Elder race

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

An elder race in science fiction, fantasy, or horror fiction is a fictional alien race that preceded humanity. Occasionally they are a more advanced version of humanity instead of aliens (e.g., the Stargate Ancients). Elder races generally have abilities and technologies (or magics, in some cases) that generally far surpass that of humanity. In works of science fiction, their technologies are often so advanced as to seem magical or even godlike both to the human protagonists and to the present-day reader.

In some works, the elder race has long since departed the scene, leaving nothing but artifacts and other evidence of their activities. In others, the elder race remains in existence, but is in decline or has deliberately withdrawn to the periphery in order to avoid interfering with the development of humanity and any other younger races. A few elder races are portrayed as still being very much active in the story-current scene, and members of them may function as advisers or as antagonists.

Some elder races are portrayed as wise benefactors, bringing culture and knowledge to humanity and other younger races. Other elder races are callous exploiters, and regard younger races as so much raw material to be used and even used up. A few are portrayed ambiguously, with their well-intended actions having unexpected consequences. For instance, a client race may use their new-found technology for self-destruction, or a policy of non-interference may turn out to be a way of abdicating responsibility for using one's power wisely (power corrupts the best of intentions).


See also[edit]


  • Andy Sawyer. Elder Races // The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders. Edited by Gary Westfahl. Advisory Board Richard Bleiler, John Clute, Fiona Kelleghan, David Langford, Andy Sawyer, and Darrell Schweitzer. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2005. 1395 pp.