This post is by James Davis Nicoll from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content
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Arthur C. Clarke’s 1973 Rendezvous with Rama is a classic example of how First Contact is supposed to go. In the 2130s, astronomers make a chance discovery: an interstellar object traversing the Solar System. In this future, spacecraft of various kinds swarm through the Solar System. It’s possible to divert two spacecraft (one a robot, one crewed) towards the object. The robot probe reveals that Rama is an artifact. The crew of the other vehicle get to explore Rama.
Clarke’s optimistic predictions are driven by narrative need—it wouldn’t have been much of an SF tale otherwise. “We saw something really weird but didn’t get a close look at it” is only satisfying in ghost stories, not in First Contact tales.
In the real world, First Contact may have played out very differently.
Consider ‘Oumuamua .
“Just what is ‘Oumuamua?” you may ask. I am so glad you asked. It’s ...