Out There Summary
by Howard Blum

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Out There

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

OUT THERE focuses on the United States government’s long-term investigation of the UFO phenomenon, on the intelligence interests involved, and on the assorted spectators and participants in the search since World War II.

Blum’s chief topic is an undercover government group known as the Order of the Dolphin and its role in investigating UFO’s. Beginning with a brief account of the Air Force’s postwar Project Blue Book—an information center for UFO reports, terminated by its final, negative conclusion issued in 1969 which announced that “there has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as ‘unidentified’ are extraterrestrial vehicles”—Blum discovers that the government never entirely stopped its search for extraterrestrial life.

Instead, under the direction of a combination of interested NSA officials, bureaucrats, NASA scientists, and the military, the Order of the Dolphin pursued the matter. Blum indicates that the ongoing SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project is the upshot of this interest, now absorbed into the scientific mainstream.

Blum makes it his business to follow the tracks of the secretive NSA group as they pursued the truth behind the most intriguing extraterrestrial reports, including the case of Elmwood, Wisconsin, the town where UFO’s seemingly are as common as rain.

Blum’s conclusions, as is the case with most of those who examine the UFO problems, are mixed. He cannot be a true believer, but neither can he dismiss the now-validated, scientifically neutral evidence suggesting the strong possibility of nonterrestrial intelligent life forms. More important, Blum provides unexpectedly compelling data describing the powerfully obscured structure of the NSA, arguably the United States’ most secret and least controlled intelligence division. By doing so, OUT THERE may be more useful in terms of modern intelligence history than even Blum could have envisioned.