I have long been fascinated by the way events (even apparently minor events) can reverberate through time, affecting subsequent events hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of years later. A recent example is when 19-year-old Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Sarajevo, Bosnia on June 28, 1914, which triggered World War I. Events following that war led directly and (in retrospect) inevitably to World War II, which led directly to the Cold War and all the little proxy wars, coups, assassinations, and CIA covert operations to “stop the spread of communism” that the Cold War engendered. The consequences of all of those things affect us even today, particularly in the Middle East. One person’s actions, one bullet, literally changed the course of history for the entire world, resulting in millions of deaths — and the count keeps rising.
Granted, this example only covers decades, but I’m certain it would be easy to find single events hundreds or thousands of years ago that have led directly to the way things are today.
It is precisely this concept that I explored in the Children of Hathor trilogy. In that story, all the hundreds of human races in the galaxy are descended from an extinct progenitor race, the Hathor. 800,000 years ago. a single action by a single one of these Hathor altered the course of history for every race in the galaxy. As a direct result, some of those Hathor-spawned races visited Earth thousands of years ago, helped elevate early humans to civilization, and interbred with them. Now those actions have directly affected the life of 12-year-old Jason Hunter, and his subsequent actions define the future course of galactic civilization, affecting hundreds of worlds and trillions of people.
When I set out to write the trilogy, I was of course aware of the many books that claim ancient aliens visited Earth. I’m not sure I bought it, but it was a fun concept to explore in fiction. Since them, however, I have read some of these books, and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe there isn’t some truth to the idea. I’m beginning to wonder, in fact, if there isn’t as much truth as there is fiction in my trilogy!
Now, before you think I’ve gone off my rocker, let me first say that much of what is written in the aforementioned books is horse hockey. That is, the writers almost invariably take a few tantalizing facts and use them to launch into absurd flights of fancy. One book made the claim that the “starmen” were wise and benevolent, that we were a carefully watched colony, and that soon they would return and peace and beauty would reign over the Earth, or some other such nonsense. Even if aliens did visit Earth in the past, there is no reason to assume that they were any more selfless and benevolent than the Spanish Conquistadors. Why should they have been? The people here must have seemed to them as primitive as subsistence hunters in the Amazon jungle seem to us. They would have been as likely to enslave early humans as raise them up.
As for the notion that these aliens will return, well, that sounds just like the South Pacific cargo cults, or, frankly, any religion that insists its god or prophet or whatever will return someday soon (always soon!) to save us. These aliens, if they existed, might well be extinct by now. In fact, I’d lay heavy odds that they are. We’re talking thousands of years! If Earth history is any guide, no civilization lives for more than a few hundred years, tops. Odds are pretty much even that our “modern” civilization won’t survive for more than another century or two, based on how we are trashing our planet and how we are ever so eager to kill each other.
Still, there seems to be some pretty good evidence that human-like aliens did visit Earth millennia ago, and that their presence dramatically affected the development of human civilization. For all we know, there could be a vast galactic civilization composed of hundreds of races, just like in my trilogy, and we are no more aware of it than small Amazonian tribes deep in the jungle are aware of Western Civilization. Nor would those galactic races be any more aware of us than we are of those hidden Amazonian tribes.
It’s a tantalizing thought. In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the evidence that makes me think this is possible. And I’ll talk about why I think it’s premature to insist that space travel between star systems is impossible.