Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! A plane! A UFO! An angel! It's all of this and more, according to free-lancer Thompson (New Age magazine, etc.), whose debut book champions the view that flying saucers have soared to earth from ``mythic horizons and imaginal realms,'' and that the public's fascination with these pixilated objects is really ``a religious search to recover lost intimacy.'' As Thompson observes, most ufologists fall into two camps- -those who identify UFOs as alien spacecraft, and those who see them as psychic constructions. Thompson tries to straddle the divide—he says that UFOs may yet turn out to be technological hardware—but clearly his sympathies lie with those who consider saucers to be ``an idea at work in the world soul.'' As a result, the authorities he cites are usually psychologists or New Age-y scientists (Jung, Bateson) rather than engineers or private eyes. The argument zips along—this is great fun to read—but suffers from forced parallels (for instance, between UFOs and angels, an equation that glosses over the tawdriness of the former, the numinous nature of the latter) and awkward mythological explanations (UFOs as Proteus incarnate). Of much greater value is Thompson's exciting history of ufology, from the first modern sightings in 1947 through Whitley Strieber's bestselling confessions of the late 1980's. With stronger focus, this might have been the definitive story; instead, it is the first to trace all major strands in UFO research with intelligent, if sometimes wispy, analysis. Great for UFO buffs. Others will find the New Age stance weird, but, then again, as Thompson says, ``we're talking about UFOs after all. Nothing could be stranger....''
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