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  • PF Legge

Where is everybody?

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

It is still cold and snowing in southern Ontario as winter drags on. I have read that spring will come early this year, but it hasn’t yet. I recall that it didn’t come early in 2018, and when it did it was cool and wet. In any case, a warm, early spring would be a welcome thing around here.

Have you ever heard of The Great Filter? It’s a theory that explains why, despite the billions of sun like stars in the universe, that we haven’t found any evidence of life outside of the thin layer of soil, oxygen, CO2 and water we live on and in. It could be because of the rarity of the necessary elements in the exact ratios needed for life that are found on our planet. Or that the precise amount of energy and heat we receive from our star is unique. Or life needs the singular size of the earth and its tide causing moon or, worse, it could be because we haven’t reached the filter yet and our doom is yet to come, through natural disaster, war, technological change or disease. No way to know really, but it does provide a means to explain logically why the universe seems so empty.

There are other theories of course. We may be so primitive that space faring civilizations would not deign to talk to us. Do we consult ants when we build a new highway or get on an airplane? Or, we may be in a celestial forest where predators abound and the smart thing to do is shut up, in order to stay alive. (Which is what everyone else out there is doing, hence the silence.) Or there may be a super civilization out there in the dark, striking down newcomers when it looks like they may eventually pose a threat.

Others have argued that the universe is very big and has been around for a very long time. So, even if there were other intelligent species, it is more likely that we would miss each other in time, or space, than it would be that we would meet.

I don’t know which I prefer to believe, although the predators, jealous super civilizations and/or a Great Filter to come are close to what one could consider a dreadful prospect.

Lots of material for writers in those theories. And I have read many of the great science fiction stories of the world’s end. ‘The Forge of God’ is a good one. Scared the pants off me when I first read it. ‘On the Beach’ frightened me more. It’s about the world ending as a result of nuclear war, slowly spreading fallout and the people waiting for it. ‘World War Z’ was great. Zombie apocalypse from a fresh perspective, after the war is over. ‘The Road’ is great writing from a world that has already ended. ‘A Canticle for Leibowitz’ is a novel I studied in high school. Top marks for closing the circle on human kind. Destruction is what we do in this one. Great Filter indeed.

The end of the world is looming, (or lurking?) in my first two novels in The Adventures of Conor and Gray, Almost a Myth and Slaughter by Strange Means. It is coming from a different place than these more scientific theories, but hopefully chilling all the same.

With all this in mind, try to have a great week!

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