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As a science fiction writer, I spend most of my life thinking about the, ‘what if’ of life and beyond. Recently, on Discovery, I watched a, ‘How the universe works’ programme about the likelihood of alien existence and it set me thinking about what has to be the biggest, ‘what if’ of all time.

But what if they do exist? Religion, race, colour, creed, wealth and power have all at some time acted singularly or conspired to keep the human race at odds with each other. To a lesser or greater extent, these factors have succeeded over countless centuries, causing wars between individuals, families, tribes, counties, countries and continents. How then, would we deal with aliens, a truly ‘different’ race from other worlds?

They might be so vastly different from us as to be totally repugnant, or they might be some sort of super race and we know what happened the last time someone tried to create that. Either way, it is likely that the differences would cause us to want to defend ourselves from the unknown. To man and woman, the unknown is fearsome and ‘alien’ in any guise, until one acquires an understanding of those differences and their aspirations, whereupon previously held prejudices can often be set aside.

It’s not so long ago that we, as a human race, considered ourselves to be split into three. Caucasian, Mongoloid and Negro. These classifications were not very helpful in terms of unification of the people of the world and thankfully, are now all but dead. But the fact remains that we are all different and until and unless we understand these differences, we will continue to fight for our corner of this planet. Still, it’s a sad edictment that there are many wars going on in our World right now. I Google searched on how many, which returned varying answers from 16 to 43. One answer however simply said ‘to many’ (sic) so I have added another, the one against ignorance. And that brings me nicely back to the reason for those wars. Let’s all hope we have a long period of amail (alien mail) contact with our intrepid interplanetary travellers, ahead of when they arrive or before we visit them. If they speak one of our native tongues that is, otherwise, it could be the end of civilisation as we know it, the ultimate war; sometimes, only survival counts.

Ken Balneaves wrote, The Greatest Gift, available at http://amzn.to/QF7RLd (US), http://amzn.to/O12kgX (UK)