The use of "alien" for space beings (from Martin Kottmeyer)
[This from my eminent friend Martin Kottmeyer]
Just saw the post about when alien was first used a ‘a person from another world. Just did a digital word search for alien in a file I have about the history of Gray imagery. These are two examples where I feel the usage fits the parameters reasonably well.
Marvel Science Stories
volume 1, #1, pp. 98-127.
“Avengers of Space”
The contents page describes the cover: “Norman Saunders, well-known cover artist, pictures a thrilling scene on the planet Mars from Henry Kuttner’s feature novel Avengers of Space”
Kuttner’s novel is a fast-paced action-adventure consisting of several brief fights and confrontations spanning Earth, Mars, Titan, a nameless asteroid, and a golden fleet of spaceships from another universe that destroys Earth just as the first anti-gravity rocket leaves. On Mars they meet ape-men ruled over by a brain with telekinetic powers. The girl is tortured by being imperiled by a red-hot sphere on wheels to which she is chained. Paintings in the temple show “depictions of men and women struggling in the grip of fantastic torture-devices, Satanic instruments of which the Inquisition had never dreamed.”(108) Before being machine-gunned into ooze, we learn from it
“I am a god. Ages ago the scientists of this world took the brain of a beast-man, evolved it by long and painful experiments. It became superhuman. I am that brain. I rule Kathor.”(111)
They next go to Titan, a serpent-world of dinosauroids, serpent-men, giant snakes. One fellow goes into a roofless cavern and gets a ride in an elevator allowing him to see various levels - one has large rows of ovoids resembling giant snake eggs, one has great snakes feeding on something like an elephant, another a fifty foot golden snake. One of the golden fleet appears and our hero defeats an ameba-man. He is directed to a thought gem holding an advanced intelligence who explains what really happened to the earth and helps our hero bring it back into our universe. He flies into the ship of the ruler of the extra-universal ameba-men. He sees a Martian being experimented upon.
Shawn turned sick as he saw what the aliens were doing. Ignoring the screams of the Martian, they were probing the man’s face and head with long needles, from the ends of which wires ran to an enigmatic machine a few feet away. Into this wretch’s eyes and mouth and throat the steel points probed, and the needles alternately brightened and grew dull, while from the machine near by a low humming rose and sank.
“They seek to read his mind,” came the message of the life-jewel. “Not as we do so, or as the Martians can. But with machines … first they torture their victim, so he will be too far gone in pain to lie to them, even in his thoughts…”
The Martian’s shrieks had died to a wordless sobbing. The largest Alien plunged one of the needles directly into the top of the head.
The machine burst forth into a throbbing roar. Almost immediately it faded and died, while the Martian went limp.
“They drained his brain of knowledge. The shock killed him…” (125)
Then they put the hero’s lust-interest, Lorna, naked and bound by cords on the table.
The pseudopods that gripped Shawn’s arms tightened. He stood silently, watching as the ruler brought a needle down until it pricked the rounded curve of Lorna’s bare breast - pressed it deep!
The girl awoke. She screamed, her eyelids fluttering open, and her form tensed against the imprisoning cords. The Alien withdrew his needle, sank it again in the warm, tender flesh. (125)
Our hero machine-guns the ruler then thrusts the thought jewel into the ameba-man’s nucleus. This puts the entire ameba-race under control of the gem intelligence’s will. The hero and his love leave unmolested, the Earth is brought back, and the golden fleet flies into the Sun. The hero’s ship lands with nobody being aware of their adventure for the earth was in stasis while in the other universe.
Fantastic Novels, 4, #6, p. 31.
C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner's "Earth's Last Citadel."
"I'd never realized how alien the Aliens were until I heard about the things they made out of human flesh."
I did Project Gutenberg text searches for alien in H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds & First Men in the Moon and the usages are actually inverted, imagining how alien man would be like to the Martians and Selenites
War of the Worlds
And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.
First men in the moon
Quietly the whole sheet, save where it lay in immediate contact with the snow, charred and shrivelled and sent up a quivering thread of smoke. There was no doubt left to me; the atmosphere of the moon was either pure oxygen or air, and capable therefore—unless its tenuity was excessive—of supporting our alien life. We might emerge—and live!
I also did that for a Burroughs classic but it is set on Mars and the usage seems consistent for the beings coming from another country on Mars, thus alien as an immigrant or foreigner.
A Princess of Mars
“The incubators are built in remote fastnesses, where there is little or no likelihood of their being discovered by other tribes. The result of such a catastrophe would mean no children in the community for another five years. I was later to witness the results of the discovery of an alien incubator.”
"Your position is a peculiar one," he continued; "you are a prisoner and yet you give commands which must be obeyed; you are an alien and yet you are a Tharkian chieftain; you are a midget and yet you can kill a mighty warrior with one blow of your fist. And now you are reported to have been plotting to escape with another prisoner of another race; a prisoner who, from her own admission, half believes you are returned from the valley of Dor. Either one of these accusations, if proved, would be sufficient grounds for your execution, but we are a just people and you shall have a trial on our return to Thark, if Tal Hajus so commands.”
These results to me only suggest some usage prior to 1953. 1938 is earliest usage I find in the quoted materials. There will likely be earlier examples in the pulps that just didn’t make it into this single file.
Hope it helps,