Fuzzy". Little Fuzzy brings his family/tribe to meet Holloway and the lot of them promptly adopt Holloway as well. Upon discovery that the Fuzzies' intelligence may qualify them as a sapient species, the Company moves against them.

The novel is out of copyright, and can be found here. John Scalzi has taken advantage of this to publish his own rewritten version.

  • If I remember correctly, it was originally a short story (although the short story may have come later; I just remember that there was a short story version of this) Aug 5, 2020 at 0:04

"A True Story" is a novel written in the second century AD by Lucian of Samosata. In it the heroes travel to the Moon and engage in warfare with the King of the Moon.


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    Quoting Wikipedia: Shortly after leaving the island, they are caught up by a whirlwind and taken to the Moon, where they find themselves embroiled in a full-scale war between the king of the Moon and the king of the Sun over colonization of the Morning Star. This won't be called an invasion.
    – user931
    Aug 5, 2020 at 8:00
  • can delete answer if you wish? Aug 5, 2020 at 8:08
  • 1
    No need. This answer can serve the purpose of preventing others from answering the same.
    – user931
    Aug 5, 2020 at 8:54
  • 1
    Right you are. It's still pretty impressive no? A scifi novel that predates the collapse of the Roman Empire. And people say HG Wells was far-sighted! Aug 7, 2020 at 9:36

I doubt it's the first, but I can push the date back to 1972: Ursula K Le Guin's "The Word for World is Forest". Brief summary from Wikipedia

In The Word for World is Forest, the second thought experiment is the colonization of a pacifist culture on the planet Athshe by a military-controlled logging team from Earth, known in the novel as "Terra"; additionally, the inhabitants of Athshe recognize the people from Terra as human, but the Terrans do not see the Athsheans, who are small and covered in green fur, as human.

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