Sombrero Galaxy [NASA-JPL] (Public Domain Image)
The Secret of the Saucers
by Orfeo M. Angelucci
edited by Ray Palmer
This is one of the best contactee accounts of the 1950s. Mr. Angelucci's Secret of the Saucers is a memoir of a more innocent time, and a tale of spiritual growth. It was edited by Ray Palmer, the gray eminence behind FATE magazine, the publisher of the first flying saucer accounts, and the Shaver mythos before that. In fact, Angelucci's name doesn't appear on the title page, simply Palmer as editor. Angelucci is, strangely, only listed as a copyright holder.
The well-named 'Orfeo' (see Orpheus and his journey into the underworld) was, like Shaver, a regular guy, a swing-shift line worker at a Lockheed factory in southern California. On Friday, May 23, 1952, by this account, he was strangely drawn to a remote location in Griffith Park; actually not a bad place to land a UFO in Los Angeles. He was contacted by an alien entity named 'Neptune.' Later he is taken aboard a spaceship, gets to visit their paradisiacal home planet by exchanging bodies with Neptune, meets Jesus, and gets to see the end of the world (in 1986).
Angelucci (or Palmer?) does some seminal UFO myth-building here. There was a being named Lucifer who lived on a planet between Mars and Jupiter. His hubris led to the planet being shattered into the asteroid belt. Humans were imprisoned on Earth, to work off the karmic debt. There is a 'prime directive' which prevents the UFO builders from interfering in Earth's affairs. However, humanity's spiritual evolution is helped along by extraterrestrial, godlike entities such as Jesus. The contactee is instructed to spread the UFO builders' message to the world at large, and only a handful are picked from the multitudes. All of these themes have become incorporated in one form or another into various UFO belief systems.
There is a field guide to UFOs at the end with some fascinating details. The UFOs are grown as a single large crystal with all of the subsystems intact, and work on some kind of magnetic principle. They have capabilities such as tractor beams, cloaking devices, and inertial dampening; the concepts were so fresh in 1955 they didn't even have names yet. Some are small drones, used for surveillance. Others are huge motherships.
Among the highlights on earth are a description of the first ever UFO convention, and a speaking tour that goes horribly wrong. The book makes a brisk read (again, a hallmark of Palmer), and if you suspend disbelief, it works as science fiction as well.
--J.B.Hare, Dec. 20, 2007