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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Project Blue Book 1.1: Science Fiction, Or?

Project Blue Book, the docudrama on the History Channel about Dr. Allen Hynek and his research into UFOs, couldn't have come at a better time.   I mean, a better time for me.  I read and reviewed Alec Nevala-Lee's Astounding, about John W. Campbell and the golden age of science fiction,  And Hynek's story - at least, as it begins on Project Blue Book - begins in 1952, which many people, including me, would regard as the peak of that golden age.  Asimov's Foundation trilogy, which had first been published as a series of stories in "Astounding" (the magazine), was smack dab in the middle of being published as three books.  Robert Heinlein had just published, a year earlier, his Puppet Masters, to this day one the very best books about an extraterrestrial invasion ...  But I digress.

Or maybe not.  Because Project Blue Book - the docudrama - is right at the nexus of strange-but-true and science fiction.  Hynek is called upon by the Feds to give his scientific imprimatur to their insistence that flying saucers were nothing more than natural phenomena like birds or human technological phenomena like weather balloons.  The perspective of the docudrama is that we the audience know better, and Hynek quickly comes to know better.

Unsurprisingly, the government apparently knows better, too.  The first episode leaves us with the impression that the government knew we (the Earth) were visited by flying saucers, but they (the government) did not want the public to know.  This is a familiar characterization of our government on many issues, and may or may not be true in real history about flying saucers.

Speaking of reality, I'll own up to being skeptical to agnostic on extra-terrestrial visits.  I'm a skeptic, because if we've been visited, are being visited, by beings from outer space in space ships, why don't they ever land on 58th Street in Manhattan in front of CNN so everyone in the world can see them?  Or, if they don't want us to know anything about them, they've been doing a pretty poor job of that.  But I'm ultimately agnostic on the question of UFOs because there's certainly no reason in principle that there aren't intelligences other than ours out there in the universe, some of them far more advanced than ours in their penetration of the cosmos.

Back to more mundane matters, it was good to Aidan Gillen (from Game of Thrones and many other memorable performances) in his portrayal of Hynek.  The first episode offered several phenomena - like damage on the pilot's plane - that weren't explicable by science, according to Hynek.   One of those, however, a pilot hearing a California radio station in Fargo, North Dakota (that's right) high in sky at night could be explained by the long distances some radio waves can travel at night.  I wanted to shout that across the screen to Hynek.  But if all of this turns out to be science fiction, that's more than ok for me to watch on television.  Hey, strange things do happen in Fargo, if memory serves.

here I am talking Ancient Aliens a few years ago on the History Channel


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