They Walk Among Us


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By the latest estimates, the known universe has about one trillion galaxies, give or take. Each galaxy could have a billion stars, minimum.

I tried multiplying a billion by a trillion and my calculator broke.

But astronomers, using new techniques and telescopes– and much better calculators– have now found approximately 3,000-plus Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. And that’s just so far, with relatively primitive detection abilities.

There are recent estimates that there may be millions more out there, and even that might be a low number.

I’ve been thinking about this, about all the intelligent aliens that are probably out there. That’s more comforting than what’s going on in Washington. Or with climate change. Or with religious fanatics here and in the Middle East who think Armageddon and death on a global scale would be just dandy. Or one of several nuclear-powered dictators with big, swinging dic… well, you know.

I’ve been toying with these ideas for a science fiction novel, set about 50-75 years from now. When several coastal cities around the world are either submerged or living behind dikes. When refugees have flooded inland to live in ghettos around Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati, and social upheavals and the breakdowns of services and order have led to martial law across the southern United States. Much worse conditions have hit India, Bangladesh, China, Japan, most Caribbean island nations, most of southern Europe and Africa and Australia and New Zealand and even Hawaii. Disease and famine spread.

When former breadbasket states like Nebraska and Oklahoma and Kansas now register summer temperatures averaging over 100 degrees, and where crop failures have hit the majority of the years for a decade. Hunger is spreading and prices are spiking. People are moving underground or under domes. Animal species who can’t adapt to changing conditions start to die off in noticeable numbers. India and Pakistan have a brief nuclear exchange that kills 5 million people and render the Punjab uninhabitable, and levels most of New Delhi and Karachi and spreads radioactive dust downwind as far as Japan and China.

alien-breedingSee? Cheerful.

And then, in the middle of all of this, we get a visitor. Then things get really crazy.

I think it has potential.

But remember what happened to the Indians when Christopher Columbus landed on the east coast of the Americas.

Yeah.

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5 Replies to “They Walk Among Us”

  1. That is exactly where my head goes. It’s not a pretty place. I’m inclined toward the idea of the sixth extinction. We will essentially decimate the planet and create the conditions for a supervirus that will almost wipe us all out. The planet will reset and we get to start the mess all over again. Along the same lines, I tend toward the idea of the planet as perpetually seeking balance and it will destroy us before we destroy it. Happy thoughts. 🙂

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    1. The idea I’m playing with in my head is the combined shock of catastrophic changes in human societies due to vast forces that we unleashed coming back to bite, and then, just when things are settling into a new pattern, someone parks a spaceship overhead and says “hello”. 🙂

      I’ve had trouble with most of the post-appocolytic literature, from Thunder Dome on, as they don’t really seem plausible. Humans will probably survive better than animals, because we are much better at using technology and tools, so we can adapt faster.

      And I didn’t want to fall into the trap of assuming that just because a certain version of the future was different, that it would automatically be depressing. Half of England was killed by the plague at one point, for instance, but the shortage of labor forced the aristocracy to negotiate instead of demand, and that led to the rise of labor unions and an overall increase in standard of living. Unintended consequences are a brutal reality. 🙂

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      1. I tend to go the depressing route. At least initially, as many of us are no longer are equipped to grow our own food. Hopefully, if aliens have the technology to travel here, they’ll recognize that we’re sentient and not a source of food, labor, or fertiziler. 🙂

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  2. Your book sounds interesting. Setting it 50-75 years in the future is a bit optimistic, though. Your comment about religious fanatics eagerly awaiting the “end of the world” reminded me of a thought I had this morning. These sorts of folks—who exist in every generation—are so self-centered that they simply cannot imagine a world that continues after their deaths. Better to drag everyone else with them. A pity that they cannot look up into the stars and dream of the possibilities as you do.

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