Friday, July 19, 2019

Fantastic Universe: UFOs and Civilian Saucer Intelligence

Flying Saucers and Science Fiction seem to go hand in hand, but wasn't true for most of the early authors. Issac Asimov wrote that, “It is taken for granted by everyone... (that) I believe in flying saucers, in Atlantis, and clairvoyance and levitation... No one would ever think someone who writes fantasies for preschool children really thinks that rabbits can talk– but a science-fiction writer apparently must believe in flying saucers. Well, I do not.”
(From “My Built-In Doubter,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1961)

Hollywood's movies were mostly responsible for connecting UFOs to science fiction. Most reputable SF magazines tried to steer clear of the flying saucer fad. About ten years into the saucer age, one magazine editor saw things differently.

Hans Stefan Santesson took over as the editor of Fantastic Universe magazine in 1956 and he had a strong interest in the UFO topic, frequently featuring saucers in science fiction stories, and also in non-fiction articles by ufologists. Perhaps best of all, Santesson's Fantastic Universe featured the column "Shapes in the Sky" by the early serious-minded UFO organization, Civilian Saucer Intelligence (of New York). The group was small, but reputable, primarily Isabel Davis, Alexander Mebane and Ted Bloecher. Civilian Saucer Intelligence published the CSI Newsletter from 1954 to 1959, which is now archived as PDFs at the CUFOS site along with some related documents.

For more about CSI, see The Big Study:  Sacred Object: CSI-NY Tells Hynek About UFOs

Ufology in Fantastic Universe

Many of the issues can be found online, and we've included links where available.

Fantastic Universe Feb. 1957
This issue debuted two UFO articles:
“An Introduction to Ufology” by Ivan T. Sanderson
“The Truth is Fantastic" by Gray Barker.

Fantastic Universe March 1957
“Shapes in the Sky” was the first article by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, and it examined the frequently reported shapes of UFOs.

Fantastic Universe May 1957
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence discussed several UFO cases where unusual physical characteristics were reported.

Fantastic Universe July 1957
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence discussing physical evidence, "angel hair."

Fantastic Universe Aug. 1957
Two UFO articles:
“UFO- Fiend or Foe” by Ivan T. Sanderson
“The Saucer Myth” by Lester del Rey

Fantastic Universe Sept. 1957
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence on "Angel Hair, Gossamer Showers and Flying Jellyfish..."

Fantastic Universe Nov. 1957
Three UFO articles:
"What Pilots a UFO?" by Ivan T. Sanderson
“Meet the Extraterrestrial” by Isabel Davis
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, examining UFO "Sounds from the Sky."

Fantastic Universe Dec. 1957
"Comments from a Scientist" by Ivan T. Sanderson
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, more "Sounds from the Sky."

Fantastic Universe Jan. 1958
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on "Smells from the Sky."

Fantastic Universe Feb. 1958
“Continents in Space” by Ivan T. Sanderson
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on UFO radar cases.
“Saucers - Fact Not Fiction” by Morris K. Jessup.)

Fantastic Universe March 1958
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on UFO "radar angels."

Fantastic Universe April 1958
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on the "Sky-Ice Age."

Fantastic Universe May 1958
“We’ll Never Catch Them” by Ivan T. Sanderson
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on 1957 UFO cases.

Fantastic Universe June 1958
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on more 1957 UFO cases including electromagnetic interference reports.

Fantastic Universe July 1958
“The Truth about Flying Saucers” by Morris K. Jessup
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on UFO "radiation burns."

Fantastic Universe Aug. 1958
"Report from Brazil" by Dr. Olavo Fontes
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence, on Aimé Michel's Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery.

Fantastic Universe Sept. 1958
“Man-made UFO” by Ivan T. Sanderson
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence

Fantastic Universe Oct. 1958
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence
"Flying Saucer of the Seas" by Hans Stefan Santesson (as Stephen Bond)

Fantastic Universe Nov. 1958
“Shapes in the Sky” by Civilian Saucer Intelligence on "...a neglected aspect of Ufology — the animals, generally dogs, often the first to see the strange shapes in the sky..."

Fantastic Universe continued into 1960, and many other issues featured UFO-themed stories, book reviews or art. Two places to find more issues online:

The Internet Archive hosts an incomplete collection of the series in The Pulp Magazine Archive

There's also a collection at the the Luminist Archives: Fantastic Universe

Related Publications

Hans Stefan Santesson published a collection of UFO material from Fantastic Universe as a book, Flying Saucers in Fact and Fiction, 1968

Isabel Davis and Ted Bloecher later were associated with Dr. J. Allen Hynek's Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). They collaborated on a book in 1978 on the Kelly-Hopkinsville "Goblin" case, Close Encounter at Kelly and Others of 1955.

Friday, July 5, 2019

UFOs: Real True Hoaxes of Advertising

Sell it with Saucers! Within days of the coming of the saucers in 1947, the UFO topic was exploited by promoters to get attention for their products. See our earlier piece, Discs in the Sky: Flying Saucer Commercialism  for some of the first products and pitches. The 1950s was when the practice hit its peak, and even the military of US and UK were hoaxing saucers in order to advertise their message.

May 1950: The Northern California National Air Guard used the flying saucer picture below to attract new recruits.

July 1950: The military captured a Martian invader in Alameda, California, but it was just a publicity stunt for Jaycee variety show "Life in a Swiss Cheese Factory."  

Future Magazine, July 1950

August 1952: There was another hoaxed flying saucer by the military, this time an advertising stunt recruiting drive for the US Navy Reserve.

While in a slightly different category, 1952 also saw the debut of the saucer that advertised itself, the coin-operated Flying Saucer ride from Meteor Machine Corp.

Aug. 1953: In Phoenix, Arizona, the Jack Stewart Studebaker auto dealership featured a flying saucer in its window display to attract customers.

Forbes magazine, Aug. 1, 1953

Dec. 1952: The Long Beach, California Air Show featured a mock saucer, since everyone knew they were the future of flying.

Independent (Long Beach, CA) Dec. 15, 1952 
July 1955: The United Kingdom got into the saucer show business. The Royal Air Force Maintenance Command built this one for their annual White City Tattoo.

RAF‘s “Flying Saucer” London: – ready for an armed forces show are specially-dressed “Martians” and the flying saucer from which they are slated to a light when it lands, the “Martian” crew consist of Brian Sheppard, 15 (left), of the Royal Army Ordinance Corps school, Aldershot, and Molly Day, 23, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force stationed at Oxbridge, England. Built by the Royal Air Force Maintenance Command, the saucer showing is part of this year’s White City Tattoo, annual searchlight display of Britain’s Armed Forces, July 4-8. Credit (United Press photo)  7/3/55.
*A special thanks to Louis Taylor of Information Dispersal for the original UP photo.
Walla Walla Union Bulletin, July 11, 1955

Jan. 1956:  Another UK saucer for show business, this disc co-starred in the ice show, "Babes In the Woods."  
Kansas City StarJanuary 4, 1956

The commercialization of flying saucers is a regular topic of exploration at STTF, so we'll be back with more UFO and alien exploitation soon.

Many of the saucers above were located in the galleries at
UFOPOP: Flying Saucers in Popular Culture.

Frank Edwards: Making UFOs Newsworthy

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