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man space aliens 13086212_sX: Xenophobes

According to Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (online version), a xenophobe is “one unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin.” Now, you’ll be asking me, what the heck does a xenophobe have to do with romance books?!

Well, for the purposes of this post, it mostly has to do with science fiction romance. I don’t know where it started, maybe with “little green men from Mars” or sometime even earlier than that, but along the line, folks started fearing what might come from the skies. People have always agonized over the unknown, always chafed at different cultures that they don’t understand, but in terms of space, xenophobia seems to be shared by nearly all of us. (Astronauts and astronomers might be the most obvious exceptions.)

It appears to be ingrained in our psyches, and yet science fiction writers frequently use off-worlders as creatures of interest. Sometimes they’re good guys, sometimes bad guys, but they’re all more technically advanced than we Earthers. Is that because we just can’t imagine coming into contact with people more primitive than ourselves? It reminds me of the Star Trek Prime Directive:

“No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations.” (ST:TOS 1968)

If we ever encountered a more primitive people, would we adhere to this stricture, or would be barrel in and have our way with them? You might not have read them, but David Brin wrote a few books about purposely pushing the evolution of creatures beyond what would have been normal in the course of time. These books started with The Uplift War, during which Earthers uplift certain Earth animals in order to get their help fighting a seemingly impossible conflict from off-worlders.

Two paradigms are explored in Brin’s series: xenophobia and interference with a less developed species. It’s interesting how science fiction has treated our fears about encountering unknown cultures. Hopefully, if we actually meet a space-faring species, it will be on good terms.

How do you feel about possibly encountering space aliens?

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5 Comments

  1. I think I would be scared, but I would still suck it up. I would love to meet aliens!
    I think 🙂
    I might need a glass of wine though, first 🙂

  2. That’s hard to know. If you are asked how you would react if you were in a life or death situation you wouldn’t know unless it actually happened. I guess when I meet an alien I’ll know. lol

  3. I think its possible but I guess I wonder what they would make of us.

  4. How do you feel about possibly encountering space aliens? My husband is all into watching all these Sci-fi programs. He is more likely believe than me. I laugh. Yet the Bible says that “we entertain angels unaware” and so maybe, just maybe we have “aliens” among us and we aren’t actually aware of it. If angel appear to us as “what we deem NORMAL” then why not an alien from a distance galaxy. How would we actually know for sure? Who is to say they are going to look unusal like what we have seen on Star Trek? And if nothing else, it makes for great reading!

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