Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for First Contact

Mankind will undoubtedly be changed if/when we make contact with an alien species.  The nature of this change has been explored in various science fiction narratives, and many stories show humanity coming together as a result of first contact.

Sometimes the aliens come in peace, and sometimes they don’t.  How do these two scenarios differ, and how does that effect humanity?

When aliens come with a purpose to conquer, you see humans banding together to vanquish the enemy.  United in a common purpose, people and countries set aside their petty squabbles.  Though these invasion stories are just as much a reflection of our own violent past as they are a speculation about what might happen if aliens come to Earth with hostile intentions, in doing so they showcase the best of us.  These stories are also a good excuse to have big explosions, but that’s another matter entirely.

However, what happens when aliens come in peace?  According to the future portrayed by Star Trek, the revelation that we aren’t alone unites us in a way never thought possible.  War, and famine disappear.  (War still exists, but it no longer takes place between different segments of humanity.  We all know conflict was still prevalent in Star Trek.)  The need for material wealth no longer exists.  We see ourselves as one race instead of a multitude of groups.  Humanity is also generally accepting of alien cultures.  While disagreements happen, humanity as a whole prides itself on having moved beyond prejudice.

Image from Star Trek: First Contact
Babylon 5 paints a different picture.  While the people of Earth have generally come together, there is still homelessness and prejudice.  You hear people describe the Marsies with disdain, and there are groups that vehemently distrust alien races.  Government corruption ultimately leads to a civil war.

Given humanity’s past, is the Star Trek vision of the future too optimistic, or do you think we could eventually get there?  What implications would first contact have for religious belief?  For politics?  What new avenues would science have to explore?  Could we genuinely relate with and find common ground with a species that is vastly different from our own?


  1. I love the idea that the world of Star Trek could become a reality, but I think we'd have to change a hell of a lot for it to happen. I hate to think how complicated politics would become. I think that if a species came looking for us we could probably relate since we are looking for them too, so we must have something in common.
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  2. I think the world of Star Trek is overly optimistic. Society now treats certain groups of people as if they are worth less than the average human being. How could we fully accept creatures that are really different from us. It's a sad thought but if you've read Ender's Game, I think that would be slightly more accurate. We want to get along but misunderstandings are inevitable. And those misunderstandings could lead to interspecies war.

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  3. Maybe Star Trek is overly optimistic but I think if I remember correctly there had been a lot of wars and conflict before getting to that level of acceptance xx Great post xx

  4. I rather like Star Trek's view on things. I like to hope we are going to get better.

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  5. I don't think we'll ever get to Star Trek's vision the way things are going now, but I hope we get past the Babylon 5 future.

  6. I would hope that Star Trek is a reality, but it seems that society always needs something to rally against. Such as Black, Women's Rights, Rock and Roll, Violent Movies, Video Games, LGBT...

    It's weird to put all of that into a single list, but Babylon 5 is more accurate, that no matter how far we come, we will always be bound to our culture and disfavoring anything outside of it that threatens to change us, even for the better.

  7. At first I thought this was just going to be about Star Trek: First Contact (which I love), but as a sci-fi fan, I love that you have a more in-depth discussion here. If it ever happens in real life, I would hope that the good people take control of the situation, and it all works out. There are so many variables, but it could really go either way.

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