Flying Saucers are Real! Anthology of the lost saucer-craze
Jack Womack is an accomplished science fiction writer and part of the first wave of cyberpunks; he's also one of the world's foremost collectors of flying saucer ephemera: the zines, cheap paperbacks, and esoteric material associated with the saucer-craze, a virtually forgotten, decades-long global mania that features livestock mutilations, abductions, messages of intergalactic brotherhood, claims of both divine and satanic origins, and psychic phenomena.
Womack's collection has found a permanent home at Georgetown University's library, and Womack has lovingly curated a spectacular, 283-page anthology of the most fascinating material from the collection, accompanied by his notes and an introduction by William Gibson, whose own mother once saw a saucer.
Flying saucers are like hot sauce: whatever you love best, you might love it better with a few dashes of saucers. Womack's thematically organized collection traces how saucers worked their way into Christianity, Satanic panics, Red scares, belief in psi powers, military conspiracy theories, hollow Earth conspiracies, New Age reboots of Tibetan mysticism, conspiracies about Nazis (and Hitler), and, of course, radical, unhinged theories about Elvis Presley.
Womack presents his material with bone-dry wit -- if you've ever heard him speak, I guarantee you'll be able to hear his urbane, deadpan delivery in every sentence. He's not exactly making fun of his subjects. Oh, OK, sometimes he is, but just the most naked of hucksters and scammers -- but when it comes to the true believers, Womack has a mix of compassion and wonder at their ability to believe what they believe -- and convince others of their beliefs.
I grew up after the heyday of the saucer era (I was born in 1971), but I was surrounded by tantalizing clues about the saucers: Bugs Bunny jokes; mouldering paperbacks on the $0.10 rack at used bookstores; the odd, lurid zine in the dealer's room at a science fiction convention. My close, repeated readings of books like Daniel Pinkwater's Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars sketched out a kind of void that had recently been vacated by a huge cultural force that had once been a major piece of the public imagination, but had subsequently sank, almost without a trace.
Flying Saucers Are Real! is a mapping of those lost territories, a tour guide to a place lost in history. As William Gibson writes, it's "the only physical evidence of the advent of the UFO meme."
The book has spawned a new and most excellent podcast about the saucer meme. Considered as an artifact, it is extraordinarily beautiful, full color, gorgeously shot images of these old and vanishing pieces; commentary delivered with novelistic flair. It's a book to cherish.
Flying Saucers Are Real! [Jack Womack/Anthology Editions]
George RR Martin, 1993 "The fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while" is an unlikely project for TV
Scott Edelman writes, “I interviewed George R. R. Martin at a Thai restaurant on Episode 42 of my Eating the Fantastic podcast (MP3), and after I returned home, remembered I’d also interviewed him back in 1993. After digging out the tape, I couldn’t resist incorporating his amusing admission about ‘a fantasy novel I’ve been working […]
Zero-knowledge proofs are one of the most important concepts in cryptography: they’re a way to “validate a computation on private data by allowing a prover to generate a cryptographic proof that asserts to the correctness of the computed output” — in other words, a way to prove that something is true without learning the details.
Retroworks’ $18 decoder rings don’t have much by way of cryptographic robustness (they compare disfavorably to the cipher-wheel wedding rings my wife and I wear!), but they’re not a bad way to introduce the littlies in your life to the idea of habitual secrecy. (via Red Ferret)
Just because English has become the common global tongue doesn’t mean it’s the easiest language to write—even for native speakers. If you’re looking to improve your written communication skills, especially on your smartphone, take a look at Ginger Page.Ginger is a cross-platform app that offers corrections for phrasing as well as grammar. It’s powered by […]
The current web development landscape is rife with buzzwords and technology that gets abandoned almost as soon as it’s made. If you’ve never written a line of code before, it can be hard to figure out what’s coming, what’s here to stay, or how to get ahead.This Beginner Web Development Bundle is a great place […]
The Fader Stealth Quadcopter from TRNDlabs packs incredible flight performance into a package small enough to land on your phone screen, and it’s available now in the Boing Boing Store.The Fader’s six-axis gyroscope module gives it perfect balance in the air. This makes the onboard 720p HD camera all the better for shooting amazing flight […]