Science fiction author F. Brett Cox has explored the UFO phenomenon in short stories such as “It Came From the Sky” and “The Sexual Component of Alien Abduction”, which appear in his recent book. The end of all our explorations. But as much as he loves UFO stories, he’s a firm skeptic when it comes to the idea of
“If you talk about ‘UFOs’ as ‘unidentified flying objects’, if you ask, ‘Are there UFOs?’ then of course there are ”, says Cox in episode 470 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast. “There is always that five percent of cases recorded over the years that cannot be explained. But if you then ask, “Are these UFOs extraterrestrial visitors?” my answer is “almost certainly not”.
Cox has spent decades building a substantial library of books on UFO phenomena, such as Lemuria: the lost continent of the Pacific. “I am fascinated by the UFO subculture,” he said, “by all the apparatus that goes with it, and the history – especially in this country – of the UFO phenomenon, and the people associated with it. So I’ve always been deeply interested in this.
As a child, Cox participated in science fiction fanzines and once received a letter from Richard razor, whose “Shaver Mystery” stories helped spark the UFO craze. The letter contained images of rocks which Shaver said were evidence of a sinister underground civilization called the Deros. “Even at 15, I thought, ‘Well, that’s weird,’” Cox says. “And that was the extent of my correspondence with Richard Shaver because – wise beyond my years – I did not respond.”
Cox also worked on a novel about UFO abduction, but says the events of January 6 made writing about conspiracy theories more complicated.
“There is a line to be drawn between aspects of the UFO community and QAnon, and the darkest and most toxic levels of conspiracy, ”he says. “So it made me rethink things. I’m not saying I’ll never go back to this particular writing project, but I’m going to have to think about it differently when I do.
Listen to the full interview with F. Brett Cox in episode 470 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
F. Brett Cox on his short story “A Bend in the Air”:
“I was asked to write a story for this anthology titled Portals, which were stories about [magical] portals, and I had – a long time ago – written the beginning of a story that was informed by my reading for [Roger Zelazny: Modern Masters of Science Fiction], just to try something different, and I never really got to figure out what kind of story had to go with it. But then when I got in charge of writing a story on the portals, it helped it fall into place. … The only place I’ve slacked off – a little indulgently – is that there is a scene in the story where the protagonist is sent on a quest, and it’s barely within walking distance, so the authorities l ‘send to do this without a horse, and he complains, “Why can’t I have a horse?” And frankly, I was writing history, and I don’t know much about horses, and I was like, ‘I don’t really have time to research if I want to get it back on time. Uh, he can walk. So it was a pure opportunity on my part. “
F. Brett Cox on his short story “The end of all our explorations”:
“It’s a post-pandemic story, and it’s also about a couple who are estranged, and one of them wants to reunite in this post-pandemic world, and there is a conspiracy theory that persists in the background of the story about China’s role in the virus. Now in the story, I had it as a mosquito-borne virus, not as an airborne virus. When [Covid-19 happened] all I could think of was, ‘Oh great, for once in my life I’m a sci-fi predictive sniper, and this do I propose? Great. ‘ … I won’t cite this as proof of my prognostic powers, as there is no such thing, but I will say this is how things like this happen in sci-fi stories – if you do beware, if you have some sense of the general trends of your present day, you can get away with a scenario like this.
F. Brett Cox on Norwich University:
“I teach at the University of Norwich, which is historically a military college – it’s actually the oldest private military college in the United States. The vast majority of students are part of the school’s cadet corps and wear military uniforms. All full-time tenure-track professors must also wear military uniform. – or at least in a way corresponds to – our university degree, so my military rank which corresponds to my status as full professor is that of lieutenant-colonel. And that’s part of the Vermont State Militia system, which is basically Norwich College. … So if New Hampshire invades, we are the first line of defense.
F. Brett Cox on Andy Duncan:
“In two consecutive days after the [short story collection] came out, I had two different people here among my friends in Vermont — one in the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts, the other of which is a friend of ours in the theater community – let’s say independently of each other – two different places, two different times – they both said, “I’m reading your book, I’m reading it. like a lot, the stories are good, but [Andy’s] introduction, oh my god that’s wonderful! It was so awesome, I enjoyed it so much. So I’m happy to report that Andy’s introduction may be a bigger hit than the stories in the book, which is good. I appreciated that he did that. … Andy not only stepped up to the plate, he punched him out of the park, and I gratefully accept that.