Alien Landmass

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mass_effect_andromeda_guide3.jpg
The big floating rock would make a great place for a summer home.

''We're definitely not in the Milky Way anymore..."

A hallmark of Science Fiction, an easy way to signify that a setting is not on our typical Earth is to have strange landmasses — particularly ones that float, form odd shapes, or even seem alive in some way.

Sometimes, the trope intertwines with bizarre plant life, making the treetop canopies look bizarre compared to Earth standards, covering the planet with tentacle-like vines, or coloring the landscape with other colors besides the standard brown and green you'd expect to find on a lush world.

This trope is usually a wet dream for those who like Surrealism, especially Surreal Horror.

Sister trope to Alien Sky and Alien Sea. Contrast All Planets Are Earthlike.

See Starfish Aliens for when the aliens are just as weird as their planet. If the planet used to be Earth, see Hostile Terraforming. See also Weird Weather, although that can occur on Earth as well.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Hellstar Remina: The surface of planet Remina is a hellscape full of toxic gasses and fog, intestine-like tubes, and "trees" which look more like writhing balls of tentacles. Nearly all of it black as midnight.

     Comic Books 
  • Negation: The first, prequel issue begins with one hundred abductees waking up on a strange planet where everything feels "wrong". The sun comes and goes as it pleases, the rocks have ribbed surfaces, hook in crescent shapes topped off by horns, and some are covered in odd sludge and are filled with bones. The only edible plants grow eyeballs as fruit. The finale to the prequel reveals that the planet is a testing ground within a parallel universe, and the enemies conducting the experiment are invaders testing the limits of people from our universe.

    Film - Animated 
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has recurring dream sequences that take place on an unknown and desolate planet, where (in addition to an Alien Sky) the entire landscape is covered with lanky, crescent-shaped landmasses.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Avatar's Scenery Porn includes the Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora, verdant floating rock formations that are sacred to the Na'Vi. The phenomenon is Hand Waved as an interaction of the planet's magnetic field with its Unobtainium deposits.
  • Krypton, in Superman the live-action film, is a barren planet filled with jagged canyons and landscapes of almost perfect geometric formation. And that's not counting their crystal buildings, which look like jagged icicles jutting from the ground.
  • In the Alien franchise, planet LV-426 (aka Acheron) has rocky formations which are rounded at the top into smooth nubs. Offhand, the rocks greatly resemble bones.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ego's planet is dotted with rock columns with hydrologically improbable waterfalls spilling from the tops, and has lush jungle and arid plains within walking distance of each other. Justified, since Ego is a Reality Warper who built and in some sense is the planet.

    Literature 
  • In The Cosmere series:
    • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, the planet Scadrial is a wasteland marked by ever-present clouds, gigantic volcanoes, and drifts of ash, where the few surviving plants are food crops adapted to the terrible conditions. This is revealed to be the result of a Terraforming effort by a divinely empowered human who really didn't know what he was doing, and his successor returns the planet to a more earthlike state.
    • The Stormlight Archive's planet Roshar is scoured east-to-west by devastating "Highstorms", which leave the continent bare of earth and marked by large, drift-like sedimentary deposits. The lee sides of those deposits are the only places suitable for agriculture; some are large enough to protect entire cities. Inverted by the country of Shinovar, which is considered quite weird by most Rosharans for being sheltered enough to have soil and free-growing plant life.

     Video Games 
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • Pictured above is Habitat 7, the first level of the game. Habitat 7 was originally supposed to be the closest analogue the Andromeda galaxy had to Earth, but 600 years later, a Negative Space Wedgie, combined with malfunctioning terraforming equipment, turned it into a spectacle with bizarre weather and floating landmasses. However, it works well to signify to the player that they've been taken 'very far from home, in a galaxy that plays by its own rules.
    • Kadara is a planet with both alien land and Alien Seas, since the water is full of sulfur and is thus poisonous to most forms of life. The land is littered with endless mountains that have holes, much like adder stones.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: The manual for the game included a picture of the legendary Golden Realm, the resting place of the Triforce. The picture showed a world with a golden sky and endless planks of extremely thin, twisting landmasses balanced precariously on thin columns. However, the lore itself makes it clear no one actually knew what the Golden World looked like before Ganon corrupted it, and later games show it to be just a beautiful, lush world not much different from Hyrule.
  • Half-Life: Xen, the final level of the game, is a surreal alien landscape with floating, oddly-shaped landmasses and wonky physics that make it difficult to navigate.
  • One of the first sights in Xenoblade Chronicles X is Primordia, a lush grassland that acts as the starting area of the game. Its most distinctive feature are two arching landmasses (one, in fact, arcs on top of another) with sinewy "legs" reaching to the ground. It remains a mysterious location, not reachable until much later in the game. Even higher, though, there's a floating landmass that becomes the first destination a player must reach once they've gain the ability to fly.
  • Everything allows players to visit alien worlds with purple grass, green skies, and giant fungi in the shape of trees, among other things.
  • Obduction quickly conveys the fact that the player is not on earth by placing them in a seemingly normal ravine with floating purple rocks in the distance, and an earth-like planet overhead. Further exploration reveals that the area is a spherical chunk of Arizona which has been transported to some other part of the universe.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck:
    • The Medium of Sburb creates a unique, distinctly alien planet for each player. Examples include the Land of Wind and Shade's glowing blue forests and rock formations and rivers of oil, the Land of Mounds and Xenon's planet-circling canyons, and the Land of Quartz and Melody's crystal mountains.
    • Alternia, the troll homeworld, has trees with blue bark and pink leaves.
    • Things get especially odd in the Dream Bubbles: a combination afterlife, Dream Land, and Eldritch Location with geography shaped by the memories of those inside. As a result, the bubbles combine all other Alien Landmassess in the comic, with crystal formations and pink-leaved trees rubbing shoulders with rivers of fire, fleshy trees topped with brains, gold and purple gothic spires, landscapes patterned like chess sets, giant floating lilypads and regular Earth suburbs.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AlienLandmass