“A principal tenet of science fiction is that there are planets out there with intelligent life. For most of the history of astrophysics we haven’t been able to see those worlds, but we are starting to see planets like Earth. I dream of going to those worlds. That’s my life’s inspiration.”
— Pete Worden, director of NASA Ames Research Center
“Like any enduring cultural experiment, science fiction has evolved its own codes, its own logic. Some of the genre’s most intense and visionary work talks in a shared language of concepts that can be hard for the uninitiated to penetrate – works Samuel Delaney’s Dhalgren or James Tiptree Jr’s Ten Thousand Light Years From Home, for instance, would be a forbidding place to start. But if you want to catch up with the literature of our shared future then where can you begin?
It would be hard to find a better starting point than Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. Mankind receives a signal from space, music from the alien world Rakhat. The first to respond are not governments or even corporations, but the Jesuit missionary order, who send a private expedition in a hollowed out asteroid to make contact. The novel is told in retrospect through the eyes of the only surviving crew member, priest Emilio Sandoz. If this scenario sounds at all oddball to you, please put those feelings aside. The story of the first encounter between humankind and alien life that Russell creates is both devastating and an awe-inspiring treatise on man’s relationship to our universe.”
— Damien Walter, The Guardian.
For additional Sci-Fi reading, click here for the entire article and remaining four books.
“Science fiction often assumes that civilizations which exist on a galaxy’s outer rim will be backwards in nature. It’s a understandable reaction – the “centre” is more sophisticated while the “outlands” are more primitive. For example, in Star Wars, the Outer Rim Territories were sparsely settled and relatively unexplored. In Isaac Asimov’s original Foundation books, the focus of the Galactic Empire is on Trantor at the galactic centre, whilst the Foundation itself is located on the remote planet Terminus at the rim, where other planets are not so scientifically advanced.
But a galactic centre can be a dangerous place. As in our own galaxy, there may be a super-massive black hole to suck matter in. There are more stars in the vicinity, some of which might start throwing out unpleasant things, or even go supernova. Obviously an advanced civilization would know this, and could move away if something goes wrong, but then again why should it? Human beings can live near volcanoes, in earthquake zones, or on flood plains; but if they have a choice they tend to prefer to live somewhere safer in the first instance. Advanced aliens are probably no different.”
Mark Stewart, bis-space.com