Every Cliche and Gimmick You See in Sci-fi Movies Today Came From This One Book

By Staff Reporter on August 1, 2012 1:30 AM EDT

Edison's Conquest of Mars
This is the book that spawned just about every cliche and plot device you're seeing in sci-fi movies today (Photo: wikipedia)

Remember the hype surrounding Prometheus ahead of its release two months ago, and how quickly that faded when people realized it was yet another generic Hollywood sci-fi movie? Well, Cracked.com has revealed that every cliche and plot device we've grown to love and/or hate--and love to hate--came from one novel. 

Edison's Conquest of Mars, written in 1898 by American author and astronomer Garrett P. Serviss, is that novel. It was an unauthorized "sequel" to H. G. Wells' seminal War of the Worlds--meaning it was written to cash in on the success of another piece of work, without consent.

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While the book, which focuses on Thomas Edison--yes, the inventor--traveling to Mars to seek revenge for their attack on earth in War of the Worlds, has generally been critically reviled, it did introduce several elements that, at the time, were completely unheard of. Things such as ray guns that disintegrated victims (Serviss described the guns as "hand engines, capable of launching bolts of death of the same character as those which emanated from the knobs of their larger machines."), space suits and space travels (hard to believe, but no earthling had left his or her planet in any form of fiction up until this book), the term "reverse the polarity" (which was later used in every other episode of Star Trek), and the main plot behind Prometheus: Aliens building giant, eerie looking structures to lure silly humans. 

So yes, before Aliens, Prometheus, Transformers, Star Trek and Indiana Jones, the very first time fictional aliens built pyramids was in this book. 

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