Created By: ProfessorThascales on September 3, 2012 Last Edited By: ProfessorThascales on December 17, 2013

Incomprehensible Alien Invasion

Alien/s invade/conquer/do bad things to the earth for reasons which cannot be understood

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Alien/s invade/conquer/do bad things to Earth. They are so mysterious and unknowable that humans can barely guess at their motives. They do strange, magical-realist type things to Earth that makes human life much more difficult, or may kill many or all humans. In some examples, humans aren't able to resist effectively; in others, there's no way to even attempt it.

To be an example of this trope, the alien or alien's motives must never be revealed in the story.

Do We Have This One?

Examples:
  • Robert Silverberg's The Alien Years--invasion by beautiful aliens of unknown motives who defeat all attempts at resistance. Attempts to learn about them are even less successful.
  • Brian Aldiss's "Heresies of the Huge God"--gigantic, non-sentient alien creature throws Earth off its orbit with its tail. (Humans react with medieval-type religious movements to try to propitiate this being.)
  • At least two of Ian Watson's stories--"Slow Birds," in which objects float over Earth's atmosphere, glassing the surface, and "Cages," in which aliens (who don't come down to Earth) cause cages to appear over different parts of people's bodies. (Or they do other bizarre things to people that makes their lives hard--like the woman who can't see through one of her eyes, but her abusive boyfriend can see through that eye of hers.)

Not quite examples, but could be part of the same supertrope/s:
  • Thomas M. Disch's The Genocides, in which aliens turn Earth into a monoculture agribusiness plantation (all growing the same crop). The humans are like insects to them, they are so powerful. However, their motive seems to be known.
  • Solaris--not on Earth, and not an invasion. But the sentient alien planet is unknowable to humans, and remains so.

Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • September 3, 2012
    spacemarine50
    Incomprehensible to whom? The humans (using your example), the aliens themselves, or a bad invasion plan in general who forgot to read this.
  • September 3, 2012
    SinisterShenanigans
    From what I gathered, the invasion is incomprehensible to the people getting invaded.
  • September 3, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Compare Starfish Aliens.

    • Enders Game: The first thing the Formics did upon encountering humans was to kill them all, and that led to three bloody wars in which humanity barely won. It's not until the very end of the book that Ender discovers why the Formics were so xenocidal: Because they are a Hive Mind and weren't aware that humans are individually sentient. Unfortunately, because they have no language or physical form of communication, they were unable to declare a truce in time.
  • September 3, 2012
    ProfessorThascales
    Incomprehensible to the people getting invaded, and to the audience.
  • September 3, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Suggest the name be shortened to just Incomprehensible Invasion.
  • September 3, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    ^Nah, typically the theme is connected directly to aliens.
  • September 3, 2012
    chicagomel
    This is Falling Skies thus far, though we've no way of knowing what they'll reveal in the future.
  • September 3, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    ^^ I didn't say "make it not about just aliens". I suggested changing the name, not the definition. Losing that word gives the name Added Alliterative Appeal and obviates the "incomprehensible to whom?" mistake by removing the double-adjective. (Either way, IAI or II, clarification would be needed in the description: that the humans are the ones who don't understand it, or that the name means alien invasions.)
  • September 3, 2012
    Xtifr
    This seems like just A+B: Starfish Aliens + Alien Invasion. Which usually isn't a good way to make a trope.
  • September 5, 2012
    ProfessorThascales
    But an invasion by Starfish Aliens wouldn't necessarily be incomprehensible. Their motives might be understandable, it might even be possible (or easy) to resist them, no matter how bizarre they looked.
  • December 16, 2013
    CIIR
    The "Humans" from Dixon's Man After Man are described like this, having returned to Earth after 5 million years of space-faring activities.
  • December 16, 2013
    StarSword
    More accurately this is Alien Invasion + Inscrutable Aliens.
  • December 16, 2013
    Koveras
    I am surprised Scary Dogmatic Aliens haven not been mentioned yet.
  • December 16, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Probably because Scary Dogmatic Aliens have a known motive, and aren't always invaders.
  • December 16, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    also Eldritch Abomination, which are incomprehensible by nature.
  • December 17, 2013
    KingZeal
    • In the original Mass Effect, this was essentially what we knew about The Reapers. They love to play on this trope, too.
    Commander Shepard: "What do you want from us? Slaves? Resources?"
    Sovereign: "My kind transcends your very understanding. We are each a nation - independent, free of all weakness. You cannot grasp the nature of our existence."
  • December 17, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • Downplayed in a Treehouse Of Horror episode of The Simpsons after an alien invasion. Humanity is now a slave race building some giant machine.
      Marge: I don't understand why we have to build a ray gun to aim at a planet I never even heard of.
      Homer: Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
    • This was the case for a majority of the time on Earth Final Conflict, until the humans eventually learned why the Taelons had come here.
  • December 17, 2013
    justanid
    • The antagonists in the Magic Users Club OVA are never fully explained. When "The Bell" came to Earth, it shot down Kill Sats, missiles, aircraft and everything else that attacked it (all without harming any humans); then it just hovered miles offshore of Japan doing nothing, other than building a few poorly located mystery structures and sending out observation drones.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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