Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior, written by Hilary Evans (author of such books as Intrusions; Gods, Spirits, Cosmic Guardians; and Panic Attacks) and Robert Bartholomew (whose studies have appeared within the pages of the British Medical Journal and The Sociological Quarterly - among many others), is quite possibly the most important contribution to the world of Forteana (which, of course, encompasses UFOs; as if you needed to ask!) in a very long time.

And it’s certainly the biggest contribution to the subject in a long time, too: it runs to nearly 800 pages.

Indeed, we should all praise (and even, perhaps, feel a little bit sorry for) Patrick Huyghe, who had to carefully burn the midnight oil to edit this veritable mighty behemoth of a title into shape for Anomalist Books.

Fortunately, the authors and Patrick have done a great, collective job on this Cthulhu-sized tome.

Anyone who wants to understand what it is that makes the human mind tick (or, sometimes, not tick too well at all…) when faced with extraordinary phenomena and events at a group-level needs to read Outbreak!. And that includes you, Mr. and Mrs. UFO fan!

One of the things that often amazes me about UFOs, is that researchers are often very keen to investigate reports and sightings; but the most important factors of all - namely, the mindset and the (conscious or otherwise) beliefs and ideas of the witnesses - are far-more-than-occasionally left firmly on the shelf.

Fortunately, however - and in distinct contrast to my above-paragraph - with Evans and Bartholomew steering the good-ship Outbreak!, you are in good hands.

All too regularly, the word “scholarly” can be interpreted as meaning (and sometimes with much justification!) “yawn-inducing” and “bloody boring.” Not so here, however. The book is indeed scholarly; but it is also highly informative, insightful, illuminating and witty.

Have you ever wondered what it is (in terms of the human mind’s response to extraordinary situations) that makes “Girl A” faint while at school, after which “Girl B,” “Girl C,” “Girl D,” and…well, you get the picture…all summarily follow suit, until practically the entire class is passed-out on the floor?

Then, before you can utter the now-ominous word “virus,” agents of the the Department of Homeland Security are quickly on the scene to declare that the girls have all potentially been infected by some dastardly biological weapon (conjured up by dark-skinned men with beards, who emanate from some far-off, hot, desert land - or so the rumor that quickly begins to swirl around the school suggests).

Unfortunately, as the day progresses, those same grim-faced agents of the official world are unable to locate any evidence of such a pandemic, no bearded men are to be found anywhere, the girls quickly recover, and the mystified players all return to relative normaility - but all the while wondering what the hell happened, and why.

In a nutshell (and in simplistic - but certainly accurate - terms), this is what lies at the heart of Outbreak! Namely, how we as a species, and as groups, collectively react to unusual phenomena and stressful situations (and how we may be responsible for their creation and interpretation); how and why - at times - we respond in a totally over-the-top, hysterical fashion; how such behavior can totally affect and manipulate minds of a normally rational nature; and, as a result, how we inadvertently provoke extraordinary situations, tales, rumors, legends and much more - and very often of a definitively Fortean nature, too.

The very interesting thing about this book is that the reader can learn as much about the true nature of certain aspects of the UFO puzzle from reading the non-UFO entries as he or she can from studying the tales of a definitively alien nature.

In other words, learning what it is that makes a bunch of schoolgirls faint, and why so many people went totally over the top with respect to the “Bird Flu” issue, is as important as understanding how and why the “alien abduction” epidemic (an epidemic is surely what it is, even if it has a basis in reality) has developed over the last couple of decades.

So, as the authors relate to us their ideas, theories and conclusions, we get to read much about “Assembly Line Hysteria;” “Dancing Mania;” “Fainting Football Cheerleaders;” the “Milan Poisoning Scare;” the “Phantom Hat Pin Stabber;” the “Springheel Jack Scare;” “Windigo Psychosis;” and much more.

And, if at this stage you are wondering what any of this may have to do with UFOs, Forteana and related issues, by the time you finish the book you most certainly will not be wondering any longer.

As Outbreak! shows, when it comes to UFOs, the Monkey-Man, lake-monsters, alien abductions, and much more of an unexplained nature, it is the witnesses, the players and the participants - and particularly their reactions and the way they categorize, interpret and respond to such phenomena, at an individual level; but very often at a larger, group level too - who are arguably far more fascinating, mind-bending and intricately complex than anything they may have encountered.

A fantastic read!

Go, Tim, Go!

Sometimes, and particularly at conferences for some reason, I'm asked: "Where can I get hold of old and hard-to-find books on UFOs?"

Well, that's a damned good question! Certainly, there are a number of companies that specialize in putting out new titles on all-things-alien and Fortean.

But when it comes to providing a service that offers the discerning UFO researcher access to either (A) long-out-of-print; or (B) difficult-to-locate titles, none does it better than long-time Ufological player, publisher, and observer of the scene, Timothy Green Beckley.

Tim has been flying the ufological flag for decades - having got into the subject as a kid, and pretty much met just about anyone and everyone in the subject who matters.

Not only that: Tim is at the forefront of publishing new editions of much-sought-after titles from the halcyon (in other words: long-gone) days of Ufology - such as George Adamski's Pioneers of Space (see the image above).

"POS" is an interesting title; in the sense that it's a sci-fi novel on the issue of alien contact that was written a few years before Adamski's own claimed encounters with long-haired ET's.

Is this evidence that Adamski's later claims of alien contact were merely fictionalized versions of the characters and situations portrayed in his earlier novel? God knows. But the fact that Tim has now published a new edition of the book means that you can try and answer that question yourself.

And that's what I like so much about Tim's publishing company: you'll find so many old titles (and new studies of old cases) that would otherwise remain firmly beyond our collective grasp.

For example, in recent months, Tim has published such titles as The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla; Invisibility and Levitation; The Secret Life of Paul Villa; Teleportation; The Strange Universe of Harold T. Wilkins: UFOs Attack Earth; Inner Earth People, Outer Space People; Venusian Health Magic And Venusian Secret Science; Omnec Onec: Ambassador From Venus; Mysteries of Mount Shasta; and much more.

Are these titles controversial? Of course they are!

But Tim is to be applauded for bringing to the collective Fortean community a truly massive amount of titles - both reprints and new appraisals of old events and long-dead characters - that shed much light on the Golden years of Ufology.

If, like me, you're fascinated by (and perhaps even a little obsessed by) the long-gone days of 1950s and 1960s Ufology, offer your support to Tim.

You can contact him, buy his books, and obtain his catalog at: Global Communications, Box 753, New Brunswick, NJ 08903. You can get his free, weekly newsletter at http://www.conspiracyjournal.com/; and you can send Paypal orders to MrUFO8@hotmail.com

Disappointed, you most certainly will not be!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beyond Shadow World

I have just finished reading Brad Steiger’s latest release from Anomalist Books: Beyond Shadow World (originally published in 2001 as Our Shared World of the Supernatural).

This is the third book in a series from Anomalist Books, and is a thought-provoking and informative read that will be (or should be!) of deep interest to all open-minded Ufologists.

Given that the book focuses, to a large extent, on tales of the afterlife, spirits (of the dead, and of a nature variety), ghostly beings and a variety of similar phenomena, you may already be asking yourselves: what relevance does all this have to Ufology?

Well, I’m coming to that!

As someone who has read quite a few books by Brad that focus upon (or touch upon) accounts and experiences relative to claims of an afterlife, I’ve always found it refreshing that - unlike a lot of authors who write on such matters - Brad does not try and force any particular theory or belief-system down the throats of his readers.

Rather, he relates the data, the theories and the ideas, and allows the reader to use this material to form his or her own opinion - which is a rare thing in books devoted to such an emotive topic as the afterlife.

But, Beyond Shadow World is more than just a collection of ghostly tales to be digested at the witching hour. Yes, it’s a deep and thoughtful look at the whole controversy of the afterlife - but it also reveals much more; and it’s here that we get into the UFO issue.

One of the things that Brad talks about in an enlightening fashion in the pages of his book is the puzzle of the so-called Contactees: those (primarily) 1950s characters who claimed contact with long-haired aliens in out-of-the-way locations, such as deserts, hill-tops and forests.

I am often dismayed by the simplistic approach that many researchers and readers take to the Contactee issue. For many of them, things are very much black-and-white: the Contactees were telling a literal truth, or they were blatant liars.

But, as people will know from my previous writings, things aren’t that clear-cut when it comes to the Contactees. And, I’m very pleased to see that Brad clearly realizes this.

As Brad states: “In 1963, when I first began seriously investigating the claims of the UFO contactees…I drew immediate parallels between those who channeled Outer Space beings and the spirit mediums who provided inspirational messages from their guides…”

He continues: “…And when many of the contactees told me that the UFOnaut had appeared to them in a ‘light and vaporous form’ because of the different frequencies between our dimensions, I was again reminded of the ‘light and vaporous forms’ that had long been associated with the seance room and the spirit circle.”

Brad adds: “…In my opinion, the phenomenon of the Space Brothers has absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether extraterrestrial intelligence has visited Earth,” and states his belief that there is an “external intelligence that has interacted with our species since our creation on this planet…I am also convinced that some kind of symbiotic relationship exists between us and this intelligence. In some way, they need us as much as we need them…”

This is excellent stuff, and well worth the price of the book alone!

Brad is right on the mark, and I would urge anyone with an interest in the Contactees to invest in a copy of Beyond Shadow World.

And that’s not all: you will also get to learn the details of a fascinating experience Brad had as a child with one of the classic “little people” of folklore and mythology (a brownie, an elf - the names may change; but they are pretty much the same breed) - and maybe of some strange, twilight realm, too.

It’s a magical, eerie and slightly creepy tale.

And, although Brad’s telling of the story suggests his sighting of the creature was accidental, I have to wonder - as with so many of the Contactees, and as with so many of the Abductees - was Brad’s exposure to the little man actually a deliberate act (albeit unknown to him), one designed to provoke the transformation needed to ensure that Brad followed the path in life (as a writer and investigator of all-things-strange) that some other intelligence may have already pre-planned for him?

Some might say no. I say: don’t be so hasty.

So, with that all said, if your interests are chiefly in the area of the afterlife, Beyond Shadow World is definitely a must-read.

If you have ever had a sneaky suspicion that our alien visitors (and particularly those long-haired ones) might not be quite what they seem - and that there could be a more profound, unifying theory for the many and varied phenomena that Brad describes in his book - then you should also take steps to acquire the book at the earliest opportunity.

Don’t forget: for full effect, read it by candle-light on a dark and stormy night! And if Orthon, Zoltan or some oddly-named Venusian Space-Brother knocks slowly on the door, by all means invite him or her in. But, as Beyond Shadow World demonstrates, they may not actually be who they claim to be…