We interrupt this blog for a Very Important Announcement: NASA, launcher of freaky-cool space probes, gatherer of rocks, thinker-upper of massively amazing ideas like submarine space probes (with detachable drills to break through the icy surface of Europa into its watery sub-surface) has made an announcement.
Or rather, they've made an announcement for an announcement.
According to this, NASA will be making an announcement regarding a recent finding in the field of Astrobiology. So, first of all: ASTROBIOLOGY! Holy crap!
Now, here's a thing I did not know: NASA has an entire section dedicated to the study of Astrobiology, and the link to their site can be found here. And Astrobiology does not necessarily mean the exclusive search for E.T. and light-saber-weilding Jedis (though, certainly the search for non-Earth-based life forms is certainly part of their research). But mostly, what they're looking for is some sort of insight as to how life happened on our planet. And the fact that there are scientists who are looking beyond Earth to understand about Earth, is pretty dang cool if you ask me.
The thing that has the internets all a-flutter right now is the fact that NASA is instituting an information black-out in the run-up to the announcement on Thursday. So we don't know exactly what was found or what was learned. We just know that they learned something, and to find out what that something is, we are all gonna have to cool our heels and wait.
In the meantime, I don't know about you people, but I am going to be dreaming. And thinking. And imagining. And probably writing. If life was truly discovered somewhere beyond Earth, what does it do to our understanding of Earth? What does it do for our understanding of us? If we are not alone in the universe, does that change how we see our relationship to our own planet, or our relationship to one another? I wrote a story recently called "The Taxidermist's Other Wife" that will appear in the December issue of Clarkesworld Magazine. The story is essentially a meditation on loss and loneliness - and on the lengths that some people will go to to preserve the memory of what they once had, but there is a moment in the story when the narrators are bending their backs to the howl of the wind, feeling the aching emptiness of the land around and the sky above like a weight. (You are alone, the stars seem to tell them. You are still alone.)
But what if we're not? Do I need to re-write the story? If the universe is populated, how does that alter how we see the stars?
I've been working on a YA sci-fi novel lately set on an energy transfer station on the moon. I'm already bracing myself for how this information is gonna change my own story. And the question is this: how will it impact other stories currently being written now? How will it impact the stories we will write next month? Next year?
On Thursday, I will be simultaneously glued to my laptop and radio. Where will you be?
(And secretly, I am really, really, really, really hoping they're gonna announce they found this guy:)