Size change in fiction  

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Resizing (including size-changing, miniaturization, magnification, shrinking, and enlargement), is a theme in fiction, in particular in fairy tales, fantasy, and science fiction.


Early instances in fiction

There are many examples of resizing in Chinese fiction such as Journey to the West.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has repeated resizing themes, where Alice grows or shrinks as she eats foodstuffs or drinks potions.

Mario, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl feature power-up items such as Super Mushrooms which grow the character to large size, and Poison Mushrooms and Lightning Bolts which shrink the character to small size. In Mario, featured power-ups are Mega Mushrooms which grow the character to giant size, and Mini Mushrooms which shrink the character to tiny size.

Excessive growth

Common causes of excessive growth in fiction include poisons of various kinds and radioactive contamination. Other causes are the drinking of chemicals, being shot by a growth ray, or by will.

The novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth by H. G. Wells describes a kind of food that can accelerate and extend the growth process, which when introduced to the world causes great upheavals. In Wells' novel, giants have great powers, and they seek to continue growing and improving; only the small people with their small minds stand in their way. This is a symbol of social groups with great potential suppressed by mainstream society, and an expectation for them to eventually change the world (through a radical way). Though one of Wells' lesser-known works, many of the features of the novel have been incorporated into other works.

Excessive growth is often described as result of advance in biology (in Wells' novel, for example, the food was developed by two biologists). In reality, excessive growth is usually related to some illness; victims of fictional excessive growth, however, are generally more than healthy, and have powers proportionate to their size (in the same way that the physical limitations related to size in reality are ignored).

In science fiction/horror B-movies, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, enlargement of people or creatures to monstrous size (often accomplished via radiation) was a common theme. Films featuring enlargement include Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Amazing Colossal Man, Village of the Giants, The Food of the Gods, 1954's Them!, and Tarantula. Bert I. Gordon is the filmmaker most closely associated with this genre. More recently, Disney released Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, which involves a toddler who grows tall when exposed to electricity, and causes panic in Las Vegas.

In the recent Japanese production "Dai-Nippon-Jin" ("Big Man Japan") the protagonist is the latest in a dynasty of heroes who can grow to enormous size to fight equally huge monsters.

In the music video of Relient K's "(Marylin Manson ate)My girlfriend", The gigantic "Marylin Manson" eats the girlfriend to the band and the band has to go into "Marylin Manson" and save her.

Probably the best-known example of resizing in comic strips is a series of Calvin and Hobbes strips where Calvin grows bigger than a galaxy.

There are groups online that call the obsession of large thigs "Macrophilia". This sexual obsession is usually about large women, but can also be animals and objects.

Shrinking machines

The shrinking is usually accomplished using a machine of some kind. For example, in the films Fantastic Voyage and Innerspace, in which the miniaturized protagonists travel through the human body, the machine looks something like a Star Trek transporter, and is large enough to accommodate the target. On the other hand, in the film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the machine looks like a laser device which operates near the target. In some works, a shrinking machine can enlarge as well, and vice versa. For example, in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, a shrinking machine makes a toddler 100 feet tall. Both types of machine normally have the ability to reverse the shrinking process (though sometimes, as in Fantastic Voyage, the reversal happens automatically after a certain period).

In 1940's Dr. Cyclops, the protagonists are reduced to less than a foot in size by the titular mad scientist, and are subjugated to his whims. 1957's The Incredible Shrinking Man inspired a boom in science fiction films that made use of size-alteration in the late 1950s and the 1960s, and also inspired a comic remake in 1981's The Incredible Shrinking Woman.

In the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Terratin Incident", a ray of unknown origin strikes the Enterprise and causes everyone aboard to begin gradually shrinking. Spock explains this as the gaps between molecules reducing, though only in organic material such as flesh and the the crews' algae-based xenylon uniforms. When Captain Kirk beams down to the planet from which the ray emanated, the effect of the transporter restores him to normal size.

In The Super Dimension Fortress Macross anime series, miniaturizing cloning technology known as micloning (maikuro-n ka in Japanese) plays a significant role in the coexistence of a giant alien race called Zentradi and humanity.

In Marvel Comics, "Pym particles" (named for their inventor, Henry Pym, variously known by the superhero identities Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath and Yellowjacket) cause physical matter to shrink or enlarge by shunting mass into, or drawing mass from, another dimension. In addition to Pym, a number of other superheroes have used Pym particles to change their size, including the Wasp (Pym's ex-wife), the second Goliath, Black Goliath, the second Ant-Man, and the second Yellowjacket. Pym also designed a prison for supervillains that was dubbed "the Big House", in which superhuman criminals who could not be normally incarcerated were shrunken down to six inches in height.

In DC Comics, the equivalent characters are the various individuals who go by the superhero name, The Atom. In particular of these people, Professor Ray Palmer is the foremost authority in size and molecular density changing technology.

In the 2008 comedy film Meet Dave, the humanoid aliens controlling "Dave" are one inch tall.

See also

  • Miniaturization — besides referring to shrinking things and people, miniaturization in science fiction also refers to redesigning products to make smaller ones.

Further reading

  • Glassy, Mark C. The Biology of Science Fiction Cinema. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. 2001.

Linking in in 2023

Alice in Wonderland (1951 film), Andrew Lost, Atomic Age, Attack of the Alligators!, Ben's Game, Body Troopers, Cheshire Crossing, Dormammu, Enlargement, Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain, Fantastic Voyage, Henri René Guieu, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, List of Adventure Time episodes, List of Big Mouth episodes, List of science fiction television programs, List of science fiction themes, Macrophilia, Maurice Renard, Miniaturization, Mister Smile, Outline of science fiction, Palace of Magic, Raquel Welch, Roman Frederick Starzl, Shapeshifting, Shrink, Shrinkage, Size (disambiguation), Size, Small & Frye, Super Mario 3D Land, The Devil-Doll, The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth, The Investigator (TV pilot), The New Adventures of Batman, The Number Devil, The Secret Service, Them!, Tinker Bell, Tom Thumb Tempest

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