7.31.2012

All Alien and Space PicQuotes















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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.28.2012

One Earth by Day Five


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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.26.2012

It's Mars


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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

Michio Kaku and the Fermi Paradox



Probably one of the most interesting ideas I've heard from Michio Kaku, but what do you think about it? Do you think he's right that aliens might not consider us interesting enough to make contact? 

Additionally, we have an article here explaining what Civilization Type levels are and the pros and cons of using them.

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Rusty is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and gets up to all kinds of shenanigans planning for any and all kinds of apocalypse when he's not busy reading, writing, or yo-yoing. Keep up with him and Rachel on Facebook and Twitter to get cool, space related news or click here to read more of his thoughts on the terror of alien invasion novels.

Space Travel or Extinction



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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.25.2012

Political Sons of Bitches Should See Space



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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

Spock About Space



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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.23.2012

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson - A Fascinatingly Disturbing Thought



Neil deGrasse Tyson, like Michio Kaku, is a pop scientist who manages to find the balance between entertaining and actually informative that seems to elude most documentaries. In this short clip from a  much longer talk, he discusses three main things: our chemical composition as it correlates to the universe, why we should look at other planets in the galaxy (and especially in our solar system), and the weird possibilities that aliens represent.
Far from sticking with the usual alien invasion and horror scenarios most documentaries and speculative conversations focus on -- not that those things aren't incredibly interesting and, you know, a basis for a website -- Tyson considers how different aliens can be from us on the basis of DNA.

Based on a couple of ideas he throws out, we might either be descendants of Martians, something he discusses rationally and plausibly, or have a 1% DNA difference from the first aliens we meet in the way that chimps have a 1% DNA difference from us.

Either way, we're not that special.

If you’d like to theorize about our potential extra-terrestrial origins or any other part of Neil deGrasse Tyson's ideas, please leave a comment and get the debate rolling!

Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

What Was the First Alien?



The titular question is a bit difficult to answer, in more ways than one. For example, we have yet to really, absolutely, concretely prove the existence of even one alien, let alone the multiple ones necessary to create a position of ‘first.’ Also, as planets are destroyed by stars and black holes, we might never know if there were aliens that existed long before terrestrial life that we’ll just never find evidence of.

But a slightly more answerable question – what was the first conceptualization of an alien on Earth? – is similarly mired in difficulties. There are the usual pitfalls that surround questions of ancient human history, like a dearth of written languages, the regular destruction (environmentally or purposefully) of civilizations, and our general lack of information about how people before the Agricultural Revolution and the birth of cities actually thought. But there’s also the fuzzy zone between extraterrestrials and gods that is hard to separate into clear categories. It’s like alien invasions not really being alien invasions: beings from other worlds that are clearly non-humans are said to exist, so they’re extra-terrestrials, but they’re not really aliens the way we think of aliens now.

For instance, are any gods aliens? They’re not human, and since the creation of Earth is often attributed to some of them, they’re not terrestrial, either.

Ancient and medieval religions regularly talked about the creation of other worlds, and this was occasionally followed by statements about the inhabitants of those other worlds. According to the Old Norse religion, the ash tree Yggdrasill is at the center of the universe, and it has planets with gods, giants, and Norns, to say nothing of the unspecific animals that eat bits of Yggdrasill. There are separate planets, and there are clearly different biological (at least) origins for all the different beings. But are the gods, Norns (female executive gods, of a sort), and giants really aliens to us or to each other?

The answer is yes, they’re certainly extra-terrestrial. But alien might seem like the wrong word until you put it in the context of Avengers. (And there’s certainly a problem with how aliens are represented in that movie.)

But the majority of records for Old Norse religious information came from the 11th through the 18th centuries, a period preceded by two hundred years of oral religious information. That puts this conceptualization of ‘aliens’ at around 800 A.D.

And then you have Hindu cosmology through the Puranas (texts that, among other things, discuss the history and creation of the universe for Hinduism and Buddhism). Here, the universe is created, expands, and is destroyed over the course of one Brahma day, which is 4,320,000,000 years. This process of creation and destruction will continue for over 311 trillion years, which is how Brahma will live. We might infer that each new universe, if each one does have life (which the mediocrity principle would certainly point to), has some sort of aliens running around in each new Universe. Also, if Brahmin created Brahma and then different organisms of a specific terrestrial origin (like us) started appearing, someone is definitely an alien in comparison to the others.

But, for all that the Puranas were written during the Gupta Empire, putting their creation at somewhere between 200-400 A.D. (and 400 years before Yggdrasill), I don’t know that these were really our first aliens. There’s always extra fuzziness when an argument relies on the mediocrity principle, and I don’t know if alien-ness is really occurring. Maybe each new universe recreates our Earth, so even if humans aren’t humans every time, we’re all still Terrestrial. Maybe Brahmin and Brahma fall outside of the extra-terrestrial categorization, since they aren’t clearly assigned a planet the way that the Old Norse gods and Norns are.

In other religions, notably the Greek and Roman religions, gods use the moon and sun as various vehicles and tools. But Mount Olympus is on our Earth, and the top three brothers – Zeus Poseidon, and Hades – all rule different portions of our planet (even the Underworld, for various plot-driven and cultural necessities, is placed under the surface).

The Quran and Talmud – so as to not leave out the Abrahamic religions – reference the heavy possibility of extraterrestrials; the Talmud discusses 18,000 other worlds, which, in the 1700s, was interpreted to mean probably inhabited planets. The Quran says living creatures were put in both the earth and heavens, which Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, thinks points toward aliens.

Christians, up until when Copernicus started getting busy, accepted Ptolemy’s decision that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the planet was encased in layers for the moon, each of the visible planets and the sun, and then lastly a layer of fixed stars. There simply was no room for aliens in early Christian astronomy, despite the Church not really definitely arguing against it. It wasn’t really until Etienne Tempier theorized that God could have made more than one planet in 1277 and Cardinal Nicholas of Kues later thought about aliens on the sun and moon that the topic was really even broached.

Even the etymology of the word extraterrestrial doesn’t really help much. It’s based in Latin, but the adjective didn’t pop up until 1812 – the noun also took its time, since the Online Etymology Dictionary puts it at 1956.

We can hardly use the word ‘alien,’ either, since the adjective is estimated to be about 600 years old. But then it meant foreign, strange, or belonging to another. Think Alien and Sedition Acts not ‘get away from her, you bitch!’ and you have the right idea.

I’m tempted to just say Voltaire’s short story Micromegas features the first real aliens, for all that it was just written in 1752. All of the alien-related references and stories before that, like when John Milton theorizes about lie on the moon in Paradise Lost and when the poet Henry More talks about extrasolar planets in the 1647 poem ‘Democritus Platonissans,’ is more general cosmology than the idea that aliens are out there.

So, when was the first alien? It becomes increasingly unclear, especially if gods inhabit some nebulous aliens/not aliens category.

I’m sure Ancient Aliens has an answer, but it’s probably the wrong one.

If you’d like to theorize about the extra-terrestrial status of religious figures or propose your own date for the first conceptualization of an alien, please leave a comment and get the debate rolling!

Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

Neil Tyson's Opinion of Our Space Program


Original quote found here.

Rusty is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and gets up to all kinds of shenanigans planning for any and all kinds of apocalypse when he's not busy reading, writing, or yo-yoing. Keep up with him and Rachel on Facebook and Twitter to get cool, space related news or click here to read more of his thoughts on the terror of alien invasion novels.

7.22.2012

July 22, 2012: This Week's Alien and Space News


Just two days and forty-three years ago was some of the most exciting news about either space or aliens that has ever happened. The news this week isn’t nearly so exciting as Apollo 11’s landing, but it is strangely… eccentric. There’s a lot of ‘space itself’ research going around, from lava planets to the metallic scent of its vacuum. This week also features some science fiction-esque, whimsical technology, like space habitats and giant heat shields.
 
To Live in the Final Frontier: Though we’re getting more interested in Mars, various potentially Earth-like moons, and the resources of near-Earth asteroids, there’s no real way for people to get to them, especially for the long time necessary to get anywhere beyond the Moon. But NASA has been working on a Habitation Systems Project, which should provide working ideas for quarters, laboratories and workspaces in mobile modules. The next project might be working models for Mars colony pods --- we still have that Mars One deadline ahead of us.

Lava Land: New planets are popping out of the vacuous woodwork, even when scientists aren’t really looking for them. Instead of an Earth-like world this time, they’ve discovered UCF-1.01, a planet that probably looks like the intro to Zombieland. The planet is 33 light years away and is so hot that we’ll never visit it even if it weren’t out of our way, but it’s a planet covered in lava, and that’s pretty cool.

Sunscreen for Shuttles: The Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment, which was supposed to be launched yesterday, is now set for launch today. It consists of inflatable nitrogen rings and a thermal protective blanket that will protect returning hardware and cargo upon reentry. Anything to make reentry safer seems like a pretty good idea, seeing as how something forcing its way through the atmosphere has to deal with a temperature of 1850 degrees Fahrenheit.


Water, Water Everywhere But Not as Much as There Might Have Been: Earth has a randomly perfect set of circumstances for having life, including an abundance of water in liquid form. But, when it really comes down to it, Earth is not even one percent water – and scientists are curious why. They spent some time researching an icy zone in the solar system, a line at which one side is dry and closer to the Sun and the other side has icy rocks and planets. While potentially not that important in our solar system, finding out about that line could help us narrow down our Earth-like planet search.

The Scent of Space: Apparently, it smells like metal. Astronauts have compared it to arc welding, different from the ISS smell of machine shops and engine rooms (and a touch of roast beef), but it’s probably all the vibrating ions. So, space has a smell – not only is that a bit weird, it’s a touch of realism to add to any sci-fi you plan on writing.

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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.21.2012

National Geographic: Alien Invasion


So, having heard about the recent confusion surrounding the upcoming “Speculative Documentary on Mermaids,” (read: strange waste of resources from a channel that should invest in actual educational material) I was reminded of a National Geographic speculative documentary simply entitled, Alien Invasion.

Naturally, while I can't explicitly point you to a site to watch it illegally on, it's not too difficult to find on Youtube. Additionally, National Geographic has set up a website with basic information about the film and some teasers, which can be found here.

--> The picture itself is decent enough. While the makers fall into many of the pitfalls associated with assuming aliens aren't all that different from us, or that they came to Earth for resources -- something we've discussed previously, –  it's altogether nice to see an attempt at a serious documentary on the impacts of an alien invasion.

Having said that, don't go into this expecting to learn a ton. The film covers a wide range of topics and naturally, doesn't have time to go in depth into any one subject which is honestly a shame because the film hints at some of the more interesting societal after-effects of an alien invasion.

Rusty is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and gets up to all kinds of shenanigans planning for any and all kinds of apocalypse when he's not busy reading, writing, or yo-yoing. Keep up with him and Rachel on Facebook and Twitter to get cool, space related news or click here to read more of his thoughts on the terror of alien invasion novels.

7.18.2012

The Terror of Aliens and No Aliens




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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty onTwitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.16.2012

Wernher von Braun Tells the Mediocrity Principle


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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

Flawed Logic in One of the First Alien Invasion Premises


And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.


“And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?” - The War of the Worlds, Chapter One

H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds is widely considered to be the first alien invasion story.

(It’s not. Voltaire’s short story Micromegas was written over one hundred years earlier – but that doesn’t really feature an alien invasion so much as two aliens coming to earth, snickering, and generally attempting to dispel human ideas of grandeur and a ‘the universe was created for us’ mentality. Robert Potter’s fairly unknown The Germ Growers, on the other hand, is most certainly an alien invasion story. The plotline just has more covertness than explosions and so is largely ignored in favor of the more popular if six years younger War of the Worlds. But this really isn’t important.)

Regardless of its dubious status as ‘first,’ the novel did launch a large number of typical alien invasion themes about invasions, otherness, survival, and helplessness that authors during the Cold War picked up on and expanded in earnest. Each sci-fi book about extra-terrestrials has a touch of H.G. Wells in it and, for all that the book itself has been surpassed in terms of quality in both plot and characterization, that subtle inclusion has made the subgenre pretty strong.

One thing that alien invasion novels as a whole established, perhaps more than any other general scenario in books, is the use of aliens and their invasions as metaphors and analogies for more real-world issues.

The militant invasionary tone in The War of the Worlds, as well as the narrator’s frequent philosophical musings, hearkens back to European and colonial tensions. Everything from the Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters alludes to the covert and hyper-suspicious Cold War. Other portrayals of potentially antagonistic alien interventions, like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Bruce Coville’s My Teacher Is an Alien series, theorizes about a large community of aliens that can see all of our deadly global problems and wants us to shape up – or else.

And I’m kind of fond of this, because alien invasions can be applied to any number of issues, ideas, and plots – so I have to give H.G. Wells points for this.

But the thing I hate the most about his book – the thing that surpasses even the ridiculous dues ex machine, cop-out ending of the book – is how he justifies the Martians’ actions in the first chapter. He was certainly not the first person to use this idea, but he widely popularized it, and that it is still used today is partially because of him.

He said that because Western colonizers decimated native populations and civilizations, it’s only fair that the same thing happens to the whole world.

No.

This is stupid.

For one thing, and this is a slightly smaller contention (but still valid), that would screw over all non-Europeans/-Americans twice. The narrator, immediately established as British and rather well-to-do, is so stuck in his Western, dominating mindset that he fails to realize that if Europe suffers from a global catastrophe, so will the rest of the globe – parts of which had just been decimated by Europe and the United States.

These 19th century colonizers might have thrown away their right to complain, according to his argument, but the rest of the world has not, and the fact that he made that argument shows he hadn’t learned his lesson from the Martian invasion.

The second argument, and the one I think of with the most indignation, is that that’s the worst logic I’ve ever heard, because it doesn’t allow us to condemn our actions and do better. Dominant powers have usually killed off their inferiors in terms of power; history is full of this. But H.G. Well’s narrator is arguing that since we did it to someone else, we can't argue when it happens to us.

The immeasurably better argument is to say that the Martians coming in and killing everyone in order to steal our resources is wrong, and so us going into another country to kill everyone and steal their resources must have been equally wrong -- and so we shouldn't do it anymore.

It’s not that hard of a concept. I would have expected more than an ‘it’s only fair’ argument from someone reflecting on a catastrophic war that humans lived through only due to a lucky chance.

(Of course, the fact that humans survived the attack from colonizing aliens only through accidental biological warfare is ironic, since that’s exactly what lead to the European victories and domination of the Americas when those colonizing powers were trying to seize resources.)

Do you have your own critiques and comments about The War of the Worlds or the use of alien invasion novels to discuss important issues? Feel free to leave comments. Also, please recommend this post on StumbleUpon – all it takes is a click!

Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

July 16, 2012: This Week's Alien and Space News


Keeping in mind that these news clips focus on both aliens and space, not just aliens, I’m going to ignore that whole big thing with the CIA agent saying Roswell is real – as Time succinctly says (and I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Time), ‘A 35-year agency veteran says he knows what went down in the New Mexico desert 65 years ago — and coincidentally has a new book to promote.’ Yeah – onward to more scientific alien stuff. This week probes a lot of life-related questions, like phosphorus-based organisms instead of carbon-based, where terrestrial life came from, and how to protect our lives should UFOs be both real and malicious. There’s also a bit about the technical progress of our space vehicles and the creative progress of our science fiction.

Life That is Difficult to Imagine Might Be Difficult to Find: That sentence is a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s something to keep in mind as we anticipate Curiosity’s arrival on Mars and continue looking into potential life on moons throughout the solar system. Scientists keep looking for alternatives to carbon- and phosphorus-based life, but it’s hard to imagine something so completely different from the only sorts of life we know. It doesn’t help that we can’t test directly, but rely on the fairly basic capabilities of rovers that will always be behind what we’re thinking about on Earth.

Earth Got Lucky, and We Were an Accident: New research shows that the water and (potentially) organic material that got life started on Earth were from carbonaceous chondrites that formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. This isn’t an entirely new idea – the former idea was that hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon came to earth from comets and carbonaceous chondrites – but it refocuses on the question of our most technical and original origins. Maybe the more we know about this, the more we can identify similar conditions in other spots likely to have life.


New Designs for Spacecraft Landing Gear: As space flight gets more involved and diversified, we’re going to be looking for bigger, better, and more effective designs – and hopefully more safety, too. It’s important to pay attention to developments not only because they’re interesting but because we should (if a bit ironically) celebrate actual innovation rather than having to reverse engineer after losing blueprints. But, specifically, this article focuses on the nose landing gear for SNC’s DreamChaser, which will theoretically be able to bring seven astronauts at a time into low Earth orbit and the ISS.

Things to Keep in Mind for Sci-Fi Planets: Saturn’s Titan has seasons, which is cool (seeing as how it’s winter in the south for them), if not directly relevant to our theorizing about life there. But it does bring up a point that many sci-fi alien stories overlook: planets are complex. They have seasons, different environments, different climate patterns and, possibly, different ecosystems. If a planet has one advanced life form, chances are it doesn’t exist in a vacuum: there will be thousands or millions of less and equally advanced organisms. Or maybe even more advanced – who says the first aliens that say ‘hello’ will be the top species on even their own planet? The point is, planets aren’t unchanging and one-dimensional, and we should take advantage of this in fiction.

Britain Gets Points for Back-Up Plans: It wasn’t too long ago that Britain was celebrated across the Internet for actually having plans about what to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Now they’ve moved on to alien invasion plans due to popular demand. Even if a great deal of skepticism follows UFOs, the Ministry of Defence says there’s no harm in being prepared and, really, we don’t know there aren’t aliens. Here’s a link to the actual documents if you want a closer perusal.

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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.13.2012

Review: His Master's Voice


His Master's Voice. Stanislaw Lem, 1968. Novel. Approximately 208 pages. 

"All of these hypotheses I considered not just wrong but ridiculous. In my opinion, the steller code denoted neither a plasmic brain nor an informational machine nor an organism nor a spore, because the object it designated simply did not figure in the categories of our conceptualizations. It was the plan of a cathedral sent to Australopithecus, a library opened to Neanderthals. In my opinion, the code was not intended for a civilization as low on the ladder of development as ours, and consequently we would not succeed in doing anything meaningful with it."


Background

Stanislaw Lem is easily one of the most interesting sci-fi writers of the twentieth century and you'll be hard pressed to find a serious sci-fi fan that doesn't hold a special place in their heart for Solaris. I've
discussed Lem's pessimistic view on the possibility of meaningful communication between humans and sufficiently alien extraterrestrials before in my Solaris review but it's worth reiterating here; Stanislaw Lem's works tend to portray the terrible consequences of humans attempting to understand extraterrestrials. He also loves to terrify readers in unsettling ways.

His Master's Voice was written in 1968 in the midst of the Cold War, and it shows. The protagonist holds an incredibly low view of the military and is furious when he learns that politicians and military leaders intend to use the scientists and their findings for warfare. At the same time His Master's Voice spends quite some time detailing the failings of scientists, particularly the inability for scientists to remain truly neutral.

His Master's Voice is also a very philosophical book, spending dozens of pages simply discussing various concepts and how various situations the the protagonist's world relate to them. All-in-all there is very little action in the book with most of the time devoted to diverse ideas and analysis.

Premise

The story is told through the memoirs of a mathematician named Peter Hogarth. Hogarth begins working with the Pentagon on a project code-named His Master's Voice aimed at deciphering what many believe to be a message from outer space. Early on however, we learn that the project led to very few true discoveries, and even the possibility that it could just be a random, natural occurrence.

The rest of the memoir goes on to describe various escapades within the project and the tremendous difficulty scientists face both from the message itself and from parties interested in using the message for their own purpose. The memoir also details some of Hogarth's observations toward his fellow scientists and their unsettling conduct.

Who Should Read This Story

His Master's Voice is worth a read if you're:
A fan of Stanislaw Lem
Interested in strange and unsettling books
Looking for a book that covers a wide variety of philosophical subjects

Final Verdict

All things considered, His Master's Voice is an interesting read. Unfortunately one of its greatest strengths is also a crippling weakness. Lem's philosophical discussions tend to over-stay their welcome. Furthermore, because the book was originally Polish, English versions can sometimes feel a bit stilted. That's not to say His Master's Voice is a bad book, but it is one you'll have to pay attention to. It seems Lem wanted his readers to use just as much mental effort reading the book as he did writing it.

Hopefully I haven't scared you off from giving the book a chance. If so, click here to order a copy from amazon, or click here to see my review of Solaris, my favorite of Lem's books.

Lastly, don't forget to leave a comment. What do you think of Lem's books? Do you think humans will be able to truly communicate with extraterrestrials? Will politicians and the military attempt to subvert any scientific findings for war and personal gain?

Rusty is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and gets up to all kinds of shenanigans planning for any and all kinds of apocalypse when he's not busy reading, writing, or yo-yoing. Keep up with him and Rachel on Facebook and Twitter to get cool, space related news or click here to read more of his thoughts on the terror of alien invasion novels.

7.08.2012

July 8, 2012: This Week's Space and Alien News


The alien and space related news of this past week nicely covers all the science fiction basics. There’s a potential prelude to space-based warfare, some commercial space travel, and a new channel for possible genetic engineering. There’s also some plain old extraterrestrial and a side of Obama meets Independence Day.

Pretty good for a week of space development in which nothing really left orbit.

The Ugly Side of Spaceflight: It was only a matter of time: space travel started as a game of militant one-upmanship. So after all the recent activity, scientific experimentation and commercial interest, it’s likely that weapons development and political intrigue will occur. China suspects that the first has occurred during the Untied States’ testing of robotic X-37B – which the Air Force says has been testing satellites. Either way, the second has definitely begun, and this widening of both real and potential space activity could have pretty terrible implications.


From Soviet Russia to the Moon: For the rather lofty price of $150 million, private citizens will soon be able to go to space. In anywhere between two and three years, the spaceflight firm Excalibur Almaz will have ‘refurbished’ enough old Soviet space capsules, stations, and vessels to start up some space tourism. But the option might only be available for 29 people in the next decade, so get your ridiculously over-sized fortunes ready.

President Liked on the Merits of Alien Ass-kicking Abilities: The touted merits of figures up for election are generally pretty exaggerated, and the usual polls don’t contain that much reflection of actual substance. But this one takes the cake. A poll done by National Geographic asked the American public if Obama or Romney could better save the world in the event of an alien invasion, and the answer was pretty overwhelming in favor of Obama. And while this poll was surrounded by similar (and stupid) ones about people’s beliefs about UFOs and whether an alien invasion would be a good thing or not (as I said, stupid, since a lot of people said yes to this), all Obama has to do is be better than Bill Pullman and he’s got my vote.

Space Good for the Worms: Plant and animal testing has been pretty prolific in testing the conditions of space. Lichen can survive space in a dormant state, and mice can be genetically engineered to not have bone degradation; the worm studies might just be the weirdest yet. Microscopic worms that are put through the conditions of spaceflight live longer. I have no idea how to get good applications out of this, but there are interesting possibilities.

Rover, Rover, Rover: There’s no real new news about the Curiosity rover, just more information about its mission to search for life. We’re about a month away from it landing and some potentially definite proof about life on Mars, and, NASA says, signs of life might literally be just under the surface. Hopefully Curiosity has a good shovel. 

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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.06.2012

The Most Practical Reason for Space Travel


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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.03.2012

The Perfect Alien Invasion from Ozymandias


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Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.

7.01.2012

July 1, 2012: This Week's Alien and Space News


This week’s alien and space news has mostly been about aliens and planets, rather than space flight and trying to discover aliens. From investigating planets with conditions ripe for extraterrestrials to figuring out if life in space could survive, it’s been an interesting week for life in all forms and fashions.

Life on Phobos From Life on Mars, and General Life Swaps Everywhere: With as much as the question about life on Mars goes back and forth, it probably won’t be answered until we go there ourselves. But Professor Melosh from Purdue University says a mission to Phobos might do just as well. This is based on all the debris that regularly goes flying off Mars in the event of some sort of impact. A second interesting point as almost at the end of the article, when another scientists notes that about a ton of Martian materials hits Earth annually – if we’re swapping so much with other planets, where does the line between terrestrial and extraterrestrial fall?

The Surprisingly Jello-Like Titan: Saturn’s moon Titan is bulging far more than it should. If the moon were solid rock, then the effect of Saturn’s gravity would cause 3 feet ‘tides,’ but instead it’s causing ones that are 30 feet high. Because of this, NASA researchers think there is a underground ocean. And oceans dramatically increase the likelihood of life or, at the very least, a potential spot for a base or colony.


In an Evaporating Atmosphere Far, Far Away: Sometimes sticking with planets inside our own solar system doesn’t do justice to the absolute weirdness out there in the universe. Hubble has been observing the atmospheres of extrasolar planets and found a particularly interesting case around a planet extremely close to a sun far more powerful than our own. It has a blue sky – which the article quickly notes is the only similarity to Earth – and an evaporating atmosphere, which makes for some pretty strange weather.

Back in the Meteorite of ’69: Scientists analyzing the Allende meteorite found what might be one of the oldest minerals in our solar system: a titanium oxide named Panguite. Scientists from a variety of universities and national organizations are exclaiming over this discovery not only because it’s a mineral that had never been found or created before, but because it could reveal quite a lot about the origins of the solar system.

Panspermia Just Got a Bit More Likely: The idea that life can spread from planet to planet on the backs of space junk and debris has always gotten a bit of a titter. But a recent experiment in seeing if lichen, seeds, bacteria, and algae could survive in space without any protection just came back positive. Lichen, at the very least, goes into a dormant state until they arrive at a place with more livable conditions. And doesn’t that raise all sorts of interesting possibilities?

Interested in alien-related science news? Check out last week's news snippets: July 23, 2012: This Week's Alien and Space News

Want to share all the good (and bad) news? Please be sure to recommend this post on StumbleUpon – all it takes is a click!

Rachel is the co-founder of How To Survive Alien Invasion Novels, and spends her time writing, studying, and reading what would probably be considered far too many books. Connect with her and Rusty on Twitter and Facebook, and click here to read more of her articles about alien theories and how to survive alien invasion novels.