Writing in the introduction to Flying Saucers Are Real!, a new book that documents the imagery and culture of UFOs, author William Gibson compares the phenomenon of UFO sightings in the 50s to a modern day meme. “My mother saw a saucer in rural Tennessee, shortly after my birth,” he writes. “Or a cigar, rather. A somewhat close encounter, above our rented farmhouse, near Oak Ridge, my father absent on business. She was sole witness.
“Today I believe that she had been infected, in her loneliness, her anxiety, by what we now think of as a meme.”
The title brings together the ephemera that Gibson cites as being responsible for the advent of this meme – the many books, fictional and non, on the subject that were published during the period, and that still resonate strongly in our popular culture today.
The works included all come from the vast UFO library of New York-based sci-fi writer Jack Womack, and trace a history that stretches from pulp fiction – Those Sexy Saucer People being one title that particularly resonates – to conspiracy theories and the philosophies of Carl Jung. The catalogue is fascinating from a historical point of view, with Womack’s accompanying text giving a detailed account of the key figures in UFO culture and how their theories and ideas have filtered down into more recent pop culture such as The X-Files.
But the book is also a boon for fans of graphic design and illustration too, with much to enjoy from the rich collection of book covers, diagrams and photographs featured.
Flying Saucers Are Real! is published on September 16 by Anthology Editions. More info is at anthology.net.