Every once in a while, one of the handful of people who have read Chara’s Promise will ask me a question. Usually, they ask it on the “Ask a Question” page of this blog, but occasionally they’ll send me an email. When they do that, I typically reply just to them. This week I received a question from Kyle in Chicago. I answered, but then decided it might make an interesting post. Kyle asked, “Will the colonists run into any extraterrestrials while they are building the colony?”
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. On Chara D, the colonists ARE the extraterrestrials. Humans are the ones who, in effect, invaded that planet. If you rephrase the question to ask, “Will the colonists run into any non-human species while they are building the colony,” the answer is still obvious. Every native species on Chara D is non-human. They’ll run into millions of them.
I suspect that what Kyle really wanted to know was: “Will the colonists meet any non-human sapient species that come from a world other than Earth or Providence.” My answer to that is: probably not. That stems from my personal beliefs about extraterrestrials. It’s not that I don’t believe that there are other intelligent life forms in the universe. Actually, I think that’s likely, if not inevitable. I just don’t believe that it’s going to turn out so well for us if and when we meet. I suspect that, if we do meet intelligent aliens, they’ll be a lot more like Klingons than Vulcans.
That’s one of the reasons I wonder about our current policy of using everything in our toolbox in an effort to contact extraterrestrial life forms. Not only are we filling outer space with a variety of electromagnetic radiation that indentifies us as an intelligent species, we’re sending physical probes out as calling cards. Some, like Pioneer 10 and 11, have road maps. Isn’t that convenient for the Klingons? So, let’s look at the scenarios.
Scenario One – There is no other intelligent life in the universe and little possibility of it developing. Given the data obtained since 2009 from the Kepler Space Observatory, this is unlikely. That data indicates that there are over 17 billion earth sized planets just in our galaxy. We are not alone.
Scenario Two – There is other intelligent life in the universe but it’s below us on the developmental scale. That may be possible, but what are the odds that we got a head start over everything else in the universe? I’m not buying that.
Scenario Three – There is other intelligent life but it’s all basically at the same technological level as we are. Given how rapidly technology advances once the point of critical mass is reached, that would mean we and they all came out of the gate at exactly the same time. I’m not buying that either. Even if that is the case, there’s no reason to believe that conflict would be avoided. Actually that probably makes conflict inevitable. If we all figure out superstring theory and superluminal travel simultaneously, we can meet in the center of the Galaxy and annihilate each other. That’ll be fun.
Scenario Four – There is other, more advanced, intelligent life in the universe but it’s either benign or benevolent. They must have a prime directive. I’m betting that every aboriginal human race on earth, along with other primates, dolphins, orcas, elephants, horses and probably dogs are rolling on the floor laughing at that concept. Unless I miss my bet, Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” theory is universal. The odds of an advanced species stopping by just to say hello is amusing. Didn’t any of you watch the television series “V” or “Falling Skies”?
Scenario Five – There is other, more advanced, intelligent life in the universe and if we meet, either on their court or ours, we are toast. This is the one I’m putting my chips on. They may not come looking for us. With all the planets out there, why would they? But, if they happen to be passing by our little solar system and notice, either because we’re broadcasting television reruns of Battlestar Galactica or because we sent them a gold record with a medley of Earth sounds on it, that we’re here then why not stop? Once they do, it won’t make any difference whether they’re mean, greedy, careless or just plain hungry. Any of those characteristics will ensure our demise.
The only prudent action is for us to assume that there is other life out there and that seeking them out or letting them find us is akin to a rabbit standing in the middle of a field waving a red flag as a hawk flies over head. While the hawk might appreciate the targeting help, that’s not what a rabbit would do. Rabbits hide in the brush close to a hole that they can find in a moment’s notice. When they do go in the open, they keep one eye on the grass they are eating while the other is scanning for predators. As a species, rabbits are survivors.
We humans have a tendency to think that we are and will always be the predominate alpha predator. We may be AN alpha predator but, from an interstellar standpoint, I doubt we will ever be THE alpha predator. Darwin’s theories may have made it work out that way on the little rock we live on, but the universe is a pretty big place with a lot of possibilities. I’m with Stephen Hawking, we need to be more like rabbits.
I’m kind of fond of the characters in the Chara series and I’d like them to stay around for a while. So, there will be no sapient aliens in my novels. That is unless one of the species native to Chara D turns out to be further advanced than we think. 🙂