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Alien Anniversary

April 2024
1min read


I’m glad Frederic Schwarz chose a lightheartedly satirical approach to note the fiftieth anniversary of the very first flying-saucer sighting (“The Time Machine,” May/June issue).

His mention of the glowing airship allegedly seen drifting over California a full century ago seems to illustrate how we create our alien visitors in our own image. Whereas those late-Victorian Martians could afford the luxury of time, floating majestically above our puzzled heads, the twentieth-century Martians flashed about, in aerodynamic dishes, at “incredible speed.”

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream ,
act V, scene 1, Theseus says it all: “Such
tricks hath strong imagination, / That,
if it would but apprehend some joy, / It
comprehends some bringer of that joy; /
Or in the night, imagining some fear, / How easy is a bush supposed a bear?”

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