Some thoughts on
writing science fiction:
Do you believe in
alien contact? I do. I think the earth has been visited not just recently, but
over millennia by civilizations more advanced than ours. Why do I find it so
easy to believe? Let me tell you a story. (It’s what I do best.)
I grew up on a farm in
southern Michigan and I guess at some point, every male kid gets at least
momentarily interested in airplanes. To say that I had an interest in planes
would be like saying Kellogg’s of Battle Creek had an interest in breakfast
cereal. For a long time when I was growing up I ate, slept and breathed
airplanes. I drew them in the margins of my schoolbooks when other kids were
trying to draw female genitalia. My drawings were much better, probably because
I had actually seen airplanes. I built hundreds of models, some flying
models, some for static display. I still love planes and would have a pilot’s
license right now, if I could justify the cost, just so I could go tool around
In about 1954 or 1955 a lot of
over our house. Seemed we were right in the traffic patterns for Detroit,
Toledo and Willow Run, which was an air base, so I got to know my planes pretty
One day my mother and I happened
to be outside.
I don’t remember what we were doing out there in the yard, but I remember the
weather. It was a blustery spring day and the sky was laced with broken clouds
that were racing along to the south.
I heard a plane and before I
even looked up, I
knew what it was: a Douglas DC-3, the workhorse of the airlines in those days
and also the military “Gooney Bird” that carried thousands of troops in World
I peered skyward, looking through
cloud deck and spotted the plane, but then I called my mother’s attention to
it. There was an object circling the plane. It was either ball-shaped or
disk-shaped, we couldn’t tell, because by that time it was almost straight
overhead. It was as shiny as if it were chrome-plated. It was maybe ten or
twelve feet in diameter and it made no noise we could detect. There was only
the sound of the plane’s big Pratt and Whitney radial engines. This object
circled the plane smoothly and effortlessly and we actually found ourselves
looking for some sort of tether cable attaching it to the plane, for it never
increased or decreased its speed or its distance from the plane.
Now think about that for just
a minute. This
meant that whenever it crossed in front of or behind the plane, its speed had
to match perfectly the speed of the DC-3. And then when it went forward to pass
the plane it had to speed up and when it came down the other side to go around
behind again it had to slow just enough to match and make that perfect pass.
I am convinced the pilot of that
to know it was there. My mother and I speculated about whether it might have
been some secret military experiment or if we had witnessed a “flying saucer”.
I’m sure I’ll never know.
And that brings me to the next
phase of why I
like science fiction. A few years ago, I rode my motorcycle to Rachel, Nevada
and visited the Little Ale Inn (alien, get it?) an establishment that sits just
on the near side of Bald Mountain. On the other side of Bald Mountain is Area
51, which as we all know, does not exist. But we do know that the place is so
secret that deadly force is authorized against anyone who even climbs Bald
Mountain and tries to get a peek. We also know that the people who work there
live in Las Vegas and they are flown to work daily from Vegas in unmarked
airliners and back again each night.
The military has lately increased
the size of
Area 51 and they have also moved a lot of what they do there even farther back
into the mountains and they are buying up the land so they can make it even
The nice man at the Little Ale
Inn had a lot to
say about Area 51 and the Nellis Bomb range in general. He said a few years
back, when they weren’t so touchy about security, he and some friends would
climb Bald Mountain with their cameras and video gear and sit up there and
drink beer and watch the show. Can’t do that anymore. The entire area is wired
with every kind of sensor and motion detector made and you will be nabbed
before you can even start up the mountain.
He says they were used to seeing
that would hover and flicker and sometimes go from a complete standstill to
thousands of miles per hour in the blink of an eye and just as quickly stop
again. He recalled being chased across the desert in his car by silent aircraft
that lit the entire desert and were too bright to look at or photograph. He was
convinced that the military were reverse-engineering captured alien spacecraft
out there in order to get so far ahead technologically that no other country
would ever catch us. Makes me sleep better at night.
Over the years I have done my
share of reading.
I have read most of the good UFO reports that were filed away as unexplainable.
At this point, nothing would surprise me.
So, what does the sci-fi writer
Well, if he’s good, he takes known technology, combines it with speculative,
future technology and weaves a story around it. I have written three novels and
two novellas, all dealing with sci-fi and the supernatural. At some point I
might even let you read them. They never found publication, but they’re still
fun. But you have to be able to suspend your disbelief. That’s what the
sci-fi writer really says when he takes on the reader. He says, in effect, “I’m
gonna tell you a bullshit whopper of a story, a big fucking lie, and I want you
to believe it, but only for as long as it takes you to read it. After that,
I’ll return you to reality, because we both know it’s all bullshit.