Escape Velocity Girl

“Physicist, heal thyself/Submit to Alien Pleasure Rays…”
January 22, 2011, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Fictional Worlds, Uncategorized

Men’s magazines (to say nothing of atrocious movies starring Mel Gibson) make a mint purporting to answer what some represent as one of the most profound mysteries of the Universe: What Women Want. Science fiction (and the occasional slumming scientist) addresses what might actually be one of the most profound mysteries of the Universe: What Do Aliens Want?* Assuming the existence of said aliens (it being sine qua non to the sensicality of this inquiry) and acknowledging the un-PC-ness of blurring (likely) myriad cultures, civilizational temperaments and tentacular physiologies into an Edward Said-ian extraterrestrial Other, engaging in speculative psychoanalysis in anticipation of a big date/First Contact makes a certain amount of sense: in order to increase the probability of sexy time/survival, should one greet the Other with processed Theobroma cacao and carbon allotrope adornments, or leis made of viscera and a gift basket of first-born? Herewith, a random assortment of theories from equally random sources on what, exactly, interstellar organisms desire in their heart of hearts of squidgy silicone-based blobs:

1. Intended annihilation of the human race: the mere existence of our pink-brown fleshiness being a profound insult to carapace-d superbugs, whose xenocidal intent can only be thwarted by the odd couple chemistry of Independence Day‘s Goldblum and Smith. Salvation through Hollywood casting and canned quips. Or through the grooming of a pre-adolescent military messiah as in Ender’s Game, in which the Bugger-Formics’ hostility is prompted by a somewhat improbable misunderestimation of mankind’s sentience. Kumbayas are likely to be of little use in this scenario and the cozy comfort of a beneficent god and harp-scored heaven remote.

2. Incidental annihilation of the human race: Stephen Hawking made headlines relatively recently by arguing that an alien incursion “would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” In other words, we can expect stellar smallpox and a nouveau Trail of Tears (the moon standing in for Oklahoma in this somewhat insensitively flippant comparison), depopulating the planet in anticipation of a land or resource grab, the question being what, exactly, in our terrestrial cornucopia (gravel? catfood?) stimulates the exobioforms’ salivary analogues. Of course, man himself could easily be the gold dust in this tale of intergalactic prospecting: fresh-squeezed human juice the taste du jour as in War of the Worlds, our orifices prized by extraterrestrial bestiality fetishists, our deep-fried love handles the ideal incubators for their marshmellowian spawn. While not all these scenarios entail extinction, insult, injury and indignity are guaranteed.

3. Annihilation of the human race through its transmutation or “transcendence”: in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy, the Oankali (Medusa-skin-ed humanoids) are driven by genetic imperative to enact a program of hybridization with the post-apocalyptic remnants of humanity, emulating a kind of triple-XXX Mary Poppins and sweetening their medicine (enforced speciation) with a spoonful of sugar (trippy tentacle interspecial intercourse). In Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, the Overlords husband mankind towards dissolution into an undefined universal Overmind; homo sapiens as a semelparous species, consumed in the evaporation of the Earth as its children tally-ho to the realm of the immaterial. Eugenics writ large and catastrophic for those of us primitively purebred.

4. Enlightenment of the human race: according to Archangel Uriel (otherwise known as Ruth Norman, the co-founder of the Unarius Academy of Science), extraterrestrials want nothing more than to apprise mankind of the indestructible energy-based nature of reality, a reinterpretation of the first law of thermodynamics tarted up with pinhead prophets, glitter-vision and karmic reincarnation. The Special Circumstances division of Iain M. Banks’s Culture has an equally evangelical, if a-religious, mission: to fast-track species’ civilizational development and nudge them to play nice in the intragalactic sandbox (this paternalistic interference occasionally entailing a body count). And, as advanced by an anonymous Internet poet-prophet, our putative extraterrestrial playmates desire above all else that mankind accept their gifts “Of pleasure tools, telepathy, Empath Juice and Wisdom Weed/Of bulging bulbous sacks of alien eggs and seed.” Those who object to the interference of current international institutions (UN, ICJ, etc.) may find such paternalistic alien intrusions insupportable, but hey – at least the copulation is consensual in this scenario.

5. Absolutely zippo: Perhaps the little green men or “grays,” as they are known in conspiracy theory parlance, profess a Prime Directive or policy of noninterference, having been brainwashed by late night Star Trek reruns beamed past the Kármán line, in which case the future is in our hands, the chil’ren are our future, ergo the chil’ren are in our hands (cliched blah-blah) and those of us SETI-enthusiasts or Fox Mulder-delusionals/hopefuls are doomed to disappointment. Or perhaps Lovecraft was prescient in his description of Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones, ancient and imponderable extraterrestrials, so awesome in aspect and overwhelmingly powerful that humanity would register as little more than an especially inconsequential and easily swatted gnat. In which case, we are le screwed.

*and really, this parallel is rather complimentary, implying a parity of inscrutability and (theoretical) omnipotence between us be-uterus-ed and mankind’s hypothetical future extraterrestrial overlords.

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