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The Fermi Paradox Paradox

One of the panels I did at Readercon was on the Fermi Paradox. Roughly speaking, the Fermi Paradox is the question of where are the aliens? Enrico Fermi postulated that the age and size of the universe implied that extraterrestrial life ought to be common, which led him to wonder why there was no credible evidence of their having visited Earth. (Wikipedia has a fairly good write-up at Wikipedia: The Fermi Paradox.

One could argue that the paradox isn't really a paradox, of course, and there are a variety of solutions to the paradox. But the panel was about why there isn't more science fiction written about the paradox.

It turns out that a reporter for io9, Nivair H. Gabriel, was in the audience, and Gabriel reported on the panel today at IO9: Fermi Paradox: Why Aren't Aliens Talking to Us?. Had I known someone was taking notes and planning to list our recommendations for Fermi Paradox fiction, I would have made a point of mentioning my own Fermi Paradox story, "Decisions" (Analog, January/February 2004, Hugo Nominee 2005), which will soon be reprinted in I Remember the Future.

As it is, though, if you go to the io9 report, you'll find a list of worthwhile fiction to read, including one on the Internet for free – Terry Bisson's "hilarious and chilling" short-short, "They're Made Out of Meat." And I'm amused to see that io9 gave me the last word:

I'm sure you have even more recommendations for Fermi paradox stories, and I urge you to share them with io9 in the comments — but do it quickly. As panelist Michael A. Burstein pointed out, "Wouldn't it be funny if we got a signal from aliens tomorrow and this whole conversation was moot?"


Well, I'll give him props for spelling my name correctly, but if I'd known I'd be mentioned and glossed over, I'd have been more forceful about mentioning the actual title of my story ("The Ears Have It," Analog, December 1993). Admittedly, the title is lame, but I usually have trouble with the titles (well, the short ones; the incredibly long titles seem almost a gift, and I do like my long, rambly titles and subtitles).

Thanks for the pointer; I'd have missed the article completely.
I really enjoyed that panel! Thanks for the additional recc. :)

December 2016

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