"The Encounter" ... A Writing Challenge


From page to film, stories of extraterrestrial encounters have thrilled our imaginations, while addressing a question humans have been asking for thousands of years: Are we alone in our universe? For decades, alien visitors to our planet have captured readers and audiences, causing them to reflect on real-world crises and what they reveal about humanity. These stories are often a product of the era in which they were created. Some encounters are beautiful and inspirational; others, malevolent and terrifying:


Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

.

Starman (1984)

.

Predator (1987)

.

The Abyss (The Rescue) (1989)

.

Independence Day (1996)

.

Signs (2002)

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Arrival (2016)


The Writing Challenge

How would you perceive an encounter with extraterrestrials coming to earth? Would their intent be peace, discovery and enlightenment, or conquest and annihilation? How would we receive them and attempt to communicate? Do you agree with physicist, Stephen Hawking, in that the METI project (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) involved in sending signals into space so that extra-terrestrials can pick them up will put us in grave danger? The challenge -- should you decide to accept it -- is to write a story about such an alien-encounter.

Rules of the Challenge

1. You can create a short story; a flash fiction short; an installment series of up to 2-3 installments; fantasy comic strips or illustrations with free verse poetry; a treatment for a screenplay. Write your story from any perspective; for example, as characters within the story-line; as a journalist, etc. Please feel free to use videos, newspaper headline visuals, or other creative elements. You can team up with other hubbers, or write this project on your own.

2. Your story or presentation must follow the Story Background outlined below in order to establish a common denominator and a point in which to begin the story. Be as detailed in your story-line/writing (which can lead into dozens of different directions), or as general as you wish.

3. Have fun!

Story Background

The year on earth is 2025. METI has been sending unsolicited messages to other worlds for several years. Scientists from across the globe are excited over the launch of the powerful James Webb telescope, an enormous leap forward in our quest to understand the Universe and our origins.

Astronomers are also thrilled to discover a "super earth" located three light years from our solar system. Rather than a lifeless rock or something resembling the fiery gates of hell, "Jate 22c" is an exo-planet which appears to have a similar terrestrial atmosphere, gravity and water, and Earth-like temperatures, albeit with large seasonal shifts.

What is not known is that the mega-civilization of bipedal humanoids inhabiting Jate were facing a crisis. Over time, their C02 emissions had reached critical mass. What remained of their strange cities was encased in giant sea walls. Their oceans had become so acidic, marine life was destroyed, giving way to smaller, poisonous creatures that fed on massive beds of ocean algae throughout the natural selection process. Rain forests took hold in frigid zones as new species of trees evolved, then decomposed on a rapidly dying planet. Natural food sources became scarce; synthetic alternatives were no longer capable of sustaining life.

The Jatites' Surviving Ark
The Jatites' Surviving Ark

In desperation, the Jatites launched a fleet of interstellar arks to seek out potentially habitable planets beyond their own system. In doing so, they followed the origins of our METI signals. By using exotic matter, they were able to alter the speed of light surrounding the spacecraft, thereby avoiding light/speed barriers. Despite possessing technology vastly superior to our own, all, save one, perished in the journey.

The surviving ark now orbits our planet. The spacecraft is massive in size, measuring over ten miles in diameter. The world is in panic mode, with military defense systems across the globe on full alert. Probes have yielded little information. The spacecraft leaves no footprint in terms of its power source or emissions. Earth scientists are scrambling to determine if any failures in the ship's support mechanisms destroyed points of the Jatites' collective intelligence, or had somehow created mutations.

All attempts in communicating with the ark's occupants have failed. Until now.

[Your story begins.]


Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the challenge. :-)


Those who have responded to the challenge thus far are:

.

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34 comments

always exploring profile image

always exploring 10 days ago from Southern Illinois

Wow! This is an exciting challenge. Have I got enough cosmic knowhow to write a story, I do not know? I love the idea, and I know our planet Earth will prevail. Perhaps they are so advanced they will teach us to love more and respect all humanity...


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 10 days ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

Wow, that is some amazing background, Genna. Thirty days? That gives me some time to sit on this and think a bit. I've only done a couple of alien scifi stories, but I did learn a lot doing those. This is interesting and challenging. Well, I'll see you in thirty days. :)


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 10 days ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Genna - SiFi yikes. Nice to see you publish. This challenge may stir a fire under hubville.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Always Exploring: Hi Ruby. Thank you. Please don't worry about the cosmos. I tried to give some background wherein this wouldn't be necessary, and a starting point from which hubbers can begin or expand upon. It's an individual choice. For example, your presentation can run along the lines of Signs or Starman (in the above videos); wherein the encounter is not as complex from the perspective of science or the rules governing the cosmos. With your innate sense of creativity, I think you would write something remarkable, my friend. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Cam8510: Hi Chris. Thank you. It's a blank canvass. You can take this story in dozens of different directions, and be as detailed or as general as you wish. I can't wait to read yours. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Mckbirdbks: Hello Mike. Sci-Fi Yikes? Lol. Thank you, my friend. Who knows...it's an intriguing premise because the Jatites' crises and reason for abandoning their planet may begin to mirror our own in the coming decades.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 10 days ago from southern USA

Wow, Genna, your story background is indeed intriguing to say the least! I can't wait to read all the creative stories that result from your interesting challenge.

I wonder why HP removed the share button. This challenge needs to get out there!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 days ago from Queensland Australia

Wow! What a challenge, Genna. You set up such a great scenario, but although I love reading science fiction I haven't written anything other than a couple of poems in the genre. I'll think on it awhile..maybe I can come up with something as I love these challenges. We'll see. Great job by you though.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 10 days ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

Genna, other than this post by me, 4 out of 5 begin with the word, Wow. I think this will turn out to be a big deal on HP. I hope it does. I'm already making notes.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Faith Reaper: Hi Faith. Thanks so much for the visit and comment. I wonder why HP removed the HP Share Button; that is one feature I miss. I hope others will participate in the challenge. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Jodah: Hi John. Thank you. Actually, I included the comic strip or illustrations with you in mind. I know you've done some sci-fi illustrations the past that I just loved. If you want to write free verse poems with the illustrations, that would be great. Whatever you decide.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Cam8510: That sounds terrific, Chris. Thank you. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Jodah: I added "free verse poems" to the illustrations in the rules of the challenge.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 10 days ago from Olympia, WA

Great challenge, Genna. I'm just going to have to pass, my friend. I've got far too many projects already, and several have deadlines. I do look forward to seeing what the other talented writers do with this.

blessings always


Jodah profile image

Jodah 10 days ago from Queensland Australia

Thanks Genna, you make it hard for me to refuse don't you? :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 10 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Jodah: Lol. I hope so, John. :-)


always exploring profile image

always exploring 9 days ago from Southern Illinois

I just wrote my response. I hope you laugh!!!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 9 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Lol!! I just read your cool and humorous response and left a comment. Now see...I knew you could do this, and very well. Thank you, my friend. Hugs.

I also left a link to your response to the challenge above. I will add others when (and if) anyone else joins in the challenge. Thank you!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 9 days ago from Southern Illinois

Genna, I tried multiple times to highlight your hub on my response, but each time the word " loading came up, finally a note came up notifying me that something went wrong and I might want to notify HP of the error. I guess it was just a glitch. I see you added mine above. Thank you. I'm thrilled that you got a kick out of this crazy satire. You see where my mind takes me to the political arena. LOL . Hugs.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 9 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

This sounds like a great challenge, Genna. It should get some very interesting responses!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 9 days ago from USA

I look forward to all of the creative responses. You certainly are creative for coming up with the details of this prompt.


annart profile image

annart 8 days ago from SW England

Interesting challenge, Genna. I'd love to respond but time is really tight at the moment. I might have a go later but sadly not within the time limit, purely to follow up the idea. Thanks for setting this though; it's always good to have a challenge and responses often take us out of our comfort zone which is never a bad thing!

Ann


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 8 days ago from Jeffersonville PA

A little 'fiction' is just what the doctor ordered these days - thanks, dear Genna.

Ruby's contribution sets the bar - looking forward to others' work as well.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Always Exploring: Thank you, Ruby! Your contribution is wonderful, dear friend. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Alicia C: Thank you, Alicia. I hope so. :-)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Flourish Anyway: Thanks so much. I had fun writing this. And as Maria wrote below, we need a little more fiction right now.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Annart: Hi Ann. Thank you. I don't watch a lot of movies, so it was challenging to provide visuals that show many diverse story-lines involving alien encounters. My favorites are Signs (M. Night Shyamalan) because this encounter restored the faith of an extraordinary man following the death of his wife and helped to heal the devastation to his family. Arrival blew my mind...it is wonderful.

After giving it some thought, I removed the time limit. :-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 days ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Genna. here is a link to my contribution: http://hubpages.com/literature/Contact-With-the-Ja...


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Marcoujor: Thank you, Maria! I could hug you for that comment. Yes, indeed, we need some fiction right now. What I like about HP is the wonderfully supportive community of writers and artists, and how the written word stirs our imaginations as we learn more about ourselves, and so often combines with photos, illustrations, visuals and music, representing a confluence of art and creativity...the miracle of humanity.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Jodah: John, I just read your contribution and commented on your hub. I just loved it! :-) Thank you!

I added yours to the list in the hub so that readers could link to it.


annart profile image

annart 7 days ago from SW England

Oh, ok, that's good! Will let you know if and when I manage to write a response.

Ann


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 days ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Thank you, Ann. I look forward to reading it! :-)


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 41 hours ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

Genna, I've just posted installment 1 of 3. Here is the short URL. http://hub.me/al0Lm Title, The Eagle's Gaze.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 27 hours ago from Massachusetts, USA Author

Hi Chris...I'm on my way to read it right now. Thank you!

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