I've only remember reading a very small section of it, mainly it was referred to in a discussion about "The Dark Forest" Theory on Reddit, however for the life of me I can't find the post again. The person posting the section argued that its not irrational for an alien civilisation to seek to destroy other potential rivals from forming by kinetically bombarding the rival's home planet using an asteroid during its infancy. This is because, to the dominant alien, there is a limited supply of resources in the universe and to let other species develop into space-faring species which can challenge them directly for it is insensible.

The premise of the story is that the impact event that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was actually caused by them, they launched the asteroid at Earth hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions of years, before any advanced life form existed. The goal is for the asteroid to hit the Earth when an intelligent life just start to develop technology, but early enough so that no defence can stop the asteroid, hence stopping a potential rival from ever making to the space faring stage. However despite the perfect hit using classical physics, even when the journey was hundreds of millions of years, their prediction were off as life on Earth developed more slowly than they estimated, ironically it was precisely that event that gave chance to our evolution.

This is more or less something discovered from a dialogue between two scientists from the story, I'm not sure if they found what technology is left of the now extinct alien race and discovered that fact by accident through examination of some remnant database on an exploration voyage, or they were at war with the alien race and found out through hacking and/or interrogation.

Again I'm not sure if this is a short story or a novel, I can't remember well enough as this was something I stumbled across and didn't think to save. I'm sorry if I don't have a lot of relevant information, just merely a short description, however this is all I can remember given my terrible memory.

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    Welcome to the site. Good detail for a first question, honestly.
    – Radhil
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 13:13
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    Welcome to SFF.SE! This is a good ID question, just wanted add an obligatory statement that if you can any details on when the book may have been written, cover art, etc can be helpful. I hope one our ID experts can help you out.
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 13:16
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    It's not your story but in Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God, an alien race that had uploaded themselves to a shielded, underground computer triggered a supernova to sterilize the galactic neighborhood so they wouldn't be disturbed.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 17:34
  • Seems a bit anthrocentric for my liking, this notion that it hitting the dinosaurs instead of humans was a "failure". Who's to say we didn't get the chance to develop and evolve intelligence simply because the asteroid did precisely what it was meant to do - stop the dinosaurs shortly before they became technologically capable. Then the only mistake the aliens made was not sending a second asteroid a few million years after the first one. Then a third. Then a fourth... Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 16:20

3 Answers 3


A Time odyssey by Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter

In the Time Odyssey series, not-so-benevolent godlike aliens start an endless mission to regulate the development of sentient life throughout the known universe, in order to prevent all other species from harnessing too much of its energy, which would only accelerate the inevitable entropic death of the known universe. Consequently, these "Firstborn" are destroying other intelligent species. 

The part where you mentioned destruction of Earth's life 65 million years ago by an asteroid is from Time odyssey. However this is done by the alien beings due to their obsession with "conserving the entropy of the universe" as they believed that any civilization that grows out of their home planet begins to rapidly utilize the resources and keeps on expanding.


The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin

The Battle of Darkness sets up the novel for the explanation of the central metaphor of the story. Back on Earth, Luo Ji and Da Shi discover that star 187J3X1 has been destroyed. This confirms Luo Ji's suspicions, and he explains to Da Shi the implications of the star's destruction. The universe is full of life. Life in the universe functions on two axioms: 1. Life's goal is to survive and 2. That matter (resources) are finite. Like hunters in a dark forest, life can never be sure of alien life's true intentions. The extreme distances between stars creates an insurmountable 'Chain of Suspicion' where the two civilizations cannot communicate fast enough to relieve mistrust, making conflict inevitable. Therefore, it is in every civilization's best interests to preemptively strike any developing civilization before it can become a threat.

The conversation between two scientists happens early in the book regarding the "dark forest" mentioned above. But the destruction by asteroid does not happen. Rather, an alien civilisation discovers the human broadcasts and tries to colonise the earth.

  • This is quite harrowing :( Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 16:22
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    This is only the second book of the trilogy. The recently released sequel "Death's End" is completely on another level. The entire is trilogy is quite good and offers a non-western perspective of science fiction. I would highly recommend it.
    – Mahen
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 16:34
  • I just read the whole trilogy (highly recommended) and do not remember the part about the dinosaur astroid being a miss at ridding the solar system of life. In fact later we learn that trying to do that with a singular massive hit is bound to fail and other means should and will be used. Also: The astroid did hit after all.. So I guess the discussion threw some stories together, just like the answers here do.
    – TaW
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 9:43

That sounds like "T" by Brian Aldiss, a title that is hard to search for. If I'm right, this question has already been asked and answered here -- check that answer to see if it sounds right, and if so we can mark this as a duplicate.

  • T was a nice story. I don't think there was any narrative from humans in it, it was from an outside observer detailing what happened in the aliens universe. In T they also had a number of kinetic energy piloted projectiles all targeted at Earth but either failing, missing or hitting the wrong target. I do not recall a hit on Earth though it my have been a side effect of one of the near misses or asteroid fragments.
    – KalleMP
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 22:41

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