Review of Ultimate Encounter

Review of Ultimate Encounter

By: Virginia Eader


THE ULTIMATE ENCOUNTER – The True Story of a UFO Kidnapping by Bill Barry

Last summer my partner and I loaded up the car and headed east to Bridger, Montana for our annual trip to visit his mom and stepdad. It’s always such a relief to be in the wide-open landscape and sage-scented air. No traffic, or parking fees, a true vacation from the hectic city life.

About half way through our trip I visited the little used bookstore in Red Lodge. MT and stumbled upon a book that caught my attention. Something about it was familiar. A few year’s earlier I had heard this episode of This American Life that was totally captivating, but I had sort of forgotten about it until that moment.

Ultimate Encounter is the story of Travis Walton, a logger in Arizona, who was “allegedly” kidnapped by a UFO on November 5, 1975.

Maybe it was the fact that I was surrounded by a lunar-like landscape in Montana, or feeling so free from having just finished graduate school, but I totally nerded out on this book! I’ve never really been into aliens per se. I mean, I’m a star trek fan, and was sort of into the X files, but those are fictional and I never really stopped to think about the fact that extra-terrestrials could be… real.

As I read from one chapter to the next, I grappled with feelings of skepticism and wanting so much to believe. Bill Barry, the author, does a pretty good job of unfolding the layers of complications with the story i.e. supporting evidence not adding up, the politics of a small town and big media, as well as the seemingly unshakable story of what Travis says he experienced. In the end I’m not 100% sold that the encounter actually happened. Yet, I can’t say for sure that it didn’t happen either.

And now as I’m writing this I am reminded of another story.

When my family got our Gateway 2000 desktop circa 1995 and I was introduced to the world of AOL and chat rooms for the first time, I discovered a room for people who either believed in beings from another world or had had an alien encounter themselves. For a few weeks my brother, sister and I would rush home after school to patiently wait the dial-up log-in to hear the stories of the people in the chatroom. (We had the microphone and speakers set up so we could actually listen and talk. What can I say, we were HI-TECH.) After a few days of listening, I decided (at 12 years old) that I wanted to have my own story too. So, my brother (10) and sister (6) would giggle and tell me ridiculous things to say as I crafted the tale of my own ultimate encounter. Of course we thought this was hilarious. But then there was a man who listened intently and sincerely empathized with me. And as he began to tell us his story of abduction, you could hear his voice trembling with fear. I went to bed that night replaying his story in my head. My 12-year old self was totally freaked. Needless to say, that was the last time we entered that chat room.

If you’re interested in hearing the Travis Walton story (without reading the book) I highly recommend checking out the This American Life episode I mentioned above. (You can skip to act 3, but the entire episode is great)  And…let me know your thoughts. 🙂