The Ecphorizer

Close Encounters of the Nth Kind
Don Webb

Issue 01 (September 2003)

writes about different alien contact scenarios

In the early days of UFOlogy, Dr. J.Allen Hyneck produced a useful schema for the classification of UFO events. The "close encounters" rating system, now immortalized by the Spielberg film, divides UFO events into three categories. However, a growing body of phenomena -- abductions, surgical alterations, collect phone calls from ETs, etc. -- requires a larger and more finely detailed schema. With regard to the highest principals of UFOlogy, I wish to present my own schema, and invite UFOlogists planetwide (and beyond?) to help themselves to it.

0. The Distant Encounter Example: You are sitting at home watching Gilligan's Island reruns (a common event for UFOlogists who see a parallel between the castaways relationship with the outside world and our own relationship with the ETs), when a saucer passes within thirty light years of you. The distant encounter is difficult to detect and statistically worthless; however, given the large number of highly intelligent species in the galaxy, it is the most frequent. One could be happening even now.

1. Lights in the Sky (or, they're getting closer)
  1. Moving Lights Example: You are driving through the Texas panhandle on the way to Aunt Mildred's. It's a cold November night and your mouth waters in anticipation of Aunt Mildred's pumpkin dump cake. You look up (often as cited in the literature for "no apparent reason") and perceive a flashing disk, or a blurring light, or "something" streaking across the night sky. This is the classic encounter, the kind of thing Arnold saw in 1947 or Jimmy Carter saw (whenever it was he saw one).
  2. Stationary Lights Example: As above, but the light is stationary. Often such seem to be connected to poles, which are in turn connected to the ground.
  3. Auditory Example: You are listening to your radio late at night (UFOlogists are known for their insomnia) and you encounter alien lyrics or broadcasts. Strange cryptic messages that play over and over in your mind. Da doo doo doo Da da da. The purpose of this extraterrestrial code can only be guessed at.
  4. Channeling Example: You shelled out twenty bucks and you’re sitting in a run-down auditorium in a seedy section of town. A woman draped in silver lame’ comes on stage. She touches her temples and begins to speak in a strange voice. Channeling encounters must be screened very carefully. Often what you thought was an extraterrestrial being speaking through the medium is in fact something much more mundane -- an ancient Lemurian, for example.
2. They're Here

  1. Landing Example: You’re speeding down the highway in Los Angeles; you glance to your right. A large tin foil-covered saucer rests on a patch of barren ground. You can’t stop. You’ve seen it only for an instant. But -- sure as Shinola --they’re here.
  2. Spotting Example: You are on a hunting/gathering trip at your nearby supermarket. You spot an eldritch green horror ducking down the natural foods aisle. You push your cart rapidly in its direction, but by the time you’re there it’s gone. Spottings are becoming more frequent. One theory suggests that an alien race resembling Elvis Presley has taken up residence on earth, thus accounting for the frequent spotting of Elvis.
  3. Physical Evidence Example: They've been here and they didn't clean up. Physical evidence includes scorched landing zones, cattle mutilations (they came for burgers), trashed-out picnic areas, incomprehensible graffiti, melted metallic fragments, and -- in one celebrated case -- buckwheat pancakes. Physical evidence can also be secondary. An example of secondary physical evidence is receiving a very large power bill. The ETs came and charged up their saucer at your expense. Local utility companies are very understanding. If you receive such a bill, simply explain the thousands of extra kilowatt hours as ET-theft-of-service, and they'll happily produce an adjusted bill.
3. Up Close and Personal

  1. Visit Examples: (1) Tiny strangely clothed creatures come to your door demanding candy. Encounters of this type tend to cluster around late October, early November. (2) A group of ETs land on your roof and tell you telepathically that you should be our next president. You should do the patriotic thing and tell it to the Marines. (3) A short being from another world shows up on your doorstep. It tries to present itself as Al, the guy you met in a bar in Toledo three years ago. "Al" says you said that he should look you up if he was ever in town. Well, he's in town. The prudent action is to close and lock the door, run to your bedroom, and hide under your bed until it goes away.
  2. Abduction. Type I (Friendly) Example: You are relaxing at your resort cabin. A bright light shoots through the fog-filled woods for a moment. Driven by an insatiable curiosity -- or perhaps some sinister telepathic prompting -- you rise up from your lounge chair. You go off in the woods. You encounter humanoids in silver suits. "Come with us, Earth being," they say. You walk up the ramp into the disk. They whisk you off to an L-5 point. They tell you how all you humans must work together for world peace. See Earth? Notice how you don't see any national boundaries from here? They return you safely to your home. Dazed by your beatific experience you wander to your typewriter and pound out an article for Fate magazine.
  3. Abduction. Type II (Not So Friendly) Example: You're driving alone late at night (looks like you'd have given that practice up by now) and something lands in the highway ahead of you. Your engine sputters and dies. Frantically you try turning the key and pushing the pedal. No dice. A group of silver-suited menacing dwarves walk toward you. Suddenly you're paralyzed. Your car door opens eerily. You step out. You don't want to do this, but you're in their power. You enter the spaceship. They strap you on a cold slab. They poke you, X-ray you, take samples of this and that. In your heart you know this is what comes from putting off your annual physical for ten years. Hours later, weak at the knees, you make your way back to your car. Miraculously you drive home. Your mind seals away the event. It's too horrible to contemplate -- until one night while you watch a made-for-TV movie on the same subject, and deja-vu washes over you.
  4. Abduction. Type III (Downright Mean) Example: As above, except that the aliens tag you. They put a transmitter up your nose. Then they come back year after year. Next time when you're watching one of those nature shows and the naturalist says, "The bear is unconscious during the tagging procedure. Upon awakening he will not even notice the radio collar," THINK! If you're lucky, you might get one, maybe two books out of your experience.
  5. Abduction. Type IV (Sexy) Example: As above but you get to have sex with a space chick (or space stud). Remember that these are common phenomena throughout history (from the Villas-Boaz case back to all those women Zeus nailed). When your significant other comes home with a long blonde hair on his collar or the smell of strange cologne -- believe them when they say it's not their fault.
  6. Abduction. Type V (The Changeling) Example: You're six months old. Space aliens walk in the nursery. They pick you up. They take you away. They leave one of their own in your place. In fact if you're sitting here reading this article -- you must be the changeling. All of this is revealed in Coleridge's dark remark, "I was a fine child, but they changed me." 

Close Encounters of the Nth Kind first appeared in The Ecphorizer Number 75 March/April, 1989; Mike Eager, Editor. This article is a sendup of Allen Hynek's classification system for UFO encounters. Don Webb's bibliography can be seen on his website.

More Articles by Don Webb

Contributor Profile

Don Webb