Light Years

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Although strange objects in the sky have been observed (or allegedly observed) throughout recorded history, the modern era of “flying saucers” dates from 1947. In that year, Ray Palmer, a well-known science-fiction writer and promoter, described in elaborate detail the appearance of spaceships of unknown construction. Since that time, and in part because of the assiduous promotion of such tales by Palmer and many others, observations of unidentified flying objects (UFO’s) have proliferated.

Apart from blurry photographs of dubious provenance, however, evidence for these stories of alien visitation has been lacking. Gary Kinder maintains that the case of Eduard Meier differs from the usual pattern. Meier, a poorly educated peasant living in the small Swiss village of Hinwil, observed in 1975 numerous “beamships” unlike any craft he had ever seen. Others also saw odd lights in the sky; but, unlike his compatriots, Meier claims to have had conversations with the passengers in the alien craft, who had come from a Pleiadian civilization far distant from Earth. A beautiful woman informed Meier about the customs of her culture.

Readers inclined at once to dismiss Meier’s story are, in the author’s view, in error. Meier photographed the ships and recorded their sound. He also obtained from his astral interlocutor samples of metal. When Meier’s case, owing to his own efforts and those of interested journalists, spread beyond the confines of his native town, the now famous Swiss villager presented his evidence for examintion. Several scientists, including Dr. Robert Nathan, a leading specialist in the study of jet propulsion, took up the challenge. They discovered no obvious fakery in the photographs; but Kinder does not disguise from readers that, while not disproving the evidence, neither did the scientists accept it.

More surprisingly, many UFO organizations, hardly noted for undue skepticism, joined the scientists in their reluctance to arrive at a definitive judgment. In part, the premature and sensational publication of Meier’s claims by his journalistic allies aroused their suspicion. Meier’s further contention that he had held numerous conversations with Jesus Christ hardly helped his case. Yet in spite of its dubious features, which Kinder fully and fairly presents, the author obviously believes that a solid core of evidence supports at least some of the story. Even the unconvinced reader, sure that the light Meier saw “never was, on sea or land,” will find in this book an agreeable yarn.