23 March 2023


Colin Saunders, Triangular UFOs of the United Kingdom, Flying Disk Press, 2023.

When Colin Saunders and his family were driving home to Hinckley, Leicestershire, on the evening of 31 March 1999, they saw a triangular UFO flying very low overhead. They were able to stop to get a better view of it for a few moments until it went from view.

Using his experience and knowledge as a draughtsman and graphic designer Colin was quickly inspired to build a 3D model of what he saw. His first attempt was stolen, along with a cassette player, from his car. He was told it looked like a professional job, with the unstated implication that the authorities or the MIB were on to him. Fortunately, he was able to build a better and more accurate model to use in lectures about his experience.

As someone with a knowledge of aviation technology he knew the craft he saw was too incredible to be anything known to human technology. As he puts it: ‘No nuts and bolts, rivets, or welding seams visible. There were no apertures, no antennas, or protrusions of any kind. It was immediately obvious to me this was not an earthly object.’

After a short autobiography and an account of the sighting, the bulk of the book is filled with more than 100 witness statements of their own triangular UFO sightings. As might be expected they range in quality and detail. The general gist is that many of these craft carry lights, are gigantic in size (larger than a football pitch), they are silent and fly slowly at a low altitude. If it was a secret stealth aircraft of any type why would it carry lights and fly so low over highly populated areas of the UK? It would certainly not be the best way to test such a craft.

Ruling out the testing of something like the TR-3B aircraft, Colin discovered there is a paranormal aspect to these sightings and some feature sightings of entities and even abductions.

A week after the sighting Colin’s household appliances suffered several electrical problems and he agreed with someone’s comment that perhaps ‘they’ followed him home and scanned it to study their reaction. Colin agreed with this and also with Budd Hopkins’ opinion that perhaps aliens had placed images in his mind. As well as further UFO sightings Colin has heard phantom footsteps when out fishing and on two occasions has felt phantom ‘bird poo’ land on his head. He even found a small scar on his body and an unusual object in his poo. He admits there might be explanations for the latter two instances, but he is convinced that the aliens use science that we do not understand.

What I do not understand is that Colin, who has a strong technical background, does not provide any context or analysis of the U.K. triangular sightings. The famous Belgian UFO wave of triangular UFOs seen between 1989 and 1990, for example, featured several examples of hoaxes and misidentifications, but instead of looking at that aspect of the reports Colin prefers to lump them together as a form of the ‘all these people cannot be mistaken’ argument. Could it be that images of triangular craft, like the Imperial Star Destroyer in the Star Wars films, or in The X-files have an influence? Or could images of secret Stealth craft often shown in the popular press, or the increasing use of drones be important factors? Such things are not considered - its aliens of course and their magical science.

Colin, like many others, was drawn into the paranormal world of aliens, aided and abetted by the likes of Budd Hopkins and believers who uncritically love tales of UFO encounters. As such this book serves as an example of how a brief UFO sighting (whether an ET ship or something much more mundane) completely changed a person’s life and world view.
  • Nigel Watson

17 March 2023


Algernon Blackwood, The Unknown: Weird Writings, 1900-1937, edited by Henry Bartholomew. Handheld Press, 2023.

The Unknown is an Algernon Blackwood anthology in four sections. (1) Canada, (2) Mountain, (3) Reincarnation, and (4) Imagination. Nine short stories and four essays. Henry Bartholomew provides an excellent introduction and his selection cannot be faulted for it conveys well Blackwood’s exhilarating and disturbing awe in the face of nature. 

9 March 2023


Simon Young. The Nail in the Skull and Other Victorian Urban Legends. University of Mississippi Press. 2022.

I have always felt that not enough attention has been paid to the disastrous effects of cycling. Now held as the key to a new urban utopia of fume-free, polar-bear friendly, sustainable transport, it seems the Victorians had a more critical view of dangers of the then novel machines. They identified a number of afflictions resulting from excessive cycling, for instance the Bicycle Face.

27 February 2023


Kevin D. Randle, The Washington Nationals. Flying Saucers over the Capital. Flying Disk Press, 2022.

This is an update of Randle’s earlier Invasion Washington and retells the classic story of the radar/visual UFO sightings over Washington D.C. in the summer of 1952. The clusters of reports caused a sensation at the time and have since gone down in UFO history.

21 February 2023


Gary Lachman. Dreaming Ahead of Time: Experiences with Precognitive Dreams, Synchronicity and Coincidence. Floris Books, 2022.

Gary Lachman's vast learning of his subject matter born of decades of study is fully on display in this masterful and detailed account. Although the topics under consideration are large in scope, Lachman demonstrates his grasp of the writings of previous researchers, and cites in particular those of Jung, Priestley, Lethbridge, Ouspensky (on whom he has written another book) and Colin Wilson inter alia. 

16 February 2023


Cat Willett. The Queen of Wands. The Story of Pamela Colman Smith, the Artist Behind the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck. Running Press, 2022.

The 'Rider-Waite' deck is probably the one most used by tarot practitioners, and has almost become the standard 'divinatory' design. Many of the vast range of contemporary decks are variations and developments of its designs. However now most practitioners understand that it has the wrong name and is more usually referred to as the Waite-Smith tarot.

12 February 2023


Charles Stein, The Light of Hermes Trismegistus: New Translations of Seven Essential Hermetic Texts. Inner Traditions, 2022.

As a fan of the Hermetica – those extraordinary cosmological, philosophical and magical works attributed to the legendary Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus, which had an immense but shamefully ignored impact on Western culture – it’s always good to see a new work on the subject. And this one, part of Inner Traditions’ Sacred Planet collection, held some surprises, offering some new perspectives even for an aficionado like me.

6 February 2023


Jem Bloomfield. Witchcraft and Paganism in Midcentury Women’s Detective Fiction. Cambridge Elements, Magic. Cambridge University Press, 2022.

At last! Finally, the rarefied world of academe has deigned to turn its august attention to magic, as in this series of Cambridge Elements short books. The full scope and ambition of this series is summed up on the back cover of this contribution: ‘Elements in Magic aims to restore the study of magic, broadly defined, to a central place within culture.

30 January 2023


Daniel Coumbe. Anomaly: A Scientific Exploration of the UFO Phenomenon, Rowman & Littlefield, 2023.

A TV interview with jet fighter pilot Commander David Fravor talking about his sighting of a tic tac UFO piqued Coumbe’s interest in the subject, which he had previously dismissed as nonsense. Using his background as a former research scientist at the Niels Bohr Institute, and having a PhD in theoretical particle physics, he decided to explore the world of ufology from a much needed scientific perspective.

26 January 2023


Ceri Houlbrook. 'Ritual Litter' Redressed. Cambridge Elements, Cambridge University Press. 2022.

Perhaps the most significant part of this book's title are the 'scare quotes', as much of this slim volume is devoted to exploring the meanings of the two words contained within them. It is a follow-up and extension of the author's two previous books, which have looked at two examples of potential ritual litter – coin trees and lovelocks, both examples of the practice of placing a semi-permanent deposition on the environment as a marker of ones presence.