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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 22

Skeptics, 17th Century Style

From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 14:34:40 -0400
Fwd Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 23:47:36 -0400
Subject: Skeptics, 17th Century Style

The following passage is from God's Fires,  a fine science
fiction novel by Patricia Anthony about alien abductions in 17th
century Portugal.

Anthony is the only SF writer I've read who draws repeatedly on
the abduction literature. One of her earliest books, Brother
Termite, is almost a dramatization of David Jacobs's The Threat;
it's about sometime in the near future when the abduction aliens
have overtly taken over.

Another, Cold Allies (one of her best), combines foo fighters
and abductions, telling the story of a future war in which
combatants are observed by odd balls of blue light.

In God's Fires, the f amiliar gray abductors show up in Portugal
during the reign of feeble-minded King Alfonso, at the height of
the Inquisition. They float through walls, and make women
inexplicably pregnant. Their ships are seen lighting up the sky
at light, and one even crashes. Two of the aliens are imprisoned
in a village jail, along with the corpse of a third.

Because this is the 17th century, people think they're seeing
God and angels. That draws the Inquisition's interest, and
there's a formal heresy trial, omplete with torture and the
threat of burning at the stake.

Midway through comes this very amusing conversation. Bernardo, a
young, tormented monk serves as scribe for the chief inquisitor.
He tends to believe the aliens are angels, but can't say so
openly. With hin during a meal are two secular lawyers, forced
to serve the Inquisition at low pay, whose main interest is to
get the whole thing finished with as little fuss as possible.
They try to find a rational explanation. Bernardo can never
remember their names, and to himself calls them Scarecrow and
Goatee, after their appearance.

Here's the passage, beginning in the midst of a discussion of
the aliens' hypnotic eyes:

"Their eyes are dark and featureless, therefore . ."

"Yes, yes." Scarecrow said, "I get your meaning. The viewers
imagine something in their own reflections. Precisely."

Goatee, fork in one hand, knife in the other, stared down at the
sacrificial apple. "But then, if [the beings are] not
supernatural, what?"

"Animals. Lord knows there are enough strange animals in Africa,
in Brazil, in the Spanish New World."

"Ah!" Goatee hoisted his knife. "Of course! Brilliant, Tadeo! A
Spanish plot! They find the strange animals in some New World
colony, see that they are very like human, and . . they drop
them where? Precisely where they know the king to be. They
planned this all along, the disgracados!"

Scarecrow sawed into his polenta. "How?"

Goatee leaned forward, cupped his ear.

"How did they drop them here?"

Goatee slapped the table. "Catapulted!"

"Ah, good! Yes! Well, then. All decided. A Spanish plot."

Bernardo said. "What about the wornen?" [who had said they'd
seen lights in the sky]

Goatee leaned over, cupped an car.

"The women's story." Bernardo put down his silverware. "What
about that? And although Gregorio Neves is not here to testify,
he told Senhor MagalhAes that he saw the selfsame star hang in
the air above his fields before darting away the same direction
it had come. Is such a thing possible with a catapult?"

Goatee and Scarecrow looked at each other. Goatee sucked a
tooth. "Ah! The catapulted acorn came over the field, thus." He
demonstrated a slow arc with his hand. -And when it reached its
apex, from the perspective seen below . . ."

"Of course." Scarecrow nodded. "It seemed to hang. A trick of
the eye."

Goatee's hand came down, fingers meeting the table. "And so it
fell, a long ways away, thus was never discovered. Who knows how
many acorns they shot? Apparently the aim is not exact."

Scarecrow crossed himself. "Lauda Dei."

"Praise God, indeed. And the women? Well, perhaps they lie."