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Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens II
Somewhere Out There

When I speak in schools I am often asked if I believe in aliens.

My response is always the same: It's impossible for me not to believe in them. The universe is simply too enormous-billions and billions of galaxies, billions of stars in each galaxy-for me to imagine that our planet is the only place where life has developed.

But often that's not the answer people are looking for. What they really want to know is if I believe aliens are watching us now, visiting us, possibly even moving among us in disguise. On that matter, I am more skeptical. Oh, not that I don't think it is possible. But I'm not sure how likely it is. I sure don't believe the silly stories you see in the supermarket tabloids.

Yet the fact that so many people do believe such stories is interesting. I sense a real hunger, almost a need, to believe in aliens. That makes sense. After all wouldn't it be a terrible thing if we were alone in the universe? If out of all that vastness, among all those trillions of stars, Earth was the only place where intelligent life had developed? I find that thought a lot scarier than the idea of aliens watching us.

I suspect that most of the writers in this book feel the same way. And each has come up with his or her own version of what those aliens might be like. Some of these stories are scary, some funny. (Some are scary and funny, a combination I particularly like.) Others are filled with a kind of mystery and wonder that I think alien stories are particularly good at evoking. There is one story in the book whose philosophy I disagree with profoundly. But it is strange and interesting, and I think it is worth reading. There is one story that made me weep.

I want us to go to the stars. Alas, it probably won't happen in my lifetime.

It may happen in yours.

Maybe you will help it happen. Maybe one of you reading this book will find the scientific secrets that will let us travel to the farthest reaches of the universe, to the places where we will be the aliens.

Until then, stories like these are the best way we have of getting there.

I hope you enjoy them.

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