A couple years ago, my pal Ken Hollings, a UK journalist and outré culture chronicler, presented a mind-blowing radio series called Welcome To Mars, about the "fantasy of science in the early years of the American Century." In the series, Ken maps the connections between UFOs, weird science, vintage science fiction, the space race, and LSD. It's an amazing series and now it's been followed by a fantastic book, Welcome To Mars: Fantasies of Science In The American Century 1947-1959, published by Strange Attractor Press. Timed with the book's publication, 3am Magazine have just published a fascinating interview with Hollings. From the interview:
The Flying Saucer, like the effects of LSD and the dangers of atomic radiation are all phenomena whose real power exists outside the human sensory spectrum: each in its own way defies detection and categorization in any conventional sense. They are, in the words of former RAND president Donald Rumsfeld, ‘known unknowns’. One way of studying them is to examine how large organizations, such as RAND and the Pentagon, respond to their existence; another is to examine them obliquely through popular culture, to see how the public imagination responds to it. Reactions to the Flying Saucer were conditioned to an appreciable extent by the spread of the new electronic media and the interdisciplinary approach to mass communication that accompanied them during the period covered in my book. It’s not an accident that 1957, the year which sees Sputnik launched into Earth orbit is also the year when Marshall McLuhan first publicly states that the medium is the message. Both incidents represent a threat to the established status quo which had previously been embodied by the Flying Saucer. Fantasy is only theory that has subsequently been rendered unworkable.Ken Hollings interview (3am Magazine), Buy "Welcome To Mars" (Strange Attractor)
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.