Are we alone in the universe? The recent discovery of /tons/ of planets around neighboring stars has made one of the factors in the Drake equation more solid, to the point where it’s quite possible there are half a billion planets in earth-like orbits in our galaxy alone.
Even slow colonization methods should give an advanced civilization the opportunity to spread through the whole galaxy in a few million years. Hell, let’s give it a conservative billion years. The galaxy is over ten billion years old, it seems like enough time already. They should be in orbit, trying to sell us cheap-ass hyperdrives or something.
Science fiction is full of stories that involve some kind of “forerunner” race. They were here before, did some awesome stuff, and they’ve gone away for some reason and left all kinds of interesting ruins and doo-dads behind.
Well, imagine that you’re the “unlucky” first race. No forerunners for you. You’re all alone, which sucks, but you get to make up the rules. You have the whole galaxy at your disposal, it’s your ball game.
What do you do? You know you’re not going to last forever and that some future race is going to dig up all the junk you left behind. So, that’s right: You fuck with their heads.
Imagine the galaxy-wide equivalent of Easter Island statues with Groucho Marx glasses. You build solar-system-wide practical jokes, carve meaningless runes and maps on the faces of moons, set up stellar snipe hunts and light-years-long “go-fer” missions (“find me a purple neutrino from the heart of an exploding star.”) A pie cannon made from dark matter, two billion miles wide, aimed at a black hole. An ancient archive, booby-trapped six ways to Sunday, containing a singing frog . . .
God, they would hate us 🙂