Tag Archives: whitley strieber

182 – Saucer State: A Unified UFO Theory with Paul Cornell

Working in TV, comics, and novels, writer Paul Cornell has created stories for some of the greatest fictional characters of all time. Doctor Who to Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes to Batman. He’s a Hugo award winner, has a podcast about Hammer Horror Films, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of UFO lore and mythology. Paul and artist Ryan Kelly have used that knowledge in an original creation that brings the most UFO lore I’ve ever seen in one place, the critically acclaimed comics, Saucer Country and Saucer State. 

Focusing on Arcadia Alvarez, the Mexican-American governor of New Mexico and Democratic presidential candidate, Saucer Country is all about her possible alien abduction experience and the strange events that occur around her candidacy. All along, they recount stories from real UFO lore like George Adamski’s visits with Venusians, mystery airships from the 19th Century, Betty and Barney Hill, and much more.

The sequel, Saucer State, is all about what happens once Governor Alvarez becomes President Alvarez, and the collected edition has just been released.  From Jefferson Airplane to the Pioneer plaque, the references come fast and furious and besides Taken, the Steven Spielberg-produced SciFi channel mini-series from 2002, this is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a “unified theory” of UFO mythology, a fictional story that ties everything together.

In this interview, you’ll learn all about the real UFO lore that inspired Paul Cornell to write Saucer State and Saucer Country. We even cover a little bit of ghosts and fairies as well.

If you’re interested in learning more about Paul, including links to his works, please check out his website right here.

And we thoroughly recommend Saucer State, this is the fictional work that’s putting Tom Delonge’s Sekret Machines to shame! He even promises that unlike another fictional property that uses real life UFO mythology as an influence in 2018 (ahem, Mr. Carter), there is an ending in mind and the story will be completed in the next volume.

pioneer 10
The Message on the Pioneer 10

One of the groups vying for power that we talk about in Saucer State are the Bluebirds, who take an extremely materialist view toward the UFO phenomenon, an approach that they call “Nuts and Bolts”.

see the light, don’t close your eyes
go to sleep, you’re paralyzed
somewhere the dreams and memories mix
and our little friends are playing tricks

a violation of our sentience
Like the old hag sits on your chest
when they put you into program mode,
don’t think that you’re a guest.

Nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and

Wet machines with lucid dreams
Are we just hardware under the seams?
When you feed your head with magic beans
Will we find out who’s behind the scenes?

a violation of our sentience
Like the old hag sits on your chest
when they put you into program mode,
don’t think that you’re a guest.

Nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and nuts and bolts and

Wet machines with lucid dreams
Are we just hardware under the seams?
When you feed your head with magic beans
Will we find out who’s behind the scenes?

RIP Angus Scrimm – The Tall Man and Phantasm’s Paranormal Influences

Actor Angus Scrimm passed away yesterday at the age of 89. If you’re a horror fan, then you’ll remember him as the evil undertaker, The Tall Man, from the Phantasm film series (the one with the flying silver balls that stick in people’s heads.) Number one, what an awesome stage name (he was originally born Lawrence Rory Guy). Number two, he was the one guy in the Phantasm movies that looked like he was some kind of an actor in real life. You can see why he was such a memorable presence in this supercut of his greatest moments from the highlights of the franchise (namely Phantasm 1 and 2).

Phantasm was mostly recently making the sci-fi news rounds because Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams mentioned how much that he loves the movie and that he created one of the characters (Captain Phasma) as an homage to the film, the character even wears a special reflective mirrored armor like the scary balls that fly through the air in Phantasm. Abrams also gave Scrimm a recurring role in his TV show, Alias, because he was a fan of the actor.

Not that the other characters and actors in Phantasm weren’t memorable and  didn’t give it their best shot. Especially Reggie Bannister, you just gotta love that guy. I still use the phrase “Hot as love” sometimes when I’m done playing a song.

Angus Scrimm’s late in life success in the horror genre was preceded by a long career in entertainment journalism as well as being a go-to guy for writing liner notes on the insides of records – which was a thing back in the day when people used to buy albums, and he even won a Grammy for his work in the music industry!)

I always heard that he was a nice guy at horror conventions and his dedication to the character even as the budgets of the Phantasm sequels started getting less and less. So, I’m raising a glass to a life well lived.

I celebrated my eighteenth birthday with my first meal as a full vegetarian, a trip to the adult book store (who knew that Al Bundy’s favorite magazine was a real thing?), and a viewing of Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, so the series has always been close to my heart. My friends and I were big fans of the series in high school because we appreciated Reggie’s dirty innuendos, the gross-out horror of the flying balls killing people, the surreality of the filmmaking, and the mashup of (spoilers for a 37-year old movie) beings from another dimension that enslave human souls after we die.

The Tall Man’s most memorable quote besides bellowing “Boyyyyyyyy!” is “You think when you die, you go to heaven. You come to us!” which is a special kind of terror. You grow up your whole life thinking that when you die, you go to a  “better place” (unless you’re a Calvinist that just believes most people are going to Hell anyway). But Phantasm introduced to me the idea that maybe the afterlife wasn’t wonderful at all, that there is something worse than death, a place you could never escape where you were turned into a zombie Jawa slave for eternity.  A reimagining of Hell where The Tall Man took the place of Lucifer and owned you.

Now, that’s some scary business right there and in some of the world’s earliest cultures, the Afterlife isn’t fun at all. In fact, if you’ve ever studied the Epic of Gilgamesh (the world’s first action hero!) you’ll know that death to the ancient Sumerians meant unpleasantness for the rest of eternity. They feared the dead who “live in darkness, eat clay, and are clothed like birds with wings” and would eat the living if they escaped the Underworld.

In Maori culture in New Zealand, the bodies of the recently deceased needed to be brought back to their families immediately and rituals performed or the spirits might become angry and decide to bring more family members to the other side. 

So, while there might be an evolutionary advantage to believing in the afterlife, it doesn’t mean that we necessarily believe in a Heaven filled with naked angels strumming on harps, but also that Hell could be programmed into our primordial belief systems and it’s that antediluvian angst that Phantasm excels at accessing. In the world of the film, there is no “happily ever after”, The Tall Man is coming from another dimension to enslave the souls of the Earth and the main characters have to figure out how to stop him.

 

But interestingly enough, Whitley Strieber’s sequel to his book Communion (who in my opinion has influenced our modern views ideas of aliens more than any other creator) was called Transformation, which came out in 1988, the same year as Phantasm II. The main idea of Transformation was that the aliens that he claimed to have been abducted by all his life in Communion, were here in a spiritual capacity and not just a scientific experiment (and I don’t know if that would have been a relief to South Park‘s Eric Cartman or not…)

But in Transformation, the aliens are here and visiting us to help recycle our souls, which starts blending two formerly very different strains of paranormal belief into one (albeit Mormonism and Scientology have been doing this for a longer period of time, but Transformation is really when I got my first taste of it.) This mixture of aliens and an inescapable afterlife of servitude is what makes Phantasm such an mindtrick and it was all brought to life in such effective terror by the performance of Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. Thanks Lawrence Rory Guy, for the awe-inspiring personification of a perfectly horrifying, yet ancient, idea.