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.)
Reviewed on : 12/05/2019 Release date: 03/03/2020 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.