By CHRIS WOOD
For The Logan Banner
LOGAN - When people hear of Roswell, New Mexico, they often think of an alien being whose "flying disc" allegedly crash-landed on a nearby ranch on July 7, 1947. The late nuclear physicist and self-proclaimed "ufologist" Stanley Friedman even devoted most of his adult life proving that an alien had in fact landed at Roswell. According to the U.S. Air Force, the UFO that people had thought they'd seen was merely a conventional weather balloon. Many people like Friedman believed the Air Force got it wrong and that it was covering up something.
In his novel, "The Roswell Connection: The Story of the Alien Survivor Who Changed Our World," author Claude Zornes, of Mud Fork, presents the account of Ceredo, the lone alien of four that survived the disaster of Starship One. After seeing the nuclear explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, he and other aliens from the planet Pardes (which in English means "paradise") decide to leave behind their home in order to get a better look at Earth.
"Would today be the day when two great worlds, millions of miles apart, come together to create the greatest civilization in the universe?" Kudo, the Chief Commander of Starship One, contemplates as they enter Earth's atmosphere.
"Or would today be the day when these two great worlds collide, setting in motion the beginning of the end for one, or perhaps both, of them? Either way, today would be no ordinary day."
Just as we are uncertain about aliens, so too are aliens uncertain about us. These suspicions lend Kudo - and later, Ceredo - a more sympathetic, even human, quality.
"I wonder if we are looking at our future," Kudo continues, "or perhaps more preferably, if we are looking at our ancestors."
How often have we studied our own ancestors and wondered at our similarities to them? Perhaps aliens do the same with us.
If they do, however, they may be disappointed in what they encounter, as Ceredo later says of humanity: "I believe that civilization on Earth is at a tipping point. They always continue to take one step forward and two or three steps backward. Terrorist attacks and wars are breaking out all over the planet. Their civilization is at risk."
Will the aliens, with their more sophisticated technology, help humanity make Earth a better planet, or will they fail in their mission?
What makes this novel so interesting is that Zornes has changed the narrative of the alien myth. Instead of aliens poking and prodding humans, the humans are ordered to poke and prod them. The aliens in this novel are also vulnerable while the humans are dangerous.
"It was just something that I was always interested in reading about," Zornes said.
"After I retired, I thought I'd have time to maybe do a little writing and do a little research on the project. In the '80s and '90s, there were seven or eight books written about the Roswell incident, so I decided to check those out at the library and read up on it. I was inspired somewhat by the stories of the ancient aliens on The History Channel. Since I was a young man, I was an avid reader, and I thought that someday, when I retired, I might want to write a book. So it was sort of something that I had in the back of my mind all along. After I read the books and took notes as I read, I thought I could make a story out of that."
Zornes taught history for 40 years in Logan County Schools, beginning his teaching career at the now-closed Sharples High School and ending it at Logan High School. He also taught a few classes at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
On Thursday, Aug. 1, Zornes had an autograph session at Hot Cup, where he sold 12 of his novels.
"The Roswell Connection" is an accessible, knowledgeable and insightful look at humans as a species, the state of our planet and whether aliens could or actually do exist - both in the universe as well as here.
"Men have always sought a better way," Zornes added. "Books have been written like 'Utopia,' describing a perfect society, 'Lost Horizon,' where in Shangri-La people never grew old, stuff like that. I think that's the message. If people from outer space were more advanced than us, they could come here and visit us and teach us and raise our civilization to a higher level. That would be wonderful. And of course, if they don't, we need to be working, all along, to do it ourselves - step-by-step. It would just be a longer process, but it's something we need to work on."
To purchase a copy of "The Roswell Connection," visit crzornes.com. The website will direct you to Amazon, a paperback copy costs $16.95 plus $3.99 postage or a Kindle copy costs $7.99.