Monday, August 01, 2011


Summer Reading

While on vacation, I had many opportunities to sit back and get some reading done. There's nothing better than sitting on a deck by the water and reading a book while the sun is setting. And first thing in the morning. And after a nap. And under a tree looking out over a field.

So what do ufologists read for relaxation? Well, a lot of it is about UFOs, not surprisingly, but there's an interesting mixture of things to stimulate the mind, but some stuff just to read for its mush value.

Like Hybrids by Whitley Strieber.
I didn't get it. Yes it's a thriller, and yes, it's kind of about aliens, although the alien presence is a carryover from previous storylines. They helped a mad scientist create several kinds of superhuman cyborgs that war with one another.

So I went looking for his other book that came out this year, The Key, which actually is an expansion of his writings about an apparent contact experience a decade ago.
The book illustrates the fundamental problem with contactee literature: it's literally unbelievable. Strieber feels that an ultraterrestrial visited him in a Montreal hotel room and imparted to him deep and mystical knowledge. This, despite the fact his notes on what the being told him show nothing but vagueness and confabulation. e.g. Strieber asks: "Was there a Eucharist before Christ?" The Key (Being) replies: "I don't want to answer." Strieber asks: "Why are universes created?" The Key replies: "Being serves joy." WTF?

At an SF convention, I picked up The Real UFO Invasion by Ray Palmer (1967), one of the few UFO genre paperbacks I didn't have yet in my collection.

In Wisconsin, I picked up Why We Are Here! by Gloria Lee (1959), or rather, as it notes on the cover: "written by a BEING from JUPITER and instrumented by GLORIA LEE."
It reads very similar to Strieber's Key. e.g. "We of the solar system wish only to lend our hand so you can proceed into the new vibration of your Golden Age." In fact, the messages are almost identical.

For lighter fare, I picked up two early juvenile lit books: The Boy Aviators' Treasure Quest by Captain Wilbur Lawton (1910) and The Radio Boys and the Sending Station by Allen Chapman (1922). These are fun reads, predating series like om Swift and the Hardy Boys, and were their originators of the genre.

A surprise find was Crop Circles of Wessex, edited by Jane Drake (1997), which I purchased for only a buck. It has articles by Kent Goodman and Pat Delgado, and a foreward by Reg Presley.

My two favourite books of the summer reads were quite unexpected.
First, Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (1992). It's a small paperback that is mostly reprints of earlier works, in which Bradbury describes his philosophy and offers practical ways of honing the craft (art) of writing. He gives some amazing insight, and imparts some serious wisdom. Probably the best book about writing that I've seen.

And finally, UFO in Her Eyes by Xiaolu Guo (2010). Okay, so I got it for the title, but I was pleasantly surprised that it really has not much to do with UFOs at all, but is a sad romance set against the political landscape of rural China. Written as a series of letters and reports to government officials, it's a delightful book and may become one of my top 10 favourite reads of all time!


Thanks for the list and your thoughts. I was intrigued by Xiaolu Guo but hadn't seen a trustworthy review when it came out.
And it's becoming apparent to me that it's better to read about Whitley Streiber than actually read Whitley Streiber. One day, abduction advocates will have to face up to how much he's tainted the phenomenon. Of course, to do so would be to admit that media images influence abduction reports, which I don't see happening (I've been reading Bullard lately).
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