... presents the reader with an exploration of this new religion — its leaders, schisms and followers — while reading like a travel narrative ... Scoles successfully navigates between otherizing (making people into bizarre, foreign objects) and going native (becoming one of the group observed). She is charitable, treating those she meets as rounded individuals full of hope and pain, not as a motley collection of rubes and charlatans to be mocked. Yet, she maintains her position as an outsider journalist making sense of the intricate stew of conspiracy theory, spectacle and kitsch. Scoles marries a thoughtful objectivity with a warm subjectivity as she talks to serious-minded UFO report investigators, tour guides for ET sightseers, and movers and shakers in the UFOlogy community.
Readers meet people from across the spectrum of belief and hear their perspectives. Scoles also offers a concise history of UFO phenomena in the United States, and examines how some of the most compelling UFO myths were born. It’s a fascinating journey; the depth of her research is impressive and her curiosity is infectious. At times the author tries too hard to clarify her own position, which, though her honesty is appreciated, occasionally steals focus from the people she examines. Overall, it’s a fun and insightful book.
In the hands of Sarah Scoles, a science writer and a journalist, the subject matter is framed for skeptics just as much as believers ... some of the most interesting parts of the book include Scoles’s attempts to understand people who aren’t eccentric billionaires and have seen something they can’t explain ... Scoles deftly gets to the heart of what we feel when we think we’ve connected with something sent from the greater universe: whatever’s out there, maybe it wants to know us and be known, and the experience of discovery makes us special.