Could those who have made a multimillion-dollar industry out of promoting the idea of aliens visiting Earth in the distant past put on a show in Pasadena, home to Caltech and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and attract scientists along with fun-seekers and the merely curious?
Ancient astronaut theorists say yes, and they intend to prove it when AlienCon opens Friday at the Pasadena Convention Center.
Many people may not realize that the Caltech/JPL connection to the science of celestial wonders has also inspired imaginations to create science fiction and a massive fan base for an ever-growing collection of TV shows and books examining the possibility of other life forms hidden in the stars.
This weekend’s three-day convention brings together top actors, writers, UFOlogists and TV hosts from the ever-expanding array of television series — particularly the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” — that have sprung up to study the signs and wonders of possible alien life forms and where space-related technology is heading.
With dozens of speakers and autograph sessions, and several thousand fans coming together at the Pasadena Convention Center Friday through Sunday, the Crown City will be a hotter spot than Area 51.
“AlienCon is an idea we’ve had for quite a long time, and it all started with ‘Ancient Aliens’ and its phenomenal fan base,” says Jill Tully, vice president of marketing innovations for A&E Networks, which produces the series. “We decided two years ago to have the first convention up in Santa Clara. We really thought it would be just sci-fi, but we quickly saw that a lot of this is about ‘Ancient Aliens’ and bringing the people together from science and fandom. We also have quite a few other sci-fi topics, with guests like David Duchovny and Mitch Pileggi from ‘The X-Files’ and Robert Picardo from ‘Star Trek’ and lots of History Channel sneak peeks.”
Tully notes that AlienCon moved to Pasadena this year simply because of needing a bigger venue, and that there is no hidden agenda or secret information that ties Pasadena to an impending alien invasion or hidden landing sites from past eras.
“That question of whether we know things we can’t tell came up numerous times at the first AlienCon,” says Tully. “I don’t know anything, hand over heart, but I believe we have a panel that answers everything one could possibly know. They don’t get censored by the government.”
The move to Pasadena has already paid off with one-day passes for Saturday already sold out, as are the Bronze and Gold level (which includes a private event with the “Ancient Aliens” cast) passes, which cost $124 and $549, respectively. The remaining Silver level passes cost $436 and, according to the website, “passholders receive guaranteed premium seating in the Main Stage, a voucher redeemable for autographs or photographs, a tote bag with exclusive merchandise, and much more!”
The fact that AlienCon doesn’t feature any experts from Caltech or JPL raises the antenna of Dr. Michael Shermer, founder of the Altadena-based Skeptic Society, who has long debunked the prospect of alien life forms as well as the existence of God. While he was somewhat impressed that the chief astronomer of the federal government’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program and “Star Trek: Voyager’s” Picardo (who works with the Pasadena-based Planetary Society) will be panelists, he was more incredulous about the moneymaking aspects of the event.
“It’s a fun topic, like talking about God, where everyone has an opinion, but no one has any proof,” says Shermer. “But with the Gold Pass costing $550, you better be able to meet and greet an actual alien.”
However, Tully notes that interest in extraterrestrial life has evolved greatly over the past several decades, as the federal government used to keep the study of UFOs as top secret material and now is allowing the History Channel to launch a series about the 12,000 case files released by officials in recent years.
“It used to be hush hush in the media but now it’s mainstream,” says Tully. “I think the dialogue has evolved and a show like ‘Ancient Aliens’ has been asking questions across a number of different areas — science, religion and technology. It’s good to ask these questions. And we pull together a lot of panels with experts in subject matter to provide answers to questions for people who know a lot about it.
“Ancient astronauts might be at the root of all that, but over the course of time, more relevant and even mainstream sources such as The New York Times and Los Angeles Times are taking this seriously in the past 12 months,” adds Tully. “The panels and discussions cover everything from new architectural discoveries to metaphysics and property, scripture and myths, the next humans versus artificial intelligence, and space stations on the moon.”
Friday’s eclectic selection of events includes such topics as “Government Cover-Ups and Crash Sites,” “Megaliths and Earth Energies in Ancient South America,” and “Whistleblower Revelations: About AI and an Alien Presence.” Saturday’s talks include “The World Beyond US: Channeling Extraterrestrials” and “First Contact Experience” and “The Truth Embargo,” while Sunday includes “25 Years of the X-Files” and “Envisioning a Post-Disclosure World.”
Put it all together and AlienCon becomes a hub of possibilities, wonder and fan opportunities to finally pose with their favorite actors and show hosts. According to Tully, Pasadena is the perfect place to see AlienCon take firmer root and grow from here.
“Success is absolutely our goal, to have this continue and grow, so stay tuned for news on that,” says Tully. “We’re blown away by the interest that we’ve received by both people in Pasadena and the California area, and people from other states and countries that come to this. Sunday’s a great Father’s Day option! We’re happy to provide this kind of platform for people who really love the topic.”
AlienCon takes place run from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with special Gold Level events continuing into the evening, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena. Tickets are $61 for single-day passes and $436 for a three-day Silver Level Pass. Visit thealiencon.com.