Friday, September 28, 2007

The Fermi Paradox: Further Reading

Paradigm's Lost CoverThere are a lot of good books dealing, in whole or part, with
the overall subject of the search for extraterrestrial
intelligence (the very acronym of SETI) and speculations on
possibilities of success or failure. As such, this particular
listing is merely a sub-sampling of the books that are available
and should not be treated as anything close to a complete listing
of works.

The Aliens are Among Us Hypothesis

Communion CoverPerhaps the most controversial of all the proposed solutions
to the Fermi Paradox, this hypothesis has generated enough books,
pro and con, to fill several libraries. As such, any sampling of
books is going to be, by necessity, a non-representative sample.
That said, on the pro side, one can find such books as:
Demo Haunted World CoverOn the Con side, one can find such books as:
The Apocalyptic Hypothesis

Cosmos CoverThis particular hypothesis is found, as a reoccurring theme, in much of Carl Sagan's works. Perhaps the best (cautionary) example can be found in Cosmos.

Isaac Asimov also dealt with the theme of world-threatening futures in A Choice of Catastrophes : The Disasters That Threaten Our World. Unfortunately, this book is hard to find, but well worth reading if you can find a copy.

The Chariots of the Gods Hypothesis

Like the Aliens are Among us Hypothesis, this hypothesis has been a source of extreme controversy ever since Erich von Daniken published the eponymous Chariots of the Gods. He has since expanded upon the original theme in The Eyes of the Sphinx : The Newest Evidence of Extraterrestrial Contact in Ancient Egypt.

Chariots of the Gods CoverRebuttals to von Daniken's theories can be found in such works
as Crash Go the Chariots, by Clifford Wilson, and The Space-Gods Revealed : A Close Look at the Theories of Erich Von Daniken by Ronald Story, both of which are somewhat hard to come by. PBS's Nova science series also did a critical report on von Daniken's theories in the 5th season episode The Case of the Ancient Astronauts. Unfortunately, this video is not available for sale from their online store, but a transcript of it can be ordered, for a nominal fee, from WGBH Audience and Member Services at (617) 492-2777, Ext. 5400.

The Dangerous Neighbors Hypothesis

The Forge of God CoverCharles Pellegrino is the primary architect of the DNH. In his opinion, the potential development of relativistic missiles using antimatter drives makes this a very real possibility. He deals with these themes extensively (and technically) in his two works of fiction, Flying to Valhalla and The Killing Star, which are both, unfortunately, currently out of print. Greg Bear also offers a fictional overview of this perspective, using even more esoteric technologies, in The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars.

The First Come, First Serve Hypothesis

Physics of Immortality CoverThis particular hypothesis has received a lot of popularity in recent years, but it remains the brain child of Frank Tippler who first formulated it as part of his eschatological Omega Point Hypothesis in The Physics of Immortality.

A discussion of the Anthropic Principle, which is a major component of the First Come, First Serve hypothesis, can also be found in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by John D. Barrow and Frank Tippler. A more technical (and expensive) treatment of the Anthropic Principle can be found in The Anthropic Principle : Proceedings of the Second Venice Conference on Cosmology and Philosophy.

The Stay at Home Hypothesis III (a.k.a., The Lotus Eater Hypothesis)

Although this particular example doesn't use virtual reality per our conventional understanding, Greg Bear's Blood Music offers, perhaps, the best fictional treatment of this particular hypothesis. While this title is out of print, I've found that most used book resources have available copies of it.

The Transcendent Hypothesis

Great Mambo Chicken CoverThe concept of the Singularity is very popular in the Extropian movement, although not all Extropians agree with this particular interpretation of the singularity. For a good overview of transhumanism (which is a superset of the Extropian movement), I would recommend Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition : Science Slightly over the Edge, by Ed Regis, as well as The Extropian Home Page.

The science fiction writer Vernor Vinge has been the primary advocate of the idea of the technological singularity as transcendent event. This idea was a central plot point in his novel Marooned in Real Time which is, unfortunately, currently out of print but, again, well worth searching for. Critiques of Vinge's concept of the Singularity can be found here.

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