"(It is) ..our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty" -- John O'Sullivan, The Morning Post, 1845
Once the brave explorers have finished their
job and found some exotic new lands or strange new worlds, it's time to take advantage and start a colony or settlement!
There are many reasons why people might choose to leave everything they know behind and set off to carve a new life out of an untamed wilderness. They might be seeking freedom, opportunity, or wealth. They might be fleeing an intolerable situation: intolerance, overcrowding, or debt. They may simply have no choice in the matter--far off lands are such a convenient
place to store your criminals, dissidents, and other unwanted population
The dangers in settling new territory are great: hostile terrain, hostile wildlife, hostile natives, bad weather, lack of readily accessible resources, and much more. You may end up cut off from your homeland completely. Success is never guaranteed, and many settlements will fail, often with great loss of life. Nevertheless, the biological urge to expand and grow is strong, and new colonies will rarely lack for volunteers (or "volunteers"). Successful colonies can even end up matching or exceeding their homeland in power or resources, leading to plenty of opportunities for conflict.
And what about those natives, or small green creatures, who live where you've planned to plant new roots? I guess they'll just have to take their chances. Of course, if you are
one of the natives (or small green creatures), living where someone has decided to settle, you may not be very pleased with the notion. If you can't talk them out of the idea, then it's possible that This Means War!
This trope tends to be a big part of American self-identity and mythos, though it is, of course, not limited to America or Americans.
See also: Cult Colony
, Lost Colony
, Penal Colony
. Related to The Migration
. Works in this setting often involve The Pioneer
or the Determined Homesteader
Anime and Manga
- Toward the Terra: The refugees postpone their search for Terra and colonize a marginally inhabitable planet for a few years. Unfortunately, the humans eventually caught up with them.
- Discussed in Silver Spoon: Mikage's grandmother likes telling stories about the time when the Japanese settled Hokkaido. Wild animals (bears) and natives (Ainu) appear.
- The musical Paint Your Wagon features the colonization of a new town, No Name City, in the American West.
- The 1923 silent short film, Jamestown, is a dramatic version of the founding of the first English colony in the Americas, starring Dolores Cassenelli as Pocahontas.
- Pandorum takes place aboard a colony ship launched towards an inhabitable planet from a dying earth. Unfortunately things went wrong...
- In Aliens the planet on which the Xenomorph was first discovered has been terraformed and colonized by the Wayland-Yutani corporation.
- The Ron Howard film Far And Away, with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, tells of Irish immigrants who end up participating in the great Oklahoma land run, where over 100,000 people competed to settle the newly opened territory.
Live Action TV
- Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars Trilogy covers the colonization and terraforming of Mars over the course of 200 years.
- Robert A. Heinlein loved colonization. Being an Eagle Lander, he believed that colonization brings out the best in people and was responsible for American superiority. He dialed it up for his future societies. Specific examples include: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, Methuselah's Children, Time Enough for Love, Farmer in the Sky, and Tunnel in the Sky.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series novel Darkover Landfall. A starship is forced to land on a planet and the passengers start a colony which eventually becomes the planetary civilization of the other books. Problems include hallucinatory pollen.
- The Legacy of Heorot by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes: Human colonists on the planet Avalon have problems building their colony. The freezing process they underwent during the trip has damaged their brains, and the planet has deadly predators with Super Speed.
- The Coyote series by Allen Steele is about the colonization of a new planet using slower-than-light technologies, which makes communication with the home world very slow, and frequently surprising.
- C. J. Cherryh's 40,000 in Gehenna, part of her Alliance/Union series, features the Union's attempt to secretly colonize a newly discovered world with 40,000 cloned workers (from a wide variety of genetic lines).
- Nancy Kress's novel Crossfire is about humanity's colonization of the planet Greentree--and the unexpected things they find there.
- The Vorkosigan Saga starts on the newly discovered world of Sergyar, and its colonization is part of the backstory of the rest of the series--especially after Miles' father is appointed governor of the new colony.
- John Scalzi's The Last Colony, and its companion novel, Zoe's Tale, both part of his Old Man's War series, describe the attempt to start a secret colony in order to protect against the possibility that mankind will be wiped out forever by hostile aliens.
- In the Uplift series, Galactic civilization grants temporary colonization rights to clans for terms of thousands or millions of years, but the planets must be abandoned and allowed lie fallow periodically as well, in order that new species with the potential for uplift can arise. The second trilogy has members of six species, including humans, illegally colonizing the fallow and criminally abused planet of Jijo, seeking redemption through devolution (it's complicated).
- The Undersea Trilogy by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson was one of the first in-depth (if you'll pardon the pun) explorations of the notion of colonizing the bottom of the sea.
- The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg tells the story of several Swedish villagers who claim new land in Minnesota and explore the new country during the mid-19th century.
- The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold is set in a post-apocapalyptic fantasy world where farmers are trying to reclaim and settle new land, some of it deemed unsafe by the Lakewalkers who guards against the dangers.
- Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) shows the colonization of New Caprica (though later abandoned) and earth.
- Earth 2: a group of rebellious humans attempt to colonize an alien planet after their spaceship crashes due to government sabotage.
- The backstory of Firefly as well... "Earth That Was got all used up, so we found a new solar system. Dozens of planets, hundreds of moons."
- Terra Nova features a time-traveling colony in the mid-Cretaceous era established by a dying 21st century earth.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series:
- "This Side of Paradise" has the Enterprise on a rescue mission to a Federation colony, supposedly endangered by deadly radiation.
- In "The Way to Eden", the crew of the Enterprise meet a group of space hippies who hope to create a new colony on a planet they call Eden.
- Eclipse Phase: before the Fall almost every rocky planet and large moon in the solar system was colonized by the old earth nations and the hypercorps. After the Fall the Pandora gates were discovered, and players begin expansion and colonization into new star systems.
- Puerto Rico is a Euro Game where you send colonists to the titular island. They work your plantations.
- San Juan is a Euro card game closely related to Puerto Rico, but you colonize a different island.
- Age of Empires III (this game has nothing to do with the video game): Send your colonists to the new world. Defeat the natives. Get goods.
- In the default campaign setting of Tomorrow's War the various nations and corporations of earth have colonized several planets. Most scenarios are colonial insurrections or wars between independent colonies.
- In Traveller all the major races (those who have developed Jump drive, meaning Aslan, Droyne, K'kree, Hivers, Vargr, and three human races) rule interstellar empires of hundreds of colonies, and they're settling new ones all the time. The Aslan in particular have a thing for expansion due to the males' drive for land ownership. Aslan have a bad reputation for aggressiveness but they will just as often settle on empty or near empty planets, or trade mercenary service to the local government for land.
- Most 4X games involve creating new colonies of some sort as part of the basic gameplay:
- Master of Orion and its sequels all involve trying to colonize planets in nearby star systems. New colonies are fragile, and have to be protected, but a race that doesn't create enough colonies will find itself helpless in the face of bigger, more powerful enemies.
- The Civilization series features expansion of your Earthly empire through colonization or conquest.
- Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri is a spiritual successor to Civilization where you colonize a new planet in the Alpha Centari system.
- Galactic Civilizations features alien races competing to colonize new worlds.
- Space Empires also uses colonization of new planets as a strategy to expand your empire.
- Sword of the Stars allows you to explore and colonize planets as one of four different races.
- Sins of a Solar Empire combines 4X style expansion with Real Time Strategy, as three species race to colonize available planets.
- Colonization, a Turn Based Strategy game from Sid Meier, which involves colonizing the New World as one of four European nations.
- In Outpost 2, Earth is about to be destroyed, and humanity must try to create a new colony among the stars.
- The 1993 remake of The Seven Cities of Gold from Electronic Arts added the creation of colonies in the New World to the original's missions and forts, though the focus of the game remained on exploration and gathering gold from friendly or hostile natives.
- The computer game Age of Empires III has the players as European powers in the age of Colonialism establishing settlements in the Americas (with some supplies from their home cities). The new nations introduced in the expansions are Native Americans or Asians who largely fight off invaders. Though the Chinese campaign is an alternate history where Imperial China explores and conquers America instead of Europe.
- Escape From Terra: The solar system is being colonized. Mars and much of the Belt seem to be largely independent of the United World while the moon, Venus, and Mercury are (officially at least) under its heel. The first Mars colonists were members of a private space corporation that hijacked the International Space Station when it was scheduled to be decommissioned.
- The Schoolhouse Rock episode "Elbow Room" is about the expansion of the US from the original 13 states to its current size (not counting Alaska & Hawaii, the "freak states".) It also suggests that if we need to expand more we'll settle the moon.