In a solar system not far from here, there is a small inhabited planet. This planet, like Earth, is teeming with life; it seems that wherever the conditions are such that life can exist, life will thrive in myriad forms. Like Earth, one phylum tends to overwhelmingly dominate the scene on this planet; also like Earth, a hominid species seems to do pretty well even under the fierce dominion of the insects.
The hominids on this planet, like virtually all hominids on all planets, occasionally spend time sitting around, looking up at the stars, and speculating on what may be out there. Many of them are convinced that theirs is a unique niche in the universe, and that it may well be the one and only place where life exists. Others are equally certain that the galaxies seethe with living creatures, some of whom had doubtless visited their very planet! The discussion ranges from a languid philosophical exploration to a heated debate, and the subject features prominantly in their popular forms of entertainment and fiction.
An informal group of these hominids gathers periodically to talk and eat and admire the stars and the satellites that orbit their particular planet. In crafting a recent communication to organize one of these get-togethers, of them created a short piece for the others. This piece began: "In a solar system not far from here..."
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