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Famous UFO photos inspire book series


Books — Salem author Jordan Hofer envisions a sinister alien plot that centers around McMinnville

More than 63 years ago, a McMinnville couple, Paul and Evelyn Trent, witnessed and photographed what they described as a mysterious, round object flying in the sky near their farm. To this day, the photos remain among the most famous ever taken of a UFO, and they are the inspiration of a new young-adult fiction series that explores the possible implications of advanced (and malevolent) extraterrestrial visitors.

The series has been dubbed “The Saucerville Trilogy,” from the nickname McMinn­ville gained in the wake of the publicity generated by the Trent photographs. Its author, Salem resident Jordan Hofer, first began developing the idea after visiting McMinnville’s annual UFO Festival.

“I just thought, ‘This is such a spectacle,’” he said with a chuckle. “It was just too good not to do something with.”

Set in McMinnville, the characters and situations are largely fictional. But Hofer, a Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) researcher for the past several years, drew from both his research and his background in evolutionary science and anthropology, in crafting the mythos of his fictional world.

The first in the trilogy, “Saucerville,” (which was published July 5 through Inkwater Press) also draws inspiration from another of Hofer’s books, “Evolutionary Ufology,” a “speculative” nonfiction work that discusses the possible origin and goals of so-called “Grey” aliens — the type of aliens that are generally the most commonly associated with alleged alien abductions and UFO culture. “Evolutionary Ufology” is being released by Schiffer Publishing in February.

“There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to aliens: There are those who think they’re nasty critters doing whatever they want, and there’s the group that thinks they’re our benevolent space brothers out to save the environment,” Hofer said. “I’m of the former group.”

Hofer, who taught anthropology and human evolution for seven years at Oregon State University, was initially skeptical of UFO claims. But that began to change in 2008, when his best friend sighted a “big, black triangle” flying overhead while sitting on his porch one night.

“No one believed him. He would cautiously try to tell people about it at work, and they would call him a liar right to his face,” Hofer said. “Then, I kind of looked at myself one day, and I realized I hadn’t even believed him. I hadn’t believed my best friend.”

The following year, his daughter — who was 5 at the time — sighted a mysterious object of her own out of her bedroom window. From then on, Hofer dedicated himself to trying to unravel the mystery of UFOs.

“The more I studied, the more I realized that these objects exist,” he said. “I don’t know what they are, but they’re something.”

During his time immersed in the culture of UFOs, Hofer said he has also made a couple of observations about fellow researchers that has helped inform his work. For one thing, they’re not “kooky in the least.” He said many of the other researchers he’s met are not only “normal,” but pretty skeptical, people.

But sometimes, they can also be a tad grumpy.

“One thing I want to get across is that this is fun stuff,” he said. “It’s fun to research. There are some in ufology who are old and embittered about people not believing them, but that’s just not how I approach it.”

Hofer said he is also crafting his series based on input from junior high students he tutors in Salem.

“I bounce stuff off of them — make sure they get everything they want,” he said. “They are absolutely thrilled this book is coming out.”

“Saucerville” is available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Inkwater. For more information, visit www.saucervilletrilogy.com.

“I just thought, ‘This is such a spectacle.’ It was just too good not to do something with.”

Jordan Hofer