News · 01/10/2010

Anne Valente on 2009

Contributor Anne Valente (author of “May This Strap Restrain You”) writes in response to our recent question about what sparked imaginations in 2009.

In the first few weeks of 2009, the news story out of England about a UFO destroying a wind turbine in Lincolnshire fascinated me. I couldn’t stop reading the follow-up stories and speculations on what could have possibly broken a 65-foot blade from a 290-foot turbine — stealth bombers? Ice falling from a plane? A meteor crashing to the earth? Because eyewitnesses had seen lights, spheres, and “tentacle-like” lines in the sky, a UFO was automatically blamed for the damage.

The mystery was never really solved — in February, investigators concluded that a faulty bolt had come unhinged from the blade, though they still weren’t entirely sure — and I think maybe this is what interested me most, the limits of our own knowledge. With so many news stories revolving around hard facts and evidence, it was refreshing to see people believe in something beyond visible proof, from community members all the way to news reporters. That binding quality of a common unknown struck a chord too, how everyone suspended their skepticism and disbelief to come together — if only for a brief moment — to solve this mystery. I’ve looked for that sense of wonder in my fiction since, for elements that bind us in shared suspension and hold us in humble awe of the world, unexplained.