Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Alien life forms. It's something we've speculated about from War of the Worlds (the original) to E.T. We've seen everything from green women in the original Star Trek to life forms that are not remotely humanoid in Aliens. It's a favorite subject of sci-fi novels and anyone who has ever grokked Robert A. Heinlein has probably read more than a few books about extra-terrestrial life. This wouldn't be much of a sci-fi blog if we didn't delve into the subject of aliens every now and then. It's as much a part of the genre as magic is to fantasy. The whole point of seeking out new worlds with our scientific technology seems to be almost solely based on finding out if other beings exist in the universe. Not only does science fiction ponder the question, but authors like Erich Von Daniken have devoted whole careers to studying what they believe is evidence of alien life on earth; with varying results. And if that's not enough, our own government sponsors programs such as SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), famously promoted by Carl Sagan. Why are we so moved to seek out alien intelligence? There are so many possible answers to that question. Could it simply be the next logical step in scientific advancement? I could buy that if it were only the scientist that was interested in the subject. But based on how many sci-fi novels sell each year, and of course the claims of alien abductions we hear about, it doesn't seem to be a subject that is exclusively of scientific interest. It could simply be that we don't want to believe that we're alone in the great big cosmos. I could buy that. I could also believe that maybe we're seeking the answers to the larger questions. Maybe in finding extra-terrestrial life we'll find the answers to our own creation. Or maybe not. Maybe like Mulder in the X-Files, we just want to believe.