Let’s face it: Real space aliens—if they exist and they probably do—are probably nothing like this. We have gotten used to these skinny attenuated bipedal creatures who look vaguely humanoid. Life can take many possible forms, especially on planets that are significantly different from Earth.
I have just finished reading a book by Stanisław Lem called The Invincible. I have long thought that the best sci-fi comes from Eastern Europe, particularly Poland and Russia. In the West, we tend to think too much along the same lines; but novels from writers like Lem and the Strugatsky brothers give us a whiff of the alien that is not necessarily tied down to traditional forms.
My Edition of Lem’s The Invincible
For another look at what might be out there, I strongly recommend you read Boris and Arkady Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, and see the great film that was based on it: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1982).
Sci-fi that tries to imagine the really alien can be a little frightening, but it can be great!
In science fiction films, there tends to be two views on encounters with space aliens. One is the romantic view, as exemplified by Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Cocoon. In these films, the space aliens are benevolent and almost humanoid. Then there is the realistic vision of War of the Worlds. In this film, we don’t even get a good look at the aliens because they come out shooting from the get-go.
What with all the recent press about UFOs espied by military planes (see picture below), the subject has come up: What is the first encounter going to be like? I don’t think we are likely to encounter humanoids or anything even resembling them. They are probably not even likely to breathe our atmosphere.
I have this picture in my mind of a Christian missionary attempting to convert space aliens to his religion. How is that conversation likely to go? Will the space aliens crucify the missionary because that’s what they think he wants? How would the Christian religion look to a completely alien mind associated with a non-biped without the usual eyes, ears, nose, hands, and feet? I would think space aliens would laugh at what we would consider to be organized religion.
It would certainly sober up many Evangelicals in particular. But then, they are used to not believing in the evidence of their senses, given their political preference.
The interesting question is this: How would one go about reconciling the beliefs of space aliens with those of Earthlings, of whatever religious background? Oh to be a fly on the wall of that “conversation”!