Rudy Rucker defines UFO science fiction

Paul Raven @ 02-01-2009

lenticular cloudMaverick mathematician Rudy Rucker is thinking about topics for his next novel, and it looks like UFOs might get a look-in. Partly in response to a recent Loving the Alien column by our very own Mac Tonnies, Rucker is at pains to define the subgenre carefully:

I think we should distinguish between, on the one hand, SF UFO novels and, on the other hand, alien invasion novels along the lines of, say, Greg Bear or Larry Niven. I think, for instance, Neal Stephenson’s recent Anathem, is more of an alien invasion novel, although it’s close to being an SF UFO novel as well.

So, with that distinction made, what should an SF UFO novel contain?

I’d say the essence of an SF UFO novel is point (a) below. Points (b) through (f) all follow from (a).

(a) The novel includes flying saucer alien encounters similar to those described in lowbrow tabloid newspapers, but is neither ignorantly credulous nor mockingly parodistic.
(b) The aliens use a fuzzy technology that might amount to psychic powers. The saucers, in other words, aren’t machines.
(c) The aliens are surreptitiously observing or infiltrating Earth rather than overtly invading—at least for now.
(d) We have some creepy human/alien sex acts.
(e) The aliens aren’t necessarily evil, they may be bringing enlightenment and transcendence.
(f) The aliens might be from somewhere other than a distant planet, that is, they might come from small size scales, from a parallel world, or might be made of some impalpable substance like dark matter.

Part of the game in writing an SF UFO novel is making up scientific reasons why the tabloid-level UFO phenomenon could in fact relate to something real…

As Mac’s essay pointed out, there is a distinct paucity of novels that deal with the UFO phenomenon – maybe 2009 could be the year for a UFO renaissance? [image by sabertasche2]

Hell knows it would make a refreshing change from sexy vampires.