Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Extraterrestrial Contact: Should it beYou?

Let’s say that you’re an alien ready to say hello to human beings. How would you do it? Perhaps, you could email the United Nations? Or you could call Jill Tarter at the SETI Institute? I wonder how that would go over? We know the answer: it wouldn’t go far. In all fairness, Jill Tarter and the SETI folks do have alternative contingencies for contact falling outside of their primary “signal in space” expectations. Still, the primary issue is the signal to noise ratio. How many nuts are already pretending to be aliens and would all of that “noise” make it impossible to sort out the real thing? Aliens, even those who could easily visit Earth, might be best sending a signal from far-off space in hopes of getting our attention, since currently that’s our only organized method for dealing with First Contact.
I know that Direct First Contact is the least likely form of First Contact, but it’s a scenario that has always interested me. I think that my answer to the alien dilemma would be this- contact one person to help you organize a welcome for the entire planet. Clearly, you would have to pick the proper person- someone outside the primary systems of scientific and governmental bureaucracy. However, that person should have the knowledge and skills to help in staging such an event. Michael Michaud, Paul Davies of Douglas Vakoch would be good candidates. They have a solid base of knowledge, proven communication skills and, most importantly, the ability to be creative in problem solving. First Contact would come with plenty of problems.
Why do you need a human? Aliens could simply land a craft in a major city and then come outside to have a news conference. But such an unaided event could easily backfire, leading to misunderstandings and perhaps violent conflict. Aliens could also hijack our communications system, taking over TV channels worldwide. This would be tough to do, but one would assume that aliens able to visit Earth would have highly advanced technology at their disposal. So, why get a human to help you? Humans would be much less of a threat than aliens. Human help could also provide a buffer of sorts, to safely introduce the welcome before aliens actually presented themselves. Finally, humans would best understand and respond to the reactions of other humans. No matter how long aliens had studied the human race, they would still be at a disadvantage in managing the fine points of human interaction. Having a human guide could help.
This may sound nutty, but if you think about it, such a scenario does make sense. There are certainly a multitude of ways aliens could make contact with humans. And aliens would probably have very different considerations in making contact, considerations that could be tough for us to understand. However, it is a scenario worth considering. I decided to explore human introduction in my new novel “The Ashland City Landing”. Alex Morrison has made a new friend on the Internet. It’s a relationship that could drive his wife and friends half-crazy and that’s if federal agents and newspaper reporters don’t blow it wide open before the big moment. Can Alex hold it all together before The Ashland City Landing?
The Ashland City Landing is a sometimes-funny, sometimes-serious, science fiction novel about the practicalities of meeting space aliens and having to save the world from itself and also perhaps those very same aliens. Alex fights to keep his sanity, while concocting an introduction that will change the course of human civilization. He’s being pursued by a journalist desperate for a cover story. Alex’s best friend is a real ass and sometimes his psychologist. Alex’s wife does her best to be the Southern belle, but that’s not going too well. And yet he needs them both to pull it off. Along the way Alex enlists help from a burned-out astrophysicist and meets federal agents who are definitely not amused.

The Ashland City Landing is available in printed and Kindle electronic format through Amazon USA, Amazon Europe affiliates and through Nook at Barnes and Noble.

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