cover image They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

Sarah Scoles. Pegasus, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-64313-305-8

Inspired by the U.S. government’s acknowledgment of a program to investigate UFO encounters, science writer Scoles (Making Contact) delivers a nonjudgmental, level-headed look at a long-lasting societal phenomenon. Tracing it all back to 1947, when Kenneth Arnold of Yakima, Wash., reported seeing nine flying (though not saucer-shaped) objects, Scoles discusses previously classified government records (some with entire chapters still redacted) and visits two sites pivotal to UFO lore: Area 51 in the Nevada desert, a highly guarded Air Force facility known for its secrecy and testing of new military technology; and Roswell, N.Mex., alleged site of a UFO crash. In interviewing self-appointed UFO investigators, Scoles encounters her share of “unhinged conspiracy theorists” but also meets “logical, dedicated, skeptical” people not unlike journalists such as herself. She also concludes that the government’s inconsistent and murky answers to questions about UFOs haven’t done it any favors. More general insights into the mercurial quality of memory and belief add considerable heft to this take on an admittedly well-worn topic. Through it all, Scoles remains an open-minded skeptic, and it’s this objectivity that makes her buoyant survey so delightful to read. Agent: Zoe Sandler, ICM (Mar.)