Xenoforming

Tagged: Theme

A term logically based on the more familiar Terraforming, to denote the (usually gradual) transformation of a world to suit Alien rather than Earth-human Biology and Ecology.

The highest sf drama arises when xenoforming attempts are initiated by Extraterrestrials wishing to transform Earth for their own purposes. The Red Weed introduced by invading Martians in H G Wells's The War of the Worlds (1898) may be intended as part of such a process. Xenoforming of Earth takes place successfully in Thomas M Disch's The Genocides (1965), where humanity is reduced to vermin infesting alien crops; unsuccessfully, thanks to a little help from other aliens, by a spectrum of electromechanically based lifeforms in Philip E High's No Truce with Terra (1964 dos); and with uncertain outcome in David Gerrold's unfinished War Against the Chtorr sequence beginning with A Matter for Men (1983; rev 1989), in which a highly complex and unpleasant alien Ecology establishes itself on Earth. The titular aliens of John Christopher's Tripods trilogy, beginning with The White Mountains (1967), plan to replace Earth's atmosphere with one more like their own once the conquest is complete. In Theodore Sturgeon's "Occam's Scalpel" (August 1971 If), the notion that Earth's ongoing Pollution problem results from attempted xenoforming is presented as a hoax backed by a fake alien, but with a suggestion that this may nevertheless be the truth. Similarly, the film Arrival II (1998) ascribes global warming (see Climate Change) to xenoforming by aliens who want to make Earth as hot as their own dying planet.

Roger Zelazny's "The Keys to December" (August 1966 New Worlds) is a borderline case in which human-descended but Genetically Engineered "Coldworld Catforms", whose intended colony world has been destroyed, resort to transforming another to suit their needs (such as an ambient temperature of minus 50°C).

The Television series Defiance (2013-current) and its Videogame spinoff Defiance (2013) are set on a future Earth much changed by xenoforming; Aliens initiate the process during the action of another Videogame, Crysis (2007). [DRL]

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