5 Ways in which first contact with aliens might end in disaster

Nothing makes my neurons glitter more than first contact stories, or stories involving catastrophic relations between humans and aliens.

I always wanted to write about a first contact gone wrong. That’s why The Deep Link begins with a first contact disaster, but not because of some fundamental difference between humans and aliens. Because Taryn, my protagonist, is a reckless fanatic who just can’t do what she’s told and fucks up big time.

So what other reasons are there for a first contact to go south like a sinking U-boot? What could happen that would turn a possible love-at-first-sighting into a RUN FOR THE BUNKERS type of encounter?

 

1. Incompatible means of communication

We use air passing through our vocal cords to create various combinations of sound that carry meaning we agree upon.

But aliens might use entirely different means of communication, like bioluminescence, pheromones, ultrasound, telepathy. We might not be able to talk to each other for a long, long time, until the brilliant minds of both species find a way to translate between us. And until then… war is a high probability.

Not to mention the raging intolerance that might flare up on our side. We’re not a very accepting species, after all.

Maybe neither are they.

2. Incompatible biological make-up

We’re carbon and hydrogen based. Adapted to Earth. But if the aliens we encounter (or who come here) are… methane based? Silicone based? Plasma based creatures?

We might not even be able to be in the same room together, let alone communicate and negotiate relations properly.

Honestly, I’d love to write a story about such an encounter, and give them completely incompatible communication means too. Now that’s a problem begging to be solved in an explosive plot!

3. Opposite goals

They might want to exterminate us, while we just want to explore. Or the other way around. They may want to enslave us, eat us, or incubate their xenomorph monsters in our bellies.

OR

We might want to harvest them.

If they (or some natural product of their bodies) turn out to be a good replacement for fossil fuels or narcotics, some corporation or another will find a way to rationalize harvesting them. Don’t groan. It’s a distant possibility. That’s what’s scary.

4. External factors

Maybe a superior third party decides to annihilate us both because no inferior species are supposed to contact each other.

Maybe our encoutner causes a rift in space-time, and we destroy the universe just by saying HELLO.

Maybe the aliens come from another dimmension, and their establishing contact with us collapses our dimmension and we just go POOF.

Maybe they come in riding black holes, and sweep our system clean like we would some insignificant insects, without even acknowldging intelligence.

Maybe we turn out to be figments of their sick imagination, and our “reality” collapses when they wake up.

Don’t look at me light that.

Even the craziest ideas are worthy!

5. The aliens are exactly like us — they’re humans

Can you imagine the existential crisis that would throw the whole world into?

What if we made contact with people that came in space-ships, or a civilization occupying another planet, and found out THEY’RE HUMANS? Not humanoid. Not looking like us. They’re US.

Were we both seeded by some ancient humans, long ago?

Are we both experiments of some unknown alien species?

Is the whole Universe populated by just humans? The horror…

13 Replies to “5 Ways in which first contact with aliens might end in disaster”

  1. Conflicts – by first contact? That must surely be due to the aliens, so far I know there is not recorded any conflicts in human history where humans have met other humans.
    So in case the aliens are exactly like us everything would be peaceful – a walk in the park.

    I do not believe in 5 groups only. But yes, it makes sense, particular different goals.

    Main reason to conflicts: resources.
    Most of all, I expect if Aliens looks for resources, like water or air. And if they don’t like us, they would not do something as silly as send ground based armies. It makes “great” (no not really) films, but is way to costly and inefficient.
    No – just release an engineered virus that kills all humans to avoid any potential costly fights. They would then go here pump the water and air into their tanks and leave again and continue on whatever journey they are pursuing.

    The humans would not even know what killed them.

    Communication: I see that as main issue for working together and potential conflict issue, but not necessary so.
    Again, no recorded conflicts in human history due to language issues – and btw, you can by the Eiffel tower from me.

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    1. You’re being sarcastic, right? About no conflicts being recorded in history where humans encountering humans (and not being able to instantly communicate on equal terms) ended in disaster. That’s basically the summary of our entire history as a race.

      Aliens invading us for resources makes zero sense (it’s one of Hollywood’s silliest tropes), because everything that’s available on Earth is available in various forms on other planets, within and without our solar system. They would have far fewer expenses tapping into those, as they won’t have to fight someone for them.

      Of course there are a myriad ways in which first contact could end in disaster, but how could I enumerate them all? I’d have no time left to write stories if I tried. 😀

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      1. Yes, sarcastic – why else should I offer you my priceless Eiffel Tower 🙂
        However, a film or book would be boring, I guess, if we took a 1000 year to get to know another race before encounter them – peacefully.

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  2. #5 was great. I never thought about that, but I can imagine some great stories coming out of it.

    Speaking of #3, Torchwood had a great third season involving aliens harvesting humans because we produce some kind of natural drug for them.

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  3. First contacts will be and is a endless theme for all people, simply because we have not had a first contact yet (at least to the information I have).
    There is no end to what kind of issues we would face.
    In my latest book, it is not about first contact as a theme, more the view upon humanity from alien point of view. All is perfect – an alien newborn kid is placed in “kindergarten”, to watch and learn from primitive races mistakes – and who is better to do mistakes than the human race?
    But of course something goes wrong…

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