The publisher's blurb that came with Nick Redfern's book begins, "He's at it again! The notorious and enjoyable author Nick Redfern ... ". Well, I wouldn't argue with either of those descriptions when reading The NASA Conspiracies. Mr Redfern appears to be one of those generously open-minded people who attract a great number of eccentric characters. Reading this book is a bit like being stuck in a bar with a group of rather odd people telling amazing tales over a few, or more, drinks. Not a bad thing in itself, and rather how I would like the 'Magonians in the Pub' meetings to be!
Although it's clear that Redfern has his doubts about many, if not all, of the stories he is told, he relates them in the manner of the non-judgemental therapist who may well think that his client is, in technical terms, nutty as a fruit-cake, but nevertheless believes that the stories they relate are of value in understanding their mental state.
One of the most interesting tales recounted here is the story of 'John'. John approached the author after reading his book Bodysnatchers in the Desert, with its heretical claim that Roswell was not the result of an ET crash, but part of a grotesque US experiment using tragically deformed human beings. John explained that he was someone with a long and distinguished career in the New York Police Department and later in a number of other security-related organisations, which included involvement in a successful operation to trap a Soviet spy. In 1971 he was offered a job with "a certain highly secret arm of the US intelligence community operating out of Nevada..."
Got it in one: Area 52.
He was chosen because, as well as his impeccable career record, he was unmarried, had no children or any living close relatives. His work in Nevada involved 27-day stints at the secret location, and then three or four-day visits to Las Vegas where he could avail himself of the services of high-class hookers, with the full approval of his employers.
When he travelled from Las Vegas to the site it was in a plane with the window-blinds closed. On landing he was obliged to put on a strange pair of goggles which obscured his view in all directions except downwards, and in that state was guided onto a bus, again with blacked-out windows. Still wearing the goggles he was taken to a building which was the entrance to a lift-shaft, where he descended two floors, and passed through a variety of security checks, to his underground workplace.
His job in this underground bunker seems to have been that of an archivist, supervising a collection of documents from NASA and other government agencies covering the era from 1943 to 1968. As he read through these he came across references to a group of 17 very strange people who were apparently found wandering around the Arizona desert at some date in 1943. Although these 'people' seemed to have had many features in common with the classic 'grey alien' there were also significant differences, and there seems to have been no connection with Roswell or any crashed UFO reports. The investigation of these creatures reads like a Dr Who script, with descriptions, amongst other weirdness, of shape-shifting clothing that invades its wearers mind!
I was impressed by the fairytale-like character of this story: John seems to fulfil the role of the 'orphan' or 'foundling' with no family, who is taken to the mysterious 'underworld' - the strange glasses and blacked-out vehicles being part of the liminal transition zone - where he is shown treasures and hints of greater mysteries, and rewarded with gold (a "very good indeed" salary) and sexual favours. Curiously for such a high security posting, John's stay in this strange subterranean world was for just a year. But if we were able to check his contract details, I wonder if we might find it to have been for a "year and a day"?
Not all the chapters reach this level of strangeness, and some, especially on the so-called 'Moon Landing Hoax' and claims of sabotage to the space shuttle are straightforward demolitions of the conspiracy theories. We also get such old favourites as the Face on Mars, Kecksburg, NASA's curiosity about UFO reports in South America and Europe (but with no mention of Rendlesham, I notice), and indications that NASA, or at least some of its employees, have at times demonstrated considerable interest in contactees and abductees.
I was particularly intrigued by the chapter 'The Monsters of NASA' which details a number of reports of bizarre Mothman-like creatures seen in and around (in some cases on top of) NASA installations, some of which seem to link to the chupacabra stories in Puerto Rico.
I don't suppose you could take more than 5% of the stories related here as having any basis in objective reality, but they provide a very useful survey of the level and nature of belief - and of distrust and suspicion - in what is sometimes referred to as the 'UFO community'. For that alone, this is a book worth reading.
Now I think I've got to go to the bar and get another round in ...