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Today, we live in a world in which the term alien is a common thing. But, if you move few centuries back, this won't be true. We should be grateful to that great writer who laid the foundation stone of the concept of (intelligent) creatures living on another planets.

Which Sci-Fi work introduced the idea of "Aliens"?

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    This one is actually Older than Dirt: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraterrestrials_in_fiction#Pre-modern – user8719 Apr 3 '15 at 17:14
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    Yep. My cursory research suggests that the Greek philosophers theorised about life on other planets, especially the moon and Mars. – Valorum Apr 3 '15 at 17:18
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    You should probably clarify what you mean by "Aliens". I assume that you mean something like "sentient beings from another planet or dimension, but not including purely religious/spiritual figures such as gods, spirits, angels and the like or purely legendary figures such as leprechauns, fairies, mermaids and such or monsters such as vampires, ghouls and goblins." Or, to put it another way, purely mundane beings from other worlds or dimensions. – Joe L. Apr 3 '15 at 17:18
  • @JoeL I think, Sci-Fi word rules out gods, spirits, angels etc. – Baby Yoda Apr 3 '15 at 17:21
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    @SS-3.1415926535897932384626433 Not really. Notice that this StackExchange is called "Science Fiction and Fantasy". The line between the two isn't quite that clear cut. Consider The Twilight Zone. They frequently had episodes involving the supernatural, even direct involvement of God, Satan, angels, and demons, but it's probably considered "science fiction" by most. – jpmc26 Apr 4 '15 at 7:40
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The first extraterrestrial aliens referenced in a known work of fiction is likely "A True Story" written in 160AD by the Greek philosopher and satirist Lucian of Samosatis as a parody of other works of traveling fiction:

Near them stood the Puppycorns, who were sent him by the inhabitants of the Dog-star, five thousand dog-faced men who fight on the back of winged acorns.

You can access the full text (and an English translation for those poorly-educated people who don't happen to speak Ancient Greek) here.

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    Haha.. What is Dog-star? A planet? – Baby Yoda Apr 3 '15 at 17:26
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    For the record, Greek philosophers has been seriously theorising about the presence of extra-terrestrial life in the solar system for over a hundred years before this story was written. – Valorum Apr 3 '15 at 17:26
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    @SS-3.1415926535897932384626433 - It's a star, otherwise known as Sirius in the constellation of Canis Major. The reference is a pun on the fact that someone from Canis (otherwise known as the Dog Star) would therefore look like a dog. – Valorum Apr 3 '15 at 17:27
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    @AdamYoshi - That seems like a very arbitrary (and personal) value-judgement. The Theologus Autodidactus, for example, predates the concept of a scientific method by a hundred years but is very clearly a work of forward-looking scifi – Valorum Nov 27 '15 at 22:46
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    So you can have science fiction without science? – Adam Yoshi Nov 27 '15 at 22:53
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Reaching a bit, but this answer on Judaism.SE tentatively suggests that aliens are alluded to indirectly in the Bible (Judges 5.23 in the English/Christian version). The book in question would have been written before 500 BCE, and the interpretation of the verse as referring to off-worlders presumably dates back to at least 200 CE (the linked answer attributes it to Mo'ed Kattan which AIUI is part of the Mishnah).

If nothing else, this (in combination with Lucian) probably indicates that the concept was no longer unique and had entered mainstream culture by that point.


N.B. since the question asks about the history of the concept, I reckon the Bible's status as a work of fiction or non-fiction is completely irrelevant to this answer.

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    While it may be interesting and relevant to cite Biblical influences, the question clearly asks for the first "work of science fiction", which this answer doesn't really provide. – KutuluMike Apr 4 '15 at 17:07
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I know that in Hindu mythology that demi-gods and gods were known to live on different planets. The Vedas in which these are written would be much earlier then the current answers. If you asked in Hinduism stack exchange you could probably get solid references and dates.

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    +1 because I think this is interesting, but I think it's hard to argue that the Vedas are "science fiction" – Jason Baker Apr 4 '15 at 2:21
  • I am familiar with Hinduism. Vedas don't have any God or Demi-God or Supernatural Creature in it. Talking about other (really) religious texts, there's no concept of planets at all. – Baby Yoda Apr 4 '15 at 5:53
  • @SS-3.1415926535897932384626433 It is strange that you would say a religious text contains no mention of God, especially for Hinduism which is a polytheistic religion. Please read here for further information: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedic_mythology – Neil Apr 6 '15 at 3:38
  • Also here is a link where someone uses passages from the Rig Veda to explain planetary motion in the Solar System: agniveer.com/vedas-and-motion-of-planets – Neil Apr 6 '15 at 3:53
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    Vedas are ancient encyclopedias of knowledge gathered at the time (like Yoga, Meditation, Organic Medicines). They don't have baseless things like Gods. – Baby Yoda Apr 6 '15 at 4:47

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