Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A new literary sub genre?

Since I love books and storytelling in general, I am always on the lookout for something I have yet to experience.  In the field of science fiction, that's a rarer and rarer find these days.
And although I'm uncertain of the relative quality of the books I'm about to blog, I do believe that they represent a burgeoning sub genre of literature: UFO fiction.  
I know there are likely to be literary critics who would classify books of this kind as straight-ahead science fiction.  Heck, there are a great many who would call nonfiction books on the UFO matter "science fiction."  But where I believe UFOlit (like it?  It's my new term?  Doesn't it just...pop?) differs, is that it takes components of the mythos, of allegedly true incidents, and builds the narrative in a spiral outwards around them.  Incidents like Roswell, the Phoenix Lights, abduction, and the chupacabra, are cultural touchstones, whether they are true or not.  Writing fiction set around them only makes sense.

Books of this kind came to my attention after running across Operation Roswell, a novel by longtime UFO investigator, Kevin Randle (whom I believe I mentioned in my previous post.)  In the book, Randle speculates around a series of simple questions: what if the Roswell crash was caused by an alien saucer that the Air Force actually shot down?  What if there was a secret directive authorized by General Curtis LeMay ,stating that if anything goes wrong at Area 51 while the alien crew and ship were being studied, that a nuclear strike has been authorized?  Of course things do go wrong and it's a thrill ride to see who can stop it all from getting worse.
As I understand, Whitley's written a book like this too, called Majestic.  Nick Pope has a book of UFOlit out as well.
Granted, I know this is quite a niche market.  The in-references can be a thrill for UFO buffs, but for the casual reader, it's going to take well-crafted characters and a solid, exciting story to give the novels any kind of longevity.

In that respect, UFOlit is like anything else.

Operation Roswell and Majestic can probably be found in used bookstores.

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