Little Red Men
So I don’t know a whole lot about this yet, but apparently a new book has been published that reveals some pretty amazing things about the events surrounding the infamous Roswell crash and the related Area 51 project. Now, I’m not making any claims on the validity of this information. But damn is it interesting, especially from the vantage point of SF.
According to the book (well, according to this post on Io9 about the book), a craft really did crash in Roswell in 1947. And the craft was alien – a saucer-shaped vessel full of inhuman bodies. But it wasn’t from another planet. It was from Russia, with something other than love, presumably.
The incident was apparently a secret operation employed by Stalin to destabilize America. The book claims that the bodies were designed and manufactured by Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi butcher, and that the craft itself was designed by two German brothers, either explicitly for Stalin or, during the war, for Hitler. In any event, the craft was legitimately advanced, baffling American scientists and engineers.
And where did Stalin get the idea for this little operation?
From the panic and mayhem (of debatable scale) brought on by Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”
[In the course of this post, I will proceed as though these reports are true. I am not by any means claiming that they are, or that I think they are; I know better than to think I know best, and in this instance, I simply don’t know enough to even have a real inclination about the likelihood of this version of events. I simply think the idea is worth responding to – either as truth or fiction.]
WAYS THIS IS INTERESTING:
One: This brings into absolute focus what some of us already knew: Philip K. Dick is still writing, and his current project is our reality. I mean, come on: the crash and the cover-up were real, but the aliens were fake? Is there anything more Phildickian than that? This should be the example in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Philosophy (Oh, if only) beside “Real Fake.”
Two: I don’t know what’s more science-fictional: alien invaders or a secret plot by a Communist leader, in collusion with an evil Nazi doctor and a sibling-pair of Nazi engineers to scare Americans into a panicked frenzy. It’s a tough call; old pulp SF was rife with both red-scare diabolism and botched first-contacts. In any event, if this is true, it means Hellboy is essentially non-fiction. Additionally, this.
Three: This whole thing shows the power of SF in the world. For better or worse, for good or evil, it makes it clear: what we do as SF writers matters. Our ideas can spread to all kinds of minds, and be co-opted for all sorts of purposes. The War of the Worlds broadcast wasn’t a mere blip on the screen of cultural impact; it was simply the explosive salvo to an engagement that has persisted to this day.
Four: It seems from this article that the American government basically knew the ship was a fake; they also seem to have figured out fairly quickly that it was a Russian plot involving former Nazis. Using their Project Paperclip guys, they got a pretty good read on which Nazis to look for. This is actually pretty impressive.
So there, Stalin. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, an alternate timeline forms in which the events of Red Dawn are real, but take place much earlier.
Five: It’s interesting to me that, assuming this is all true, there was so total and unyielding a cover-up. At first, it seemed to me that revealing the truth – it was a failed Soviet plot, and we knew it was fake – would make the government look pretty good. Of course, this would only have been wise within the last fifteen or so years, but what about those years?
But they didn’t reveal the truth, and that seems to imply that admitting to a breach of security so massive – that a craft of any sort could have gotten that far into U.S. airspace, even that long ago – remains seriously problematic, (or at least really embarrassing ) even to this day. However, in a conspiracy scenario, at least they maintain an image of control; indeed, they appear to be more in control than they are. For all their correct skepticism from the start, the ‘truth’ reveals a lack of power over something very important – American airspace.
Alan Moore, in his “Mindscape” film, says this: “Yes, there is a conspiracy; in fact, there are a great number of conspiracies that are all tripping each other up. And all of those conspiracies are run by paranoid fantasists and ham-fisted clowns.”
It’s easy to see Stalin as the ham-fisted clown here, and he is; his plan failed. But the real insight is this: He wasn’t the only one. It probably wasn’t embarrassment that prevented the truth from coming out. It was probably a far more logical choice by people in the government, and it was probably made without a lot of formal debate or centralized policy or backroom dealing. It probably just made so much sense that it simply stuck. In yet another example of the Phildickianism of our world, the most likely answer is that, happening upon a situation in which they were accused of conspiracy, the government recognized the status this lent them, and simply chose to allow that reputation to flourish. By never saying anything, or by actively denying it, they strengthen the image without even having to lie. The conspiracy, if one exists, very well may be this: the US government has conspired to allow the false rumors of a conspiracy within the US government to spread.
I end this wild speculation with yet another quote by Alan Moore, again from his “Mindscape” film. It is a quote I thoroughly over-utilize, for good reason:
“The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy, or the grey aliens, or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening: Nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.”