Contact

[The following is a transcript of President Doubleday’s speech to the United Nations of Earth four days after the Encounter.]

People of Earth-

We have often wondered whether or not we are alone in the universe. Whether we were the only lifeforms in a vast array of galaxies, like a flower in the sidewalk. Whether our searches for others like us, not humans and yet still people, were in vain. Whether our constant drive to travel farther and faster, our need to “boldly go where no man has gone before,” as one writer once put it, was ultimately nothing but sound and fury, a quixotic quest into the cosmic dark.

Today, I have the privilege of laying to rest that all-powerful question.

We are not alone.

I repeat, we are not alone.

Four days ago, according to the Newton‘s transmissions, we successfully made contact with a sapient race in the Groombridge 1618 system. I have a recording of Captain Su’s transmission- the first words ever exchanged between citizens of different planets!- here. Let’s witness history.

[The President presses “Play.”]

Su: Hello? This is the ship Newton from the Sol system. Can you understand me? I repeat, can you understand me?

Groombridge: Yes, we read you loud and clear, Captain. Proceed.

Su: How… How did you know-

Groombridge: [interrupting] We have chosen thought-forms you were comfortable with. It seemed a wise course of action. Proceed.

Su: Yes, well, this is, ah, Captain Su of the S.S.S. Newton. We are, um, a diplomatic ship on a mission to, uh, meet our interstellar neighbors, as it were. We come in peace, seeking to understand your ways and culture.

Groombridge: Of course you do.

Su: Wh- what do you mean?

Groombridge: We have sensed you for what you would call millennia. We’ve known that- what with your probing the limits of your bodies, your technology, even your system- it was only a matter of time before you reached us.

Su: Th-then why didn’t you make contact, uh, sir or ma’am or…

Groombridge: Why would we? You humans are the ideal race for spreading out- what was that phrase in one transmission? “Be fruitful and multiply?”- and reaching other races. We’re just watchers, collectors of knowledge- you might call us “librarians.”

Su: Why are you telling us all this?

Groombridge: Because we know you won’t stop. You humans will keep going until you run out of space, or time, or people. It is, from our perspective, your greatest strength and your greatest weakness. We are merely telling you that we perceive your role in this galaxy to be what you have already done and what you continue to do.

[End of transmission.]

That’s all Captain Su sent us at the moment. He and his crew are currently orbiting the planet, and the United Nations will post any new transmissions as they come.

I recognize that this changes us from an isolated planet into a connected one, with a galactic role and reputation, and that such a sudden change is… well, to be honest, terrifying. But I have faith that humanity can and will adapt to a galaxy that’s welcomed it with open arms.

After all, we’ve survived worse.

And to the residents of the Groombridge system, if you hear this, we are honored by your greeting of our ambassadors, and we look forward to a long and amicable friendship between our species.

Thank you for your time.

[End of transcript.]

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