Monday, 28 December 2015


Poul Anderson, The Infinite Voyage: Man's Future In Space (London, 1969).

Anderson displays a picture of a "flying saucer" in New Mexico, not this one, on pp. 150-151. He points out that:

"...the reported behavior of flying saucers does not square with the laws of motion for solid objects." (p. 152)

I know a ufologist who would reply that obviously flying saucers are inter-dimensional craft that defy ordinary laws of motion. Obviously. The proposition that flying saucers are some kind of intelligently directed air/space/time/dimensional vehicles is for him not a testable hypothesis but an unassailable assumption and anyone who questions it is blinkered by Western science - unless and until scientists confirm one of his assumptions, in which case their testimony is then quoted as proving the matter. (It gets worse: every time scientists make a discovery that obliges them to revise their earlier statements or theories, they are showing themselves up to have been stupid for accepting their earlier "wrong" views; every time they publish the latest data, e.g., about the atmosphere of Venus, they are claiming infallibly and authoritatively to know the composition of the Venerian atmosphere, thus setting themselves up for another humiliation whenever they - by their own scientific methods, of course - acquire additional data. Could any (mis)understanding of science be more distorted than that?)

At a World SF Con, Arthur C Clarke showed slides, including one of an Apollo launch with a discernible and rather detailed ufo in the sky. He thought that it was some sort of reflection in the camera lens. What it was not was a vehicle hovering in a clear blue sky surrounded by thousands of eyewitnesses, including photographers and camera crews, none of whom noticed it. But a photo of that sort could easily be displayed in Ufology magazines as evidence that aliens monitored Apollo launches.

Anderson's The Infinite Voyage speaks to us from an earlier period when flying saucers were reported and "...Luna City...fifty or a hundred years from now..." (p. 82) was confidently anticipated. In his "Concerning Stories Never Written: Postscript" to some editions of Revolt In 2100, Robert Heinlein wrote:

"Space travel in the near future is likely to be a marginal proposition at best, subsidized for military reasons. It could die out..."

It could. In fact, as far as space travel goes, he is describing our timeline.

That is it for 2015, folks. Posting will resume some time in 2016.


David Birr said...

With reference to your knowing that "so-utterly-certain" ufologist, you have my condolences.

I hope the coming year is better for everyone.

Paul Shackley said...

Thank you.
I hope so too but it looks like things have to get worse before they hopefully get better. If, gods forbid, terrorists were to deploy a nuclear device, I hope that this would make the whole world stop and think instead of unleashing Armageddon.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Greetings Paul and David!

Back from visiting my brother and his wife on Maui. It was good to see them!

I agree with Paul, I fear things are far more likely to get worse before POSSIBLY getting better. And everybody in his right mind knows the Mad Mullahs in Iran are determined to get their hands on nukes.

Re UFOs, Poul Anderson wrote an amusing and serious story touching on that them in "Peek! I See You!" PA treated serious UFOlogists with respect in that story. And, when you sift out the frauds, cons, mistakes, etc., a certain number of UFO reports quite simply have no other explanation which fits them--except for them being UFOs.

I myself actually hope to someday see and touch a real UFO, and converse with non human rational beings.