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.

3 comments:

  1. As I looked thru this article I was listening to an old broadcast of Long John Nebel from 1957. His guests included Wayne Aho and Arthur C Clark of 2001 fame. At about 35:50 in the recording one of the guests brings up the Civilian Saucer Intelligence group.
    Here is the link: http://onsug.com/shows/Apr11/onsug_Apr11_NightLJN.mp3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Major Wayne Aho billed himself as the director of Washington Saucer Intelligence, his own fictional UFO organization. It was a one-man-show, created to make himself seem more important when giving media interviews and booking his numerous lectures. He capitalized on being confused with Major Donald Keyhoe, but the two couldn't be farther apart. Aho was part of the Contactee camp, and embraced the spiritual side instead of a scientific approach to UFOs.

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  3. Thanks very much for posting this. I was recently trying to complete my collection and this helped me out

    ReplyDelete

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