“The A to Z of First Contact”
by Gareth D Jones
Advance planning. As a Captain of the Exploration Guild, a First Contact situation is almost inevitable at some point in your career. Plan now for how you will deal with the situation to avoid the unfortunate results that have beset some ships, notably the Valiant under Captain Heth.
Benevolence. When dealing with a new species, always endeavour to reflect this cardinal attribute of our Serene Imperial Highness.
Calm. Always remain calm. You are a representative of the most powerful force in the Galaxy.
Doctrine. Remember the primary doctrine: peaceful relationships first, conquest later, annihilation if necessary.
Entente cordiale: The main aim of your first encounter.
Friendly. Do nothing to arouse their suspicions that we will ultimately conquer their world.
Glory. Impress the new species with the glory of our serene empire. This will give us a psychological advantage during the follow-up invasion.
Heth. Study his example carefully.
Information. Gather as much as you can for the use of future missions.
Joviality. Keep to a minimum.
Killing. Keep to a minimum, unlike Captain Heth.
Landing. Ensure your landing is impressively spectacular. Preferably not by crashing into their most revered edifice as the Valiant did.
Maintain dignity at all times, even if somehow your ship has snapped in two on impact, half of your crew are dead and injured, and you have mortally offended the planet’s population.
Negotiate in good faith, regardless of the fact that any agreements you make will be overridden by the follow-up invasion force.
Orbit. Remain in orbit until you are confident of your plans.
Plan ahead. This cannot be emphasized enough, as the Valiant incident demonstrated.
Quantify as much as possible of the planet’s resources and military capabilities.
Respect the opinions of your crew. In particular, do not override the legitimate concerns of your helmsman regarding the proposed landing trajectory.
Safety. The safety of your crew is more important than that of the planet you are visiting.
Technology. Find out everything you can about theirs. Impress them with ours.
Uniforms. An immaculate uniform always gives a good impression. Captain Heth’s appearance was exemplary, even when all around him was flaming ruins.
Violence. A fine balance must be drawn between refraining from violence and intimating that we are fully capable of meting it out if necessary.
Win their trust. Captain Heth did not accomplish this.
Xenophobia. However bizarre an alien race appears, do not display revulsion or fear.
You represent our Serene Imperial Highness.
Zoology. Be sure not to confuse a deadly, civilisation-destroying beast that has been imprisoned for centuries in the confines of a sacred prison/temple for a representative of the local leadership. This did not end well for Captain Heth, nor his crew. Nor for the civilisation he had come to meet.
Gareth D Jones is unofficially the second most widely translated science-fiction short-story author in the world, having been published in 31 languages. He is a father of five, two of whom are also published authors. He lives in the UK where he writes stories and reviews, fuelled by copious amounts of tea.