Picks and Pans Review: In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space

updated 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Douglas Curran

A Canadian photographer, Curran began taking pictures in 1977 of man-made objects connected with the unidentified flying variety. This book includes such samples as a decorative sign for the Flying Saucer Pie Company in Houston and a stainless steel "saucer" built in Russellville, Ark. by a man who claims that Jesus appeared to him and told him to construct the craft (its motor is still under development). While his photographs are frequently of roadside decorations and obvious toys, Curran's text centers on hard-core believers. He does not reveal whether he actually believes in UFOs, but he suggests a certain skepticism: "Beliefs—especially those dealing with the nature of man and the structure of the cosmos—need not be true in an ultimate sense to be psychologically real and socially functional." Tom (The Right Stuff) Wolfe comes closer to the point in his brief introduction when he says that people who believe in UFOs "are in fact part of a religion." They are a fascinating bunch too, occasionally pitiable, sometimes funny, often fanatical. They can be so fanatical that if any visitors from elsewhere in the galaxy encountered such people, they would probably hightail it for home immediately, screaming about all the raving monsters on that little green planet. (Abbeville, $16.95)

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