James White’s Sector General series

James White’s Sector General series should be required reading for ANYONE assigned to first contact missions.  Note in the first paragraph below (from Alien Emergencies), the inclusion of specialists in communications, philosophy, and psychology.  Note the exclusion of specialists in any of the hard sciences.  And the military.  (Note also, the more effective way.)

“The Cultural contact people were the elite of the Monitor Corps, a small group of specialists in e-t communications, philosophy and psychology. Although small, the group was not, regrettably, overworked …

“… During the past twenty years,” O’Mara went on, “they have initiated First Contact procedure on three occasions, all of which resulted in the species concerned joining the Federation.  I will not bore you with the details of the number of survey operations mounted and the ships, personnel and materiel involved, or shock you with the cost of it all.  I mention the Cultural Contact group’s three successes simply to make the point that within the same time period this hospital became fully operational and also initiated First contacts, which resulted in seven new species joining the Federation.  This was accomplished not by a slow, patient buildup and widening of communications until the exchange of complex philosophical and sociological concepts became possible, but by giving medical assistance to a sick alien.”

I can’t recommend White’s work enough.  Finally, an intelligent approach to alien life.  (Because yes, pretty much every novel I’ve read, and every movie I’ve seen, to date, has been embarrassing for its UNintelligent approach to alien.  Why haven’t we discovered intelligent life out there?  Because we’re too stupid to visit.)


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