One goal each of us at Unknown Midwest has, and the main reason the venture came into fruition, is to create a safe space where our crew and readers can dialogue about the "unexplainable".
Admittedly, none of us at Unknown Midwest are very eager to discuss or research UFO or alien encounters. Andrew, myself, my daughter, our sister, and our aunt have all had “Men in Black” or “Shadow People” visits that still shake us to the core. We have come to understand that these beings are generationally present. Communicating about the encounters with one another, while drawing on our faith and strong belief in God and angels, we have been able to confront them. When my eight year old talks about seeing them, I never tell her they are imaginary friends. I ask how she perceives them, what they look like, or how she feels about their presence. Several passages in Ryan Sprague’s, Somewhere in the Skies, personally upset me because so many of the people he interviewed share how they ended up more traumatized by being told that what they lived through was their imagination! As with any difficult topic or event, the more we dialogue, the more we confront it, the more we reduce the power it has over us. This book proves conversation's capacity in an intriguing and captivating way.
Simply put, Somewhere in the Skies is a collection of frank, honest first hand encounter stories, including the author’s own, assembled in a gradual unveiling from sightings to abductions. Key to Sprague’s newest book is that these stories are straight forward and succinct. He interviews everyday folks, scientists, professional UFO investigators, military personnel, psychologists - all who repeat the same word when describing their experiences – unbelievable. Credible people. Sane people. Normal people. People readers will relate to and respect. With his humanistic and compassionate approach, participants opened up to Sprague and poured forth their most intimate memories. Shedding, in some cases, years of struggle.
I’ll admit, as soon as I started to read Somewhere in the Skies my own memory was triggered. Times when I had just shrugged off what I had seen or felt. Times when I justified a sighting without a second thought. My first encounter was in 1985, when I was 12, living in Sioux City, Iowa. My friend, Heather, was spending the night one Fall weekend. It was a lovely, clear, and warm night. We were laying in the grass in the front yard chatting back and forth. The stars were twinkling and laughing along with us. One star jumped out. We both saw it. We saw it only because it was so bright and it did not behave like the others. It erratically zigged and zagged with no rhyme or reason. I asked Heather if it was a satellite. She responded that it had to be. We kept chatting, our eyes fixed on the strange sky samba. Suddenly, the light stopped moving. Still and resting, it split into three separate lights! We both gasped as each part whooshed off into completely different directions. We turned to one another. Wide-eyed we simultaneously exclaimed, “UFO!”
Somewhere in the Skies will help one to confront UFO mysteries without fear. While I read the 200 plus pages, at no time did I feel nauseated or nervous. Other books and articles have scared me to the point that I had to leave lights on to fall asleep! In fact, the more of the book that I read, the calmer I felt. Sprague emphasizes the importance of not feeling alone in these sightings or encounters. He peppers in advice from a shaman, psychologists, counselors, and scientists. No single person offers a definitive answer about what was happening, and nearly all stress the importance of acceptance. Each story, whether reported as a positive or negative one, left the reader understanding the possibilities. Experiences left the story teller’s changed, but they persevered. The encounters defy logic and understanding, but still Sprague found many more people sharing what they had seen. One professional, Dr. Faruk, was quoted as stating, “Mainstream science must first abandon the notion of ‘impossibility’ denoted to UFOs. Earthly science is approximately four hundred years old. While interstellar travel is certainly impossible for us now, who is to say that this will still be the case in another one thousand years’ time? We cannot possible predict our own scientific advances after such a lengthy period, so how can we be so arrogant to dismiss what alien civilization currently ‘out there’ might already be capable of?”
Having come from a family with many military members, I appreciated the story intertwined with “The Warrior Code”, “an unwritten rule during times of war…an act of mercy where the victorious will allow their enemies a chance of escape or even spare their lives…to retain their humanity in severely inhuman situations.” Refreshingly, Sprague simply relays stories. He does not place any judgment on anyone and he does not speculate or offer up more unanswered questions. We all have ideas about this topic, whether we want to share them or dismiss them, but Sprague conscientiously and objectively took the time to ask each participant to share their opinions and their sense of what transpired. Interestingly, I came away feeling that these beings have an agenda to carry out. Maybe, like soldiers in war, they return to their lives justifying to themselves that they were simply obeying orders. Void of emotion about what they inflicted upon their human subjects.
After I finished the last few sentences I was struck by how remarkably well Sprague’s book was edited! It has continuity and intelligence. The book is easy to follow and is one readers will not want to put down. In recent years, editing appears to have gone by the wayside, to the point that I find myself never getting past the first few chapters! As a writer, I was thrilled with the structure, the grammar, and how well each account preserved the uniqueness of each participant! And, though Spielberg films ruined me for bookending, Sprague masterfully ties the book together, revisiting a “seemingly inconsequential discussion” he had at the beginning with Tyler the bartender. Tyler’s story, told as the man moved from behind his post to a stool next to Sprague, further demonstrates the great need each of us has to connect and commiserate. “I didn’t quite know how crucial it was for these stories to be told. Not for some grand revelations or epiphany of sorts. But for closure.”