05 August 2022

Military Sci-Fi Oddities: There was ALIENS and TERMINATOR RPGs?!

During the RPG and boardgame craze that started in the late 1970’s, there was a massive amount of all types of RPGs and boardgames made and for all different types of setting. You could be the captain of a Federation starship, a Bard singing in Waterdeep bar, a tank commander in a post-WWIII European battlefield, a zelot genetic engineered killing machine in a space hulk cutting down monsters with a chainsword, or even a pilot of 11 meter tall walking tank on a far-flung human colony stalking other walking tanks.You are never quite sure what you will find when you wander around the dusty back sections of your favorite local comic book store back in the 1980's and 1990’s...and during my hunting days in those back corners of Starbase 21 in Tulsa. During this time, I came across what I would later learn was the Leading Edge Games ALIENS role playing game. I can still recall the boxed RPG sitting on the back RPG shelves at Starbase 21 comic book store in Tulsa. Never bought, never knew anyone that did...but I wanted to see what the hell was this game about my favorite movie was all about. Recently, while watching Spoony's Counter Monkey series, he displayed the Leading Edge Game ALIENS  game and that got me to Googling...then I made a profound discovery: not only was there an ALIENS RPG, but there was an Terminator one as well! WTF?! In this blogpost, we will explaining and exploring the ALIENS and Terminator RPGs developed by Leading Edge Games in the twilight hours of their existence. 

Who the Hell was "Leading Edge Games"?
The graveyard of game companies that were founded in the apex of the popularity of RPGs in the post-D&D world are many and the publisher of ALIENS and Terminator 2 RPGs is among the headstones: Leading Edge Games. Founded in by Barry Nakazono and David McKenzie in 1982 in Pasadena, California and closed around 1994. One of the most interesting facts about the founders of LEG was that Barry Nakazono is currently a propulsion engineer at CalTech and David McKenzie is a writer and designer. 
This level of talent was involved in developing several noted in-house titles besides the licensed titles that LEG managed: Living Steel and Phoenix Command. Phoenix Command is infamous today (and even then) in the old-school RPG realm due to it’s vast and hard-nosed detail to realism when it comes to wound ballistics in combat situations from specific weapons. Using this system for gaming would allow for a certain caliber of round fired from a specific weapon that impacted in a certain area of the human body to calculated and the damage laid out at the anatomical level. The fun will now commence. Living Steel, published in 1987, was a pen-and-paper-with-miniatures military sci-fi game that was used by LEG as a vehicle for their Phoenix Command Combat System (PCCS). The game takes place on the colonial world of Rhand during an alien invasion and the human resistance in powered armor suits waging a war of survival against the invaders. These two games put LEG company on the map and into the gaming consciousness. Later on, LEG would get the license for ALIENS, Terminator 2, The Lawnmower Man, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula that allowed the company to fuse those properties with the PCCS. The complexity of the PCCS and bad word of mouth among the gaming community may have ended the company before they could change and save the good work they did with their licensed properties.    

ALIENS Adventure Game (1991)
This RPG game was centered around the US Colonial Marines in the 22nd century and the base game of around 200-page manual was sold for $21 in 1991 ($47.75 in 2022 money). One of the interesting and odd elements of the ALIENS Adventure Game is that there was previous LEG ALIENS boardgame released in 1989 that was much loved and sells for big money today. Unlike that 1989 boardgame, the 1991 ALIENS Adventure Game used the nuclear-launch code complex PCCS developed by LEG for several of their games. Given the use of miniatures and the focus on the military science fiction element of the ALIENS universe, it was slow game that dealt with the reality of combat on off-world colonies with all manner of alien lifeforms. Leading Edge Games did some nice work on fleshing out some of the background information on the ALIENS universe that included stellar cartography, the xenomorph themselves, USCM equipment and vehicles, and even other ships besides the Sulaco. While the game manual seems impressive, when have to remember that this is context to the time when published. The 1996 ALIENS Colonial Marine Technical Manual is far more detailed than the 1991 game manual and there was no original art inside the game manual to speak of, save for the star maps. Some of the photos used in the 1991 game manual were rare and some were only available in the official 1986 movie magazine (which is awesome!). Some have said that the ALIENS Adventure Game is too centered on the USCM and there is a lack of the RPG character roles and personalities seen in titles like Twilight 2000, Traveler, Star Frontiers, and D&D. Despite coming out three years prior to the end of LEG, there was no additional modules developed. There was a adventure module developed  for the ALIENS boardgame, but for the RPG.   

The ALIENS Adventure Game Miniatures 
The 25mm pewter miniatures were the work of Bob Ridolfi, who is a noted figurine sculptor. These miniatures, while a little rough, are still held in high regards and command high prices on the 2nd market. The entire team seen in the 1986 movie were recreated in a complete line of figures that was all 13 Colonial Marines with the support crew of Ripley, Burke, and Newt (and even the bloody cat!). 
These were blister sold in sets or in theme boxed sets including one having the Haley’s Hope colonists being attacked. Crazy. One of the standouts of the ALIENS 25mm figures was the vehicles. The Cheyenne Dropship, Powerloader, and the M557 APC are considered holy grails by collectors. One of the mysteries of the line was the mention on some sites of set number 20309, the USS Sulaco. There is nothing in the way of concept drawings or a prototype that hints that vehicle was more than planned by LEG before the company shut down.
Here is the complete list (list is from www.cs.cmu.edu/~tpope/sol/leading-edge/aliens.html) :

Boxed Sets
•     20300  Alien Warriors #1
•     20301  Colonial Marines #1
•     20302  Colonial Marines #2
•     20303  Queen's Lair
•     20304  Colonist's Last Stand
•     20305  Alien Warriors #2
•     20306  Power Loader
•     20307  APC
•     20308  Dropship
•     20309  Sulaco (never released)

Blister Packs
•     24101  Alien Warriors #1
•     24102  Alien Warriors #2
•     24103  Alien Warriors #3
•     24104  Alien Warriors #4
•     24105  Alien Warriors #5
•     24106  Alien Warriors #6
•     24107  Alien Warriors #7
•     24108  Alien Warriors #8
•     24109  Alien Warriors #9
•     24201  Ripley, Hicks, Newt and Burke
•     24202  Dropship Crew (Ferro, Spunkmeyer, Frost)

•     24203  Machinegunners (Vasquez, Drake, Wierzbowski)
•     24204  "Game Over" (Hudson, Bishop, Crowe)
•     24205  Apone (Apone, Gorman, Dietrich)
•     24301  Sentry Guns
•     24302  Facehuggers
•     24303  Alien Eggs
•     24305  Colonists Attacked by Facehugger
•     24401  Powerloader and Cat

TERMINATOR 2: Year of Darkness Miniature Combat System (1993)
One year prior to the closing of Leading Edge Games, one of the last products rolled out: T2: Year of Darkness Miniature Combat System. Based on the Human Resistance verse the robotic armies of SkyNet as seen in the future war scenes in the only two Terminator films, the game was designed to be a 25mm miniature combat game, which have a popular type of RPG games since time began. There is little on this game due to its rarity and even less information on what it was like to play the game. Even scans of the manual are nearly non-existent. To me, this might tell us that the game was not in wide circulation due to the game being released one year before the closure of LEG. The following section is taken from Terminator Wiki site had to say and it is one of the only pieces of information on the game: Taking place in 2027(?), Year of Darkness is an long out of print 25mm tabletop miniatures skirmish combat miniatures war game for 2 players, it was a squad level combat system, which one player assumed command of Human Resistance forces and the other player commanded SkyNet forces. Each player collected, assembled, and painted his army of 25mm pewter miniatures composed of either the human Resistance soldiers or the extensive SkyNet robotic army of endoskeletons, infiltrators, HK tanks and HK aerial units. 
These 25mm warriors would engage on the a homemade post-apocalyptic battlefield usually on a large 6×4 table and fight in strategic skirmish battles using multiple 6-sided dice for weapons attack outcome. The movement of the forces was determined with tape measure (inches or mm) and unit movement value was designated for each unit in the core rule book. The rule book contained 94 pages in black white print for basic rules and all advanced rules also included were extremely detailed diorama explaining in depth knowledge on weaponry, unit formation, Skynet HKs and Terminators and optional building and ruins layout for combat scenarios.” There is only one photo set of what this could look like along with seeing the LEG HK Tank

The T2: Year of Darkness  Miniatures 
As with the ALIENS Adventure Game 25mm pewter miniatures, the ones for Terminator game were the work of Bob Ridolfi, who is a noted figurine sculptor. These miniatures are much rarer than the ones for the ALIENS game and are highly regards by fans of Terminator and command a very high prices on the 2nd market. Until the recent 2015 Terminator Genysis War against the Machines 28mm miniature game, the 1993 LEG miniatures were the only game in town and it some ways, the LEG miniatures still are. The Terminator Genysis game is based on a film that is likely not canon and does not match the style of the first two films. The 1993 LEG miniatures fit within the accepted style of the Human Resistance fighters seen in the 1984 and 1991 films, not the 2015 abortion of a film that Genysis is. 
Typing that word “Genysis” makes me throw up in my mouth alittle each time. Like the ALIENS miniatures, there was some boxed set and some little blister sets sold and given that these were released one year prior to the closure of LEG, some of these set were made in a very limited numbers. The mystery of the T2: Year of Darkness miniature line is the SkyNet HKs. It seems that the HK “tank” ground attack unit was released (very rare), but the proposed HK aerial unit may not have been. I’ve never seen a scan of it in my research and it is likely it was never made. Here is the complete list (list is from (https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~tpope/sol/leading-edge/terminator.html):

Boxed Sets:
•     71100  "Hasta La Vista, Baby"
•     71101  Endoskeleton Boxed Set
•     71102  Future Soldiers Boxed Set
•     71103  Infiltrators
•     71104  Hunter Killer

Blister Packs
•     74102  Human - 40W Plasma Rifle
•     74103  Human - 40W Plasma Machinegun
•     74104  Human - 100W Plasma Rifle
•     74105  Human - 100W Plasma Machinegun
•     74106  Human - Demo Charges
•     74107  Human - Nitro Bombs
•     74108  Human - Bolo Grenades
•     74109  Human - Heavy Weapons
•     74201  Endoskeleton - 40W Plasma Rifle
•     74202  Endoskeleton - Dual Weapons - 40W
•     74203  Endoskeleton - 100W Plasma Rifle
•     74204  Endoskeleton - Dual Weapons - 100W
•     74301  Infiltrators - 40W Plasma Rifle
•     74302  Infiltrators - 100W Plasma Rifle
•     74303  Infiltrators - Plasma Shotgun

Why are these games an “Oddity”?
While RPGs based on a known media property is certainly not usually, it is odd how unknown these games are now and how complex they were. I can remember seeing the ALIENS Adventure Game around in back section of Starbase 21 in Tulsa and I believe there were some ads for the game maybe in Dark Horse Comics and Starlog Magazine. However, I do not remember anything about the T2: Year of Darkness game, despite being a massive fan of the War against the Machine seen in the only 2 Terminator films. Even today, the game is rare and expensive, (along with the excellent miniatures) and there is a lack of information on the T2: The Year of Darkness game to this very day. 
One of the standouts was the miniatures produced for the games, including the vehicles of both franchises. The thing about the miniatures is that they were pretty damn epic and bold in their concept to bring this to market. Included in the miniature lines were: ALIENS Powerloader (w/ Sentry guns), the Cheyenne dropship, the M577 APC, the HK tank, and even infiltrator Terminators. Included in the T2: The Year of Darkness miniature line was some T-800 Endoskeleton earrings and they are super rare today. 
Despite the lavish detail on the game manual, the extended background information, and the miniatures; the game mechanics were based on the chunky and unwieldy PCCS. From reviews today and at the time of release, the RPG community was not impressed with how long it took to fire at a target and determine damage and place of those10mm explosive tipped caseless rounds. The review I read in issue number 57 of Challenge Magazine from February of 1992 praised some of the elements of the game, but said in opening paragraph of the review that LEG took the ALIENS universe and gave it an “RPG butcher job”. The reviewer basically suggests to use the source material in the game manual for other military sci-fi game settings. Ouch.

Why Did these Games and LEG Fail?
Within the vast world of pen-&-paper RPGs, there are some infamous examples of way-too-complex systems that require tons of dice rolls and tables. Some examples are Aces & Eights: Shattered Frontier, Legend of the Five Rings, and FATAL. In a Counter Monkey video about the Legend of the Five Rings, the Spoony One discussed the pain in the ass that realistic RPGs can be and how they suck the fun out of the game when every single action, like drawing and firing a gun in a duel, is divided up into dozens of steps with dice rolls and table consultations accompanying to each move. This is coupled with the fan that you can die easily. Often mentioned in the realm of the games above is all of the LEG catalog of games save for the 1989 ALIENS boardgame. While some do love the LEG games, there is much criticism for their take on realism within an entertainment setting. These criticisms were leveled at the LEG titles at the time and these poor reviews and bad word of mouth impacted sales. By 1994, the party was over, and Leading Edge Games was no more.   

The Impact & Legacy of these Games
When the ALIENS and Terminator 2 games were released in the 1990’s, we do not know their direct impact on the RPG market or the fandom of the community. From the online community that has discussed these games at the time of release, we know that many were excited by the prospect of RPGs set in these franchise coupled with the line of metal miniatures and vehicles. Within a few years after the release of these games, the company shut their doors and that can give us the true measure of the impact of these games. Until the advent of the internet, online classic RPG sites and shops along with video hosting services, most had either forgotten that LEG existed or never heard of them. 
I was reminded that the ALIENS Adventure Game existed due to me spying on the book shelve of the Spoony One videos ( I was hoping for a Spoony Experiment video on the LEG ALIENS game…but that will never happen). One of the elements that helps us measure the legacy of these games is their price on auction sites and the these games and especially the miniatures sell for big money today, especially when they are unpainted and in their original awesome plastic and foam cases. The legacy of these games is similar to the Greek myth of Prometheus. Leading Edge Games reached for the sun with some of the best military science fiction licenses ever and they did not listen to those that wished for the jettison of the complex and unenjoyable PCCS resulting in the company getting burned and drowning. One of the best legacies of the material developed for the ALIENS Adventure Game was that some of it was used in the excellent ALIENS: The Colonial Marines Technical Manual from 1996.

Next Time on FWS…  
Within the realm of sci-fi/fantasy, there is the last stronghold that is designed to be the last bastion of that society. It could also be the last human city, or colony, or even the last warship. This concept has been used for centuries in human storytelling and mythology with stories like Noah’s Ark all the way to the Last City in Destiny. In the next installment of What We Will Fight Over, we will be discussing the concept of “The Last Bastion” in sci-fi/fantasy and in the real world.

17 July 2022

Our Enemies: The Eaters of Man

In the United States, about 23.3 animals are killed each day for consumption and for some animals, this is a terrifying experience, and for human beings the prospect of being on the menu is a common, species-wide fear...and for good reason. There is a ton of historical and archeological evidence of humans eating humans for all manner of reason and that other predatory species on the planet eat us as well. Given this reality, throughout all human fiction, from mythology, religion, folktales, fantasy, and sci-fi, there is a common fear of being consumed as food by gods, other humans, and aliens. In this installment of Our Enemies, we will explore and explain the Eaters of Man, both here on Terra and out there among the stars. Or better said in the Twilight Zone: "The cycle of going from dust to dessert. The metamorphosis from being the ruler of a planet to an ingredient in someone's soup"

Some Perspective on When Man is on the Menu
Through the progress of our species that spans millions of years of development, struggle, and genetic dead-ends; we have been both predator and prey. Some of those eaters of man (and those that came before Homo Sapiens) were also us. From the fossil record, all members of the human species have dined on one another due to several reasons. Human cannibalism happens due to religious ritual, environmental stress/pressure, culture norm among a specific group, as well as some martial rituals. Then there are special types of cannibalism that we will get to. Cannibalism can also be defined as endocannibalism and exocannibalism or consuming members of the group and consuming those outside of the group…which is more common due to obvious reasons. Humans eating humans is not isolated to our species, over 1,500 other species also dine on one another due to the same reasons as well as promoting the strongest of their species to survivor natural selection. For this article, we will be examining the eaters of man here on Earth, cannibalism, and aliens that wish to serve man for their next dinner party. Here on Earth, as we said above, the human tree has been a source of protein for predatory animals for millions of years. This trend even continues today, in a very limited fashion, but it is a useful tool to sell movie tickets. 
While most would assume that most humans are consumed as food by sharks, it is more common for the big cats to eat us than a Great White shark. When it comes to humans eating humans, it is a little more complex. Some cannibalism is simply an extreme measure taken in the direst of circumstances, such in 1609 in the Jamestown Colony, the Donner Party, and 1972 Andres crash of the Football team. There have been fossil records of likely such examples of cannibalism, as seen in the British Gough's Cave and an example of Neanderthal cannibalism from 100,000 years ago in a cave in France. Four Neanderthals of all young age were butchered and consumed by those within their community (endocannibalism) and the reason behind this was likely climate change that robbed the community of animals and thus, they turned on those within their own community for a food source. According to the dental record, this was done after much desperation. One of the primary examples of exocannibalism is for religious and martial rituals. 
Communities that use the rituals of consuming victims to communicate or appease their gods as seen in the blood rituals of the Aztecs and Maya. Along with this is the tradition of consuming the flesh and organs of a rival warrior. The likely reason is to gain power and abilities from the fallen warriors (I guess like the Quickening from Highlander?) or it could be intimidated rivals from committing further aggression or violent by demonstrating their superiority…like a ultimate tea-bagging I guess. Of course, it could be just a common occurrence among a certain group, making in common or normal via ritual or just a protein source. Normally, this is exocannibalism. Then that brings us to the special reasons for endo and exo cannibalism. It could be part of a person’s psychological disorder that manifest itself into a serial killer type situation.
It could be part of a assumed medical treatment as seen with eating the human placenta or the consumption of mummy remains (Mummia) as a cure for all manner of aliments. Oddly, mummia was also used to create a color of paint, known as mummy brown. Humans are fucking weird. Then there is the use of the label “cannibal” for legal suppression of a people to gain access to lands or resources. This is the case with Europeans during the Conquest of the Americas. Noted historical asshole, Christopher Columbus used the words of Queen Isabel against her to force native peoples into slavery. She had forbidden the enslavement of natives unless they consumed human flesh. Christopher Columbus being the bastard that he is, accused the native people of the Caribs of the Lesser Antilles Caribbean Islands of eating of people, allowing him to enslave these peoples. This practice of accusing native peoples by the colonial powers of “cannibalism” did not stop, forging a path to racists ideology and stereotyping of native peoples. Then that brings us to aliens coming from the stars and eating us.

Why are Eaters of Man Popular in Science Fiction as Enemies
As with most of the articles in this serial of exploring and explaining the enemies of sci-fi, we see that a common fear is ripe for use as an alien boogieman or a monster stalking humans in the dark places of the world by writers and creators. The fear of being food for an alien or another human or a monster is a valid fear because we were once on the menu to a large degree and in the wrong situation, you could be again today in the modern world. There is also something dehumanizing about be regarded as food by another human or alien…it just seems unjust and wrong on a basic level. Think about a serial killer, which are bad enough, then add another layer of these killers of men being also an eater of man. It just adds that much horror to the tale. Whenever I read a story of fossil evidence of a prehistorical butchering of a human or human ancestor, it is unsettling on a basic human level. That horror and revulsion of a eater of man then applied to aliens coming to dine on us just makes it worse…just look at the Rraey alien race from the Old Man’s War series of books by John Scalzi and their love of human meat to the point of human meat farms. This is even more nightmare fuel of a certain horror when you have the term “human meat farm run by aliens”.

Could or Will Aliens Really Eat Humans?
One of the most popular reasons for aliens mounting armed conflict with us here on Earth is subjugate the human population and turn them into a protein source. Earth as a beef ranch for Glagnar's Human Rinds is very popular and has been used since the foundation of science fiction as it was as a foundation of mythology. But, could or would aliens come to Earth to eat us after crossing the interstellar gulf of deep space? Likely no for a lot of reasons. First, and most basic, is that it highly unlikely that aliens could not eat us because their alien biochemistry is not capable of processing our native proteins, fats, sugars.
This not only applies to us, but also our animals and our plants. This also works in reverse as well. We cannot chow down on some Yautja steaks even if we wanted to. Then there is logic. If an alien species has mastered interstellar space travel are they really crossing deep space to come here to Earth with a nuclear-armed species to harvest them for their alien McDonald's franchise? Likely not, especially when you consider that these aliens would be passing up the food species we already harvest for food. After all, as one source pointed out, humans are not a good species to raise for food due to our intelligence, being armed to the teeth, and that we are expensive to feed to the point of harvest. Then there is not much meat on us verse some other large species on this planet. While humans are plentiful, so are pigs, chickens, cattle, and fish. This match with the logistic challenge of conquering a planet or part of it to transform Earth into a human meat farm is a massive undertaking even if you are the Combine and would there not be easier ways to get a meal than engaging the native Terran population in armed conflict? Bottomline, this means that aliens would not really want to come here for a dinner reservation, but maybe for the strawberry ice cream.   

Humans as Food for Aliens in the UFO Community
For the articles in this series, I like to research what the stories of alien species in the UFO conspiracy community have to say. Most of the alien races that Terra has contact with, according to the UFO Community, do not harvest humans as a food source. Out of the rumored six alien species that Earth has been in contact with over the thousands of years, only one is mentioned to be an eater of man: the Reptilians. These lizard aliens are not as common in UFO abduction contactees stories as the Grey, but they are one of the most common ET races mentioned. So, according to some of the stories, these lizard aliens have been coming to Earth and they live underground and eating people. 
Some have suggested that this act of being a consumer of mankind may point to the fact that the Reptilians are native to Earth via an underground world unknown to human society at present (Hallow Earth Theory). Some have included the pre-Columbian god Quetzalcoatl in the discussion of alien Reptilians that consume people. So, why does this mean? It means that if these stories of the aliens are true, the vast majority of these alien races are not interesting in the human race and/or Earth as a food source. The only involvement that maybe aliens have with the Earth livestock is the cattle and horse mutilation, and no one is sure why these terrible acts are committed. There are some examples as well of possible ET human mutilation as well as with bodies being found and in a state that is extremely unsettling.  

And Something for your Enjoyment:

Then there are the Creatures in the Dark That Hunt Man
Through the work of channels like Bedtime Stories and author David Paulides, we know that people are disappearing in the National Parks of North America. Thousands have gone into the woods and ever to return to civilizations. While some of these missing are the result of misadventure, animal attack and sickness...but are all? From some reports and few pictures, it seems that there is something in deep woods that stalks and murders humans with some undoubtable being the creatures next meal. While there are no stories of the creature known as Bigfoot taking and consuming humans, there are rumors of wild humans living in the woods that do kill and eat people that are unlucky. Could it be the creature that Native Americans call "the Skinwalker" in these woods or even the Wendigo? We known from Tribal legend that the Wendigo were consumed with the eating of human flesh. 

The Eaters of Man in Science Fiction
Since the dawn of storytelling in those flame lit caves, humans have told stories of gods and monsters with some of them that dined on humans. At that time, the struggle was real and the people at that time were on the menu. This common, ancient fear manifested itself in the stories that we tell to this very day. Since the foundations of science fiction, there have aliens and fellow humans have come to dine on human meat with the Martians of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and the Time Machine. The trend was expanded into the public imagination with the The Twilight Zone 1962 episode "To Serve Man", which was used for the The Simpsons' and then there was the V miniseries airing on NBC in 1983, that I watched as a small kid. These works propelled the sci-fi trope of aliens that wished to serve man at the breakfast table a very popular type of enemy motivation. In science fiction, there are 4 types or categories of "eaters of man" in the genre:

1. the "eaters" are former humans that been infected with something that change their behavior to push them to a hunger spree against other uninfected humans to further spread that disease.
think about all the vampires, werewolfs, zombies etc. The website TV Tropes have an entry about it - 'The Virus'. Usually, those examples fit more into the realm of fantasy and/or horror setting rather than typical sci-fi but many work of sci-fi tried to working it in under some scientific appearance. This type of "eater" normally won't eat at all, but it is the overwhelming drive to consume thy flesh is use to spread the illness and partly eaten victims can't effectively further propagate the contingent pathogen. The source of eating virus is either natural or artificial.

2. The "eaters" are a macroscopic equivalent to tailored-made virus or bacteria that was designed to hurt only humans. Mostly artificially and made by non-human foes to target humans without damaging the planet, ecosystem and infrastructure. One such example is the Ursa from the Will Smith film After Earth might be an example for such if it does eat humans, instead of just using its mouth as a tool of death.

3. The "eaters" are humans and like all examples of historical cannibalisms, are driven to consume the flesh of their neighbors due to harsh external circumstances or human meat being a protein source for this futuristic community. We could see this on a "Jamestown" or "Donner Party" like scenario on a off-world colony that is cut-off from further supplies or the exo-environmental conditions are more harsh than assumed. This is much more rare in sci-fi, but it has been featured. One of the best examples is in the book of the Martian and the green wafers from Soylent Green(see examples). Then there is the example from the Book of Eli, the Terminus settlement from The Walking Dead, the experience of the character of Jesika Hendricks from the World War Z book, and the feral human cannibalism from The Walking Dead.

4. Then, lastly, the "eaters" are aliens who are either carnivores or omnivorous, who, by some miraculous of the writer's imagination are biochemically compatibility to consume Terran animals or live matter. These "eaters" don't really specifically want humans over other options on Earth, but it make sense to open the planetary conquering operation by eliminate the only viable resistance to their planetary victory, which are the folks with the guns and nukes. When life hands you billions of humans and your alien body can absorb, you use these tasty humans' flesh for jerky. 


The Visitors from the V universe
Here is the one of the nastiest space lizard man-eaters race ever seen in sci-fi and one that that introduced me and some of my generation to the concept (and horror) of Reptilians and aliens that want to eat people. The original NBC miniseries from 1983 came out when I was seven year old and exposed me to these nasty space lizard and their vile plot to invade the Earth for the purposes of robbing the planet of its resources and serve man on the dinner table. The "Visitors" were from a world needing resources and viewed Earth in the same way that the conquistadors did Mesoamerica. They hid their true selves in an artificial skin that made the Visitors appear more like us than something from the reptile section of the Zoo. During an investigation onboard one of the mother ships of the Visitors, journalist Mike Donavon discovered that the Visitors were not ambassadors of interstellar peace and brotherhood, but their real motivation was to steal our resources and us for food, slave labor, and foot soldiers in wars against other alien races that were unseen in the series. Their own world, which may have been circling the star Sirius was either captured during the alien wars or was used up. In the hidden parts of the massive mother ships of the aliens was thousands of missing humans that had gone missing during the Visitors time on Earth. The Motherships in orbit at present were only the vanguard of a vast convey of ships to turn Earth into a desert and human into livestock for the aggressive space lizards. In the 2009 ABC reboot, we see Queen mate and then consume a fellow lizard. 

The Kanamits from The Twilight Zone Episode "To Serve Man" 
One of the introductory works to the sci-fi trope of aliens that come to in the name of peace, only to have it be a cloak for the harvesting of humans was introduced to many of us via the excellent 1963 episode "To Serve Man" from the classic The Twilight Zone. In one of the most remembered episodes of the original series, the nine foot bald "male" aliens, called Kanamits arrived on Earth during the Cold War and give the Terrans everything they could hope for, or "the age of Santa Claus" as said in the show. During the Kanamit representative visit to the UN, the Kanamit leaves a book behind. Due to the complex and alien language used by the Kanamits, only the title of the book was learned, "To Serve Man" and it took some time for the rest to be translated. 
From that time until the end of the tale, the Kanamits had arranged popular tours of their homeworld and so far, no one had yet returned from one of these tours. It was here, on the tarmac of the spaceport that the truth was learned and it was too late for one of the main characters. After rewatching this iconic episode of the series, I realized that the "gifts" of the Kanamits were to secure a more stable food supply on Earth via the increased crop yield and the energy shields that prevented war. Of course, it could have been that the alien book was just dusty and not an actual cook book. 

The Magog from Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda
In one of the more forgotten science fiction series on American TV back in the early 2000's, we have a terrifying enemy in the Magog in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. The Magog were a genetically created or modified species that reproduced asexually by implanting their eggs into an unwilling host. The baby Magog do consume their host and the adult Magog do consume victims of their raids. In one scene, one of the higher born Magog insulted Rev Bem by calling his new Way name, a "food name". This sheds some light on the Magog thinking. During the same 2-part episode arch, Rev Bem runs across several Magog eating another Magog onboard the World Ship, and we pressed the Magog stated that the one being eaten was born out of a low-regarded host species. So, the Magog are both eaters of man and themselves. Some believe that the Magog were based on the Krite from The Critters films. 

The "Plan" of the Hermes Crew for Beth from The Martian Book
One of the scenes from the original book, The Martian, that was cut from the film was how the character of Beth Johanssen would have survived if the Chinese supply capsule via the Taiyang Shen rocket  had missed the Hermes on its way back to Mars to rescue Mark Watney. Beth was the youngest and smallest of the crew and the internet star of that Ares 3 Mission, who survived as the computer expert onboard the ship. When the Hermes crew decided to extended their mission by more than a year of travel time, it was critical that the Chinese resupply ship got to the Hermes during their slingshot and if the American Martian ship missed the capsule, there was no enough food to complete the rescue mission back to the Red Planet. During a talk with Beth's family, she revealed that their was a plan laid down by the disco-loving Commander Lewis and it was a grim plan. Beth told her parents that she would survive even if the resupply mission failed. Given her smaller size, the rest of the Hermes crew would take a suicide pill and become the extended food supply for Beth and Mark. Beth told her parents about this by saying: "they always have a plan." While a realistic plan, it was a little too grim from the film. 

The Blob from the The Blob 1988 and 1958 films 
In the B-movie horror icon, the human eating machine from outer space was a red-colored Blob that consumed whole people while they struggled. The more people it eats, the more the Blob grows. In the original film, the Blob came to Earth via a meteor and was only stopped by being transported to the artic and they hoped that the artic stayed cold...and given the state of climate change...the Blob should be coming back to eat us. Crazy enough, the story of the Blob was taken from a Star Jelly incident in Pennsylvania in 1950. The film had a sequel and a remake in 1988 when the Blob was developed by a bio-weapons program and given how dangerous the Blob was, the US government shot the thing into space...that worked out. For the 1988 film, Tony Gardner worked on the special effects, who also made the Draft Punk helmets...crazy.  

The Krites from the Critters Franchise 
In the Critters franchise, the terrifying and always hungry alien species known as the "Krites" were a menace to the interstellar society with specialized hunters being trained and outfitted to find and kill these terror of the stars. During the origin 1986 film, the last of the Krtie species were being transported to be destroyed until these intelligent creatures took control of the transport vessel and go to Earth to feed and breed. The bloody tale of these little fuzzy alien creatures has been told over four films and a web series in a variety of locations. In all of the mostly dark comedy films, the gross out horror comes from the eating habits of these critters...and who they eat. They eat everything, but they like living meat and Earth was a massive buffet for them. These creatures scared the hell out of me and I still can remember the VHS tape cover art at the local rental shops.  

The Graboid from the Tremors Franchise 
One of the best surprises in 1990's cinema was 1990's Tremors starring Kevin Bacon and it still holds up to this very day. In the film, the prehistoric underground creatures that hunt via vibration, the Graboid, stalk and consume humans through the film in a gruesome way that feed into the horror aspect of the film. The sequels and TV show of the original film continued the human feeding and expanding Graboid species. While there are many, many films that feature man-eating creatures, The Tremors was so interesting and compelling that I wanted to feature this creature.   

The Morlocks and Eloi from The Time Machine
In the classic tale of the Victorian-era Time Traveler, we see the very far future of 802,701 and sees the “progress of man” and the horrors of the far-future. In this time period, there two primary human species that occupy the Earth: the Eloi and the Morlocks. According to the 1898 text and the 1960 film, the Morlock use their technology hidden in underground cities to meet their basic needs until harvest time, and the fruit-eating Eloi are called into the Sphinx to be the source of meat for the Morlock. The Time Traveler theorized that the Eloi had been robbed of their intelligence and basic survival instinct. The cannibalistic nature of the Morlocks has rich food for thought for others reading into the text, such as man feeding on themselves. This became a source for other science fiction writers and creators to use cannibalism as seen in the film Soylent Green

The Soylent Green Wafers from Soylent Green (1973)
In the much remembered and meme’ed 1973 sci-fi film, the world of 2022(!) is a dark overpopulated hot world of billions with New York City being at 40 million people. There is a lack of water, jobs, food, and shelter. Given the desperate conditions, there was a desperate solution to the hungry: people. In the film, the Soylent Corporation was originally making the Green wafers from ocean algae and plankton, but with the seas unable to support the level of need, the Soylent Corporation had to look elsewhere for a protein supply and they found it in the recent dead from government operated assisted suicide centers and medical centers. These bodies were moved to the Soylent processing centers and turned into the green crackers for the living. What it is interesting is that in the original 1966 books that the film is loosely based on, Make Room! Make Room!. It does not feature the human-based meal crackers.

The Strogg from the Quake Universe
While the Borg from Star Trek are pretty bad…there is the Strogg from some of the Quake games. These collective cybernetic aliens are butchers of men and have made their way across the galaxy leaving a bloody wave in their path.  They are harvesters of worlds and the ender of civilizations. Their origins are unknown, but some have assumed that the Strogg were a holdover from previous ancient war were the Strogg were the Supersoldiers of that conflict and they outlived their creators...or ate them. Their victims can and do become their lunch or another drone for the endless campaigns. Among the various forms of Strogg Army are their victims and along with altering the biological forms of their conquests, the Strogg society also consumes their victims and their fallen. 

The Brutes from the HALO Universe
In the ranks of the vast Convent, there is the Jirlhanae or "the Brutes". First seen in HALO 2, the Brutes took the place of the Elites as the chosen warriors of the religious crusade of the Covenant. I personally dislike the Brutes since the 2nd HALO game, despite enjoying the Mauler and the Spiker. Due to this, HALO Infinite has not been fun for me due to the amount of dammed stinking dirty space apes! Throughout the many stories of HALO, the dialog, along with the fandom, we have a picture of the Brutes eating the dead of their enemies. In HALO 2, we heard the Brutes that dragged the future Arbiter to the tomb of the Arbiters and they discussed how his flesh was cooked the way they liked it. There are other stories of how the Jirlhanae setup survivors into flesh farms for cookouts. This gave the Brutes even more fearsomeness and plays into the Trope of the Eaters of Man.

The Rraey from the Old Man's War Universe
This likely one of the more infamous and terrifying Eaters of Man in modern Sci-Fi literature: the Reaey from the Old Man's War Universe. Throughout the original Old Man's War Trilogy that contain the only good books within the series, the various characters have gory interactions with the bird-like Rraey. In the books, these aliens very much enjoy cooking and eating human flesh. To the point, that when theese interstellar assholes capture a human colony, they bring in celebrity chefs to prepare human meat based meals. Lovely. During the 2nd book in the series, the Rraey had a human meat farm with babies harvest for a type of human veal. This was all very shocking and made you want to have every Rraey filled with MP-35 rounds. This is one of the better examples and done extremely well in all of military science ficiton.    

The Titans from Attack of the Titans
Okay, the world of Attack of the Titans is complex and one I not understand because I have not yet watched the AOT show. In the anime TV series, the massive Titans attack human settlements and seem to scoop up humans and consume them faster than Texans eat street tacos. In season 3, the answer of why the Titans attack and seem to bite the heads off of humans is too seek out "Titan Shifters" that contain a special type of spinal fluid that can convert themselves back into humans and not the monsters. So, they are biting and killing humans to find these special types...I guess it is like searching through the mixed nuts at a party. 

The Fucking Ewoks from SW:ROTJ
On the forest moon of Endor, there exists the dominate intelligent species, the fuzzy cute Stone Aged Teddy Bears known as “Ewoks”. These creatures live in treehouse like villages among the massive trees and they are blood-thirsty meat-eating savages that eat Stormtroopers and other Imperials and other alien visitors by the bucket. And this is canon and seen in the film! It was odd what I accepted as a kid watching SW: ROTJ back in 1983 and what I now know about these little fuzzy killers. Throughout the film, the Ewoks that Rebel assault team contacts were interested in Han and Company as the main dish at a dinner party at Bright Tree Village for their new golden god and Leia! And it is heavily hinted that the Ewoks celebrated the destruction of the 2nd Death Star with Imperial and Stormtrooper brisket. 

The Human Battery Farms from the Matrix Universe
In a nearly throwaway line in the first Matrix movie from 1999, it is mentioned that the humans hooked up to the Matrix in the human battery farms are feed the dead intravenously after they have been liquefied in an gelatinous nutrient solution. I guess everyone is Tasty Wheat in the Battery Farms. In addition, everyone liberated from the Battery Farms is a unwilling cannibal. Let that settle in...

The Reavers from Firefly
In the TV show, RPG, and the movie, the Reavers were the monster of the space western setting and they are quite the monsters and they are humans and not some sort of alien species. Born out of the Pax experiments on the failed Alliance colony of Miranda, the Reavers were driven mad and did unspeakable acts of violence on the humans living in the Verse with cannibalism being one of those. Or as Zoe said: "If they take the ship, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing – and if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order." The Reavers were considered something of a boogieman by citizens living in the core worlds rather than the frontier worlds. 

The Wraith from Stargate: Atlantis
In the TV show spinoff Stargate Altantis, we are introduced the Pegasus galaxy big-bad: the Wraith. Born out of the Ancients and the Iratus Bug when the nasty bug began to consume human flesh and it altered into the Wraith that consumed the lifeforce of humans for food. Another origin story is that Wraith were the failed product of a experience by the Ancients to achieve immortality if they could not ascent. The feeding process of the Wraith involves placing the right hands onto the victim's chest and sucking the lifeforce from their victim via specialized organ. The Wraith must feed from living human hosts and the Wraith inject the host with a special enzyme to prevent the subject going into arrest. This enzyme could be used to enhance a normal human as seen in Lt. Ford. While feeding can be fast, it can be done slowly for other purposes. The Wraith can and do cull entire worlds when it is feeding time and some worlds take to underground cities to prevent the entire population from being consumed...some most be culled for the trick to work. To increase the feed stock for tasty prey, the Wraith experimented on some subjects and one was Teyla.  

Q'tara from The War of the Worlds TV Series 
During the first season of the oddball and terribly cheesy War of the Worlds TV show that I watched back in the day, we are introduced to another race that is interested in the human race as well: the Q'tara. Known to the Mo-Tax aliens of the original 1953 invasion, it is during their reattempt at Earth invasion in 1988 that another alien race makes an appear on Earth in the form of human woman synthetic creation during the last episode of the 1st Season. this enemy is known to the Mo-Tax and it is during her mission to Earth, she communicates with the Q'tara that the Earth would make an excellent feeding ground. This concept was abandoned for the more cyberpunk 2nd Season.   

The Alien Creatures from Lifeforce (1985)
While all Vampires are the consumers of man, there is Space Vampires and they are also consumers of man. One of the best space vampires films of all time is 1985's Lifeforce. In the British film, the British American-made Space Shuttle Churchill is sent to investigate an space ship hidden in Halley's Comet. There, the astronauts in MMUs discover three naked humans in crystal that appear to have them in status. The only female alien is played by French actress Mathilda May (who is stunning in this film) and she uses her beautiful and nudity to lure in prey and drain them of their lifeforce energy. Not a bad film overall and an interesting take on the eaters of man. 

Next Time on FWS...
It is finally time to discuss one of those memories I have from my wandering around comic book stores in the 1980's and 1990's: the ALIENS and Terminator 2 adventure games by Leading Edge Games. While only existing for a short time, these miniature  based games were something very interesting and compelling when seen on the shelves in comic book and hobby shops until the closure of the company in 1992. In the next installments of MSF Oddities, we will looking into both the ALIENS Adventure Game and the T2 Year of Darkness games.