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Plausible Alien First Contact (Part I)

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Backstory For My Award-Winning Sector 64 Series

(Get the Free Ebook and the Free Audiobook for the Series Starter) 

For the backstory of my SECTOR 64 series, I put forth an alien first-contact scenario that my readers find very plausible, some even wondering aloud if this could be our current reality.

Let’s imagine that elsewhere in the galaxy a species elevated itself from the primordial soup a million years ahead of us. Making the most of that thousand-millennia head start, they master physics, achieve faster than light (FTL) travel, and populate thousands of star systems.

Always looking for burgeoning technological societies to bring into the galactic government, they populate the galaxy with a network of detectors designed to watch for certain markers thought to be key indicators, i.e.: unnaturally organized radio waves or light waves (laser beams) and unnatural fission reactions (nuclear detonations). Some, like radio waves, would probably just be annotated for future research. Others, like nuclear detonations, would require a more urgent investigation.

While they’ve mastered FTL travel and communications, their sensors are still limited to detecting occurrences at the speed of light. In other words, if a burgeoning society starts blasting radio waves or nuclear electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) across the cosmos, our curious aliens wouldn’t detect it until the wave traveled at the speed of light to the nearest sensor. Then it could use their FTL sub-space communication network to pass on the news.

To comprehend the logistics involved, we must have a full appreciation of the galaxy’s size. It’s a BIG galaxy. If our curious aliens only wanted to deploy ten million sensors, they would have to disperse them throughout the galaxy on a grid with one-hundred light-year spacing. The Milky Way is 100,000 light-years across and one thousand light-years thick. That means if you could travel across the entire width of the galaxy at the speed of light, the Earth would circle the Sun 100,000 times during your trek. (Note: these are external observations. The hypothetical FTL traveler would experience this time quite differently, but that’s a subject for a future blog.) Even if you could travel at an incredible 100,000 times the speed of light, an Earth year would pass in the time it took you to traverse the galaxy.

When it comes to jaunting about the Milky Way, your FTL travel would have to be SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the speed of light to be of any appreciable use. Scientist and sci-fi writers often employ wormholes due to their hypothetical ability to fold space. Joining two points of space-time, like folding a paper in half, brings two remote locations together, rendering interstellar travel as simple as stepping through a door.

Back to our first contact scenario. Because of the aforementioned galactic scale, our fictional aliens have quite a few (read: ten million) sensors spread throughout the Milky Way. One day, they receive a signal indicating that a nuclear device detonated on a planet in the remote portion of the galaxy identified as SECTOR 64. They discover the signal originated from a medium-sized rocky planet in a solar system only two light-years from the sensor. (That would be very fortuitous, remember our one-hundred light-year spacing.)

So our curious aliens fold space-time and dispatch a scout ship to SECTOR 64. Arriving only a few days after their sensor detected the first nuclear blast, they get to the planet the locals (humans) call Earth in a year the humans have designated as one thousand nine hundred and forty-seven or 1947. Because of the sensor’s two light-year distance from the planet, two Earth years have passed since their original nuclear detonations in 1945.

Our curious alien scouts travel to the only place on the planet where they detect nuclear weapons. It happens to be relatively close to where the first nuclear detonation occurred. The humans call the region New Mexico.

In 1947 only one nuclear-armed bomber squadron existed, the 509th Bomber Group based at an Army Air Corp Base known as Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF).

Yep, you guessed it. That’s near an infamous small town named Roswell, New Mexico.

In a tragic accident, the scout ship is knocked down by a surprisingly powerful thunderstorm.

After a series of nearly calamitous events, the aliens do make first-contact with world leaders of the day.

Click or tap here to read PartII of my Plausible Alien First Contact Scenario, and find out about the decades-long program that our hypothetical galactic government would use to integrate us knuckle draggers into their society. Discover why it would be a secret program, even today, almost seventy years later.

Sound like an interesting backstory for a series?

Now for free, get the prequel novella, Sector 64: First Contact, that kicks off my award-winning apocalyptic series. Available as both a free ebook and a free audiobook (narrated by R.C. Bray—The Martian).

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Plausible Alien First Contact (Part II)

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Close-EncountersHow We’d Integrate Into a Hypothetical Galactic Government.

In Part I, I laid out the plausible alien first contact scenario that forms the backstory of my novel, SECTOR 64: Ambush. As promised at the end of that post, I’m back to postulate how things would pan out post-contact.

Given the premise that this alien species/society is extremely advanced and has been at the business of heading the galactic government for unknown millennia, we have to assume that this isn’t their first rodeo. They’ve initiated first contact with hundreds if not thousands of burgeoning societies across the galaxy. Through trial and error, they’ve perfected this process.

So when they stumbled into another race in a backwoods portion of the galaxy, galactic sector number 64, they made first contact. Once the contactees adjusted to the news, the galactic ambassadors briefed them on the two underlying facts of the galactic integration program:

  1. It is a decades-long program designed to streamline your society, governments, and economy for galactic integration.
  2. Secrecy is paramount. Why? The galactic government refined the process through thousands of iterations. During previous transitions, the political, economic, and social implications of premature disclosure regularly created unacceptable hardships on the integrating populations. If everybody knows of the transition, then all the time and energy invested in softening the socio/economic blow will be for naught. In short, disclosure defeats the purpose of a phased integration.

Here are the stipulations the ambassadors named for galactic integration:

  • The world’s governments must conform to galactic standards. In my fictional book, this ties into the gradual worldwide shifts toward an economic and cultural center. Examples include the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent Capitalization/Democratization of its member nations, the gradual transition of China away from strict communism, and the social reforms of the West.
  • The phased shift of economies away from a fossil fuel energy base. Our continued and growing fossil fuel dependence highlights the fictional nature of my scenario. Our economy is getting more, not less intertwined in them. In my fictional scenario, the galactic powers instruct Earth governments to push a phased introduction of alternate energy solutions.

Wait, are we talking fiction or reality?

This alien first contact scenario is merely the premise or backstory of my novel; it is not the meat and potatoes of the story.

Click here to read more about SECTOR 64: Ambush.

The Final Result

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A SoHo Grand Experience

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Recent travels found me in Morristown, New Jersey, for a week of flight simulator training. While there I always make a point to visit ‘The City.’ With my return flight not scheduled to depart until Saturday afternoon I had a night to burn and the money to light it with. So when I finished my training on Friday I caught a New Jersey Transit train to New York’s Penn Station (for the uninitiated it’s under Madison Square Garden).

Not being the biggest proponent of pre-travel planning I whipped out my iPhone somewhere between Morristown and Manhattan. Using the map feature I searched my favorite little town in America (SoHo) for a good hotel. Finding the SoHo Grand I booked a room.

If you’ve never been to SoHo you’re probably wondering why I’d call a Lower Manhattan neighborhood a ‘little town.’ SoHo is named after Houston Street (pronounced house-ton). SOuth of HOuston, it encompasses a chunk of Manhattan from Houston Street south to Tribeca’s Canal Street (a title generated from the same naming convention: TriBeCa – TRIangle BElow CAnal). While there are plenty of Manhattan skyscrapers they’re best known for their artists’ lofts and galleries, pocket restaurants and basement clubs.

The gentrified community’s 150-year-old cast iron decorative facades render an old-town-square feel that coupled with its culture gives it a surreal small town air and character.

At Penn Station I work my way to the surface and take the obligatory self-portrait under Madison Square Garden’s marquee. Back underground I board the A-Train, the express that takes me straight to SoHo without all the stops (the damn thing bites me later in the story).

Emerging from Canal station into the light of day I walk north. Passing Maserati of Manhattan (I want one) and the Tribeca Film Festival headquarters/theater (and now you know how it got its name), I step across Canal into SoHo and start looking for my hotel. After ten seconds I figure out I’m standing right in front of it.

What a cool place! An iconic hotel whose recently redesigned interior pays homage to SoHo’s cast iron lineage. The mix of old and new, iron and glass, dark and light is an eye pleasing work of art.

After checking in I work my way up to my room on the fourteenth floor. Opening the door I freeze, Holy shit! What a view! Dropping my bag I walk to the window, unable to believe my luck. Having booked late I never expected to get  … this.

Facing south my room affords me a view of the new World Trade Center! Not off to the side at an oblique angel. Front and center! After studying the view for a few moments I silently considered what horrors these windows must have witnessed that fateful day in September…

After a power nap (give me a break, I’m not old, I’ve been up since 5:30am and I want to stay up till … almost that late) I clean up and head to the outdoor bar on the Hotel’s south side. It’s a cool late summer afternoon. The sky is blue, there’s a cool breeze that has everyone smiling. The after-work crowd is rolling in to kick off the weekend.

Birds are chirping, leaves are rustling, and the sun chases the cool air deposits from your skin, leaving only goose bumps in its wake. It’s a sensation I’ve always associated with spring’s first warm day and fall’s first cool one. It’s early this year, but then again I’m in New York not Texas … go figure.

I chat with the bartenders. When I’m alone I almost always sit at the bar, it’s a social thing. They’re a wealth of local info and usually don’t mind the company. Plus, not being one that enjoys looking pitiful (even when I might be) I try not to sit solo in a busy social environment. The bartenders come through and suggest a couple of live music venues.

The sun has set. En route to Allen Street I find a little hole-in-the-wall Mom & Pop restaurant; the atmosphere uniquely SoHo, the food excellent. Afterwards I continue north and east. Softly chatting arm-in-arm couples, dashing cabs with flashing blinkers, and residential windows open to let in the breeze and let out the sounds of life dot my path.

At the north end of SoHo I hit Houston Street and proceed east. Ahead I see crowds on a busy, bar and restaurant lined cross street.

I’ve reached my destination.

Stepping into Rockwood Music Hall I’m immersed in incredible sound and a warm atmosphere. There’s a live local band on stage. Playing folksy-bluesy rock the whole place is swaying to their rhythm.

Over the hours a parade of talent crossed the stage, each as good as or better than the last. In the dark, would be smoky (in another era) atmosphere I chat with other patrons, swap stories, laugh, and drink.

2:00am … that nap didn’t help as much as I’d hoped; I’m running out of gas. It might be the culmination of an evening and night’s worth of cocktails (either that or I am getting old … nah). Bidding farewell I head for the exit. I’m at SoHo’s northeast corner and need to get to its southwest corner.

It’s subway time!

Along the way to the station I grab a slice of pizza. Culinary crack, it always taste great after a night of drinking.

2:30am I take a subway west to intercept the A-Train south. At the intersecting station I discover the subways are on a construction schedule. The A-Train either isn’t running or it’s moved to a different track. Paper signs are taped up all over the place. (Paper signs? Can’t New York afford a proper passenger notification system?) I read the one at the A-Train’s normal track. It sends me to another level. I go to that level. Another piece of paper tells me to go back to where I started. After a few more diversions (and firmly aware I look like a lost drunk tourist … screw it) I jump on a train I’m relatively certain is going south to Canal.

It’s not…

I end up completely lost. When I finally realize the train isn’t going the right way I get off in an unknown area of the city. Climbing the stairs it occurs to me I have no idea what kind of neighborhood I might be walking into. Stepping from the stairwell onto the sidewalk I did my best impression of someone who knows where the hell he’s going (show no weakness grasshopper). Turning right I stumbled (figuratively) into a busy bar.

I reasoned, ‘How lost can I be if I can find a place like this?’ Thus temporarily un-lost I settled in for a cocktail to collect myself.

4:00am One or three self-collecting cocktails later I said to myself, ‘Self, let’s give it a go again.’ In search of a cab I wander back into the night. It seems there is only one to be had in the entire city. Unfortunately its occupants (drunken coeds) are busy arguing with the cabbie over a five-dollar overage on their bill.

I gallantly whip out a five spot and offer it … if they will just get out of the cab … please.

They decline on a matter of principle, steadfastly refusing to vacate said cab, and suggesting I find another. Through a drunken lisp, one declares, ‘We’re going to sit in this cab until the cabbie (who spoke virtually no English) refunds our five dollars!’

I commented that there wasn’t exactly a plethora of f#*king cabs.

They remained unrepentantly drunk.

4:20am New York births another cab. I jump in. With the still-cackling drunken coeds fading to rear the cab rushs away. Ten minutes later I finally make it back to the SoHo Grand.

4:40am Collapsing into my bed, the Big Apple’s lights staring in on me, I think…

‘What an adventure!’

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Is This ‘The End’ for Nuclear Energy?

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First of all, my thoughts are with the Japanese people as they try to cope with and dig themselves out of this three tiered disaster. Hit by a trifecta of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, their losses look to be well in excess of 10,000.

With 500,000 evacuated and displaced, further complicating an already horrible situation, the rest of the world looks on with shock. This tragedy will have many ramifications, not the least of which will be its effect on the global energy picture.

The ‘Nuclear Renaissance‘ is over.

Click for More Info on My Novel.

Like no other country, Japan invested more engineering and money into their plants’ safety systems and redundancies than anyone on the planet. This isn’t a Chernobyl; nuclear proponents can’t write this off as shoddy engineering, antiquated systems, or loose government policies.

Kyodo Newshas reported that the Fukushima #2 reactor’s fuel rods are fully exposed. Apparently a meltdown scenario is ongoing. There are reports that several hundred evacuees and rescuers have been exposed to radiation, possibly lethal levels. This extension of the tragedy will play out across the world’s TVs in the coming weeks, months and years.

Today European leaders suspended plans to extend their nuclear footprint.

Der Spiegel reported:

German media commentators across the political spectrum are saying the accident in a highly developed nation such as Japan is further evidence that nuclear power isn’t safe. One commentator in the conservative Die Welt went as far as to liken the global impact of the Fukushima explosions to that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Last year President Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to Southern Company to build two nuclear power plants in Georgia. Edit: As I write this, a report just came out that President Obama “Stands behind nuclear power.” As stated earlier, I think he’ll be hard pressed to maintain that position as the scenes play across the world’s televisions.

Joe Lieberman said, “I think we’ve got to kind of quietly put, quickly put the brakes on until we can absorb what has happened in Japan as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami and then see what more, if anything, we can demand of the new power plants that are coming on line.”

Wikipedia states there are 439 nuclear power plants supplying 14-16% of the world’s energy needs. Thirty-nine are under construction, with more than 400 in the planning stages. The power needs these planned projects were designed to meet won’t go away in the interim.

I can hear the screech of skidding tires from here.

With North African and Middle East unrest, cancellation of nuclear projects, and the continued de facto drilling suspension in the Gulf of Mexico, $5/gal gas is already a reality.

While the financial impact of this tradgedy looms large, it pales in comparison to the huge personal losses hitting the Japanese people. Keep them in your thoughts and help in any way you can.

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