Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Unbelievable: A Monster Lurks in Wales...

Unless someone shoots a Bigfoot, or a Nessie washes up on the shore of Loch Ness in the next few days, this will likely be my final post before the holidays. Fortunately, the subject matter is a very good one!

Available right now is a brand new graphic novel written and illustrated by a friend of mine who lives in Wales: Simon Wyatt. Its title is Unbelievable: The Man Who Ate Daffodils.

If you have read my book, The Real Men in Black, you will have seen Simon's excellent artwork contained within its pages. Specifically, the drawings of two Men in Black and of the legendary Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

So, with that said, what is Simon's book all about? Well, I'll tell you! And probably the best way for me to do that is by including here the Foreword I wrote for Simon's book, and which reads as follows:

"Not only is Simon Wyatt a highly-skilled artist and a gifted story-teller with a fine imagination, he's also a mate. And so, when Simon asked me if I would be willing to write a foreword for his latest mighty, monstrous tome, my answer was a quick and enthusiastic 'Yes!'

"So, after a copy of the manuscript made its way across the Atlantic to my home in Dallas, Texas, I sat down on what was an appropriately dark, stormy and windswept night to read Simon's story. And, I'm very pleased that I did!

"Simon has skilfully weaved together a swirling tale of magical, Gothic, cryptozoological and sinister proportions that rather reminds me of a perfect combination of those classic old Hammer horror-films of the late 1950s and 1960s; The Hound of the Baskervilles; Primeval; Scooby-Doo; The Secret Seven; and a good old adventure tale of the type that are sorely missed today. And all told in Simon's own unique style and brand, too, of course.

"Hideous killer-beasts roaming around the darkened, shadowy streets of a small Welsh town; creepy and eccentric characters with black secrets and hidden agendas; a few adventurous kids who are at the heart of the puzzle; fantastic myths and tales of centuries past; and much more all combine to create a suspense-filled story that will appeal to anyone and everyone with an appreciation of all-things weird and ominously atmospheric.

"Part-detective story, part-monster hunt, and part-whodunit, the story Simon tells will keep you entertained right up to (and including, of course!) the absolute last page.

"And the very good news is that more volumes - and more dark goings-on - are destined to follow! Keep 'em coming, Si!"

And, if that has caught your attention (and hopefully it has!), here's a bunch of links where you can find more about Simon's work, his new book, Unbelievable, and how and where to purchase your very own copies.

Click on the links for all the info:Markosia's Website listing and order details: http://www.markosia.com/wordpress/titles/unbelievable-the-man-who-ate-daffodilis/

A review by Starburst magazine: http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/comic-reviewscomics-a-graphic-novels/1098-comic-review-unbelievable-the-man-who-ate-daffodils-by-simon-wyatt

Free preview: http://www.myebook.com/index.php?option=ebook&id=91245

Official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Unbelievable-The-Man-Who-Ate-Daffodils/227365990640745?sk=wall&filter=12

And last but not least, Simon's blog, StrangelyDrawn; http://simonwyatt.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lost Civilizations and Secrets of the Past

Just published is a new title from New Page Books: Exposed, Uncovered, and Declassified: Lost Civilizations & Secrets of the Past.

Edited by Michael Pye and Kirsten Dalley, it's the third in the Exposed, Uncovered, and Declassified series, and includes from me a paper on government interest in ancient mysteries, including (a) the saga of Noah's Ark, (b) Contactee George Van Tassel's theories that alien visitation provoked many of the accounts recorded in the Bible, and (c) claims that the Pyramids of Egypt were constructed via the means of levitation.

And here's the blurb from New Page Books outlining the books' contents:


Exposed, Uncovered, and Declassified: Lost Civilizations & Secrets of the Past.

Authors: Michael Pye and Kirsten Dalley.

Subject:Ancient Mysteries.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60163-196-1.

Pages: 224.

Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches.

Format: Paper.

Price: $15.99.

Original Essays by Erich von Daniken, Philip Coppens, Frank Joseph, Nick Redfern, Thomas G. Brophy, Steven Sora, Marie D. Jones & Larry Flaxman, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Scott Alan Roberts, Freddy Silva, Micah Hanks, Patrick C. Chouinard, Adrian Gilbert, William Bramley, and Paul Von Ward.

"Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand."—Neil Armstrong.

Were Atlantis and Lemuria factual places?

Who built the pyramids and for what purpose?

How advanced was the technology of ancient cultures?

All this and more is covered in Exposed, Uncovered, and Declassified: Lost Civilizations & Secrets of the Past—the latest in the all-original series that is already sparking lively debate.

Erich von Däniken, best-selling author of Chariots of the Gods, examines the Egyptian pyramids, studying their astronomical implications and what message they were meant to convey. Thomas G. Brophy, PhD, focuses on the mysterious Nabta Playa site in southern Egypt and its connection to African history.

Intrepid explorer of ancient America Frank Joseph covers archeological scandals and attempts to suppress evidence, including the Smithsonian’s "loss" of Maya skulls discovered in the Aleutian Islands. Researcher Steven Sora, author of The Lost Colony, delves into evidence that Scotland’s Picts originated in North America and were connected to the ancient Micmac tribe of the Americas.

Philip Coppens of the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens explores an ancient Celtic network of roads that may be connected to a 4,000-year-old land-based reproduction of Atlantis. Scholar and mystery explorer Oberon Zell-Ravenheart brings together the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life, the great deluge, and the sinking of Lemuria.

Marie D. Jones & Larry Flaxman (11:11: The Time Prompt Phenomenon) explore what ancient civilizations knew about sound and resonance, and how they may have used them to build megaliths and pyramids, and achieve altered states. Journalist Nick Redfern reveals the U.S. government’s abiding interest in our ancient past, religious mysteries, and enigmatic artifacts.

Evidence of these ancient mysteries is everywhere—if you know what to look for. Whether you’re a believer, a skeptic, or somewhere in between, Exposed, Uncovered, and Declassified: Lost Civilizations & Secrets of the Past is sure to entertain and educate.

Michael Pye has been an acquisitions editor for New Page Books since 2003 acquiring hundreds of books in that time. He developed a healthy appetite for the unexplained by watching far too many episodes of In Search Of hosted by Leonard Nimoy after school instead of doing his homework, which turned him into a reader of books on the strange and unexplained. He earned a BA in English from Southern Connecticut State University.

Kirsten Dalley has functioned in various editorial capacities at New Page Books since 2004. She is coauthor of The Nightmare Encyclopedia, along with Jeff Belanger. She graduated from Columbia University with a BA in comparative literature, which has proven to be of use in both her career and her leisure pursuits (reading fiction and riding sportbikes).

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fiction of the Fortean Kind

This is very good news: the Center for Fortean Zoology has set up yet another publishing company (alongside CFZ Press and Fortean Words). The new one is called Fortean Fiction and, as its name suggests, it's solely dedicate to publishing novels on matters of a Fortean nature.

You can find out all about Fortean Fiction at this link at the CFZ's blog, including a new title from the CFZ's Richard Freeman, and a title on the Loch Ness Monster.





Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top Cryptozoology Books: 2011

Over at Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman provides us with info and images on his favorite cryptozoological books of 2011, and also gives us some insight into what's coming next year. In fact, 2012 looks to be an excellent year for crypto-titles!

Here's the link.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Filmography of Bigfoot

Coming in January: The Bigfoot Filmography by David Coleman.

Here's the blurb for the book, which I'm sure most Bigfoot enthusiasts will want to get their hands on:

"The 'Sasquatch' film genre, devoted to the legendary and notoriously elusive creature also known as Bigfoot, and its Himalayan counterpart, the Yeti, is the focus of this illustrated reference guide. Here is a fascinatingly detailed look at the cinematic history of Sasquatch, from the earliest trick films of Georges Melies to the most up-to-date CGI efforts. Critical insights regarding the genre's development are offered, along with an exhaustively researched filmography that includes every known film or television appearance of Sasquatch, Bigfoot and Yeti in both fictitious and documentary formats. Included are in-depth interviews with such filmmakers as Kevin Tenney, Adam Muto, Ryan Schifrin, Tim Skousen and Michael Worten, as well as reproductions of rare movie stills, posters, lobby cards and behind-the-scenes production photos. Renowned cryptozoologist Loren Coleman provides an insightful foreword to the text."

Grave Concerns

There's a new book coming imminently from the British-based Center for Fortean Zoology's new publishing house, Fortean Words, that I'll be reviewing here shortly.

Written by Kai Roberts, its title is Grave Concerns: The Follies and Folklore of Robin Hood's Final Resting Place:

And here's the CFZ's Jon Downes to tell you about the book:

Whilst the existence of Robin Hood’s grave is scarcely a secret, appearing on the definitive map of the area and referred to in countless non-fiction sources concerned with the legend of Robin Hood, for the last fifty years it has been regarded as nothing but an annoyance by its custodians.

It lies on private land without any right of access and visitors are categorically discouraged. Whilst this situation has improved over the last decade, opportunities for anybody wishing to glimpse the burial site of this legendary hero remain few and far between. For Robin’s modern followers, it has become an immensely contentious issue.

The subject of this book is a location rather than an individual. Countless volumes have been written on the topic of Robin Hood by some of the finest scholars of medieval history and literature in Britain and this tome does not seek to rival them.

Arguments pertaining to the historical reality or otherwise of the outlaw will be discussed here only where they directly concern his grave. With regard to Robin Hood, the question for this book is not whether he is really buried at Kirklees but, for want of definitive proof either way, how that tradition became so firmly attached to the site. Hopefully, it will illustrate that Robin Hood’s grave is a site of historical interest quite irrespective of its ‘authenticity’.

For Kirklees certainly seems to attract strong beliefs, and in many cases changing perceptions of the site itself have coloured the content of those beliefs. Studying Kirklees and the various legends to have grown up around it allows us an insight into the reciprocal relationship between people and place.

Of particular interest is the extent to which the state of Robin Hood’s grave in the modern era and all the associated disputes have determined the interpretation of the paranormal phenomena witnessed in the vicinity of the site today. In this regard, it is a study in modern myth-making.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Allingham & Kraspedon Return!

This is excellent news for fans of Contactee cases both old and massively controversial! Tim Beckley's Global Communications company has just released a new book titled From the Golden Age of Flying Saucers.

And it's title does not exaggerate! It contains reprints of two absolute classic Contactee-based titles: Flying Saucer From Mars by Cedric Allingham, and Dino Kraspedon's My Contact With Flying Saucers.

As devotees of all-things long-haired and Space-Brotherly will know, both Allingham and Kraspedon were highly intriguing characters - but for very different reasons!

And, if you're not aware of the reasons behind those controversies, well, you're in for a big treat because the book contains new Introductions to each title, that provide some highly entertaining and juicy nuggets of data on the pair!

Collectively, this is an excellent and highly entertaining blast from the Ufological past that Tim should be congratulated for bringing to a new audience. If 1950s/1960s-era Ufology, UFO contact cases, alien landings, and deep controversy are your thing, From the Golden Age of Flying Saucers is a book you won't want to miss.

Here's the link to the book, which is now available on Amazon.

Cops and the Paranormal

This looks to be an interesting read: The Police and the Paranormal by Andrew Owens. Put out by the Center for Fortean Zoology's Fortean Words publishing company, it contains (as you'll see from the press-release below) a number of cases in which police officers have investigated, or been witness to, cryptozoological creatures, UFOs, and much more.

As soon as I have read the book, I'll be reviewing it right here.

Here's the press-release from the CFZ's Jon Downes:

Police officers are widely regarded as amongst the most highly credible of eyewitnesses. And yet here they risk professional ridicule by revealing their otherworldly encounters with things that shouldn’t exist - but do.

They include:

* Crime Scene Investigators sift through the grisly remains of Cattle Mutilations and Spontaneous Human Combustion - and reach some startling conclusions;

* A Constable is hypnotised to recount his alien abduction;

* Detectives enlist psychics to help crack murder cases;

* Patrols see panthers and pumas at close quarters;

* A Detective reports the longest-ever sighting of Nessie;

* Officers’ close encounters of the first kind, second kind, third kind and deadly kind

Gathered together for the first time, this unique collection of true-life encounters between the police and the paranormal is utterly compelling and highly believable, suggesting that the long arm of the law extends way beyond this world and into the next.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Lonely Sense

People occasionally ask me, as an author, what types of books I enjoy reading. Well, I'm a big fan of Jack Kerouac's work (aside from his poetry, which I think is a collective, appalling, rambling mess), Hunter S. Thompson's Gonzo-driven titles, and the UFO/paranormal-themed books of Gray Barker, John Keel, and my good mate, Jon Downes.

However, most of the books I read tend to be biographies and autobiographies, mainly of actors, rock-stars, and various and sundry celebrity types (particularly of the bygone, Golden-years of Hollywood).

So, when Anomalist Books' Patrick Huyghe sent me a review copy of their just-published title, Robert Cracknell's The Lonely Sense: The Autobiography of a Psychic Detective, I knew this was going to be an interesting read.

And it was!


With a Foreword from a true legend in the field of paranormal-themed research and writing - Colin Wilson, no less - The Lonely Sense tells the story of one Robert Cracknell, a man with extraordinary psychic skills, and one whose powers pushed him down some strange, bizarre and supernatural pathways. They even led him to extensive liaison with officialdom on unsolved murder cases.

But, Cracknell's book is far more than just that.

It's a brutally honest, open and highly entertaining study of the author's life, that takes the reader from its very beginnings, his time spent in the British Royal Air Force, and to a profound experience that occurred during that same time spent with the military that sent him on the road to becoming a definitive psychic detective.

That's when Cracknell's life begins to change drastically.

Not surprisingly, Cracknell reveals that coming to grips with his surfacing powers of the psychic kind was not easy. In fact, parts of his story are downright traumatic as he struggles to understand and utilize the near-unique talents at his disposal, as well as how his awakening to a new, previously-uncharted world resulted in problems close to home, with family, friends, and work colleagues.

But, as The Lonely Sense demonstrates, like so many people who came before him - and doubtless like so many who will follow in his footsteps - Cracknell ultimately found himself elevated, empowered, and ready to make use of the skills given to, or developed by, him.

In fact, one could say Cracknell's transformation and elevation eerily paralleled that of ancient Shamanic figures, who realized they were not quite like everyone else, but who used their differences to ensure positive change and results via means of a psychic, paranormal, and spiritual nature.

And it's from this moment on that we see Cracknell plunged into a whole new world, one in which he is sought out by the public, the media, and even the British Police Force, on harrowing and distressing murder cases and much more.

Again, Cracknell is open and honest about the nature of those cases, and the effects that immersing himself in them had on his mind and soul. He also provides a fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of the time he met Uri Geller, which makes for interesting reading alone.

As the book comes to a close, we read of Cracknell's retirement on Cyprus, of his studies of the Jack the Ripper saga, and of much more, too.

So, what we have with Robert Cracknell's The Lonely Sense (it runs to just over 300-pages) is not just yet another study of psychic phenomena. Rather, it is a unique account of how one man found himself in a world that he did not ask to be plunged into, but who accepted the challenge - and both the good and the bad that came with that acceptance - and did something positive with the powers at his disposal.

The Lonely Sense is, then, a must-buy for those interested in psychic phenomena, life-after-death, and the mysterious abilities of the human mind.

But, it's also required reading for anyone who wants a deep, revealing insight not just into the world of psychic phenomena, but into the swirling, turbulent and emotion-filled heart of the psychic individual, too.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Real Nightmares, Vol 1 & 2

One for Halloween: at my regular Lair of the Beasts column at Mania.com, I have just reviewed Vol's 1 and 2 of Brad Steiger's latest release: Real Nightmares, an e-book-based series that, as well as covering all things ghostly and paranormal, will be of deep interest to fans of cryptozoology.

Werewolves, Bigfoot, weird snakes and more - they're all in here!

And here's the link to the review.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Empire of the Wheel

If you're looking to immerse yourself in a non-fiction tale of dark, conspiratorial, Gothic and truly unsettling proportions, you can now stop looking.

Empire of the Wheel: Espionage, the Occult, and Murder in Southern California is the one for you!

Penned by Walter Bosley and Richard B. Spence, Empire of the Wheel can best be described as a swirling and sinister combination of (A) an early 20th Century Mullholland Falls; (B) the occult and ritualistic aspects of the "Zodiac Killer" murders; (C) a wild Sherlock Holmes story; (D) shadowy and lethal espionage agents; (E) centuries-old black rituals; and (F) a great deal more too.

Basically, Empire of the Wheel is a packed, near-300-page title that tells the uncanny and macabre (and certainly little-known) story of a series of deaths - of men, women and children - that hit the San Bernardino area of California in the early-to-mid 1910s.

But what, at first, seems to be evidence of tragic suicide and accidental death - although certainly not without a few odd and attendant puzzles attached - becomes something much more ominous. In fact, outright malignant foulness would be a far better term to use.

Indeed, as the pages turn, so the body-count increases.

There's the mysterious and unknown woman who throws herself (or was she thrown?) into the lake at Urbita Springs Park.

There are the kids dropping like flies - maybe at the hands of some deranged, master purveyor of poisons.

And I cannot omit mention of the enigmatic character found dead - in a kneeling position, with one hand covering his mouth, and with a Freemasonry pin attached to the lapel of his suit, no less - amid a pleasant bunch of walnut trees in San Bernardino Valley's Little Mountain.

All the while, trying to make some degree of sense out of this escalating mayhem - and ultimately out of much more growing weirdness and death, too - is Chief of Police, Walter Alexander Shay.

In other words, all the ingredients for a fine, captivating and mesmerizing real-life detective story...but one that soon turns into something very different.

Indeed, as the book progresses, thrown into the tumultuous mix are German, American, and British espionage agents, the forever-enigmatic and controversial Aleister Crowley, ritual slaughter according to ancient teachings, ley-lines, earth-energies, the groundbreaking work of Nikola Tesla, the ancient goddess Hekate, and even Harry Houdini!

In fact, possibly the only things missing are the words, "It was a dark and stormy night!"

What we have here, then, with Empire of the Wheel, is a tale of power-wielding characters of a truly ominous nature, the dark activities of shadowy figures following the controversial beliefs and traditions of times long-gone, cold-hearted ritualistic slaughter for reasons diabolical, and the San Bernardino Valley transformed into the focal point for years of Lovecraft-like wickedness.

Complete with a fine selection of photographs both old and new, Empire of the Wheel by Walter Bosley and Richard B. Spence will appeal to the Fortean, to the devotee of the weirder side of crime, to anyone and everyone who has been fascinated by the world of Aleister Crowley, and to all those who love a good old story that is all-parts murder, occult-driven and conspiracy-loaded!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mystery Animals of the Northern Isles

Over at Mania.com, you can find my latest, weekly Lair of the Beasts column, which is a review of the new book from Glen Vaudrey (and published by CFZ Press), Mystery Animals of the British Isles: The Northern Isles.

Here's the link to the review.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Werewolf Book


Over at Mania.com, you can find my latest Lair of the Beasts column, which is a review of Brad Steiger's new title, The Werewolf Book, a must-read for all fans of hairy man-beasts, a full moon, and silver-bullets!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Spirit Voices



When Anomalist Books' Patrick Huyghe recently mailed me a copy of their newly-published title - Spirit Voices: The First Live Conversation Between Worlds by Mark L. Cowden - I have to confess that, at first, I viewed it with a degree of trepidation.

Not, I should stress, because I had any specific qualms about dealing with, or confronting, the subject-matter, but simply because although I read a lot of books - and write a lot of books too! - on UFOs, cryptozoology, and conspiracy-theories, I have to admit that ghosts, spiritualism, and life-after-death have never really been my thing.

But, since Patrick asked me if I would review the book, and I had said "Yes," I figured I would see what the author had to say. And I'm very glad that I did!

Spirit Voices is most certainly not your average book about chain-rattling spooks, shrieking specters and things that go bump in the night. Rather, it's a very readable, highly engaging, and thoughtful study of one man's quest (Mark himself) to seek out the truth about life-after-death, the nature and heart of the phenomenon, and its reported interactions with our plane of reality.

This is the type of subject that could have easily been turned into one of those horrible, sickly, belief-driven, self-help, "love and light"-style books written by hippie-types with names like "Eagle," "Cloud," and "Dolphin," that I totally, totally despise. Fortunately, there's none of that here - at all.

Rather, what we get is an utterly absorbing study of how Mark - an audio-visual technician from Oklahoma - found himself in Ireland, in 2010, investigating apparent contact from beyond the grave. And when I say contact, I mean precisely that: the capture and recording of apparent conversations with discarnate entities from beyond.

And what particularly stands out for me is that Spirit Voices is as much about the potential for something, some essence, maybe - call it what you will - surviving bodily death, as it is about Mark's very own, and deeply personal, quest to come to terms with the incredible data and experiences that crossed his path during the course of his adventurous trek in search of the truth.

Written in somewhat of a diary fashion (which is a good thing, I should stress), Spirit Voices expertly captures the essence of the investigation, as Mark grapples with such issues as whether or not (from the perspective of Christian teachings) it's ethical, moral or right to try and contact the dead, the profound positive implications for society and science that interaction with the spirit-world undoubtedly provokes, and the effect that exposure to such phenomena - in a conversation-style setting - can have on the individual.

And that Mark has a background in the audio-visual world is a major bonus, too, and particularly so when we see him in-the-field (or in the proverbial spooky old house or haunted castle), utilizing technologies to capture the voices of the dead, rather than simply employing the tired, well-worn tools of some old Gothic novel.

In other words, Spirit Voices - and its many attendant revelations, implications, and discoveries - offers us some hope that death is not the end. And - this being one of the most important aspects of the book - it shows that growing advances in human technology and fringe-science may actually play significant, future roles in contacting the dead, and validating that physical death may not mean literal death.

But, perhaps above all else - and I base this on Mark's very own forthright and refreshing style of writing - Spirit Voices shows the sheer extent to which people can find themselves propelled to new levels of thought, understanding and appreciation of the mysteries of this world and beyond when they address the controversial question that each and every one of us want answering: What happens to us when we die?

Whatever your views on life-after-death, Spirit Voices is an extraordinarily good, solid look at its subject-matter, written by a man who offers us an undeniably personal and near-unique look at a phenomenon that is as misunderstood as it is mysterious.

I will leave you with what I consider to be one of Mark's most important statements in his book. Of the revelations that might await us, he says the day may come when "the world's religious leaders finally accept that there does not need to be one specific explanation for our magical existence, with the copyright holder of this information being the strongest, wealthiest, most agenda-driven organization capable of reaching the most people."

Amen to that!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

John Michell: From Atlantis to Avalon


Paul Screeton has been a busy chap recently. Last week I reviewed Paul's latest title, I Fort The Lore, which is a highly entertaining anthology of his writings spanning the 1960s to the present day. But, that's not the only book Paul has written and had published in the past year.

His 2010 biography of a true character within esoteric circles, titled John Michell: From Atlantis to Avalon, is available from Alternative Albion (an imprint of Heart of Albion Press), and is - I can say for sure - definitive and required reading for anyone with an interest in (a) 20th Century Forteana (British and otherwise), (b) its history and development, and, of course, (c) one of the most significant players within the field - John Michell himself.

I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies (generally on non-Fortean individuals), and the ones I find most satisfying are those that tell the whole story - warts and all, as the old saying goes - rather than simply offering a one-sided, misty-eyed picture designed to portray or project this or that image.

Fortunately there's none of that here.

Rather, Paul provides us with an unbiased, highly in-depth, and near-unique study of Michell, focusing upon the intricacies of his character, upbringing, life, and undeniably-major influence upon British culture, folklore, mythology, and the domain of the unexplained.

Granted, we are specifically told that "this book is not a biography," but my use of the term is meant to imply that it's a definitive study of the man's life. Which it most certainly is.

Where this title differs significantly from many others that might be said to fall into the Biography category, however, is that it's not just a study of Michell and his 76-years (he passed away in 2009). It's also an examination of Michell's astonishingly huge influence on all manner of people, places and events that helped to sculpt and nurture the face of 20th Century Britain and its attendant mysteries and puzzles.

As anyone who knew John Michell, or who was acquainted with him, will tell you, he was more of a phenomenon than just a man - legendary with Fortean circles, incredibly influential, and almost near-magical and mystical in some respects. And I don't exaggerate when I make that latter observation.

Certainly, one can practically imagine a cloaked-Michell striding purposefully across England's ancient greenery early on some summer's morning, before vanishing into an ethereal fog, as the old sun begins to rise, as a Crop Circle forms nearby, and as a ghostly black dog, with blazing eyes, manifests on some old well-trodden pathway.

And, one gets the distinct and uncanny impression from reading the book that Michell seemed practically near-destined to be born at a time that would ensure he met the right people, at the right locale, and under the most profitable of all circumstances, to ensure his considerable place in the Fortean arena, and his ability to spread the word on all-things mysterious and mystical.

Things, therefore, seemed to happen around John Michell, and to those that gravitated towards him - one of who was Paul himself, who first met Michell back in 1970.

One also comes to realize (well, I did anyway) that Michell's introduction to UFOs, to ley-lines, to the world of ancient Glastonbury, and to the culture of the 1960s (whether the growing and developing music scene, drugs and their ability to influence mindset from a positive perspective, and a more open-minded attitude towards sex) seemed to have been the work of some grand designer. If you haven't yet read the book, you may disagree with me. But, read it, and your views may soon change...

And that Michell went on to pen a number of highly influential and controversial titles (check out The Flying Saucer Vision and The View Over Atlantis, if you haven't already), also serves to demonstrate that his time spent exploring and negotiating such realms - and the positive aspects of those same realms, too - was not wasted at all, and also seems to have been provoked by some unfathomable, ethereal, string-puller.

As Paul Screeton demonstrates with insight, with affection, but always with a balanced and careful mind, John Michell was a man who carved a refreshing and illuminating swathe across the British landscape, who - without any apology, and rightfully so, too - provoked radical new thoughts and paradigms, who well and truly left his mark, and who will not be forgotten by those that knew him, or those who came to appreciate his life, theories, ideas and work - which is, perhaps, all that any of us can ever hope to achieve.

If you're in the UK, you can purchase John Michell: From Atlantis to Avalon right here. In the US, click here. And to contact the publisher, go to this link.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Fort The Lore


A couple of years ago, my good mate and self-elected Prime-Minister of the Center for Fortean Zoology, Jon Downes, was inspired by Patrick Huyghe's Swamp Gas Times book to publish a series of compilations of the writings of various players in the Fortean field.

The first (from Jon's CFZ Press) was Andy Roberts' Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal, which was published in 2010. And my very own Space Girl Dead On Spaghetti Junction followed earlier this year. And, now, we're up to No.3: Paul Screeton's wonderfully-titled I Fort The Lore (I have yet to ask Paul if the lore won...).

As anyone and everyone familiar with the writings of Paul (truly, a punning linguist) will know, his style is equal-parts witty, informative, intriguing, and entertaining. Which, when you're dealing with issues of a Fortean nature, is pretty much essential! After all, there's nothing worse than reading some deathly-dull waffle on how many bodies were found at Roswell, the square-mileage of Area 51, or the shagging habits of Nessie. And, thankfully, you get none of that with Paul.

What you do get with I Fort..., is an excellent collection of hard-to-find (in some cases, very hard-to-find) articles from Paul that date from the 1960s to pretty much the present day, and that cover a wide and varied range of what passes for "weird shit."

Whereas my Space Girl... chaotically and wildly jumped from articles on UFOs to Hollywood scandal, music to monsters, and Foot-and-Mouth Disease to the Cardiff Giant, Paul (obviously a far more organized person than me!) elected to split his title into specific, clearly-delineated sections. Ye Gads!

So, we are treated to a fine selection of Paul's writings on such issues as Cryptozoology, UFOs, rock music, urban myths and the media (if you're interested in this issue, you must read Paul's hilarious Mars Bar And Mushy Peas - reviewed here), British folklore (for which, it's abundantly clear, Paul has a deep passion and knowledge) and much more.

Certainly - for me, at least - one of the biggest treats was getting to read (for the first time since I was a teenager) Paul's article for the old British newsstand publication, The Unexplained, on the infamous werewolf-themed saga of the Hexham Heads. It has been years since I even opened my bound-volumes of the old mag, and so to see the article once again - and for a new audience, too - was very good news. For devotees of all-things of a full-moon and monstrous nature, this piece alone is arguably worth the price of the book.

Then, there's Paul's notable - and certain Fortean in the absolute extreme - account of his very own encounter of the "Black Panther" variety as published in The Shaman in 1997. If big-cats are your thing (so to speak) this article should not be ignored.

Want something on UFOs? Well, you have it! Ley-lines, the notorious Van Tassel, and rock'n'roll & aliens abound.

For me, however, the most entertaining parts of the book are those articles that deal with Paul's time spent in the mainstream media - albeit often with respect to matters profoundly mysterious. Paul writes with affection on the years he spent earning a crust in the exciting (well, sometimes exciting) realm of journalism, the tabloids, and the multifaceted band of curious characters that it attracts. Gyrating totty, ever-flowing beer, deep scandal, outrageous entertainment and high-jinks, in other words. And who can resist all that? Not me! And, hopefully, not you!

And where I Fort The Lore really scores is in its definitive "Englishness." Us Brits are a quirky, odd bunch (but in a good way!), and the British Isles are rum indeed. And Paul's book underscores this, as he gads around the nation writing articles on whatever, or whoever, crosses his path, such as Peter McMahon - whose poignant story of true English eccentricity mixed with a dose of deep tragedy and Forteana is a true highlight.

But, you most certainly don't have to be a Brit to appreciate IFTL. Nope! As long as you have a love of high-strangeness, can appreciate the absurdities of the subject-matter at hand and embrace them, and enjoy digging deep into the sometimes-scarce works of Fortean players such as Paul Screeton, then I Fort The Lore will keep you entertained for many an hour.

You know what that means: buy the bloody thing and read it!

If you're in Blighty, here's where I Fort The Lore can be found, and if like me you reside in Obama-Land, click right here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Para-News: Update & Interview

Back in May, I mentioned here that I had just written the Foreword for the first book from Richard Thomas, PARA-NEWS - UFOs, Conspiracy Theories, Cryptozoology and much much more.

You can find a new interview with Richard at Binnall of America, where Henry Baum is asking the questions.

In the interview, Richard makes a very good point that champions of the UFO Disclosure movement would be extremely wise to keep in mind:

"A lot of UFO researchers tend to romanticise what they call 'Disclosure', the day when the world is finally told the truth (whatever that is) about what the US government and others really know about UFOs. I'm more cautious. I think if Disclosure ever really does occur (and that's a big if) we have to be careful that the existence of extraterrestrials or whatever isn't used as a justification to turn the world into a giant police state. Rahm Emanuel said 'You never want a serious crisis to go to waste' and his words sum up the mentality of the globalists perfectly."

And here's the link to the complete Q&A.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grassroots UFOs





Grassroots UFOs is a brand new book that is as alternative as it is refreshing and informative. And it's one that should be in your UFO library, too. Like now.

Written and illustrated by UFO authority Michael D. Swords and published by Anomalist Books, Grassroots UFOs is, essentially, a large and varied collection of witness-testimony secured - under truly near-unique circumstances - by a man named John Timmerman.

For more than a decade, Timmerman was the brainchild behind a "traveling UFO exhibit" (for the Center for UFO Studies - CUFOS) that surfaced in shopping-malls just about here, there and everywhere across the United States. Its intention was to both inform and entertain those with an interest in UFOs.

There was a notable spin-off effect to the exhibit, however. It brought forth hundreds of people who were willing to quietly share with Timmerman the details of their very own UFO experiences and encounters.

And it's in the 250-pages of Grassroots UFOs that those cases are now revealed.

For me, Grassroots UFOs harks back to the days of such books as Dr. J. Allen Hynek's The UFO Report, Leonard Stringfield's Situation Red, and Coral Lorenzen's Flying Saucers. In other words, it's a book packed with previously-unseen witness testimony (all captured via Timmerman's trusty tape-recorder) on pretty much every aspect of Ufology, and one destined to become a fine resource tool for both present-day- and future-researchers.

Granted, some of the cases were perhaps not as deeply investigated as we might prefer, but this doesn't detract from the most important issue of all. Namely, that Timmerman collated an incredible, and previously-untapped, body of ufological data and experiences, and valiantly did so with the limited time, resources and circumstances available to him. And, with Swords at the helm, it's all there for us to digest and ponder upon.

Even though some of the case-reports might only take up half-a-page or slightly more, it's the sheer scale of encounters, and the spanning of numerous decades, that impressed me - as well as the deep similarities and trends present in certain reports, also spanning many years and varied locales.

Grassroots UFOs also highlights some tantalizing and intriguing stories that, to this reviewer anyway, are highly suggestive of much more. Take, for example, the story on page 22 of a number of people who - way back in the summer of 1945 - witnessed unusual aerial activity in the vicinity of Oquawka, Illinois. Strange basketball-sized spheres of light kept the witnesses transfixed for nearly an hour - that is, until each and every one of them "went to sleep." An early report of "alien abduction" or some altered-state interaction, perhaps?

Maybe.

And, there are many such reports in Grassroots UFOs that suggest the accounts told by the witnesses might actually represent only the bare-bones of what really occurred, and that perhaps there was far more to be uncovered than initially met the eye.

But, this does not distract from the significance of the data that we do have in-hand. Vehicle-interference cases; close encounters with entities of an unusual, non-human, and at times ominous, nature; radar-reports; and military whistle-blowers with tales of crashed UFOs and dead aliens, abound in the pages of this book.

Notably, Grassroots UFOs also reveals that contrary to what many people within Ufology assume, the so-called Flying Triangle-style of UFO is most assuredly not a new one. In fact, Timmerman's data reveals sightings of just such craft from the 40s and 50s.

That's one of the things that makes this book so important: by citing early FT reports and what sound very much like 1940s-era abduction stories, Grassroots UFOs challenges much of what has previously been reported within the domain of Ufology - namely that abductions began with Betty and Barney Hill in 1961, or that the FT's are simply next-generation Stealth aircraft. Of course, those are just two issues. I could cite countless more in Grassroots UFOs that push back the barriers of when the subject really began in earnest.

Equally importantly, Grassroots UFOs demonstrates the incredible extent to which the UFO phenomenon (whatever it may be or represents) has played a long, massive, and at times intensely personal, role in American society.

Timmerman, Swords, and Anomalist Books' Patrick Huyghe and Dennis Stacy are to be applauded for not just sharing the hundreds of cases that pack the pages of Grassroots UFOs, but also for demonstrating that, within Ufology, there is nothing more important than the eye-witnesses.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weird Waters




Lars Thomas' Weird Waters: The Lake and Sea Monsters of Scandinavia and the Baltic States is an excellent new book published by CFZ Press, and which I have reviewed for my most recent Lair of the Beasts column at Mania.com. Without doubt, this is a superb, regional study that deserves your attention!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Atlantis in the Amazon




If you're one of those people who - like me - have a nagging, deep suspicion that, as a species, we have tragically lost to the fog of time an incredible and sensational body of data on cultures, civilizations and cities long, long-gone, then Atlantis in the Amazon is most certainly a book for you.

Published by Bear and Co. - who put out countless excellent titles, and whose catalog I heartily recommend - the book is part-road-trip, part-real-life adventure, part-detective story, and all-things enlightening.

Written by Richard Wingate - check out his movie Atlantis in the Bahamas - this new title presents the reader with data, facts and theories on a scenario that is as thought-provoking as it is disturbing.

The story essentially begins when we are introduced to Wingate's personal, on-site studies of the much-talked-about controversies surrounding Father Carlo Crespi - an Italian priest who moved to Ecuador in the early years of the 1920s - and his curious and captivating collection of priceless artifacts of gold and bronze.

But, there's much more to the story - at least some of those same artifacts appeared to portray evidence of ancient, fantastic technologies of a type that science and mainstream history tell us simply cannot have existed in the distant past.

But, utterly against all the odds, what if they did? And, if so, who were the makers of such astounding machines - including possibly even early, ancient aircraft (yes, you did read that right!)? How and why did they flourish only to vanish beneath the waves in the millennia-old cataclysms and catastrophes that numerous, priceless old texts tell us pummelled the Earth - and those that called it home - all those thousands of years ago?

These (and many more) are the questions that Wingate seeks to answer in Atlantis in the Amazon. Of course, numerous locales have been suggested as the origins for the tales of Atlantis and its mighty people. But, Wingate's theory is a particularly fascinating one, and he ties it in with the Father Crespi saga in a fashion that held my attention throughout.

For me, certainly, the most notable part of the book was that dealing with the Mahabharata - one of the two prime Sanskrit depictions of ancient India, the other one being the Ramayana.

Atlantis in the Amazon discusses the Mahabharata from the perspective and possibility that, in very distant times, the ancients possessed the secrets of the atom and may have tragically unleashed its terrifying power on the battlefield, thus laying to waste entire, largely-forgotten cultures and their fantastic technologies in the process.

Controversial? Certainly! But, I urge you to read Wingate's words on what sounds eerily like an incredibly old atomic skirmish - and one that may have radically altered the course of history and civilization.

Indeed, Wingate suggests that perhaps an early branch of humankind - who may have flourished in ways beyond our wildest dreams - was ultimately reduced to a struggling rabble in the wake of ancient nuclear exchanges. The result: they chose to destroy, or hide, any and all remaining evidence of the fantastic technologies that led to their disastrous downfall, and of which we - today - occasionally stumble upon enigmatic evidence and legends.

Could such a scenario be true? Are we merely the latest in possibly even a long line of civilizations that have surfaced, flourished, and ultimately reached the point of near-complete exterminaton? Are we now teetering on the brink of destruction? And if the unthinkable happens, will our world one day be viewed - tens of thousands of years from now, by the people of that era - as nothing more than the stuff of legend and folklore?

These are just some of the issues and questions that Richard Wingate's book brings to mind.

Atlantis in the Amazon is an excellent study of a forgotten, buried past that may have been as fantastically advanced as it was ultimately tragic. Let's hope we don't go the same way as those that came before us, and become merely the stuff of fairy-tales and mythology.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monsters of Wisconsin




This past weekend, I reviewed Linda Godfrey's latest book - Monsters of Wisconsin - for my weekly Lair of the Beasts column at Mania.com. Here's the link to the review, which, if you want to find all the latest news on Bigfoot, werewolves, lake-monsters, flying nightmares, and even out-of-place wallabies and kangaroos, you'll definitely want to read!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Investigating the Impossible





The guys at Anomalist Books - Patrick Huyghe and Dennis Stacy - have been busy lately, as is evidenced by the fact that they have unleashed upon us an excellent selection of new titles that I'll be reviewing right here, including Grassroots UFOs by Michael D. Swords and Robert Cracknell's The Lonely Sense.

But, there's yet another new title from Anomalist Books, and it's one that I finished reading over the weekend: Ulrich Magin's Investigating the Impossible: Sea-Serpents in the Air, Volcanoes that Aren't, and Other Out-of-Place Mysteries.

This is a wonderfully weird collection of articles and papers from Magin that are presented to the reader via an intriguing format. The book is basically split into four-sections, titled Air, Earth, Fire and Water.

So, in the Water section we get to read about sea-serpents and Nessie. In Fire it's the aforementioned volcanoes that aren't. In Earth it's sacred landscapes, crop circles and...well, you get the picture by now, right?

Let's start with Air, a section that devotees of all-things of a Mothman nature will definitely want to read. Did the glowing-eyed, winged beast put in an appearance at Italy's Lake Garda just a couple of years ago? Was something strange and diabolical really roaming the skies? Or was the entire affair provoked by far more down-to-earth phenomena? The answers can be found in a fine and intriguing piece of detective work!

In the same section, for fans of secret-aircraft, UFOs pre-dating the Kenneth Arnold era, rumors of advanced German technologies, and perhaps even a bit of skillful psychological-warfare, there's an excellent article titled The German Border Patrol In Their Flying Machines. And who can resist a feature on one of the more bizarre aspects of cryptozoology: winged serpents? Not me!

When it comes to Water, whatever your views on tales and traditions of sea-serpents and lake-monsters, this is a section of the book that most assuredly will not disappoint. And, indeed, it was the section that I found most engaging and thought-provoking.

Magin's approach to the controversy surrounding the Loch Ness Monster is as refreshing as it is insightful, and focuses on what we really know (which may actually not be what many think they know!) about the very earliest years of Nessie-themed research and reports.

Also of particular interest is the odd saga of the weird-looking critter of Spain's Rio Genil. This is a case - from the 1950s - with which I was not overly familiar, but that most certainly strikes a significant chord in the high-strangeness stakes. What was it that was dwelling in the waters of the Rio Genil more than half a century ago? Good question!

In Earth, Magin tackles the controversial 1678 story of the so-called "Mowing Devil" - an affair that some Crop Circle researchers conclude may offer evidence that the now-legendary formations in the fields are far older than many assume.

The Mowing Devil controversy has been addressed in a number of books; however, I'm pleased to note that Magin looks at the matter from a somewhat different - although certainly related - perspective, demonstrating that the story is far from dead and buried, and one still worthy of commentary and study.

Tales of allegedly out-of-place ships and boats (very out-of-place!) also dominate this particular section of the book, and demonstrate Magin's ability to dissect and entertain us with quirky tales from the fringes of Forteana. Legend, rumor, reality? Well, half the fun comes from reading Magin's words and conclusions, so I won't spoil things for you, except to say that this is an undeniably captivating aspect of Forteana that will not disappoint.

Finally, there's Fire and those mysterious volcanoes that aren't...or weren't...or maybe, for a while, really were! If that sounds somewhat cryptic, well it's meant to be!

You might think that volcanoes and Forteana make for strange and highly unlikely bed-fellows. Well, after reading this section of the book you will likely be forced to change your opinion.

It's clear that this is an area of research for which Magin has a great deal of time, interest and affection, and he regales us with tales of near-phantom-like volcanoes surfacing, provoking havoc, and then mysteriously vanishing into the murky depths from which they first surfaced. Or did they really surface at all? Might all the tales be simply that - tales? If so, were they just fanciful stories and hoaxes? Or did they have some basis in reality - albeit of a more down-to-earth nature?

I've never really been that interested in volcanoes, but Magin crafts a superb story (across several papers) of how they have come to play a significant and long role in folklore, mystery and Forteana.

And, with that all said, I will leave you with the following words: Ulrich Magin's Investigating the Impossible is a first-class, highly-enjoyable, and deeply informative study of a wide variety of infinitely odd phenomena that Forteans everywhere should have on their book-shelves. Charles Fort would be proud and pleased!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tabloid Man





When people ask me about my favorite books, I'm often met with surprise when I tell them that most of them have very little - and, more often than not, absolutely nothing - to do with the realms of Ufology, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the many and varied similar topics that occupy much of my time.

Amongst my most cherished of all titles are Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles; and Jack Kerouac's Big Sur.

But, if I was put on the spot and asked to name my all-time favorite, it would have to be Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary, which tells - in a definitively-masterful, and definitively-Gonzo style - the entertaining story of Thompson's early years and journalistic adventures on Puerto Rico, a place for which I have a great affinity, having worked there on a number of occasions.

And, it's perhaps because - having spent more than 20-years in the field of freelance-journalism myself - I can deeply relate to Thompson's literary romps in and around San Juan, that I immensely enjoyed Tabloid Man & the Baffling Chair of Death by Paul Bannister, which is a new book written very much in the spirit of the Gonzo-master's own work. And a fine piece of work Tabloid Man is, too, being equal-parts illuminating, hilarious, insightful and adventure-driven.

Bannister, like me, is a transplanted Brit, now living in the United States, and someone who - also like me - spends his days and nights earning a crust in the realm of freelance journalism. And, as Tabloid Man demonstrates - and as I can attest, too - it's a realm that can be as rewarding as it can be harsh, and as bizarre as it can be unpredictable (but in a very good way, if you keep your wits about you, and have a love of getting into the thick of things in search of a rollocking good story).

Basically, Tabloid Man tells the story of Bannister's life as a near-constantly-on-the road journo for numerous tabloids, but chiefly for the National Enquirer and its legendary boss, Generoso Paul "Gene" Pope, Jr., a fascinating character with a somewhat ruthless flair for business, a brilliant mind, and near-Machiavellian links to none other than the CIA.

Given that Bannister spent many a year paying the bills courtesy of the Enquirer, we get to learn a great deal about his excursions to foreign and far-away lands in search of all manner of story - but very often relative to Hollywood scandal, sensational murder cases, and much more of an entertainingly controversial nature.

Particularly jaw-dropping are the stories Death by Python and Cougar Attack, which are as graphically horrific as they are fantastically captivating. Much the same can be said for Mafia Hit Man - a Sopranos-style affair from Bannister that provides a unique insight into the world of the hired assassin. In other words, Bannister is someone who has literally been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.

But, one of the reasons I am so keen to review Tabloid Man is because our fearless author was someone who was at the absolute forefront of covering stories of a definitively paranormal nature for the Enquirer.

Indeed, the book's sub-title (...& the Baffling Chair of Death) is a direct reference to an engagingly-weird story of an old, seemingly innocuous-looking, chair that, for many years, stood in a Yorkshire, England pub, eagerly inviting one and all to sit in it. The problem is that those who chose to do so often met with very quick and fatal ends. Or, at least, so the legend goes. Of course, for the Enquirer, as Bannister notes, this story was practically Manna from Heaven. Yep, the tale of the chair was a controversial one; but, by God, for getting one's foot in the door, it was a good one too!

It was also a story that - having helped secure for himself a good position and a "can-do" reputation with the Enquirer - led Bannister to be dispatched just about here, there, and everywhere in hot pursuit of further supernatural-themed stories, including tales of spectral Roman soldiers, encounters with the psychic-spies of the CIA, the spoon-bending exploits of Uri Geller, and a multiplicity of all-things ghostly and ghastly.

Coupled with highly amusing stories of (A) carefully-modified expense-claims (surely not!), (B) copious amounts of free-flowing booze, (C) adventures in exotic climes, (D) the undeniable camaraderie that comes with working with fellow-freelancers on breaking, historic stories, (E) last-minute flights to the other side of the planet, courtesy of the Enquirer, and (F) doing whatever needs to be done to get the story and earn the dollars, Tabloid Man is a first-class account of what goes behind the scenes in the the world of freelance journalism and its links to Hollywood, deep scandal, and all-things supernatural.

But, Tabloid Man is far more than just that. It's also a celebration of what it means to live rather than just to exist, of doing things on one's own terms, of grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns, and of the always-unpredictable adrenalin rush that accompanies the words of your forever-demanding editor: "Get on a plane to Thailand; someone has just seen Elvis!" Or, something like that anyway!

To purchase your own copy of Paul Bannister's Tabloid Man, go to: www.bannisterbooks.com. Disappointed, you won't be!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Para-News




Some of you may know of Richard Thomas, who has written for Binnall of America and Stuart Miller's now-closed down Alien Worlds magazine. Well, Richard has his first book out right now, titled Para-News (for all the details, click on this link).

Richard asked me if I would write the Foreword for his book, which I was pleased to do. And although this blog essentially focuses on my reviews of new books, the Foreword (copy-pasted below) will give you a good idea of its contents, style and scope.

Here it is:

When Richard Thomas asked me if I would be willing to write the foreword for his very first book, saying "Yes!" was not a problem at all. Over the last few years, I have followed Richard's work at Binnall of America, and in the pages of Stuart Miller's unfortunately short-lived Alien Worlds magazine. And not only have I followed his writing: I have also seen it grow and develop in scope, depth, subject-matter, and style.

Plus, as is very clear from his written output, Richard has a great passion and enthusiasm for those puzzles, people, and places of the outer-edge variety that he pursues. All of these are (or certainly should be!) essential character traits when it comes to investigating weird phenomena, and/or interviewing Fortean experts in their respective fields.

There's nothing worse than tired, old has-beens, utterly jaded and worn by their time spent chasing the ufological, the cryptozoological, the paranormal, and the supernatural. Thankfully, Richard is none of these! What he is, is someone who is constantly striving to learn more, share his data with others, and to do the latter in an informative, entertaining and thought-provoking fashion.

So, if your interests include (A) strange and ominous beasts of a type that science says cannot, and do not exist, but that cryptozoologists say otherwise; (B) weird and enigmatic outer-space conspiracies; (C) the intricacies of time-travel; (D) spooks and spectres from the other side; (E) the way in which science-fiction and science-fact often cross paths to truly astonishing degrees; and (F) and the ominous Orwellian road that our society seems to be evermore traveling down, then this is most certainly the book for you!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monstrum! Buy Now! By Gad!




Originally published more than twenty-years ago, Monstrum! A Wizard's Tale is a book that, if you didn't read it first time around, you most definitely should now. Why? We'll, here's why: the good folk at CFZ Press (Jon & Corinna Downes and Co.) have just made available a brand new edition of this mighty, monster-driven classic.

Penned by the legendary Tony "Doc" Shiels - truly a phenomenon as much as a man - it's one of those books that should not just be carefully devoured by cryptozoologists everywhere, but also by ufologists, ghost-hunters, and just about anyone and everyone with more than a passing interest in what has come to be known as Forteana.

I read the original edition of the book around 1992, re-read it a few years later, and still continue to do so now and again - most recently, of course, when Jon Downes generously forwarded me a copy of the new edition for review.

It has to be said from the outset that Monstrum! is the type of book that will most certainly polarize its readers into two camps: (A) those who (like me and Squire Downes) believe that Shiels has perhaps come closer than most to truly understanding the real nature(s) of the many and varied anomalies of our world (and particularly so that curious band of enigmatic critters that includes the Loch Ness Monster, Owlman, Sea-Serpents, and Mothman); and (B) those souls who outright reject the words of its author, largely because they don't understand (or fail to fully comprehend the significance of) Shiels' character, his outer-edge talents, and precisely what it is that he is telling them, revealing to them, and even inviting them to partake in - if they dare, that is.

That Shiels is part-"Wizard of the Western World," part-Trickster, part-stage magician, a conjurer of "things," and someone whose approach to monster-hunting hardly endears him to regular cryptozoology ("regular cryptozoology," of course, perhaps being the ultimate oxymoron!), has led more than a few observers to view Shiels' words, findings, conclusions and photographs (of Nessie, no less) to be less than sound.

Too bad for them.

Those who hold such views have utterly failed to understand and appreciate what it means to be Doc Shiels. His is a world filled with a deep understanding of the real nature of magic (chaos and ritualistic), the secrets of invocation and manifestation, of the game of the name, of twilight realms just beyond - and that occasionally interact with - our own, and that aforementioned Trickster-like phenomenon.

Doc's is also a domain where, when we dare to imagine the fantastic, when we decide to seek it out, and when we finally accept its reality (but not forgetting that it can be as manipulative and malignant as it can be illuminating and playful), we perhaps provide it with some form of quasi-existence.

If you're someone for whom the Nessies just have to be plesiosaurs, the Bigfoot are giant, presently-unclassified apes, and sea-serpents are simply hangers-on from an era long gone, and who stubbornly refuse to go the way of the Dodo, then take careful heed: for you, I can say with absolute certainty, the journey is most definitely going to be a distinctly bumpy one.

If, however, you recognize there are deep - very deep - problems borne out of the fact that the Bigfoot never get hit by cars, and they never finish up shot dead in the forests; that lake-monsters are often seen poking their long-necks and multi-humped-backs out of ridiculously small bodies of water that just could not adequately sustain them; and that a literal, giant bird-man simply cannot be lurking in the darkened woods of Cornwall, England - even though you're fully aware that people have clearly seen the nightmarish entity on many occasions - then the winding, rollercoaster trip will be as welcome as it will be informative and enlightening.

That Shiels is a skilled, excellent and atmospheric story-weaver is a major-plus, too, when it comes to digesting and comprehending the message that Monstrum! projects. He carefully captures our attention from Page 1, takes us back to an era-long gone - the mid-to-late 1970s, when strange, dark and disturbing things were afoot in ancient Cornwall, England - and sets the scene for what sounds like a sadly-never-made 1960s Hammer horror-film, starring such stalwarts of the scene as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, and Michael Ripper.

The main-act takes us into the hidden realms of the wee-folk of centuries-past, of occult high-jinks, of witches and ritual, of the raising of monsters, of dark goings-on in ancient woodland (often, appropriately, at the witching-hour), and of torturous and terrible things - some called upon, others manifested, and some, perhaps, resurrected in new guises to suit the mindset of the latter part of the 20th Century.

And out of all this intriguing high-strangeness, spill forth the undeniable stars of the saga: the Owlman, Morgawr, and the creatures of Loch Ness. And not forgetting the Shiels clan itself, in all its surreal (in the truest sense of the word) glory.

When most of the action took place, I was barely 10 or 11 years old. But, I still have vivid memories of that blisteringly-hot summer of 1976 when the British Isles were hit, blighted, blessed (take your pick) by a wealth of definitive monstrous madness and a pummelling sun. And Shiels was deep in the heart of it. Hell, an extremely convincing argument can be made that had Shiels not been on the scene, there would not even have been a scene - at all.

It's important to note this is not a veiled allusion on my part to Shiels-inspired hoaxing or fakery. Rather, it's a reference to the (in my humble opinion) undeniable fact that the monsters of our world need us just about as much as we need them. And when mood, mindset, and setting are at their most harmonious, then reality, fiction, surreality, fantasy, hoaxing, magic, and trickery blend in ways that many dismiss, that others ignore, but that some - hopefully you! - come to appreciate as the means by which, in simple terms, weird shit really does happen, and the creatures of the deep, of the shadowy woods, and of monolithic, snow-capped peaks, come calling.

The worst thing you can do is to ignore Monstrum! Carefully reading it, and understanding it, may be one of the defining moments of your life.

If you're in the United States, you can buy Monstrum! by clicking on this link. And if you're in Britain, here's where to go get hold of a copy.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Real Aliens: A New Steiger-And-Steiger Title




The very latest in an excellent series of titles from the husband-and-wife team of Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger, Real Aliens, Space Beings, and Creatures from other Worlds, is yet another winner, I'm pleased to say.

Running at almost 400-pages, and packed with superb artwork (paintings, photographs and drawings), this is one of those books that is not only highly informative, but (just like all the books from our Iowa-based Dynamic Duo) it's written in an entertaining and atmospheric style that captures the imagination of the reader from page-one, and holds their attention throughout.

With that said, what about the content? Well, now we get to the really good stuff. Whether you're a Ufological veteran or a relative newcomer to the scene, Real Aliens will serve as a perfect resource tool - one from which you'll (a) learn a great deal about the nature of the UFO puzzle, (b) gain new insights and appreciations of cases old and recent, and (c) come to realize the sheer enormity and multifaceted nature of the phenomenon.

The book is split into specific sections, which I particular enjoyed, as it allows the reader to dip into whichever area they choose to first, and doing so doesn't affect one's ability to understand and appreciate the data under scrutiny either.

So, we get sections on the many and varied types of entity that have been reported over the decades, including, of course, those pesky, black-eyed dwarfs: the Grays. Detailing intriguing and, sometimes, harrowing data, as well as the possibility that the Grays may well be time-surfers, this is an excellent section that gets to the heart of the agenda of the pasty, skinny abductors from beyond.

Those long-haired hippie-like E.T.'s that came tumbling out of the deserts of California, Arizona and Nevada in the early-1950s - the Nordic Space Brothers - are also the subject of an excellent chapter that provides a very good, solid account of this particularly engaging (to me anyway) aspect of the UFO issue. Who are the Nordics? Are they friends? Messengers? Deceptive entities with devious agendas? You know what to do to get those answers: buy the book!

Our fearless authors also take another very welcome blast into the past: in search of hairy humanoids, such as those diminutive types that popped up in the early '50s, and, of course, the world's most famous hair-covered man-beast: Bigfoot. I've said it before, but that won't stop me saying it again: Bigfoot is not just weird and elusive. Rather, Bigfoot is just too damn weird and elusive! And Brad and Sherry make this amply clear in Real Aliens, by chronicling a number of significant cases that push Bigfoot into distinctly Fortean territories.

I was very pleased to see a whole chapter devoted to one of those ufological beasts that doesn't usually get the attention it deserves, and as a result, often languishes in somewhat of a degree of enigmatic obscurity: the Praying Mantis. Insect-like, slightly ominous (and almost echoing imagery of the classic 1950s movie, Them!), one gets the feeling from reading this particular chapter that these entities (whatever their origins) play a substantial, and under-appreciated role in the non-human agenda.

And there are further chapters on the other-world critters too, including the more-than-ominous Reptilians, and robotic types reminiscent of Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still (I mean the 1951 original; not the recent remake).

Moving on from specifically the alien entities themselves: if you're into stories of underground bases, underwater installations, and cavernous abodes of a type that would have had Richard Shaver and Ray Palmer foaming at the mouth, you're in for a treat. Have beings from other realms of existence secretly established outposts on (and under) our world? Do they secretly move among us, at night, after surfacing from their darkened abodes? Might some of these creatures represent the last vestiges of a very ancient race of terrestrial - rather than extraterrestrial - origins? You'll find a great deal of food for thought on these very issues in this particular chapter.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to have sex with a blistering hot, Barbarella-style space-babe? Go on, admit it: of course you have! After all, who could say no to Truman Bethurum's flirty and curvy Aura Rhanes?

Certainly, the most famous of all such cases - described in detail in Real Aliens - is that of a certain Antonio Villas Boas of Brazil, whose October 1957 encounter with an attractive chick of the cosmic kind, is now near-legendary. But, as the Steiger's correctly note, some such cases seem downright malevolent, and appear to demonstrate characteristics suggestive of encounters with incubus and succubi, rather than with flesh-and-blood E.T.'s. So, after reading this chapter, you might want to be very careful with respect to what you wish for...

Kind of on a similar path, the highly controversial issue of alien-human hybrids is also given the Steiger treatment. To many, this issue is all indicative of a clandestine, genetic program - and maybe one that has a disturbing agenda. Namely: to infiltrate our society with human-looking aliens. Sleepers, in other words. I was, however, pleased to see that Brad and Sherry note the deep and undeniable parallels between alien abduction, hybrids and kidnapped babies, and the centuries old stories of people who claimed to have met the fairy-folk. Are we dealing with real E.T.'s? Or is this a presently unfathomable puzzle that, depending on the culture, the people and the time-frame, manifests in a multiplicity of forms: extraterrestrials, fairies, goblins, Djinns, etc, etc? All in all, this is a very good section of Real Aliens that demonstrates one of the weirder aspects of the entire phenomenon.

Certainly, in my opinion, the most fascinating chapter is that titled Aliens: Deceivers or Deliverers? This one gets to the very crux of the saucer enigma, and demonstrates (a) the undeniable fact that just because some entity, or disembodied voice, claims to have alien origins, it may be pure folly to take it at its word, and (b) the notable crossovers and parallels between messages from alleged aliens and those communications secured via psychic means. Friendly entities from far away, or our ultimate nightmare manifesting in kindly, camouflaged form? I hope the former; however, I often suspect it's really the latter...

And, in summary, you'll also find a wealth of data in the packed pages of this book on the E.T. connection to religion (both in times-past and times-present); astronaut encounters with UFOs; an absolutely classic early Man in Black experience; connections between the Nazis, UFOs, and the occult realm; presidential knowledge of UFOs; and a great deal more.

Real Aliens is a highly enjoyable, deeply absorbing, and immensely informative title that - by covering so much wide and varied territory - makes it abundantly clear that there is a very real UFO presence in our world. And it's one that has been interacting with us for a very, very long time - and often at a deeply personal level, too. But, it's also a phenomenon that clearly has the upper-hand. Sometimes it exhibits friendliness, at other times it displays Trickster-style characteristics, and on more than a few occasions it's downright malevolent and malignant.

So, in summary with respect to Real Aliens, what can I say but: A definitive encyclopedia of the extraterrestrial variety!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Haunted Skies: Vol II




Well, hot on the heels of Haunted Skies, The Encyclopedia of British UFOs: Volume I, 1940-1959 (which I reviewed at this blog in January), comes Volume II! As was the case with the first volume in this ongoing series, authors John Hanson and Dawn Holloway have done an excellent job of providing the reader with a truly massive (and I do mean MASSIVE) amount of data - much never, ever before seen - on the high-strangeness that was afoot in the skies of Britain from the early-to-mid 1960s.

This is definitive, classic Ufology - complete with accounts of UFO-landings, flying saucers hovering over sensitive installations, weird creatures roaming around, alien encounters, links between UFOs and ancient, historical sites, and much more.

The thing that most impressed me about Volume II of this series is precisely what impressed me about Volume 1. Instead of simply regurgitating what had already been written about with respect to this long-gone era of Ufology, the authors have gone out into the field, chased down old cases and provided significant new data on those same cases, uncovered a startling number of new reports, and in doing so have given us a new appreciation and insight into this long-gone ere of Ufology.

Crop-Circles, huge cigar-shaped craft, vehicle-interference cases, pilot encounters, Mothman-style entities, the Alex Birch photo controversy, and strange craft skulking around the skies by the dead of night, are just some of the many and varied treats you will find within the packed-pages of Haunted Skies, Vol. II.

There's no doubt that John and Dawn are well on their way to providing us with the definitive, multi-volume history of British Ufology. Roll on Vol. III! Here's the link to the book, which you will not want to miss!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

UFOs & Demons



If you have read my 2010 book, Final Events, you'll know that for years, elements of the U.S. Government have secretly investigated the UFO phenomenon from the perspective that - rather than being alien in nature - it has literal demonic origins.

And, while the idea that UFOs could be anything less than extraterrestrial is most assuredly not what the vast majority of people within the realm of Ufological research want to hear, the demonic theory is one that attracts a substantial following.

And this is made abundantly clear when one reads the new book from Timothy Green Beckley, Round Trip To Hell In A Flying Saucer: UFO Parasites, Alien "Soul Suckers" - Invaders From Demonic Realms.

If you're interested in exploring further the idea that what many believe is at the heart of Ufology (namely that we are being visited by extraterrestrials from far-away star-systems), may not actually be what's going on at all, Round Trip may well be the book for you.

This is without doubt one of the biggest collections of data, case-files, interviews and more on the one facet of Ufology that - more than any other - usually gets relegated to the sidelines.

And for that reason, Tim Beckley has done us a fine service in compiling 300-pages of packed material on this issue, all under one cover.

So, what does the book tell us? Well, I'll tell you! After an Introduction from Tim B himself, in which the general theories relative to demonic UFOs are outlined, we are treated to a very-hard-to-find gem from the early-1950s: a full reproduction of Cecil Michael's book, Round Trip To Hell In A Flying Saucer (which, yes, is the same title as Tim's book, so don't get confused!).

If you have not read Michael's book, then you should. It's part horror-story, highly Contactee-themed, and infinitely weird in the extreme. Replete with strange tales of ethereal, human-like entities that manifest before Michael; out-of-body experiences; a cosmic trip in a UFO to the Planet Hell (really!); and tales of alien wisdom, this is a highly entertaining, rip-roaring read that absolutely typifies much of the early-50s Contactee movement.

We may never really know to what extent Michael's story had a basis in some form of non-human reality, if his experiences were purely internal and subjective, if he was a hoaxer and fantasist, or if - as I strongly suspect was the case with many of the Contactees - the answer might very well be found within a combination of all the above. However, the reproduction of this old tome most definitely sets the scene for the darkness that comes next.

Following on from the Cecil Michael book, we get an excellent article from Tim Beckley himself, titled UFO Possession And Mind Manipulation, which includes welcome and thought-provoking data from Brad Steiger, and additional material demonstrating some of the converging points between UFOs and matters of the occult kind.

Next up is a 9-page interview with me about my Final Events book, and the beliefs and conclusions of the Collins Elite. They are a shadowy, U.S. Government body that believes predatory, demonic entities, masquerading as aliens, are farming the Human Race as a means to secure a form of energy-based "food" from the human life-force: the soul. Even by my standards, the story of the Collins Elite is a disturbingly weird one.

Brad Steiger surfaces again (not from some dark, underground realm, I should stress!), in a first-class paper: Extreme Warning To Potential UFO Contactees. As Brad makes very clear, there is a definitively dark-side to Ufology, and to enter the scene and engage other-world entities can be physically and mentally hazardous in the extreme. You have been duly warned.

Not surprisingly, the late-and-legendary John Keel gets a significant mention in the pages of Round Trip To Hell In A Flying Saucer. As students of Ufology will know (or certainly should know!), Keel was hardly a champion of the extraterrestrial hypothesis when it came to UFOs. Instead, he drew parallels between the UFO encounter experience and the realms of the occult, the paranormal, the supernatural, and the downright devilish. And, we get to see the results of Keel's notable findings in the pages of this very book.

And Tim Beckley's work contains much, much more, too: (A) data on Satanic-themed blood-rituals and the way this may tie-in with cattle-mutilation events; (B) the theories of numerous UFO witnesses and investigators in relation to the "Demonic UFO" theory; (C) fears that those of us involved in UFO research are being manipulated and deceived by entities that masquerade as extraterrestrial, but that may actually prove to be our absolute worst nightmare; (D) occult connections to the puzzle of the menacing Men in Black; (E) shape-shifting entities; (F) the legendary, ghostly black-dogs of old England; (G) the disturbing world of Jinn (or Djinn, depending on which version you prefer); and a great deal more, too.

If you have a fascination with UFOs, but are not rigidly caught up in that one particularly-popular belief-system (namely that UFOs have extraterrestrial origins), and are looking to explore other potential points-of-origin for our mysterious visitors, Round Trip To Hell In A Flying Saucer will prove to be a welcome, vital and excellent addition to your UFO library.