Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

First contact involving the Golden Record (2 Viewers)

WEFerence

Senior Member
I had this one off-handed idea for a sci-fi novel about first contact with alien life, and I wanted to use the Golden Record on the Voyager 1 and 2 probes as a plot device. They probably won't find the aliens, but rather the aliens find the Voyagers, but perhaps you could give some insights concerning how such a scenario could work? I for whatever reason can't help but picture a similar scenario to in the 1979 film Alien, but that's just me.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
The record has direction of how to find us, but the question is why would they want to?

They might just hang out on our moon before deciding to contact us or not. An actual invasion isn’t necessary unless they have a use for humans. The natural resources of our planet can be found elsewhere and mined without trouble.
 

WEFerence

Senior Member
The record has direction of how to find us, but the question is why would they want to?

They might just hang out on our moon before deciding to contact us or not. An actual invasion isn’t necessary unless they have a use for humans. The natural resources of our planet can be found elsewhere and mined without trouble.
I never believed that their first instinct would be to invade. If anything, such a telltale sign of intelligent life would probably turn them off from colonizing our planet, but would want to make contact to better get a sense of who they would be dealing with to begin with.
 

Xander416

Senior Member
I think the real first questions are, would they even be able to comprehend what the Golden Records are and would they be able to figure out how to read the info on them? We humans are the highest form of intelligence on Earth (or at least we like thinking we are), but you know that cow that just mooed at you from the other side of the fence? What was she trying to tell you?

giphy.gif


Cross species communication has been observed in nature, such as between dogs and cats, but we humans seem to be the only ones kept out of the conversation. I wonder why that is?
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Cross species communication has been observed in nature, such as between dogs and cats, but we humans seem to be the only ones kept out of the conversation. I wonder why that is?
I don't know so much about that. I have dogs and cats, and they communicate with me VERY effectively. Especially Grey Mouser, who has NO TROUBLE letting me know I take my life in my hands when I approach him with flea treatment.
 

Xander416

Senior Member
I don't know so much about that. I have dogs and cats, and they communicate with me VERY effectively. Especially Grey Mouser, who has NO TROUBLE letting me know I take my life in my hands when I approach him with flea treatment.
We can understand the bare minimum such as "he likes this," "she doesn't like that," and "he wants out," but I'm talking about intelligent communication such as describing what grass feels like on their skin and whatnot. Will we be able or even capable of communicating with ET on a level like that?
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
What does the record feel like to you? What does it feel like to your xenos? What does it represent? All depends on what mood you are shooting for. If 1979 Alien, we've definitely got foreboding, isolation, that sort of thing. Whose perspective do you plan to have this scene play out from?
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
We can understand the bare minimum such as "he likes this," "she doesn't like that," and "he wants out," but I'm talking about intelligent communication such as describing what grass feels like on their skin and whatnot. Will we be able or even capable of communicating with ET on a level like that?
I believe that would depend upon the environment their species evolved in.

A while back a character in my book (Destination) encountered a species living in the upper atmosphere of a gas giant planet. In essence they were intelligent clouds that would communicate with each other (and my character) via long songs that would span hundreds of years without repetition. They had no concept of 'ground'. From that same book, my character encountered a species of squids that built cities in the shallow sea that covered most of their planet. They had no idea what lay beyond the surface of the water, and without metal working skills they could not progress. I wrote of walking trees on one planet, and on another a civilization of birds that built intricate cities in the branches of (stationary) trees. Included in the story were civilizations of arachnids and amphibians, each unique.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
I'm talking about intelligent communication such as describing what grass feels like on their skin
We can't have intelligent communication with the cows because cows don't have intelligence. Or are you suggesting a cow is able to tell another cow what the grass feels like on her skin?

I would be very surprised if a space-traveling species would fail to understand the gist of the Voyager Golden Records, should they find them undamaged. Being able to locate our planet is something different. At any rate there is no doubt their succeeding in it can be plausibly presented in a novel.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
The record has direction of how to find us, but the question is why would they want to?
Um... Do you think curiosity wouldn't be a reason strong enough? That they would likely be extremely cautious is another matter, but why wouldn't they be just as eager to find other civilizations as we are? (Or at least if a writer would write they are, why would the readers not believe it?)
 

Lawless

Senior Member
perhaps you could give some insights concerning how such a scenario could work
They would find the Golden Records and then start figuring out what it all means. When you have made up what that civilization is like, you will know how they differ from us, and that will show you what they will be likely to misunderstand. Or you can do it the other way - start with what you want them to misunderstand or not to understand, and figure out what they should be like to fail to understand that thing.

There was a novel set in our time where the US government was digging up something highly alien at the bottom of the sea near Iceland or Greenland, and they were finding messages left behind by the alien civilization who had created the site. I'll try to find the title. You might get some ideas from there.

But even so, it shouldn't be awfully difficult to write. The idea as such is very good.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Um... Do you think curiosity wouldn't be a reason strong enough? That they would likely be extremely cautious is another matter, but why wouldn't they be just as eager to find other civilizations as we are? (Or at least if a writer would write they are, why would the readers not believe it?)
I think we must be cautious of ascribing anthropomorphic qualities to alien visitors. It's possible that they could be very much like us - which IMO would be the worst case, another species of homicidal monkeys would be beyond what our planet could tolerate, yet this is the plot line that many first contact alien encounters fall into. It remains a likely prospect though, the desire to conquer may be endemic to all advanced civilizations.

However, a more interesting story might be an encounter with aliens completely different than ourselves.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
However, a more interesting story might be an encounter with aliens completely different than ourselves.
Asimov's motive for writing The Gods Themselves.

The criticism about most aliens being "funny looking humans" has roots reaching to the dawn of sci fi. On the other hand, an alien race capable of building spaceships capable of transiting interstellar distances to reach us are by definition tool users, and I think we'd have to assume some similarities in form and psychology in tool users with the urge to explore.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Asimov's motive for writing The Gods Themselves.

The criticism about most aliens being "funny looking humans" has roots reaching to the dawn of sci fi. On the other hand, an alien race capable of building spaceships capable of transiting interstellar distances to reach us are by definition tool users, and I think we'd have to assume some similarities in form and psychology in tool users with the urge to explore.
I agree completely - and I loved that book. I believe that's the only novel Asimov wrote that included aliens.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
The criticism about most aliens being "funny looking humans" has roots reaching to the dawn of sci fi.
I'm bothered more by intelligent aliens too grotesque to be believable. Of course, that's merely one person's opinion, and as a writer, you can make them like or unlike humans, whichever helps you bring your message across.

In "The Jupiter Plague", Harry Harrison is presenting the beginnings of the theory that an intelligent species is likely to be in many ways like us. I tend to rather believe it, simply because humans didn't just become intelligent by accident. It happened because our traits are suitable for the intelligence to emerge, survive and develop. That's why the dolphins will never build spaceships.

We can't know for certain, obviously, but my money is on "funny looking humans".
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I agree completely - and I loved that book. I believe that's the only novel Asimov wrote that included aliens.
It is. Are you aware of the "in joke" he left about that in one of the later Foundation books?

With the "Zeroth Law" installed to protect humanity first, R. Daneel Olivaw built robotic ships which cleansed the rest of the galaxy of any life with the capability of threatening humanity ... thus alibiing his lack of aliens except for TGT. LOL, but sort of a cringeworthy LOL.

ETA: I guess they needed to come up with the -1th Law.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I missed that - admittedly It's been awhile since I read the Foundation Series, I was in the fourth or fifth grade I think... maybe it's time to read it again.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Ah well no wonder. How many novels are in the series now - I recall only three.
Two prequels and two sequels, seven in all. They're well worth it. Later there were two or three more written by other authors. I got the impression those were plots intended for other projects that got shoehorned into Foundation where they were offered the chance to add to the series. I didn't particularly care for them.
 
Top