UFO Conjectures

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Science Fiction and UFOs: Compare and Contrast

Glancing through my copy (above) of The Science Fiction Encyclopedia, edited by Perter Nicholls [Doubleday & Company, Garden City, NY 1979]...
...I saw a black and white picture of the cover above, which took me to the internet where I found scads of pulp magazine covers:
And a site about pulp magazines of all kinds:


What's striking is that, in perusing Sci-Fi covers and stories, one finds (as depicted above) a more bizarre representation of alien (extraterrestrial) contact and other-worldly things than one finds in UFO lore, which is rather bland and mundane by comparison.

The imagination of UFO witnesses and flying saucer observers is boring and prosaic when set alongside the tales created by sci-fi writers and their ilk.

What does this tell us?

That observations and reports of UFOs are either true, because they suck, in a literary sense, or the persons reporting UFOs and flying saucers don't have the imaginative acumen of sci-fi writers, and thus tell a tale lacking in truly alien configuration; that is, UFO witnesses, Roswell among them, saw something rather ordinary and can't endow it with anything like that found in the sci-fi genre or alien visitors are from benign worlds (or dimensions) devoid of the exotic wonders that some of mankind conjures up, from its own mind.

I don't see the pre-1947 stories as predestined to cause UFO sightings by the great unwashed. The sci-fi aliens are creepier that what UFO witnesses say they've encountered and UFOs are nowhere near, as reported, as those fabricated by the mind of sci-fi writers.

One would expect actual extraterrestrial visitors to be stranger than strange, which vehicles odder than anything we humans might imagine.

This hasn't been the case, so one might discard the UFO sightings we keep contending with as a kind of mental fluke or phenomenon that is ordinary in the context of what should be visitations of of alien cultures or examples of the paranormal that come from places that do not exist in our reality.



  • Like many (well not Roswell true believers and ET obsessives) I would argue that without science fiction, no tales of ET spacecraft crashes on earth, no tales of alien abductions and before that no alien contactee stories. In other words no ufology as we know it. Science fiction is the mother of modern-day ufology, even if it was an unwanted pregnancy and not intended (hope that isn't put too clumsily). The connections between the two are multi-layered. The irony is that SF writers and fandom appear to look down on ufology as kooky and a pseudoscience, meanwhile they do not appear to recognize how science fiction birthed ufology, since they do not know the first thing about the latter (for the most part).

    Always worth remarking in the context that Ray Palmer got his start in science fiction, at Amazing Stories before moving on to Fate and of course playing such a pivotal role in the birth of modern-day ufology. We all know this, yet it's always worth repeating the point, there is a big clue there to a deeper jest at work.

    I am not saying btw that ufology can be reduced in its entirety to SF; I mean the way this Alice in Wonderland phenomenon is interpreted, shaped by the psyche, that's all down to SF.

    By Blogger Lawrence, at Friday, July 17, 2015  

  • Lawrence...

    I'm saying that science fiction, apparently, didn't influence UFO observers, as UFO witness reports are lame, compared to the vibrant and exotic sci-fi tales of alien visitations (or attacks).

    Moreover, the sci-fi audience was not large by a long shot, an almost subliminal readership and genre.

    Persons reporting flying saucers seem to have been devoid of sci-fi books or tales in the pre-1950 decades.

    That movies and, eventually, TV affected the imagination of the masses is without question but, even then, the UFO/flying saucer reports are rather pathetic compared to that which sci-fi writers and movie-makers were providing.

    Ray Palmer is given too much credit for the flying saucer craze. He was an out-of-the-mainstream odd ball, and persons sighting flying disks were not inclined to be in his circle.

    But the movies, now that's another matter.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, July 17, 2015  

  • persons sighting flying disks were not inclined to be in his circle.
    Excepted Kenneth Arnold ;)
    And a contrary to what you wrote, Palmer was inclined to "Flying saucers" reports (Maury Island case). So, yes and imho, Palmer is part and an important variable concerning the "cristalization" of flying saucer and UFO in our collective memory, and part of the big picture to understand this modern myth. Without Palmer, maybe the thing would have been different (Fates, spring 1950 release, ie).

    In the next letter I received from Mr. Palmer, he told me that he had heard that two harbor patrolmen at Tacoma, Washington had had a very unusual experience -- a Mr. Harold A. Dahl and a Fred L. Crisman claimed that they had not only seen a group of flying saucers but that they had in their possession some fragments that came from one of them. Mr. Palmer wrote that he had a definite interest in the case and would send me expense money if I could find the time to go up there and investigate the authenticity of their story as well as ship some of the fragments, if I could obtain them, to him at Evanston, Illinois. I just let the letter sit for a few days to think it over...
    K. Arnorld



    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Friday, July 17, 2015  

  • Yes, Gilles...

    Palmer was a noted presence in the sci-fi/flying saucer community but those communities were small, and had little or no impact on the American social milieu, a time of the Alger Hiss/Chambers affair and the McCarthy Hearings which usurped the consciousness of most Americans.

    We who follow the UFO mythos -- believers and skeptics alike -- look back and invest Palmer with more cachet than he actually had.

    We, from our present vantage point, see his influence as gargantuan when, in fact, it was paltry, growing in stature, like Roswell, as a mythology, not an historical reality (if there is such a thing).


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, July 17, 2015  

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