Are You There Aliens? It's Us, Earth
Aliens: where are they, what are they like, and why won't they talk to us? Humans have dreamed, wished, and feared the possible existence of life beyond Earth and out in the stars. It's a question that sparks curious minds all around the world. But what do we really know about alien life? What are we looking for when we look for extraterrestrials? And what would it mean if we did find some alien-neighbors out there?
For anyone who is asking these questions, here are the books for you. The items below describe the science behind the search for extraterrestrial life; investigate the cultures and histories that have sprung up around UFOs and aliens; and include fictional stories of first contact, to help us imagine that big "what-if?"
Aliens: The World's Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life by Jim Al-Khalili (editor)
Scientists from around the world weigh in on the latest advances in the search for intelligent life in the universe and discuss just what that might look like. Included are essays from a broad spectrum of the scientific community: cosmologists, astrophysicists, NASA planetary scientists, and geneticists, discussing the latest research and theories relating to alien life.
Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by G. Seth Shostak
Aliens are big in America. Whether they've arrived via rocket, flying saucer, or plain old teleportation, they've been invading, infiltrating, or inspiring us for decades, and they've fascinated moviegoers and television watchers for more than fifty years. About half of us believe that aliens really exist, and millions are convinced they've visited Earth. For twenty-five years, SETI has been looking for the proof, and as the program's senior astronomer, Seth Shostak explains in this engrossing book, it's entirely possible that before long conclusive evidence will be found. His informative, entertaining report offers an insider's view of what we might realistically expect to discover light-years away among the stars.
Contact by Carl Sagan
Astronomer Dr. Ellie Arroway receives an encrypted message, apparently from a solar system many light-years away.
Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb
In Extraterrestrial, Loeb takes readers inside the thrilling story of the first interstellar visitor to be spotted in our solar system. He outlines his controversial theory and its profound implications: for science, for religion, and for the future of our species and our planet. A mind-bending journey through the furthest reaches of science, space-time, and the human imagination, Extraterrestrial challenges readers to aim for the stars--and to think critically about what's out there, no matter how strange it seems.
Imagined Life: A Speculative Scientific Journey Among the Exoplanets in Search of Intelligent Aliens, Ice Creatures, and Supergravity Animals by James Trefil
It is now known that we live in a galaxy with more planets than stars. The Milky Way alone encompasses 30 trillion potential home planets. Scientists Trefil and Summers bring readers on a marvelous experimental voyage through the possibilities of life--unlike anything we have experienced so far--that could exist on planets outside our own solar system. Life could be out there in many forms: on frozen worlds, living in liquid oceans beneath ice and communicating (and even battling) with bubbles; on super-dense planets, where they would have evolved body types capable of dealing with extreme gravity; on tidally locked planets with one side turned eternally toward a star; and even on rogue worlds, which have no star at all. Yet this is no fictional flight of fancy: the authors take what we know about exoplanets and life on our own world and use that data to hypothesize about how, where, and which sorts of life might develop. Imagined Life is a must-have for anyone wanting to learn how the realities of our universe may turn out to be far stranger than fiction.
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
A biologist, a famous rapper, and a rogue soldier become the honor guard and interpreter of humanity's first contact with an alien ambassador in this thriller that combines magician realism and seemingly end-of-the-world high tension.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Stories of your life and others delivers dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar, often presenting characters who must confront sudden change -- the inevitable rise of automations or the appearance of aliens -- while striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. The story in this collection "Story of Your Life" was adapted into the 2016 motion picture Arrival.
The Aliens Are Coming!: The Extraordinary Science Behind Our Search for Life in the Universe by Ben Miller
The Aliens Are Coming! is a refreshingly clear, hugely entertaining guide to the search for alien life. Miller looks everywhere for insight, from the Big Bang's sea of energy that somehow became living matter, to the equations that tell us Earth is not so rare, to the clues bacteria hold to how life started. And he makes the case that our growing understanding of life itself will help us predict whether it exists elsewhere, what it might look like, and when we might find it.
The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs by Mark O'Connell
Details the life of the astronomer hired by the United States Air Force who spent years debunking sightings of UFOs across the country before shockingly changing his mind and using modern science to accept that they actually might be real.
The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence by P. C. W Davies
In this mind-expanding book, Paul Davies, astrobiologist and chairman of the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, refocuses the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if it does.
The Humans by Matt Haig
Regarding humans unfavorably upon arriving on Earth, a reluctant extraterrestrial assumes the identity of a Cambridge mathematician before realizing that there's more to the human race than he suspected.
The Last Astronaut by David Wellington
A tense and thrilling sci-fi adventure of space exploration and first contact, perfect for fans of The Martian, Arrival, and Interstellar. Sally Jansen was NASA's leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. Haunted by her failure, she now lives in semiretirement, convinced her days in space are over. She's wrong. A large alien object has entered the solar system and is now poised above the Earth. It has made no attempt to communicate and has ignored all incoming transmissions. With no other living astronauts to turn to, NASA wants Jansen to lead an expedition to the object. For all the dangers of the mission, it's the shot at redemption she always longed for. But as the object slowly begins to reveal its terrifying secrets, what began as a journey to make First Contact becomes a desperate struggle for survival...and one thing becomes horribly clear: the future of humanity lies in Jansen's hands.
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Combining elements of science fiction and spiritual philosophy, this novel is a tale of the devastating consequences of a scientific mission to make contact with an extraterrestrial culture.
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. Translated from the Chinese.
They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers by Sarah Scoles
In They Are Already Here we meet the bigwigs, the scrappy upstarts, the field investigators, the rational people, and the unhinged kooks of this sprawling community. How do they interact with each other? How do they interact with anomalous phenomena? And how do they (as any group must) reflect the politics and culture of the larger world around them?
Zoologist's Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens--and Ourselves by Arik Kershenbaum
From a noted Cambridge zoologist, a wildly fun and scientifically sound exploration of what alien life must be like, using universal laws that govern life on Earth and in space.
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