My husband asked me the other day…
What do you think is more likely to be here on Earth – ghosts or extra-terrestrial life?
It was a surprising question because my husband’s not usually the speculating type. Don’t get me wrong, he loves speculative fiction – movies, TV shows, the odd Ben Bova novel (when I can drag him away from reading how-to manuals). But the most he usually speculates is to wonder what rainforest species we can plant in the back garden!
What also surprised me is that I didn’t have an answer for him. Both possibilities sit equal in my mind. Fiction has put forward numerous imaginative and convincing cases for both. Plus, both have scientific and philosophical argument in favour and against them. In the end, I supposed that science might one day answer the question for me. After all, surely the space race and research into psychic phenomena will eventually lead us to uncovering the truth? But then I found myself wondering what fiction might do then.
What if we knew for certain that there were no ghosts or aliens, here on earth at least?
Would fiction abandon all discussion of the possibility? Science has long explained for us the materialisation of thunder and lightning, earthquakes, the auroras – they are all the result of scientific equations and geological/atmospheric events. Yet, fiction hasn’t abandoned the mystic of those happenings altogether…
Even in today’s fiction, the crack of thunder can often be inferred as the direct result of a gifted person’s anger. Lightening can be generated from the palms of those with a command over the energy that exists all around us. Earthquakes can result from the rise of spaceships buried deep underground, emerging to take over the planet. So surely the mystic of ghosts and aliens would follow suit?
Reassured by this logic, I feel confident in the imaginations of our world’s writers to continue to dream. From Shakespeare’s Hamlet (ghosts) to Dan Brown’s Deception Point (aliens), writers will always speculate – whether science is with or against them, whether there’s a high-concept philosophical question at the heart of their stories (like District 9), or not (like Mars Attacks). So hurray for that.
But what about readers, do you speculate much? And, if so, what do you think is more likely – ghosts or extra-terrestrial life here on earth? I checked with my husband and he thought aliens would be more likely… “because the universe is massive”. What do you think?
Well, I asked those of you on my Facebook page (“like” it here if you haven’t already!) and here’s what they said:
Thanks to the following Facebook pals for responding to my poll: Marianne de Pierres, Michael Pryor, Nansi Kunze, Tom Dullemond, Graham Storrs, Kirsten Krauth, Kylie Scott, Elizabeth Ottosson, Colin Chadwick, Jeff Whelan, Rebecca Dempsey, J.W. Alden, Mark Dransfield, Babette Furstner, Brad C Anderson, John Chapman, Todd Beingessner, Jr, Tiki Swain, Odette Nightsky, Bevan McGuiness
Which option would you have picked?
And yes (Alan Baxter, Colin Chadwick and Bothersome Words), I know it’s hard to pick just one option. And yes (Kylie Scott and Imelda Evans), I will have to do another poll involving zombies at some point – after all, the inevitable demise of the Earth via apocalypse is another question entirely