Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (2009)

Aliens are big in America. Whether they’ve arrived via rocket, flying saucer, or plain old teleportation, they’ve been invading, infiltrating, or inspiring us for decades, and they’ve fascinated moviegoers and television watchers for more than 50 years. About half of us believe that aliens really exist, and millions are convinced they’ve visited Earth.

For 25 years, SETI has been looking for the proof, and as the program’s senior astronomer, Seth Shostak explains in Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, it’s entirely possible that before long conclusive evidence will be found.

His informative, entertaining report offers an insider’s view of what we might realistically expect to discover light-years away among the stars. Neither humanoids nor monsters, says Seth; in fact, biological intelligence is probably just a precursor to machine beings, enormously advanced artificial sentients whose capabilities and accomplishments may have developed over billions of years and far exceed our own.

As he explores what, if anything, they would tell us and what their existence would portend for humankind and the cosmos, he introduces a colorful cast of characters and provides a vivid, state-of-the-art account of the past, present, and future of our search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Cosmic Company (with Alex Barnett) [2003]

In Cosmic Company, Seth Shostak and Alex Barnett ponder the possibility of aliens visiting the Earth, as well as the consequences of receiving a signal from the cosmos proving we're neither alone, nor the most intelligent life forms. They explain why scientists think life might exist on other worlds, and how we might contact it. Seth and Alex, experienced writers of popular astronomy, provide an accessible overview of the science and technology behind the search for life in the universe.

Life in the Universe (with Jeff Bennett) [2011, 3rd Edition]

Life in the Universe takes non-science majors on a journey through the solar system and beyond, using a rigorous yet accessible introduction to astronomy, biology, and geology to explain natural phenomena and to explore profound scientific questions about astrobiology. The Third Edition has been thoroughly revised to include updated scientific discoveries, new Cosmic Context two-page spreads, and an updated Companion Website.

Designed for astrobiology courses but also suitable for introductory astronomy courses, Life in the Universe captures your imagination by exploring fundamental pan-scientific questions: What is life? How did life begin on Earth? What are the most extreme forms of life currently known? Is it reasonable to imagine life beyond Earth?

The text motivates you to develop basic reasoning skills and an understanding of the process of science through skillful writing and a wealth of pedagogical features, such as Learning Goals that keep you focused on key concepts. Sidebars provide optional mathematical material for courses that fulfill quantitative requirements.