Friday, December 11, 2020

An Open Letter to the Galactic Federation on behalf of Sci Fi Writers

To whom it may concern:

As a homo sapiens sapiens, and inhabitant of the planet Earth (Sol 3/ Terra), let me be the first to thank the representatives of the Galactic Federation for your choice to hold off making formal contact with my species.  We were all delighted but not surprised to discover that you've been in regular contact with us.  While there's the possibility that the Israeli scientist who announced your existence to the world this week is simply insane, I'm choosing to take him at his word.  What with the revelation this year that UFOs are real, the flyby by the GFSC Omuamua, and your recent test signal from Proxima Centauri, it seems as likely as anything lately.

There are some folks who question your choice not to simply make your presence known, but I am not one of them.  Although we human beings would like to believe that we're ready to take our place among the other sentient species in the Laniakea Supercluster, we're obviously not there yet.  As a species, we're truculent, delusional, and prone to making impossibly stupid choices, as our decisionmaking around both the climate crisis and the recent global pandemic has made clear.  Not to mention the choices a significant minority in my nation make around leadership, which...um...well.  I can, again, understand your desire not to engage with such an immature and erratic race of beings.

At some point, though, you'll change your mind.  The time will come to make contact.  While I'm as eager as many of my fellow humans to see that happen, I'd like to humbly make a request on behalf of my profession.

I am what is known as a "writer."  I mostly write something we humans call "science fiction," which involves creating fictional narratives about our possible futures.  They're not true, not technically, but they're amusing.  They're something else, too, something deeper.  Those stories shape how we humans understand things.  They teach through narrative.  They lead us to more openness, and more willingness to constructively encounter both difference and new realities.  The best fantasy and science fiction...Welles and Bradbury, Leguin and Butler, Atwood and Jemisin...is part of how humankind is preparing itself to welcome you.

All around the planet, we sci fi writers are working on stories that will make humankind far better partners in your efforts.

Like, we've finalized manuscripts.  We've edited, and re-edited, and are really maybe actually finally going to get published.  I mean, we can taste it.  We've worked hard on our latest manuscript, I mean, seriously hard.  It's been rough, and ego crushing, but that's just what we writers have to live through.  It's part of the work of preparing our species for your arrival.  

So we sci fi authors and writers, your very best friends among all of humankind?  Here's what we humbly request:

We'd like you to continue to not contact us.  Please.

Y'all waiting just a little bit longer would be seriously, seriously appreciated.  I mean, what's the rush?  If you folks from the Galactic Federation decided to contact us right now, who's going to read my surely-soon-to-find-a-publisher manuscript?  Who's going to want to read about robot uprisings or imaginary aliens when freaking shiploads of actual aliens have arrived?  Who's going to read any of our lovingly crafted sci fi at all?

It's not just we writers, either. What's going to happen to the sci fi publishers and agents and editors whose livelihoods depend on folks reading these amazing stories of the future, if suddenly reality is far more interesting?  What's going to happen to all the filmmakers?  I mean, honestly.  Here we storytellers are, and we've been carrying water for y'all for the last hundred and fifty years, and this is how you repay us?  

C'mon.  Be fair. Cut us a break.

So...can you put off making contact for another decade or so?  Twenty thirty five seems like a nice time to show up.  And I'm sure, after all of the manuscripts we're currently working on have been published to great critical and popular acclaim, human beings will be more ready than ever to become constructive members of the federation.

So.  Just a little longer.  2035.  We'll be ready. Please?  

On behalf of all science fiction writers, I am,

Sincerely yours,

David