Contact: Are We Ready For It?
by Peter Schenkel
Minerva Press, London, 1999
We don't normally note fiction in this column, but this new novel about the repercussions of first contact with aliens will appeal to many rationalists and skeptics. Written in a realistic style, reminiscent of novels on the same first-contact theme by scientists Harrison Brown and Carl Sagan, this one focuses not on technology and science, but on the political, social, and ethical problems that might arise on first hearing from aliens. The main characters include the president of the United States and a clearly Saganesque astronomer and SETI expert, and the interactions at the international political level seem especially well handled, not surprising since the author is a political scientist. There is also great understanding of forces of irrationalism, the dynamics of the media, and the interactions of all with the scientific community.
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