Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest, the sequel to Hugo-award-winning The Three Body Problem posits a field of studies called cosmic sociology which would explore the ways in which civilizations interact on a scale the size of the galaxy.
Spoiler alert: Not very nicely.
This week’s story plays with the same idea.
Much as in Cixin Liu’s novels, this little storylet shows life in the universe to be a scary, tenuous affair. Hyper-advanced spacefaring societies lurk in the darkness between the stars, just waiting for newly technologized societies (like us, or the unfortunate Gliesians) to reveal themselves so they can destroy them and keep their own foothold in the galaxy secure.
Is that how things would actually turn out, if we ever were to be contacted by extra-terrestrial life?
I hope not.
And I don’t think so.
But I guess only time will tell… (Although the chances of meaningful contact at all is pretty slim, given the time scales and distances involved. As several hypothetical solutions to the Fermi Paradox argue.)