Reflections on the ending of Fermi and Frost

October 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

I really enjoyed reading this book’s account of a world ending nuclear winter, but I thought that the ways this story related itself to the fermi paradox, particularly at the ending, were lacking except in one regard.

In one regard it is a great example of one of the answers to the question of the fermi paradox, which looks at the seemingly certain probability that extraterrestrial life exists and would leave evidence that we could have found-but we haven’t. Explained in the story, it is the answer that any life form, when it would have gotten to the point of being able to communicate across the universe and to have left evidence for us to find, would have had the capacity to destroy itself with something like the nuclear winter described in the book. The setting created for that winter and the struggle to survive was very compelling, the platitudinous, reflective description at the very end was not. It appeared as an overly simplistic and sentimental resolution to the very interesting conflict created by the story.

I would have loved to see some ending where another life form does finally get in touch with earth, maybe because the people there would have seen the destructive capacity and learned a lesson that makes the alien life forms willing to reveal their existence, or something like that. Or, honestly, it would have been fun to read a story like this without any mention to the fermi paradox and alien life. A story like this just about humans struggling to survive in Iceland after a nuclear holocaust would have been great.

On a different note, I thought that They’re Made Out of Meat was a very humorous but also insightful look at the fermi paradox. Hearing the aliens describe how humans talk by “flapping their meat” was great, and it was fun thinking about how some alienist would think humans were weird like they did. It was insightful, though, because that seems like a great answer to the fermi paradox, that the other life forms are so alien to us that we haven’t seen evidence of them because we really can’t conceive of them.

Lastly, I think that there is another answer to the fermi paradox which I want to mention: that sentient life isn’t an emergent phenomena. I’m not going to give any explanation, but I think it’s worth taking a moment to ponder what the implications of that are.

Peter Bryant (extra post for missed class)


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