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First Landings Science Fiction
What is First Landings Science Fiction?
First Landings Science Fiction is very straightforward in terms of definition (the story itself may present many complications and challenges): it is a story about a mission to another world, a world that humans have yet to visit. It is a story about how humans travel to other worlds and what happens once they've arrived.
A pretty simple idea to base a story really, but because the story takes place on an alien world, a place relatively unknown despite all the research, there are infinite possibilities for what happens once humans have landed on the alien world. Most First Landings stories are about discovery and possibility. Some will be philosophical and explore ideas as well as topography. All will be filled with adventure.
Other Features of First Landings Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
High. Science and technology are of the utmost importance in a mission to land on another world. In addition to the technology needed just to get off Earth and to another world, there will be scientific exploration of the new world. So yes, rocket science, but also geology, botany, meteorology, biology, and any number of other scientific fields.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
Moderate-High. There is a lot of political pressure riding on a first landing—there is a reason the characters were sent there. It could be a mission to explore possible colonies to reduce the strain on an overpopulated Earth. It could be a mission to find resources. It could be a mission of pure scientific discovery. Whatever the reason, the mission's successes and failures will have real implications for humanity. Mostly, though, visiting a place wholly unseen by humans has so many possibilities for scientific and philosophical contemplation. When presented with something alien, something new, we can't help but compare it to our own lived experiences. A First Landing Sci Fi story will make you think about yourself and about the universe. Or, you know, it might just be a campy story about red dirt on a barren planet.
- Level of Characterization
Variable. There is certainly the possibility of some deep characterization—in the harsh environment of an alien world and going through all the challenges it presents, readers can develop a great understanding of a character. But, there is so much to explore in a First Landing story and characterization may take a back seat to those explorations.
- Level of Plot Complexity
High. Energy, lots of energy. There is lots of anticipation in a mission to land on a new world and this energy permeates a First Landings story. The plot will likely be full and have lots of momentum. A good ride for any reader.
- Level of Violence
Variable. A first landing is not inherently violent and plenty of time the story is one of discovery. However, sometimes, in an alien environment things can take a violent turn either as a result of contact with alien lifeforms or from within the landing party. You can never know what's going to happen.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
First Contact Science Fiction. It makes sense really, the crossover between First Contact and First Landing—land on a new world and meet a new race.
Mundane Science Fiction. Landing on a world within our own solar system is certainly an attainable goal and realistic possibility.
Hard Science Fiction. Landing on another world requires innovative technology and plenty of scientific research—it's a natural combination of sub-genres.
Voyages Extraordinaires. A First Landing is an extraordinary journey. It is a story filled with adventure and discovery—add a bit of the fantastic and you have a bit of the Voyages Extraordinaires too.
First Landings Science Fiction isn't for you if...
If you like your Sci Fi to take place closer to home. If you don't want to boldly go where no one has gone before—go someplace else.
- 1 From the Earth to the Moon
By Jules Verne. A classic novel, and perhaps the most well known example of First Landings Sci Fi, this story is about Civil War veterans who build a cannon to shoot a “space bullet” to the moon.
- 2 First Landing
By Robert Zubrin. A Hard Sci Fi novel about a crew bound for Mars—with all the political mix-ins one might expect of such a voyage.
- 3 Ascent
By Jed Mercurio. This novel answers the question: What if the Soviets put a man on the moon before the Americans?
- 4 Space
By James A. Michener. This novel is a blend of Sci Fi and historical fiction, about the space race and a journey to the far side of the moon.
- 5 Voyage
By Stephen Baxter. This is the first book of Baxter's NASA trilogy. It is an epic story about what would have happened to the US space program if Kennedy had lived. The answer: a manned mission to Mars.
- 6 Rocheworld (a.k.a. The Flight of the Dragonfly)
By Robert L. Forward. The first book in the Rocheworld series is about the first interstellar spaceship on its way to a double planet.
- 7 The Green Book
By Jill Paton Humans have fled Earth and search the galaxy for a new home. One ship of colonists find a new world, but are met with challenges that threaten their survival, until two children take a chance that might save the colony.
- 8 Rocket Ship Galileo
By Robert A. Heinlein. A YA novel about three teenagers pioneer a flight to the moon only to find Nazis made it there first.
- 9 Gateway
By Frederik Pohl. In the future resources are scarce, so when humans find an abandoned spaceport filled with spaceships with preprogrammed destinations, they take the risk. Some will bring back riches and others will meet their ends.
- 10 Red Mars
By Kim Stanley Robinson. Mars has beckoned humanity to its dusty ground and now humans are going to fulfill that destiny by colonizing and terraforming the planet.
- 11 The Sparrow
By Mary Doria Russell. When humans find the first evidence of extraterrestrial life a ship is dispatched to the alien world. The Society of Jesus sends an expedition of 8, but only 1 will return.