The Liberation of Earth

"The Liberation of Earth" is a science fiction short story by American author William Tenn, written in 1950, first published in 1953, and reprinted several times in various anthologies, including 1955 collection Of all Possible Worlds and 1967 anthology The Starlit Corridor. The story, which Tenn described as having been inspired by the Korean War,[1] portrays Earth as the battleground between two powerful alien races, the Troxxt and the Dendi, who repeatedly "liberate" it from each other.

At the time the story begins, the Troxxt and the Dendi have long since abandoned the (literally) shattered remnants of Earth as being too dangerous for civilized people; humanity is nearly extinct, with the few survivors having descended into starving savagery as they struggle for air.

"The Liberation of Earth"
AuthorWilliam Tenn
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published in Future Science Fiction
Publication typePeriodical
PublisherColumbia Publications, Inc.
Media typePrint (Magazine)
Publication dateMay 1953

Plot summary

The story is told from the point of view of the future descendants of the humans that were nearly annihilated by throughout the course of these constant "liberations". Each alien race convinces the inhabitants of Earth to assist them in their war against the other race, always making sure to paint themselves as the force of good and the opposing race as the evil aggressors. When the Earth is then "reliberated" by the other alien race, the inhabitants of Earth are reproached for having believed the lies told by their previous occupiers. This cycle of liberation and re-liberation continues until the Earth is left a shell of its former self. During the course of the occupation, most of the human race has been killed, its ecosystem has been destroyed, and the planet’s unstable orbit threatens to fling them all into space. The future inhabitants of Earth barely resemble their human ancestors, leading desperate lives on a ravaged planet, and ran from "water puddle to distant water puddle, across the searing heat of yellow sand", "sucked air", and "frantically grabbed at clusters of thick green weed".

Critical response

Nick Gevers has described "The Liberation of Earth" as "great",[2] and Locus columnist Rich Horton described it as "one of 1953's best shorts".[3] It was included in the anthology Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 15 as one of the best science fiction short stories of 1953. It was also reprinted in the 2016 anthology The Big Book of Science Fiction. Editors Ann and Jeff VanderMeer state that it is "considered one of the classic science fiction stories of all time."[4]


  1. ^ Tenn 2001, p. 186.
  2. ^ Rodger Turner, Webmaster. "The SF Site Featured Review: Immodest Proposals". Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  3. ^ "Locus Online: Rich Horton surveys the Best of 1953". 2004-02-20. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
  4. ^ The Big Book of Science Fiction. Vintage Books. July 2016. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-101-91009-2.


  • Tenn, William. Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn, Volume 1. New England Science Fiction Association, 2001. ISBN 1-886778-19-1.

External links

Alien invasion

The alien invasion or space invasion is a common feature in science fiction stories and film, in which extraterrestrials invade the Earth either to exterminate and supplant human life, enslave it under an intense state, harvest people for food, steal the planet's resources, or destroy the planet altogether.

The invasion scenario has been used as an allegory for a protest against military hegemony and the societal ills of the time. H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds extended the invasion literature that was already common when science fiction was first emerging as a genre.

Prospects of invasion tended to vary with the state of current affairs, and current perceptions of threat. Alien invasion was a common metaphor in United States science fiction during the Cold War, illustrating the fears of foreign (e.g. Soviet Union) occupation and nuclear devastation of the American people. Examples of these stories include the short story The Liberation of Earth (1950) by William Tenn and the film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

In the invasion trope, fictional aliens contacting Earth tend to either observe (sometimes using experiments) or invade, rather than help the population of Earth acquire the capacity to participate in interplanetary affairs. There are some notable exceptions, such as the alien-initiated first-contact scenarios in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and Arrival (2016). A trope of the peaceful first-contact is humanity attaining a key technological threshold (e.g. nuclear weapons and space travel in The Day the Earth Stood Still or faster-than-light travel in First Contact), justifying their initiation into a broader community of intelligent species.

Technically, a human invasion of an alien species is also an alien invasion, as from the viewpoint of the aliens, humans are the aliens. Such stories are much rarer than stories about aliens attacking humans. Examples include the short story Sentry (1954) (in which the "aliens" described are, at the end, explained to be humans), the video game Phantasy Star II (1989), The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, the Imperium of Man in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Invaders from Earth by Robert Silverberg, the movies Battle for Terra (2007), Planet 51 (2009), Avatar (2009) and Mars Needs Moms (2011).

As well as being a subgenre of science fiction, these kinds of books can be considered a subgenre of invasion literature, which also includes fictional depictions of humans invaded by other humans (for example, a fictional invasion of England by a hostile France strongly influenced Wells' depiction of a Martian invasion).

Earth liberation

"Earth liberation" is an ideology founded by the radical environmental movement and was popularised by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) as well as the Earth Liberation Army (ELA) in the 1990s.


Exosquad is an American animated television series created by Universal Cartoon Studios for MCA TV's Universal Family Network syndicated programming block as a response to Japanese anime. The show is set in the beginning of the 22nd century and covers the interplanetary war between humanity and Neosapiens, a fictional race artificially created as workers/slaves for the Terrans. The narrative generally follows Able Squad, an elite Terran unit of mecha pilots, on their missions all over the Solar System, although other storylines are also abundant. The series ran for two complete seasons in syndication from 1993 to 1994, and was cancelled after one third-season episode had been produced. Reruns later aired on USA Network. The music from the show was used in the third season of the paranormal series Sightings as additional background score.

Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories

Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories were two American science fiction magazines that were published under various names between 1939 and 1943 and again from 1950 to 1960. Both publications were edited by Charles Hornig for the first few issues; Robert W. Lowndes took over in late 1941 and remained editor until the end. The initial launch of the magazines came as part of a boom in science fiction pulp magazine publishing at the end of the 1930s. In 1941 the two magazines were combined into one, titled Future Fiction combined with Science Fiction, but in 1943 wartime paper shortages ended the magazine's run, as Louis Silberkleit, the publisher, decided to focus his resources on his mystery and western magazine titles. In 1950, with the market improving again, Silberkleit relaunched Future Fiction, still in the pulp format. In the mid-1950s he also relaunched Science Fiction, this time under the title Science Fiction Stories. Silberkleit kept both magazines on very slim budgets throughout the 1950s. In 1960 both titles ceased publication when their distributor suddenly dropped all of Silberkleit's titles.

The fiction was generally unremarkable, with few memorable stories being published, particularly in the earlier versions of the magazines. Lowndes spent much effort to set a friendly and engaging tone in both magazines, with letter columns and reader departments that interested fans. He was more successful than Hornig in obtaining good stories, partly because he had good relationships with several well-known and emerging writers. Among the better-known stories he published were "The Liberation of Earth" by William Tenn, and "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth" by Arthur C. Clarke.

Galaxy Science Fiction

Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980. It was founded by a French-Italian company, World Editions, which was looking to break into the American market. World Editions hired as editor H. L. Gold, who rapidly made Galaxy the leading science fiction (sf) magazine of its time, focusing on stories about social issues rather than technology.

Gold published many notable stories during his tenure, including Ray Bradbury's "The Fireman", later expanded as Fahrenheit 451; Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters; and Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man. In 1952, the magazine was acquired by Robert Guinn, its printer. By the late 1950s, Frederik Pohl was helping Gold with most aspects of the magazine's production. When Gold's health worsened, Pohl took over as editor, starting officially at the end of 1961, though he had been doing the majority of the production work for some time.

Under Pohl Galaxy had continued success, regularly publishing fiction by writers such as Cordwainer Smith, Jack Vance, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Silverberg. Pohl never won the annual Hugo Award for his stewardship of Galaxy, winning three Hugos instead for its sister magazine, If. In 1969 Guinn sold Galaxy to Universal Publishing and Distribution Corporation (UPD) and Pohl resigned, to be replaced by Ejler Jakobsson. Under Jakobsson the magazine declined in quality. It recovered under James Baen, who took over in mid-1974, but when he left at the end of 1977 the deterioration resumed, and there were financial problems—writers were not paid on time and the schedule became erratic. By the end of the 1970s the gaps between issues were lengthening, and the title was finally sold to Galileo publisher Vincent McCaffrey, who brought out only a single issue in 1980. A brief revival as a semi-professional magazine followed in 1994, edited by H. L. Gold's son, E. J. Gold; this lasted for eight bimonthly issues.

At its peak, Galaxy greatly influenced the science fiction genre. It was regarded as one of the leading sf magazines almost from the start, and its influence did not wane until Pohl's departure in 1969. Gold brought a "sophisticated intellectual subtlety" to magazine science fiction according to Pohl, who added that "after Galaxy it was impossible to go on being naive." SF historian David Kyle agreed, commenting that "of all the editors in and out of the post-war scene, the most influential beyond any doubt was H. L. Gold". Kyle suggested that the new direction Gold set "inevitably" led to the experimental New Wave, the defining science fiction literary movement of the 1960s.

Immodest Proposals

Immodest Proposals is a collection of 33 science fiction stories written by William Tenn, the first of two volumes presenting Tenn's complete body of science fiction writings. It features an introduction by Connie Willis. Tenn provides afterwords to each story, describing how they came to be written.

Interstellar Alliance

The Interstellar Alliance is a fictional interstellar government of civilizations in the Babylon 5 universe.

Invaders! (anthology)

Invaders! is a themed anthology of science fiction short works edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. It was first published in paperback by Ace Books in December 1993. It was reissued as an ebook by Baen Books in March 2013.The book collects fifteen novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors, with a bibliography.

Invasions (anthology)

Invasions is an anthology of science fiction short stories edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh as the tenth and last volume in their Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction series. It was first published in paperback by Roc/New American Library in August 1990, with the first British edition issued in paperback by Robinson at the same time.The book collects fifteen novellas, novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors, together with an introduction by Asimov.

Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 15 (1953)

Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 15 (1953) is the fifteenth volume of Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories, which is a series of short story collections, edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, that attempts to include the best science fiction stories from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. The editors date the "Golden Age" as beginning in 1939 and ending in 1963.

This volume was originally published by DAW books in December 1986.

List of Exosquad episodes

The following is an episode list for the animated television series Exosquad produced by Universal Cartoon Studios and Will Meugniot. The series first aired in 1993 and ended in 1994. Only the first season (out of two) has been released by Universal on VHS in 1993 and on DVD in 2009.

List of Robotech characters

This is a list of the major characters in Robotech, the American adaptation of three Japanese animated series: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada, as a single TV series. The series is divided into three parts which are subtitled The Macross Saga, The Robotech Masters, and The New Generation. A fourth series was planned but was canceled, with only a few episodes being produced which were later combined into a movie The Sentinels. In 2006, a new feature film was released called The Shadow Chronicles as well as a prelude comic Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles. The story mainly follows members of the Robotech Armed Forces, a fictional military force depicted in the series. After the events of the Macross saga the Robotech Expeditionary Force is formed which leaves Earth to hunt for the Robotech Masters. In the later part of the series they are involved with battles against the Invid. In the fictional world of Robotech, the characters are also involved in four Robotech Wars. They begin with the first battle between the SDF-1 and Zentradi (First Robotech War) and continue after the Robotech Masters try to Invade Earth (Second Robotech War). The third Robotech War is fought against the Invid, and the Fourth and final war is fought against another alien race known as the Haydonites.

List of science fiction short stories

This is a non-comprehensive list of short stories with significant science fiction elements.

Moon in fiction

The Moon has been the subject of many works of art and literature and the inspiration for countless others. It is a motif in the visual arts, the performing arts, poetry, prose and music.

Of All Possible Worlds

Of All Possible Worlds is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer William Tenn. It was published in hardcover by Ballantine Books in 1955, with a cover by Richard Powers. Ballantine issued paperback editions in 1955, 1960, and 1968; a British hardcover appeared in 1956 with a paperback following in 1963. It was Tenn's first collection.

The Starlit Corridor

The Starlit Corridor is a 1967 science fiction anthology edited by Roger Mansfield. It was published by Pergamon Press.

The Terra Mosaic

"The Terra Mosaic" is a story arc that was published by DC Comics, and presented in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4, #25-36 (January – Late November 1992). It was written by Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum, and was pencilled primarily by Jason Pearson. The story arc takes place during the "Five Years Later" period of the Legion of Super-Heroes' original continuity. It features the introduction of "Batch SW6" — time-displaced duplicates of the regular, adult version of the Legion — who become key participants in a war to free Earth from the control of the Dominators.

William Tenn

William Tenn was the pseudonym of Philip Klass (May 9, 1920 – February 7, 2010), a British-born American science fiction author, notable for many stories with satirical elements.

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