Alien Crash Site

Caitlin McShea
SFI’s InterPlanetary Project

Thirteen years ago, an alien civilization visited our planet, and left behind myriad, mysterious materials in their crash sites. These areas, Zones, behave very strangely, but the interplanetary items they contain could change the trajectory of our technological advancement. What appears as a hoop might actually be a perpetual-motion machine. What appears as a slime might alter space-time.

Spend too much time in the Zone and your genes might mutate, your bones might dissolve, your body might be ground into meat. If you’re lucky enough to make it out alive, you’ll likely be imprisoned. But a successful trip in and out of the Zone could alter human history. Do you dare? And for what?

A new interview series from the Santa Fe Institute, Alien Crash Site takes a page from the 1971 Strugatsky Brothers’ novel Roadside Picnic to explore the vast possibility of imagined technologies. Join InterPlanetary Director, Caitlin McShea, as she and a group of intrepid mavericks attempt to understand a variety of alien artifacts.

InterPlanetary Transmissions: Stardust

David C. Krakauer and Caitlin L. McShea, eds.
SFI Press, 2020

This volume is a record of the Santa Fe Institute’s second InterPlanetary Festival, nicknamed Stardust, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June of 2019. The InterPlanetary Festival fuses an exploration of complex systems and technological innovation with music, film, art, food, drinks, and more.

During the Summer of Stardust, as the world observed the fiftieth anniversary of the momentous Apollo 11 Moon landing, the Festival celebrated human ingenuity and pondered what the next half-century might hold. Conversations centered on building other worlds — imaginatively in literature, experimentally in simulation and games, and literally in architectural design. Attendees and panelists wrestled with topics as wide-ranging as time, the future of cities, and the meaning of intelligence.

In this book, transcripts of the Festival panel discussions, each paired with new introductions by contributors including physicist Sean Carroll, poet, artist, and curator Anaïs Duplan, and speculative-fiction writer Rebecca Roanhorse, commemorate the creativity and insight generated at this one-of-a-kind cosmic event.

InterPlanetary Transmissions: Genesis

David C. Krakauer and Caitlin L. McShea, eds.
SFI Press, 2019

This volume is a record of the proceedings of the first InterPlanetary Festival, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June of 2018 by the Santa Fe Institute, birthplace of complexity science.

An annual free public event, the InterPlanetary Festival combines an exploration of complexity science and technological innovation with a summer festival full of music, film, art, food, drinks, and more. 

The Festival is just one aspect of the broader InterPlanetary Project, which is equal parts conference, festival, and research program. The first project of its kind to combine celebration with experimentation, and conversation with analysis, the InterPlanetary Project seeks nothing less than a whole-planet project—beyond borders, beyond politics, beyond economics—to activate the collective intelligence of our first planet: Earth.