Enrico Fermi responded, “Why aren’t they here yet?” when asked about extraterrestrial intelligence. Then he used the Malthusian theorem to show that an alien civilization, their population and knowledge exponentially growing, should have colonized the entire galaxy. Since they aren’t here yet, he concluded that they didn’t exist. Astronaut Story Musgrave’s statement, on “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded: UFO,” that there may be billion-year-old civilizations out there in the stars, adds validity to Dr. Fermi’s position. A billion years is plenty of time to spread over the 100,000 light-year-wide Milky Way. Even traveling at sub-light speeds, they should be here. Or as Dr. Travis Taylor suggests in Alien Invasion, they may be here soon, very soon—possibly within your lifetime.
Had von Däniken been around, he would have said, “Well, Dr. Fermi, I must inform you that they have been here,” and then referred to his book, Chariots of the Gods, as proof. The book is filled with evidence of alien contact: Nazca Lines, Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphics, mythical and religious writings, and other evidence from all over the world.
Others, ancient alien theorists, have expanded upon von Däniken, presenting more evidence in their books and the TV series, Ancient Aliens. (You can get it on Netflix.)
However, despite the compelling evidence, you have to wonder: What happened to those ancient alien visitors? Fermi hypothesized that they would seek to colonize, but if they came as von Däniken suggests, then they didn’t stay and colonize.
When I read Chariots, one part of the Bible jumped into my mind and it wasn’t Elijah, “who never died but was taken away in a fiery chariot.” Rather, it was Moses and the burning bush. Von Däniken and the Bible taken together inspired me to write A Far Traveler. At the time, I had no idea that I was proposing an alternative to both von Däniken and Fermi. In fact, I had no idea that Fermi had even considered aliens, but of course he had, any intellectual mind would have to consider it at some point.
Neither Fermi nor von Däniken had the benefit of the Kepler space mission, a probe sent out to find planets around other suns. Its interim findings are statistically significant and, for me, seal the deal. Approximately 5% of the stars have planets in their habitable zone, and of those, 10% are Earth-like. That puts about 8.6 million habitable planets within 1,000 light-years of Earth, all in commute range, even for beginning star-farers with sub-light speeds of 0.1 light-years/year. It’s a speed we should achieve within this century.
Calculating it, you might say 10,000 years of travel time is a bit much, but 10,000 years is for the furthest star-farer traveling at the lowest speed. Even so, it is reasonable for self-sustaining flotillas of colonizers, planet hopping along the way. But long voyagers, having no intent of returning home, are the worst kind of star-farers for us. They are the subject of Dr. Taylor’s book, Alien Invasion.
Within his book, Dr. Taylor makes a science-based calculation that implies there are sufficient advanced alien civilizations within range of Earth that we should be receiving frequent visitations from random explorers. He backs off a bit, given that we have no definitive evidence of a single alien visit. However, I embrace his number because it supports the underlining premise of The Shaman Gene, a four-part series of which A Far Traveler is the first—all of it written before I knew about the Kepler mission or Dr. Taylor. Furthermore, I embrace it because I believe the premise of the series to be true, although when I wrote it, I thought it was just fiction.
When I finished A Far Traveler, I thought I would write another novel and I pondered what it would be about. I knew I wanted Henri the Fourth of France in it and I realized I liked my protagonists from Traveler, and I also had some minor characters that I wanted to learn more about. Out of Panther Watches came three characters who capture the stage and add a twist in the story line, the idea that the aliens came, and kept coming, and some never left.
And that is the answer to Fermi—they are here; and it is the answer to von Däniken—they never left; and it is the answer to Dr. Taylor—they are prohibiting others from visiting us. We are part of their empire.
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