Alien Invasions!

Alien Invasions! The History of Aliens in Pop Culture
Ed. by Michael Stein

Coffee-table books like this one are all about the pictures, so it’s not surprising that the emphasis in this one is on the history of the appearance of aliens in SF. Are they basically humanoid, but with green skin and pointed ears? Are they tentacled, bug-eyed monsters? Or do they have no shape of their own, but only imitate or possess human forms?

The text here is barely worth skimming, and I found myself frequently wishing more time had been spent on subjects like the roots of alien iconography in classical and medieval sources, the genesis of archetypes like aliens with giant heads, or the gender politics behind fears of alien rape/abduction and allied fantasies of Amazon planets.

That said, it’s a great collection of art drawn from classic paperback covers, comic books, films, and playing cards. The pictures alone tell quite a story.

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