Walk into any bookshop, pick up a book about UFOs, and you’ll read startling accounts of men, women and children across the world who have interacted with these mysterious aerial phenomena that have confounded ufologists for decades. But those books all ultimately travel down the same thematic path, asking the same generic question: What did these people see hovering, flashing, disappearing in the skies?
While that’s certainly an important question to ask, Ryan Sprague’s Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon asks different — and perhaps more important — questions: Who are the people witnessing this phenomena, how has it affected them, and what may they have in common?
The answers here are more grounded in our everyday reality, free from wild speculation and crazy conspiracy theories; they’re attainable, evidential, and yeah, human. All too human.
Sprague is a natural storyteller, as his playwriting and screenwriting success suggests. But Somewhere in the Skies is Sprague flexing his journalistic muscle — first developed shortly after his own UFO sighting at age 12 — and the book is an examination of all the areas that make his native theatre such a compelling artform: subject and style, setting and psyche.
Like any good journalist, Sprague focuses his story on us. Me and you and everyone we know. The characters here are regular working folks from America to Australia who have little-to-nothing in common except for the same mind-altering, life-changing experience. And Sprague turns these characters loose on the pages, allowing them to tell their own tales of this otherworldly phenomenon, in their own words, with their own interpretations, with their own emotional bent, whatever it may be. If Woodward or Bernstein was writing human interest features for The Washington Post about UFO sightings in the 1970s, they may read like the stories in this book.
Somewhere in the Skies is more than just a collection of UFO sightings, though. There’s plenty of fodder for those interested in the abduction experience. If you dig science, you’ll read about the latest approaches to UFO research by guys who’d rather rely on crowdfunding than government grants. And there’s plenty of commentary from former pilots and military men.
But the heart of the book is its heartfelt humanity. By focusing on the experiencers themselves and how these events changed their lives, Sprague has tapped into something ethereal, something otherworldly inside us all. Maybe all it takes to understand an alien phenomenon is indeed a human approach. Maybe all it takes to understand this external experience is internal reflection.
If this is where UFO research and journalism is heading, the field is in good hands.
And good hearts as well.