Talk:First contact (science fiction)

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First contact (anthropology)[edit]

This article should really be merged with the aforementioned article. They share the same meaning, so why should it matter that the "science fiction" article involves extra-terrestrials? Just because interspecies first contact hasn't happened yet (publicly), doesn't classify it as science fiction.

I'm not so sure. First, anthropologists and science fiction enthusiasts will both come to a "first contact" article with different expectations, and may leave if they are not confident that their expectations will be met. For example, in a combined page which should come first, the anthropological or the science fiction aspects? Second, science fiction occasionally raises issues which have not featured in anthropology, e.g.: how a less advanced race should handle first contact (e.g. Brin's "Uplift" series; Baxter's Xeelee sequence); the problems of communication between races with different hard-wired behaviours (including but not limited to hard-coded linguistics - Steven Pinker's non-fiction book "The Language Instinct" makes a strong case for hard-coding of basic grammar in humans).Philcha 20:13, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

This is strange; why is there no mention of Murray Leinster's story "First Contact" here? Isn't that the story from which the term comes? - Robin

Murray Leinster's heirs thought so, and I'll add mention of the story to the article.Philcha 20:13, 26 March 2007 (UTC)


Can't beleive there was no reference to Banks here apart from the "Outside Context Problem" link so added mention of The Culture's Contact section where it seems appropriate. Still far too much bloody Star Trek here though. --JamesTheNumberless 14:31, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Second Contact[edit]

> Mike Resnick (1991). Second Contact. Legend. ISBN 0-09-974150-4. — Resnick explores the theme of humans recovering from a disastrous first contact.

I was curious, so looked up the details of this book. The several synopses says that a captain is on trial for killing two crewmembers because he thought that they were aliens, and the plea is temporary insanity. This does not sound like a situation in which first contact has occurred, and there is no explicit mention of actual aliens, unless it's all part of a surprise ending. If someone has access to this book, please confirm that this is not spam or mistaken identity. If the link is valid, I'd suggest either embedding a comment or updating the description to reconcile with the synopses. --Scott McNay 23:49, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm afraid I don't understand your question. From the quote above, it would simply appear that the book is about xenophobia after "a disastrous first contact". MrZaiustalk 04:06, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

First contact (science)?[edit]

I was looking at this article thinking it might cover the various issues that should be considered in an actual first contact, as a serious discussion; there was a bit in this article, but more as a side issue (and in the contect of SF) than the main subject. Is there such an article like this? There's no shortage of material in science fiction on the subject, and I'm sure that there's plenty of serious articles on the subject also. --Scott McNay 23:49, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Good point. Here's a decent starting point, found from just googling +seti +"first contact" - MrZaiustalk 04:08, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
On second thought, a better place for truly detailed discussion of plans by SETI et al for first contact would be first contact (anthropology). Anthropology is a science, and is the science that will, if we're ruled by competent technocrats ;), be calling the shots. MrZaiustalk 20:51, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Restructure by how the first contact theme is handled?[edit]

I find the current article a bit of a laundry list, for example "There have been entire series devoted to this theme. One classic series is the 'interstellar trader' series by Andre Norton. A more modern treatment, using radio rather than spaceships, is Contact by Carl Sagan." Would it be better to divide the article by aspects of the "first contact" theme. For example: trust versus caution (Murray Leinster's First Contact; Niven and Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye); danger of misunderstandings (Earth-Minbari War in Babylon 5; Human-Bugger war in Ender's Game; Human-Tauran war in The Forever War); treatment of less advanced races (Star Trek's Prime Directive; the activities of Contact in Banks' Culture stories); dangers of contact with more advanced races (Brin's Uplift stories, Baxter's Xeelee Sequence); ultra-hostile aliens (Wells' The War of the Worlds; the Alien movies; the movie Independence Day; Fred Saberhagen's " Berserker" stories) and benevolent aliens (ET; Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis stories); individual attitudes to aliens which are different from that of the rest of a society (ET; several stories in Baxter's Xeelee Sequence); face-to-face contact versus interstellar radio contact (e.g. Sagan's contact; the TV series A for Andromeda); whether the story focuses on the process of first contact (Leinster's First Contact) or on the consequences (Brin's Uplift stories; Babylon 5; most of Baxter's Xeelee Sequence); how some stories and movies reflect contemporary political attitudes (e.g. Cold War paranoia in the 1950s and early 1960s);etc. I realise that many of these stories cover more than one aspect and I'm still trying to think of a way to deal with that.Philcha 21:49, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Sentient / sapient / highly-intelligent[edit]

The definition says, "... any sentient race's first encounter with another one." I'm not sure about "sentient" here, because much of the literature, including Wikipedia, defines sentience in terms of emotional awareness and sapience in terms of problem-solving ability. Both in psychology and and in science fiction using either term alone makes unjustified assumptions (e.g. in Brin's Uplift stories the Tandu and Jophur are undoubtedly sapient but minimally sentient). I'd prefer to avoid that debate by re-wording to "highly-intelligent". I know "highly-intelligent" is vague and in particular does not imply human-level intelligence, but in some science fiction the issue is how to treat species which have the potential for high technology but have not yet evolved to that point (it's one of the drivers for Brin's Uplift stories).Philcha 22:16, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Did anthropology get there first?[edit]

The intro to First contact (science fiction) says "... by adapting the anthropological topic of first contact to extraterrestrial cultures," which to me implies that that there was already a significant body of knowledge in anthropology before first contact featured in science fiction. But: First contact (anthropology) is little more than a stub and has few outgoing links (one of which is First contact (science fiction)); I've googled for "first contact anthropology" aand got nothing significant (mainly copies of First contact (anthropology)); looking through Wikipedia suggests that anthropology only got going in the last quarter of the 19th century (e.g. James Frazer's work in the 1870s), while H G Wells wrote some "first contact" stories in the mid-1890s. This suggests to me that anthropology did not have clear priority in the topic of first contact. So I suggest it would be better to list first the areas of overlap between science fiction and anthropology (mainly socio-cultural and linguistic) and then those which appear only in science fiction (some magnify the topics in the overlap because the situation involves different species; other are unique to sf, e.g. how to treat species which have not yet evolved to human-level intelligence, how to build trust without exposing one's species to a first strike, etc.)Philcha 11:54, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Actually, I would not be surprised if, as is also the case in SF (i.e. earliest stories that include the theme do not include the now common phrase), in anthropology the concept existed but did not go by the name of "first contact" before a certain point. Certainly there were "first contacts" with natives of the many, many places Europeans explored and settled (or attempted to settle, or conquer as the case may be), even though they probably did not initially refer to it as "first contact" (especially without pronouns, heh), and it may not have been considered part of anthropology so much as a part of more general exploration or something. In any case though, just because it's not easy to find on the internet through Google does not mean it does not exist. The WWW has only been around for about 12 years, you know. :P If you're truly curious on the subject, why not contact members of anthropology departments in universities? That might actually be easier. 19:19, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Removed section[edit]

While Sethie enjoyed the writing in this section, the whole section seems like one editors thoughts about first contact scenarios, as opposed to citing sources or reporting what WP:RS sources have to say.Sethie 07:12, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Other Types Of First Contact[edit]

I remember reading this article months ago and thought it was a decent article. As I am currently reading the novel Anathem by Neal Stephenson I came to remember this article and see if it had mentions of similar ideas. This entire article is about first contacts with beings from other planets, but what about first contacts with beings from other universes (alternate cosmos). I came to look here and there's nothing of the sort, but where would something like this be? I see this as a similar story idea just slightly different. Should this idea be investigated further as another paragraph could be added to simply state that the idea of first contacts aren't limited to alien races. ... There already is a fairly useless paragraph in this article that seems to serve no purpose other than to advertise novels by Asimov and Bujold. (talk) 03:20, 18 January 2009 (UTC)


Neither the author nor the story is listed in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, and this summary adds nothing to the article that I can see, so I deleted it. Naturally it was quickly restored, by the one who added it (and who also added it to Alien invasion).

How about publication data for the story, at least? —Tamfang (talk) 08:05, 11 May 2011 (UTC)