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Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, November 2020

Somewhere In The Skies:
A Human Approach to the UFO Phenomenon
By Ryan Sprague

Beyond The Fray Publishing, a division of Beyond The Fray, LLC
San Diego, CA
2020, 284 pages, Paperback, US $14.99
ISBN 13: 978-1-7344198-7-0

Reviewed by Brent Raynes

Initially published in 2016, this new volume contains thought-provoking updates and new chapters. Filled with fascinating and puzzling UFO accounts, acquired firsthand from eyewitnesses worldwide, the author brings the reader along on his personal journalistic journey, one that began with a very personal UFO sighting of his own at age twelve back in 1995.

Though his own sighting doubtless gave the author an empathy with his interviewees and he began devouring everything he could on the subject, prepared to take a full pro and con look at everything, skeptics, with their minds already made up, typically will portray such an author as biased, following a belief-ridden approach to his inquiry. However, for anyone who has ever truly taken a serious, thorough and objective look into the mountain of accumulated eyewitness evidence, and looked into the eyes of these witnesses themselves, as Mr. Sprague has done; those persons usually reach the conclusion that something quite anomalous indeed is traversing through our skies. The other camp is largely composed of armchair skeptics and critics who need to get out into the field themselves to test their own level of bias and objectivity.

In his beginning Introduction, Sprague notes: “In his book, The Eighth Tower, author John Keel stated, ‘If you could look far enough into the empty sky, you would be able to see the back of your own head.’ I think this speaks volumes in terms of what I originally set out to do with this book back in 2016. The goal remains the same today; to focus on the observer. The further we search for answers somewhere in the skies, the more we ultimately learn about those around us and about ourselves. We are the UFO. We are the mystery, and we are the answer. Someway and somehow, no matter how hard and far we search, it will always come back to us.”

Indeed the eyewitness, today commonly called the experiencer, is a vital key to our ability to better discern, understand, and eventually solve what some have come to believe is one of the greatest mysteries of our time. Continuing to belittle, ridicule, and laugh at such claimants, without first giving them a fair and impartial listening to and wading into the historical accumulation of UFO evidence itself is reckless and unscientific behavior. In addition, as the author points out in this updated volume, the UFO field beginning with a bombshell article in the New York Times on December 16th 2017 received a serious upgrade from that of a controversial fringe pseudoscience with the revelation that there had been a very serious Pentagon program devoted to investigating credible reports, along with the release of three alleged Navy UFO videos. In 2019, one of Sprague’s credible witnesses, a North Dakota sheriff who previously had over 14 years with the U.S. Air Force, had a visit from Luis Elizondo, described as the former head of the Pentagon program, because they had come up with another eyewitness who had also confirmed the sheriff’s close-range sighting. “I strongly feel that if we knew the truth behind what I saw that night, and what so many others have witnessed, it could truly change our thinking in many ways,” the sheriff, Larry Gessner, told Sprague.

The author describes what a profound and life-changing impact these experiences have on the lives of these witnesses. Quite a few compare the effect to that of a spiritual awakening, opening their minds to the existence of things and to possible realities that they had not previously pondered.

Some of these stories really jumped out at me from the pages of this book. For example, Scott Santa’s account from August 1974 of being with a friend at an outdoor drive-in theater in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio when a chevron-shaped craft hovered over the surprised movie-goers for several minutes, temporarily knocking out the electrical power of the theater and the automobiles. Back in the summer of 1975, I was on the road from Maine to Florida investigating UFO stories myself and Cuyahoga Falls was a place I frequented on several weekends as there was a family who had had a lot of UFO experiences around their home, and locals would visit there to talk, share their experiences, and skywatch. I met many local experiencers who reported seeing flying objects and even humanoid beings.

Another account that jumped out at me was that of an Australian experiencer named Damien John Nott who had his first encounter back in 1988, at age nine, while skateboarding and discovering that a silent red basketball sized orb was overhead following him. In later years, he had an increasing number of encounters, to the point that he was able to photograph them, and others would get with him and also share his experiences with him. I have actually spoken with two of those people, as well as Damien himself. One of the witnesses I spoke with expressed how he felt Damien was a kind of UFO magnet. Sprague’s book is filled with many intriguing, mind-boggling accounts, and right up to the very end of his book, where he describes yet another eyewitness interview, he writes: “And just like so many others, it had connected one more dot in an endless game of mystery.” That statement reminded me of how often I find myself describing how this work involves trying to connect the dots – many anomalous, high strange dots, and without question this book contains a thought-provoking number of them.

Sunday, March 03, 2024