Letters from an Alien


Jack Olsen is a conscientious worker, a reporter for the New York Times, just after the melting of the polar ice caps. In 2030, Jack answers a message on his computer from Alyadille, who says it is writing from the fifth planet orbiting the star Eta Boötes.

This answer is the start of Jack’s great adventures. He finds love and professional rewards as he researches the information Alyadille asks for and uses information it sends. Other members of his family, including his outspoken and brilliant sister Elizabeth, get involved with Alyadille and its problems, and Jack himself becomes a Principal Investigator in a project to validate a scientific paper sent by the Senior Scientist on V Eta Boötes.

Is this entity real or is he just a ‘kook in Omaha’ playing a joke on America’s most distinguished academic researchers? Jack spends many years not knowing the truth, but between 2030 and 2048 he assumes the entity exists and needs his help to save its old and scientifically advanced civilization. Then, in 2048, the visitors from V Eta Boötes arrive in America.

Sample Pages

August 31, 2030

Dear Sir,

I appreciate your compassionate reply to my note.

We have reviewed current status of technology on your planet and compared this with our own history. If your progress is the same as our progress, we estimate you will be able to communicate with other planets in other star systems in your year 2203.

I have placed all your recommendations before our Chief. It thought housing is something that will encourage reproduction.

Our housing is in what you call caves. These caves allow for plumbing and electricity, to use your terms. We no longer burn open fires in the caves. Each entity has at least a small cave. Some entities have much larger caves. At the death of an entity, that entity’s cave is given to the area’s Chief for reassignment.

We cannot go to the surface of our planet except for brief periods. Too hot and star breaks surface of body. During the time when our area is turned away from our star, too cold. A revolution here takes seven revolutions of your planet. Sometimes we are warmed at night by our star’s twin. You call these two stars binary.

We live near the equator of our planet in the caves. Some caves allow growth of food and some allow fishing for food. We eat mostly plants.

We have reviewed the information on your Internet about your homes. I believe, if you would tolerate a conclusion from me, your people are concerned with art and our entities are concerned with science. Your homes reflect substantial interest in design and things that are pleasing to the eye. We have been looking for designs for caves, but we cannot see anything from your planet. Do you know where we could get a design for a cave dwelling that is pleasing to the eye? With that design, I can meet again with our Chief. It wants to offer such a dwelling to selected entities after those entities have produced four offspring. The Chief is now selecting the entities with your recommendations in mind. The Chief wants to have parties, similar to the balls described in Miss Austen’s books, to introduce the selected entities to each other. I have recommended that the reward for bearing a child be more than the reward for siring a child, but the Chief has not yet decided about this.



September 30, 2030

Dear Alyadille,

Thank you for your message. I would be interested in knowing the next step toward establishing interplanetary communications. That is, what is the next technological advance that we should expect?

As for cave designs, I am not knowledgeable in any way about architecture. However, a friend from my college days at Cornell is a partner in a large architectural firm here in Albany, and she has drawn one interior and four exteriors for your consideration. I have attached them to this message. They reflect styles popular here for housing: Georgian, Cape Cod, Federal, and Frank Lloyd Wright. These designs assume only one adult and one child will occupy the cave, but you could modify the design if two adults are sharing the cave by adding another master suite with bath and study to the left of the sitting area.

Note that this interior design is based on only 700 to 800 square feet per dwelling. If you need something larger or smaller, write again. House plans of all sizes are available on our Internet, but these are not specifically designed for building in caves.

My architect friend, Gerda, has told me that she can modify these preliminary drawings if you wish her to do so, but she cannot specify ‘build sets’ because she does not know about materials and building regulations that apply there.

Please reply if you need further information.

John J. Olsen


October 10, 2030

Dear Sir,

I appreciate your compassionate reply to my note.

The next step toward establishing interplanetary communications is to develop the formula for changing energy or matter into space. This differs somewhat for each planet due to its existing technology and machinery, so we cannot help you. Our estimate for your technology shows that you will develop this formula in 2071.

The Chief has reviewed the architectural plans, and we are very happy with them. We had a large meeting last day to decide where to build the models. Our builders are deciding how to use our materials to make the bricks and other surfaces. The most senior builder has said the four models will be ready before your day December 1, 2030.

It was most gracious of you to have Gerda prepare these plans. The interior design is certainly the best we have ever seen. It is better than any home on our planet. The four exterior designs are so unusual that the Chief is sure the youngsters who are selected for the houses will be anxious to bear offspring to get them. The Chief likes the Georgian design best.

Our plan is to have the selected entities tour the model houses right after they are notified of their selection. The Chief would like to have one of the balls just outside the doors of the models so the entities could tour the models between dances. He is also planning to include a copy of Gerda’s designs in the selection notices.

Do you have any information about dancing?

Is Gerda sir or madam?



October 25, 2030

Dear Alyadille,

Thank you for your message.

Gerda is miss. She believes it will take at least four months to build the houses.

As for information about dancing, the best films of Jane Austen’s novels that show dancing are Sense and Sensibility and Emma. These two films show professional dancers and the dances that were popular in the early 1800s in England. Also, any film of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus will show, in the second act, dances that were popular in the late 1800s in Austria.

I have run a small advertisement in our newspaper saying that the next major step in establishing interplanetary communications is to develop the formula for changing energy or matter into space. I included an address for responses, and fourteen people, including three Nobel laureates, have written to ask for particulars. Do you have any further information about changing energy or matter into space?

Please reply if you need further information.

John J. Olsen


November 14, 2030

Dear Sir,

I appreciate your compassionate reply to my note.

Our model homes are complete. Attached is a picture of the Chief and me standing in front of the Cape Cod house. The Chief is the one with the tall hat.

The Committee toured the houses three days ago. The reaction was not expected. Everyone on the Committee wants one of the houses. They have told the Chief to forget the mating problem and assign the houses to them. The most senior scientist on our planet is very insistent that it will move into the Frank Lloyd Wright model immediately.

The Chief is standing firm. The houses will be left vacant until after the tours by the selected entities. Then, the Chief may decide to let the Committee move in. This is based, the Chief says, on the fact that no entity will be able to qualify for a house for several of our years. I had to remind him that if siring four children is enough to qualify for a house, this could be accomplished in less than one of our years.

On the other side of this problem is the fact that the builders like building the houses. They have something beautiful when they are finished. They are ready to build many more. They gathered materials from many locations around our planet to complete the bricks. The Chief has enough resources now to build 34 more houses, so the Chief may decide to build houses for the Committee.

I, for myself, have selected the Federal model.

Attached is a scientific paper that our senior scientist wrote about the relationship of space to energy. It asks me to remind you that at the time right before the ‘Big Bang’ there was nothing but matter. This paper means very little to an administrator like me, but it may mean something to your scientists.

We have recorded all the music from the films you recommended. The Chief has assigned a gymnastics teacher to learn the dances and to teach them to the selected entities at each ball. We are very anxious that these dances will put the young entities in the mood to reproduce. We assume it works that way on your planet.



January 4, 2031

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your compassionate reply to my note.

We appreciate the additional plan. Our builders have built four caves that follow this second plan.

Our species is very fond of swimming. I had not told you this before. After our area of our planet turns away from our star, we go to the rivers to swim. We swim until the waters become too cold. Sometimes our star’s binary twin provides light and warmth for our evening swimming.

These new houses with the pools will allow a few of us to swim at all times. The senior scientist and I were lucky enough to be among those chosen to live in these new caves.

The builders gathered small pebbles from the rivers and put them next to the new pools. Of course, the new pools were dug out of solid rock, so the builders did not need to devise a material that would hold the water.

Thank you for your suggestion about asking for resources for the new houses. The Chief has never before asked for resources for caves, but it made an exception for these new houses. Now, every entity with extra resources is demanding a house. The Chief believes it will be able to fund the houses for the youngsters who have been selected for childbearing by overcharging others.

The balls held just outside the new houses were very well attended. The youngsters toured the houses and seemed to be awed by the beauty of the exteriors and the interiors.

The balls were not entirely a success in the way we had hoped. The youngsters did not want to follow the lead of the gymnastics teacher. Instead, they just wiggled to the music. The best part of the balls was that entities paired. They have decided to have each pair try to impregnate both entities in the pair. Some energetic and resourceful youngsters have made arrangements to meet others later. I believe in this way many of the youngsters will be impregnated by the end of our year. This method certainly means the energetic and resourceful ones will be responsible for siring many offspring. The Chief will have to assign houses after this first round of births.

We are continuing with the balls. We believe about one fourth of the youngsters, or 200,000 entities, are now impregnated.

In our culture the old take care of the newborns. The parent gives the offspring to a community of older entities after a few weeks. The parent may participate in the upbringing of the offspring, but few do. Instead, the parent returns to its work. Our older people are now preparing for these additional offspring.

Long ago we decided the care of newborns was as important as the scientific work we do. For this reason some of the most honored entities on this planet are the elders who have been charged with the raising of our offspring. Many of these elders are among the ones demanding the new caves.

We never allow young entities to handle newborns. The parent may participate in the upbringing, but the responsibility is with the elders. We select the elders carefully, too, using the same rules for intelligence as we used to select the youngsters for this mating project. If you will allow an opinion from me, the custom on your planet of having young people and people of low intelligence be responsible for the upbringing of your young is not in the best interests of your civilization.

I certainly am enjoying my new cave with the pool. Please give my good wishes to Miss Gerda and thank her for the wonderful design. I hope you and Miss Gerda had an enjoyable time at the ball in the Pennsylvania Poconos.


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