The Interrupted Journey (1966) recounts (in meticulous detail) the events of the evening of September 19, 1961, a span when an unassuming interracial couple -- the Hills -- saw their weekend drive in New England interrupted by a...flying saucer.
A UFO not only shadowed these unlucky sojourners for a time, but aliens actually took the humans aboard their craft, the Hills alleged. There, a slew of medical exams were conducted before the couple's release.
After this event, as Fuller recounts, the Hills returned to their home and their jobs. Life went on, but they both felt mysteriously unsettled, with significant gaps in their memories. Betty experienced nightmares for a time. Barney saw a flare-up of his ulcer.
Soon, Betty began to remember bits and pieces of the unnerving experience, even as Barney resisted the idea of aliens and flying saucers all together, fearing that friends and family would find his story ludicrous.
The Hills were aided in this endeavor by a reputable, rock-solid psychiatrist, Dr. Benjamin Simon, who utilized hypnosis to excavate the Hills' buried (or blocked?) memories of the close encounter on September 19th 1961.
Their stories -- told separately in marathon individual sessions -- matched one another's very closely. Husband and wife both spoke of an alien visitation that featured missing time (a span erased by the aliens...), medical exams (including a painful pregnancy test for Betty...) and so on.
These thorough hypnosis sessions -- which often read as decisive, even prosecutorial cross-examinations -- are featured in The Interrupted Journey in the form of transcripts. These word-for-word accounts make for absorbing, provocative and even anxiety-provoking reading.
Fuller does well with the remainder of the text too, his prose devoid of unnecessary or distracting drama,
Ultimately, we come to judge this oddly disturbing story on a human basis, a personal basis. The Hills don't seem like craven attention-seekers (on the contrary actually...). They waited for years to come forward in the public square to tell their version of the story, and then only after an unscrupulous journalist published their story without permission or input.
In The Interrupted Journey, when Barney first sees the alien leader's inhuman black eyes glaring down at him (pressing telepathically into his skull), the reader shares Barney's sense of primal terror; mainly because Fuller's sketched the man in such realistic, human fashion.
The Interrupted Journey is a remarkable work of literature, and I recommend the book as such. Just don't take it at face value or as a priori, Gospel Truth. On the (admittedly-limited) basis of literature, however, The Interrupted Journey is entirely successful. You sympathize with the characters; you're caught up in the drama, and the book evokes a strange feeling that somehow, some way, you're being watched while you turn the pages. It's not good material to read while you're alone in the house.
Yet the inner skeptic in me still had some questions and concerns about the veracity of the Hill tale. Let me play devil's advocate for a bit, if you don't mind.
To start with during her encounter with the aliens, Betty is offered an extra-terrestrial book as proof of the aliens' existence. The aliens ultimately take the book back, however, conveniently defying Betty any hard evidence of the encounter.
But my problem is with the idea of the alien book itself. We're nowhere near the advent of interstellar flight, but in a few short years, print books will go the way of the dodo on Earth, totally extinct; relics. Would aliens capable of interstellar flight and mind-bending amnesia tricks still carry around books on their space ship (where space and weight would presumably be at a premium....)?
Secondly, there's the alien confusion about "time." To The Interrupted Journey's credit, the book openly and fairly acknowledges this paradox. Specifically, the aliens tell Betty to "wait a minute" at one point but later, during her exam, confess no knowledge and/or understanding of time or even of the passage of time.
Thirdly, the physical description of the flying saucer -- Barney and Betty's mutual description -- feels uncomfortably like a 1960s phantasm of "future" technology. Barney sees (through his binoculars...) a group of aliens standing at a large black control panel. Again, in the decades since this book's publication, we've seen the revolution of miniaturization, not to mention the development of touch screen consoles.
So why would aliens from a futuristic society (a society advanced enough to possess interstellar flight...) rely on old-fashioned, bulky, non-touch screen computer panels? More to the point, perhaps, why would four-foot tall aliens have laboratory bays with human-sized examination tables?
When Barney first detects the aliens (as reported in a startling hypnosis session) he briefly mistakes the uniformed extra-terrestrials for Nazis. In another portion of the book, he admits that he has a deep-seated affinity for the people of Israel. He identifies with them deeply, apparently fearing a similar form of persecution (as a black man married to a white woman in 1960s America).
Also, there are a few notable difference in Betty and Barney's story that do bear a casual mention. Betty initially claims that the aliens possess "Jimmy Durante"-type noses. By contrast, Barney says that the aliens have no noses...only recessed nasal slits. I'd be willing to chalk this up to the fog of abduction, but it's a discrepancy nonetheless.
Finally, Betty admits that she and Barney do have some at least sub-conscious awareness of the burgeoning sci-fi pop-culture of the 1960s. In particular, she mentions The Twilight Zone by name during one of her hypnosis sessions. And then there's this little factoid, straight from Wikipedia:
"Entirely Unpredisposed author Martin Kottmeyer suggested that Barney's memories revealed under hypnosis might have been influenced by an episode of the science fiction television show The Outer Limits titled "The Bellero Shield", which was broadcast about two weeks before Barney's first hypnotic session. The episode featured an extraterrestrial with large eyes..."
But listen, I'm no debunker. I have no interest in that job assignment.
My feeling on the subject of UFOs has always been that, given the size of the universe, it seems entirely plausible that alien civilizations might indeed exist....somewhere.
It is also entirely plausible to me that some life forms "out there" would be sufficiently advanced for interstellar travel. There's a caveat, however. Space traveling requires considerable resources, not to mention a tremendous amount of energy, and it seems to me you would only travel some place far away (like Earth...) for a matter of great import.
Which leaves me to consider three options in regards to the Hills.
Or Two: the abduction happened all right, but it was a top secret government or military experiment. Probably one involving mind-altering drugs.
Again, I want to believe. And while reading this book -- for a time -- I did believe. Betty and Barney Hill seem like good people, caught up in a terrible mystery. I don't know that you could ask for better, more credible eye-witnesses. But in the end, one couple's word -- even word of honor -- is simply not good enough. Not to sway me, anyway.
I wish desperately that the Hill Abduction could be proven conclusively; that The Interrupted Journey could be respected as something more than a fine, remarkably frightening campfire tale.
Perhaps one day it will be. But for now, that’s the purpose (ably) and literately served by The Interrupted Journey.