My Trip to Mars the Moon and Venus (1956), by Buck Nelson

Buck Nelson, a bachelor sawmill operator and farmer, lived near the small town of Mountain View, Missouri. His strange little book drew quite a lot of attention locally and with what might be called the UFO community. Nelson spoke at flying saucer conventions (to people who called themselves “saucerians.”) Back then, many thought flying saucers were real. The beauty of such convictions is that you can’t prove them right or wrong, at least not entirely. All the facts may be wrong, but the conviction remains.

Buck’s story was transcribed by a compatriot, Fanny Lowery, and he describes an extraterrestrial friend, Bucky, who’s like your average human. Buck’s dog, Ted, accompanied Buck on his travels. There’s a nice photo of Ted, as if the dog’s existence proves the travels.

The basic storyline is that a flying saucer lands in Buck’s pasture now and again, and he journeys by some sort of magnetic force to Mars, Earth’s moon, and Venus. Buck’s details about these places are skimpy and wouldn’t have passed muster even in the 1950s. They seem to be derived from Edgar Rice Burroughs, various magazines, and the Bible. Of course, this was long before we landed on the moon, explored Mars with any number of robotic missions, and figured out that Venus is a gaseous hell.

From his narrative, Buck seems sincere, if a little daft. Lots of people thought he was crazy, and he tells us that his old age pension was taken away exactly for that reason—which doesn’t seem  like a reason. The trouble with Nelson’s little book isn’t that it’s about flying saucers, but that it’s so lacking in detail.

But you can read it for its quirky charm. You’ll learn how to build a flying saucer detector, which you might want to hang from your bedroom ceiling, in case they come at night.