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History of the UFO flap

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  • History of the UFO flap

    As far as I can tell, Whisperer in Darkness by Lovecraft is the single story that links Machen's hidden Little People and traditional fairies/ elves, with the modern UFO hysteria, and all that goes into the mythos of the X-files - aliens being among us, and having been here for a long time. Medical experiments on humans. Some humans being agents for Them. Interception of post/ phone calls/ other information by shadowy, unseen 'agents'.

    Bearing in mind The Whisperer was published in something like 1939 (that's the copyright given in my copy, anyway), did Lovecraft foresee the whole Saucer Flap business five years befor the first modern Flying Saucer incident, or can anyone else name a story or incident that addresses the same themes before Lovecraft?

    This has been cross-posted at Yog-sothoth.com, and emailed directly to Jess Nevins, who knows more than is healthy about early modern fantastic literature

    Jeremiah

  • #2
    I'm pretty sure this first appeared in Weird Tales in the very early 1930's. If I'm remembering correctly, that pushes the time back further. I'll see if I can find it in my notes.

    Ken
    Ken Boorman
    ************
    Purveyor of the Runestaff and Stormbringer Legends
    ************

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    • #3
      Re: History of the UFO flap

      Originally posted by Jeremiah
      ...

      Bearing in mind The Whisperer was published in something like 1939 (that's the copyright given in my copy, anyway), did Lovecraft foresee the whole Saucer Flap business five years befor the first modern Flying Saucer incident, or can anyone else name a story or incident that addresses the same themes before Lovecraft?

      ...
      This being a Fortean sort of subject, I can refer back to various mysterious airship panics, sometime around the end of the 19th century. Charles Fort collected together several reports of mysterious sightings and published them in his works, back in the Twenties and Thirties (Although I'd be hard pushed to source them for you at this time of night). Have to wonder if HP Lovecraft read any of Fort's books?

      For more information about the works of Charles Hoy Fort:
      http://www.resologist.net/
      Good resource and online copies of some of his works.

      http://www.forteantimes.com/articles/115_aurora.shtml
      (Rather a good article on an alleged crash in Aurora, Texas, in 1896.)

      Fortean Times Forum Threads, on the subject of early UFO flaps:
      http://www.forteantimes.com/phpBB2/v...er=asc&start=0
      http://www.forteantimes.com/phpBB2/v...=445544#445544

      Hope they help. :)

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      • #4
        Actually, IMHO, Lovecraft wasn't needed as a bridge, since the old myths of the little people of Irish/Celtic legend are pretty much the same as modern day UFO mythology. The parallels are all there, from the discriptions of the fairie to the abductions to the fairie realm. Machen and other Cthullu writers turned them into horror tales. Night Terrors could also be attributed to aliens in today's society, whereas back in Victorian times, they were incubi/succubi.

        With the current scientific theory of the Dark Matter universe, and that our universe is just a speck of sand in said dark matter, it all sort of comes together, doesn't it?

        Jeff

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        • #5
          An article about reports of UFO sightings, through the Ages, from the Reader's Digest, at Rense.Com:

          http://rense.com/general7/ages.htm

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          • #6
            Re: History of the UFO flap

            Originally posted by AndroMan

            ...
            This being a Fortean sort of subject, I can refer back to various mysterious airship panics, sometime around the end of the 19th century. Charles Fort collected together several reports of mysterious sightings and published them in his works, back in the Twenties and Thirties (Although I'd be hard pushed to source them for you at this time of night). Have to wonder if HP Lovecraft read any of Fort's books?
            Thanks, but that much I know! In fact, Fort is actually quoted in the story in question!

            I also know that all the abduction and medical experimentation stuff was previously attributed to fairy-folk - my real query is exactly when it stopped being, in literature and the public imagination, attributed to supernatural beings who were nonetheless inhabitants of this world, and transferred instead to the inhabitants of other worlds?

            Thanks for all you input so far, though!

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            • #7
              I understand 'The Whisperer in the Dark' was written in September 1930 (published August 1931). I'm not aware of an earlier writer addressing this theme - Lovecraft was moving more towards Sf in his later years.

              There is a modern branch of folklore, which holds that UFOs are not all that they seem, and are in fact transdimensional 'supernatural' beings who adapt their appearance to how we 'expect' to see them. Check out 'The Dark Gods' by Anthony Roberts and Geoff Gilbertson if you want to see how this links in with some highly dubious conspiracy theory (I switched off when they started going on about Star Trek :roll: )
              \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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              • #8
                In America, it might have begun to the radio play, War of the Worlds, by Mr. Welles. Invading aliens had been in literature for some time (and even in myth, mostly Native American cultures of both North and South America, and even, some say, all the way back to the Egyptians), but the culture I don't hink absorbed it into their psyches until some time the industrial revolution.

                Welles' radio play made it seem real in a paranoid society after a great war while heading towards a new one. The world was a smaller place suddenly, and our enemies were everywhere. I don't think many people thought about HG Well's novel, or it's themes, until after the radio drama that terrified a nation. Taken with all of the new military rockets and secret weapons coming out of WWII, McCarthyism and everything else, I think the awareness came about then.

                Just wild speculation on my part. I didn't know anything about people believing it until that first famous case of the black and white couple who were "abuducted" and it made all the press and soon afterward the whole Area 54 and the like.

                It wasn't until after World War One that most of the older ghost stories became just campfire tales as science and technology boomed, since, especially America was founded on immigrants who still held beliefs in vampires and werewolves and fairies.

                So I would say the radio play of War of the Worlds, followed by World War 2 and the nuclear and paranoid cultures took hold, transforming the old myths into a bold new tale of ghastly terror.

                Jeff

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TheAdlerian
                  Look up ancient Indian flying machines on say google and have yourself a good read. The creators of the atomic bomb may actually believed that the device had actually existed before. It's interesting.
                  ..and did not J Robert Oppenheimer quote "Today I am become death, the destroyer of worlds" when they set of the H Bomb at Trinity....

                  It's all pointing India-wards, isn't it?

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                  • #10
                    Perfect!

                    I was looking for something like that.

                    Thanks!

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                    • #11
                      It is interesting to specualte, but as an archaelogy student, I have to say I won't believe it until someone digs up a prehistoric flying machine - and not just some carving that bears an uncanny resemblance to a fighter aircraft

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                      • #12
                        Oh, it's not the reality that I'm interested in - it's the history of the fiction!

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