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Close Encounters of the Third Kind$
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Jon Towlson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325079

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325079.001.0001

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Conclusion: We Are Not Alone

Conclusion: We Are Not Alone

(p.133) Conclusion: We Are Not Alone
Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Jon Towlson

Liverpool University Press

This concluding chapter explains why Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) remains a singular science-fiction film. In the intervening years since the release of Close Encounters, one can arguably see in the convergence of science fiction, ufology, and SETI, a continuing desire for the kind of transformative ‘encounter’ with alien intelligence that Close Encounters represents. The cultural impact of Close Encounters and ‘transcendent’ science fiction in general has, in fact, served to increase public awareness of the work being done in the scientific community to detect extraterrestrial life. Even now, cosmologists involved in SETI are proposing a more active form of search for alien civilisations, in which radio signals will be aimed at parts of the galaxy where Earth-like planets exist and with it an increased possibility of contact with intelligent life. However, the recent detection of these Earth-like planets that may be capable of sustaining life in the ‘habitable zones’ of distant stars has prompted scientists to consider stepping up activities to what is known as METI (Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Regardless of the objections of some scientists to METI, the scientific community in general seems to be in consensus that the likelihood of intelligent life existing elsewhere is high (the so-called ‘Drake Equation’), even though the probability of detection may be low.

Keywords:   Steven Spielberg, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, science fiction, ufology, SETI, alien intelligence, transcendent science fiction, extraterrestrial life, METI, intelligent life

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