“We will join this Star Wars-esque world AFTER the inhabitants of this planet are truly ready. Right now, we're under well-deserved quarantine. How long until we join the Intergalactic Club out there? 500 years? A thousand? More? THIS is THE test! Will we or will we NOT annihilate OURSELVES before joining this VAST world of other space-faring civilizations out there?”
Tsoukalos’ remarks may appear to be so much science-fiction-inspired hot air, but they point to an interesting set of connections at the intersection of pseudoscience and speculative fiction.
Notice that the alien societies beyond earth are described as “Star Wars-esque,” using the George Lucas films as a touchstone for understanding how a multi-system federation would operate (despite the physical impossibility of such a construct—just try running a galactic empire when it takes light years for taxes to reach the capital and imperial decrees to reach the colonies).
It is patently obvious that in imagining the aliens’ civilization, ancient astronaut theorists are explicitly drawing on twentieth century science fiction, further blurring the line between their supposedly scientific theory and the science fiction it grew out of. Tsoukalos is also explicitly adopting the Star Wars/Star Trek idea of, essentially, human civilization projected into the stars. By contrast, H. P. Lovecraft imagined alien civilizations that humans could barely understand. But this is far less emotionally comforting.
When George Lucas created the Star Wars universe, he drew explicitly on ancient myth, the so-called hero’s journey as outlined in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), which itself drew upon the psychoanalytical mysticism of Carl Jung. Jung was deeply interested in the occult (and even wrote a book on UFOs), seeing in the occult manifestations of the unconscious—the same unconscious that Jung’s estranged friend Sigmund Freud had viewed as erupting in science fiction and horror literature in his classic essay on “The Uncanny” (1919). Later science fiction and horror would, in turn, drawn explicitly on Freud, Jung, and Campbell in creating psychologically potent alternative worlds.
The upshot is that speculative fiction and the nonfiction understanding of myth suffered extensive cross-pollination, each informing the other, becoming, in essence, the ouroboros, the serpent that swallows its own tail.
So, it’s no surprise that ancient astronaut theorists reach for science fiction metaphors to explain their vision of the heavens. That’s all it ever was, science fiction, “always and always, back to no first beginning.”