Guidelines for First Contact in Simplified Technical English

A Rose Made of Galaxies as seen from the Hubbe telescope

A Rose Made of Galaxies as seen from the Hubbe telescope

WARNING: trying First Contact can cause genocide, xenocide, death, injury and/or mysterious disappearances.

CAUTION: trying First Contact can cause enslavement, colonialism, frustration, bafflement, extreme cultural diffusion and/or enlightenment.

I):   Preparations.

Make sure that:

1) The aliens are truly extra-terrestrial: perform the AAA (Anthropocentric, Anthropomorphic, Anthropomaniac) test. If they are not extra-terrestrials, proceed to (w);

2) The aliens can communicate: perform the AAS (Autism, Asperger’s, Solipsism) test. If they cannot communicate, proceed to (x);

3) The aliens are truly intelligent: perform the T/MI (Turing/Machine Intelligence) test. If they are below our intelligence level, proceed to (y);

4) The aliens are not hostile: perform the RS/WF (Red Shirt/White Flag) test. If they are hostile, proceed to (z);

II):   Procedure.

1)  Establish exact communication range by sending the first eleven prime numbers as a signature:

a)  across the complete photon wave spectrum;

i)  if no response, repeat step (a), but with other elementary particles;

ii) if no response, repeat step (a), but with the anti-particles of the above (note: set gamma ray shields to maximum);

iii) if no response, repeat step (a), but with the sypersymmetrical partners of the above;

b)  across the complete sound spectrum;

c)  across the complete chemical molecular reaction range (note: careful with the aqua regis);

d)  direct contact knocking (adapt knocker size to that of the aliens);

e)  If none of the above yield any result: the aliens are most probably a figment of your imagination. Return the psychedelical drug stash (or what remains of it) to the First Aid Cabinet;

2)  Establish the most effective communication protocol. If necessary, use:


   elementary particle ping;

   the quake codex;

   electromagnetic touchy/feely (as pioneered by Captain Kirk);

3)  Establish the typical lifecycle of the aliens:

a)  if their lifecycle is longer than 6 x 1052 Planck Times, make sure that you have a long line of successors that can continue the task of First Contact;

b) if their lifecycle is shorter than 6 x 1047 Planck Times, make sure to hurry before their civilization peaks and crumbles;

4)  Establish the evolutionary pathway of the aliens:

a)  if they did not evolve:

i)       and can not remember who created them: report them to the InterGalactic Lost and Found;

ii)   and their intelligence has far exceeded that of their creators: refer them to the Union of Dyson Spheres, Matrioshka Brains, Kardashevs and other Technological Singularities;

iii)   and truly do not know who created them: adopt them, and teach them well;

b) if their evolutionary path is different from those already known:

i)  find out everything about it, and:

report the findings to the Encyclopaedia Galactica;

do not update the Universal Wiki as the discussion will take a vigintillion Planck Times;

c)  if their evolutionary path is known, but they insist that they were created by god:

i)  and they are machine intelligences: see (a) above;

ii)and they are not machine intelligences: educate the hell (and heaven) out of them;

5)  Establish the long term goals of the aliens:

a)  If their goal is galactic domination, point them towards the berserker fleet;

b) If their goal is cultural infiltration and/or indoctrination, tell them: ‘Soylent Green is people!’;

c)  If their goal is free trade and peaceful co-existence, tell them that conflict propels innovation;

d) If they appear to have no long term goals, tell them to become more ambitious;

e)  Note: contrary advice keeps a civilization sharp and helps it avoid the next existential filter;

6)  If the aliens appear inscrutable: think lateral. If necessary, use:

 the Spock protocol;

 the Greg Egan Indices;

 the psychedelic drugs stash in the First Aid Cabinet;

III):  Aftermath.

1)  If your and the aliens’ civilizations are still largely intact: congratulations! Invite them to the Galactic Federation;

2)  If your civilization is still largely intact but the aliens’ civilization is not: either offer Marshall Aid until it recovers or fence it off, and mark it as an asylum (or at least clean up the debris);

3)  If the aliens’ civilisation is still largely intact but yours is not: accept their Marshall Aid or try to recover in your asylum. Be exemplary vassals (or at least clean up after yourself);

4)  If the aliens are aloof, disinterested or bored: improve your sales pitch. If necessary, use Instaspam™;

5)  If the aliens think they’re god: provide them with a slap and a chocolate;

6)  If you behave as god towards the aliens: SLAP! And a chocolate to help you think straight;

7)  If you find yourself in a completely different Universe: explore and report the results (Note: keep the quantenglement radio charged);

8)  If the laws of physics have changed beyond recognition: see point (7) above, use the Greg Egan Indices and try to stay alive;


(w) Help SETI from wasting time and uplift the intelligence level of the system-wide net. Perform:

the Intellectual Property Data Base comparison test;

the spaceweb hoax test;

the LOLCAT LULZ test;

(x) Use reverse logic: tell the aliens that they can join the Co-operative of Solipsistic Minds.

(y) Help intelligence-impaired species: enroll them in the Universal Uplift Program.

(z) Test the military power of the aliens:

Send in the redshirts: if the redshirts win, promote them to eternal guardian duty at the black hole of Cygnus X-1; if they lose:

Send in the Shopped WorkGames Space Marines: if the Space Marines win, launch them into the Amazon Retail Jungle; if they lose:

Send in the most powerful matter/antimatter missile available: if it destroys the aliens, promote Starfleet Admiral Jim White to Redneck of the Century; if the aliens ignore it:

Set alert level to BERSERKER;

Move away at the highest possible speed (but not in the direction of the home system);

Make sure to leave behind an easily identifiable piece of missile debris marked as “Queer Forces of Gamma-Rabbit-Centauri”.

Mystic Mountain as seen from the Hubble telescope

Mystic Mountain as seen from the Hubble telescope

  • Originally appeared on Daily Science Fiction, November 11, 2013;
  • Translation appeared in the special Dutch issue of Romanian SF magazine Fantastica, March 2015;


Review quote:

An instructional guide on how to handle first contact with unknown aliens is the premise of Guidelines for First Contact in Simplified Technical English by Jetse de Vries (debut 11/11 and reviewed by Frank D). This detailed directive covers all eventualities, from the benign to the malevolent. If it doesn’t help, you never had a shot anyway.

This tongue-in-cheek offering is clever and thorough, a very well done work of humor.
— Frank Dutkiewicz

(Review from Diabolical Plots)

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