NASA just announced the discovery of over 1200 new planets, doubling the number of confirmed exo-planets. This number, I’m sure, will continue to grow at an exponential rate as our technology improves, until counting planets in exact numbers becomes as pointless as trying to count the exact number of stars.
It’s looking more likely every year that we’ll find evidence of extra terrestrial life in my lifetime, and I can’t wait! Intelligent life.. maybe not, but I am so excited to see how a whole other environment would evolve life differently, even at the single-cell level.
When writing, I try to think of strange worlds and life very different from our kind of life, but all we have for a reference point is ourselves and the world we know, so any imaginings are going to be influenced by that. Until we see other life for the first time, we won’t really know what to think. A completely alien ecology will likely be something totally unimagined.
Will life even still follow the basic rules of evolution? We just don’t know. We can say that we know how life evolves, and we can imagine what kind of life would evolve in different environments, but does all life evolve the same way? Follow the same rules? It’s really hard to make any judgments based on a sample size of 1.
So let’s hurry up and find some alien life already! Sci fi writers everywhere will be extremely grateful.