SCIENCE FICTION — the genre of possibility — often tells fantastic tales of space exploration, sentient robots, alien encounters and futuristic events … based on imagination. But sometimes, it is firmly rooted in Real-World events.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) drew from actual people’s experiences with UFOs and reports from military insiders.
To properly portray UFO sightings, Spielberg brought Dr. J. Allen Hynek onboard — a world-renowned astronomer who developed the UFO classification system from which Close Encounters takes its title. (Encounters of “the third kind” involve humans seeing visible occupants within a UFO.) Hynek began working with the US Air Force in 1948 as what he would eventually describe as “a debunker.” In time, however, he came to believe that UFO sightings couldn’t necessarily be explained away as entirely mundane. (The film boasts such a high level of authenticity that NASA wrote a letter to Spielberg about the dangers of making such a detailed movie.)
INTRUDERS (1992) was partially based on real life events in Ufology Budd Hopkins’ book Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods. (The TV Movie tells the story of two women, one in California plagued by nightmares about faceless strangers invading her house, another in Nebraska with a history of unexplained blackouts who one night ends up on a motorway, miles from home. A psychiatrist, struck by similarities between the two cases, discovers they share the same explanation: Alien Abduction.)
The Book: in 1983, Kathie Davis, floated out of her room in rural Indianapolis while asleep, was subjected to physical examination inside a UFO. The story she told the world afterwards, corroborated by specialists and hundreds of other victims all over the country, is not to be missed or dismissed lightly.
FIRE IN THE SKY (1993) made a real life story horrifying. (It still contains one of the freakiest Alien abduction scenes ever filmed — maybe because it’s drawn from true events.)
In 1975, forestry worker Travis Walton was working as part of a crew near Snowflake, Arizona. Suddenly, a saucer-shaped craft came into their field of vision, emitting a high-pitched buzz. Walton approached the spacecraft, and was blasted by a tremendous energy beam. His coworkers ran away, assuming he was dead, but five days later, he showed up in town in a phone booth. He claims he was abducted by Extraterrestrials who examined him in a hospital-like room. (The Movie dramatizes the abduction with queasy intensity.)
THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES (2002) draws inspiration from a real tragedy. (The Movie is about a reporter researching the myth of Mothman. His wife dies in a mysterious accident, then, two years later, and as he tracks down the monster, he finds himself reconnecting to memories of her … and, slowly but surely, discovering the truth of her death.)
The True Story: throughout 1966 and 1967, residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia reported sightings of a strange creature with dark wings, humanoid proportions, and glowing red eyes. On December 15th, 1967, the Silver Bridge connecting Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio collapsed, killing 46 people. Many people in the area blamed the mythic Mothman. To this day, no one knows exactly what those Point Pleasant townsfolk saw.
THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY
Book 1 A GLEAM OF LIGHT, opens with dramatization of a documented Historical Event — the mysterious UFO encounter of America West Flight 564 on May 25, 1995.
Story elements in Book 2 THE DRAGON’S GLARE, and Book 3 BEYOND THE WORLD are inspired by: Eyewitness Accounts of modern UFO sightings (including phenomena like Missing Time), Military Crash Retrievals, and Face-to-Face Encounters with Extraterrestrials (based on the work of respected UFO researchers David M. Jacobs and Richard Dolan).
SCI-FI stories about UFOs and Aliens — inspired by Real Life — are not only fantastic. They make TRUTH stranger than Fiction.