This past weekend, the skies of Exeter, New Hampshire were filled with flying saucers. So-called “little green men” walked through the streets, filled up the shops, or made themselves evident in numerous ways. Luckily, no laser guns were fired, no shrink rays went off, and the 2018 Exeter UFO Festival was a happy occasion for Earthling and extraterrestrial alike.
The reason that the state of New Hampshire plays host to such an intergalactic gathering every year is because—as all UFO fans know—of a 1961 incident generally known as either the “Betty and Barney Hill abduction,” or the “Zeta Reticuli Incident,” where a Portsmouth couple reportedly witnessed a UFO, and claim to have subsequently been taken aboard and examined by inhuman beings from another world. This alleged encounter was the first alien abduction report that spread to a wider audience, popularizing many of the tropes that are now familiar today. Whatever one thinks about the story, whether it’s belief or skepticism, there’s no questioning the incident’s huge impact on pop culture.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about “aliens” that captures the human imagination so fervently. Perhaps it has something to do with our own hubris: humans are so naturally inclined to think of themselves as the center of the universe, but the arrival of another living species that is so much more advanced than us would completely undo any sense of Earthling superiority, forever. As a species, we’d have to reckon with our own terrifying smallness for the first time, like ants figuring out that they’re ants.
Besides all that, talking about aliens generally just makes for a good time, and that’s why Exeter’s annual celebrations are a blast. As the proud author of my own alien science fiction novel, Intraterrestrial, I’m always thrilled to dive deep into some alien mythology, though I still can’t quite answer the person who was wondering about those sharp theets back in 2016.
Anyhow, kudos to the city of Exeter for hosting such a weird, wonderful event every year, thanks to the Exeter Area Kiwanis Club for putting it on, and a huge round of applause for the fact that all of the money raised during the UFO Festival is donated to local children’s charities. Very cool.