An Introduction To First Contact Media

Media and fiction have always been about sharing new ideas and themes, and one of the most popular ways to show a theme is with first-contact stories. Sometimes the author wants to convey how we fear the unknown and are afraid of change; other times an author wants to expose the good in the world, of people reaching out their hands to help others through hardships. First-Contact is a vast genre that can encompass many different pieces of media. From Star Trek to The Shape of Water, first contact has a little bit for everyone.

But how did first contact start as a genre? Well, it truly was brought to life by an author known as H.G. Wells with his story, The War of the Worlds. The story focuses on a factual record of a fictional war between the forces of the United Kingdom and a race of aliens from Mars. The book was written in 1897 when British Colonialism was on an unstoppable rampage across Africa for resources, and the aliens in the story symbolize this with their hostile takeover of Earth. H.G. Wells would then go on to write a second first contact book, The First Men in the Moon, and while it was met with success as well, it never reached the same height as The War of the Worlds.

The genre slowly increased in popularity with stories like Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Star Trek, but the genre truly came into the spotlight on May 26th, 1982. Any of our older readers might know this day by heart, but if you don’t, this was the opening day of a movie known as “E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial”. This was the general public’s first contact with the first contact genre. A young boy meets an alien that he names E.T. and attempts to get him home. Unlike The War of The Worlds, which was made to instill fear in the reader, E.T. demonstrates the kindness and beauty in humanity, willing to reach out and do their best to understand others and help them.

There have been many, many more stories told around first contact; the idea of meeting beings beyond our understanding has always fascinated humanity and made us want to explore the unknown, and hope that we can truly meet other life or other things that we can learn from.