Which fictional work (of any format) was the first to feature the abduction of a human from Earth by aliens?

In particular, did this work precede the first reports of purported abductions in the media, or did it come later?

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    i immediately thought of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_of_the_Silent_Planet but then i remembered it wasnt an alien abduction, but a human on human abduction from earth to another planet, but it is from 38 so its a quite old sci-fi abduction story haha. – Himarm Jun 24 '15 at 18:58
  • @Himarm : Nice one! That might work, actually. – Praxis Jun 24 '15 at 19:05
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    People claimed Zeus stole them away to probe them. So older than dirt. – user16696 Jun 24 '15 at 22:46
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    @cde : Lol. But...was he a god or an alien? (I'm sure there was at least one question about Loki's god status not that long ago.) – Praxis Jun 24 '15 at 23:02
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    On a practical point, that's where Clarke's Third Law comes in. – user16696 Jun 24 '15 at 23:06

If you are looking for a strict abduction, then in 1946, Planet Comics, a science fiction comic book title ran a story in the July issue detailing how aliens used a luminous tractor beam to kidnap an Earth woman who they labeled "Specimen 9". You can read the comic online here (Link provided by @user14111, page 15 of 52).

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They evidently need her to help their race survive, as she was told that she was part of "Project Survival", as they took her to out near Saturn, as outlined in this web article.

There is some evidence of earlier reports (Part I, Part II) both in media and local lore, going as far back as the late 19th century, but I don't know the provenance of such reports.

  • Really nice find! If you can find the year of the first reported / purported abduction in the media (for comparison purposes), you will have struck gold. :-) – Praxis Jun 24 '15 at 23:04
  • @user14111 - A couple of different web sites cited the Planet Comics as the first abduction, I didn't find anything else. That isn't to say that there isn't, just that info is somewhat scarce. :) – JohnP Jun 24 '15 at 23:52
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    @user14111 : I'm definitely interested...feel free to post an answer! – Praxis Jun 25 '15 at 3:59
  • @user14111 - Definitely do. I couldn't find anything else, I'm also interested! – JohnP Jun 25 '15 at 14:32
  • @Praxis - Added a little bit of information. – JohnP Jun 25 '15 at 14:45

Kurd Laßwitz "Auf zwei Planeten" (Two planets) from 1897 might qualify, at least if your idea of abduction does not necessarily include violence. In the book human explorers strand on a Martian bridgehead at the North Pole. The Martians want to take one of them to their home planet, however their ethics do not allow for outright abduction (but still they don't want to take no for an answer). After a while convince one of the humans to go to Mars (and he later returns).

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    Abduction : the action of forcibly taking someone away against their will. I don't think it counts if they just persuaded them to come along. – Daft Jun 24 '15 at 19:32
  • Nice work. I guess I implicitly am looking for taken against one's will, as @Daft points out, but this is very interesting because it is pre-20th Century and because it contains the idea that aliens want to take humans away with them. I wonder if this is the earliest example of this notion. – Praxis Jun 24 '15 at 19:33
  • @Daft, I was struggling how to put this. That the Martians want to force humans to oblige yet want to keep pretending (even to themselves) that they are incapable of violence is indeed what the book is all about. – Eike Pierstorff Jun 24 '15 at 19:40
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    Passive Aggressive Abduction? – user16696 Jun 24 '15 at 23:04

"The Star Mouse" (1942) by Fredric Brown is about an Earthling who is abducted, modified, and returned to Earth by space aliens. However, the Earthling is a mouse, and he is abducted not from the surface of the Earth but from a rocket en route to the Moon, so I'm not sure it counts. Instead I will nominate:

1936: "The Human Pets of Mars", a novella by Leslie Francis Stone, first published in Amazing Stories, October 1936, available at the Internet Archive. Here is an excerpt from Everett F. Bleiler's description in Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years:

Place: Washington, D.C., and Mars. * The gigantic, glowing, drum-shaped vessel settles down in Washington, and several fifty-foot-tall creatures like gigantic octopi emerge. Since they make no hostile moves, and seem to be simply sightseeing, they are not molested while they wander the streets of Washington. But as they return to their vessel they seize individuals from the streets and make off with them. Police shoot, but the ten-tentacled octopi (called decapods), clad in golden, glowing armor, are impervious. Two members of the Bureau of Standards, Brett Rand and George Worth, who had crept into the vessel, are also taken prisoner. * They all awaken in a strange milieu, where the gigantic decapods maintain a high civilization. After examination by the rulers, the Earth people are taken one by one by individual decapods to their dwellings, where it soon becomes obvious that the captives are considered pets, not well-tended pets, but ill-treated, misunderstood, arbitrarily mishandled pets. * It is not clear how many Earth people were taken, for several were vivisected, but those who stay in the story for various periods of time seem to number about fifteen.

In the end a few of the captives escape and make their way back to Earth in a commandeered Martian spacecraft.

  • I really like this, user14111, +1!! I think JohnP's answer is closest so far to what I am seeking, especially given the reference in the article he links to (about origins of alien abduction stories). But I'm happy that you posted this, thanks! :-) – Praxis Jun 25 '15 at 19:44
  • Thank you for the edits on my post. I saw them last night (Just got back from travel) but was too tired to edit them in. Appreciate the assist. – JohnP Jul 16 at 19:45
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    Ah, my mistake. I saw that you had edited and that the link you provided had disappeared, I didn't check the history. I'll get that added. – JohnP Jul 16 at 20:52

The earliest, overtly scifi version, that I can find is The Whisperer in Darkness (1931). However, I asked Jess Nevins about this a few years ago, and he contends that it's probably an evolution from the stories of fairies etc kidnapping humans.

  • That's quite an evolution. Actually, the identity takeover by the Great Race in "The Shadow Out of Time" is closer, as a changeling is not left behind by the Fungi from Yuggoth. – Oldcat Jun 25 '15 at 21:08

In Hugo Gernsback's futuristic novel Ralph 124C41+ (1911) a visiting Martian scientist falls in love with Ralph's girlfriend and abducts her, this being sort of an alien abduction.

No doubt a lot of other ETs in the pulps kidnapped people for various reasons

  • Ah yes, I remember that from reading the 1958 paperback. Have you verified that the Martian abduction is in the original 1911 serial? – user14111 Jun 25 '15 at 7:51
  • @M.A.Golding : Thanks for this, I appreciate it. This is a good reference, +1! I think JohnP's reference is so far the closest to what I am looking for, as it is a more like alien abduction in the sense of what people report in the media and what has become the "standard scenario" depicted by The X-Files, etc. – Praxis Jun 25 '15 at 19:46
  • User14111 - No, I only read the paperback version and don't know what plot elements may have been added to it. Although 1958 was a little late to add a Martian who could flourish in Earthly conditions. – M. A. Golding Jun 27 '15 at 6:12

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