9 September 2021

Beyond Pascagoula

Irena McCammon Scott, PhD. Beyond Pascagoula: The Rest of the Amazing Story, Flying Disk Press, 2021.


The Pascagoula abduction incident of 11 October 1973 was not just an isolated case but a part of a wave of UFO sightings throughout that region of the United States. Not only that but Irena Scott comprehensively shows that a massive sonic boom accompanied by at least two other booms rocked the USA on the same night as the abduction.

Amongst the plethora of UFO sightings, the most outstanding one was of an encounter and possible abduction that occurred across the river from the Pascagoula incident and within the same time frame. The young couple, Maria and Vernon Blair were loading a boat on the end of a pier when a blue light was seen moving about in the sky. Maria even claimed to see a person emerge from the water and then drop back in again. At the time her husband told her not to talk about it as people might think they are crazy. It is only in recent years that Vernon admitted seeing the light and that two humanoids appeared and that they seem to have been abducted and examined by them. Maria says they communicated telepathically with her but much of the experience was blotted out of her mind.

Given the lapse of time since the alleged occurrence - more than 40 years - and the confused and fragmented manner it was recalled it does not present a very convincing back-up or addition to Parker and Hickson’s abduction claims. What is interesting is that on 6 November, also near the location of their incident, was the sighting of an Unidentified Submerged Object (USO) that played cat and mouse with a local fishing crew and a Coast Guard vessel.

To confirm that plenty of weird stuff was going on in the area, Scott devotes most of the book to the sonic boom that was second only to the boom created by the Krakatoa volcanic eruption of 1883. It covered 10 Midwestern and eastern states on the night of 11 to 12 October, and although many newspapers explained it as being caused by a meteor Scott argues that the sound wave was much slower than anything created by a meteor or fireball entering our atmosphere.

Another mundane explanation was that it was caused by a SR-71 Blackbird supersonic aircraft. This idea was put forward by Joseph Tester who identified a flight that very night of a SR-71, but Scott says the timings and location of the boom and the aircraft are not an exact match. Also, it does not explain the booms heard later that night. Although no signs of a meteorite were found there were a high number of UFO sightings that night, so it is possible that these were sightings of a rare type of meteor or a terrestrial craft of some sort.

Scott packs in plenty of information and this is a good addition to Philip Mantle’s championing of the Pascagoula case. Next year he and Scott, through his Flying Disk Press will be publishing ‘The Pascagoula Encounter’ that will feature more UFO witness sightings made on that eventful night. He also says this will be the last book he’ll write, but will he go all Frank Sinatra on us? -- Nigel Watson

28 August 2021

WATCH THE SKIES

T. S. Mart and Mel Cabre. A Guide to Sky Monsters: Thunderbirds, the Jersey Devil, Mothman, and Other Flying Cryptids. Red Lightning Books, 2021.

Winged cryptids are a mainstay of forteana, and appear in may guises across the world. This book concentrates initially on American examples, but offers more than just a basic listing and description of various crypto-species.
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13 August 2021

DEEP DOWN IT'S SHALLOW

Kevin D. Randle. UFOs and the Deep State, a History of the Military and Government’s War Against the Truth. New Page Books, 2021.

Kevin Randle’s blog A Different Perspective often provides a sensible and sober appraisal of the UFO scene, and this book in a similar vein is a very good guide to the involvement of the U.S. military and secret agencies with ufology. I should warn readers that he begins with Roswell and trundles along neatly through the various studies and projects that the U.S. ran and winds up at Rendlesham Forest. 
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8 August 2021

THE MACHINERY OF MYTH

Philip Ball. The Modern Myths. Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination. University of Chicago Press, 2021.


‘Myths are not choosy about where they inhabit, and I am not going to be choosy about where to find them...They erect a rough-hewn framework on which to hang our anxieties, fears and dreams.... Myths are promiscuous; they were post-modern before the concept existed, infiltrating and being shaped by popular culture.’
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29 July 2021

BATTLE WEARY

Neil Nixon. UFOs, Aliens and the Battle for the Truth: A Short History of Ufology, Oldcastle Books, 2021.

A really short history of UFOs would be: ‘What’s that?’ ‘Dunno.’ The End. The battle for the truth about these pesky manifestations is of course a lot more complicated, and Neil Nixon provides a very useful guide to UFO history, classic cases and the multitude of theories to explain them.
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22 July 2021

EXPLORING THE GOTHIC MIND

Clive Bloom (Editor) The Palgrave Handbook of Steam Age Gothic. Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.


The foundations of the gothic novel were laid in the eighteenth century with The Castle of Otranto (1764), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1790) and The Monk (1796). This is a dark dungeon and secret passageway territory that I read as a teenager but have been unable to comfortably revisit. 
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16 July 2021

CARDS ON THE TABLE

Patrick Maille. The Cards: The Evolution and Power of Tarot. University Press of Mississippi, 2021.


This book provides a history, not so much of the tarot cards themselves as a social history of the way in which they have been used, and the people who have used them for purposes other than their original purpose – a card game.
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28 June 2021

SEX, DRUGS AND DOWN A HOLE

Angela Youngman. The Dark Side of Alice in Wonderland. Pen and Sword, 2021.


There has always been a rather dark cloud hovering over Alice in Wonderland. Starting with the nature of the relationship between Charles Dodgson – Lewis Carroll – and Alice Liddell, the original ‘Alice’. The story was made up, on the hoof as it were, one summer day in 1862, to amuse the ten-year-old Alice and her two sisters, daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, on a boat trip along the Isis in Oxford.
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19 June 2021

LOST IN AN ESCHER PAINTING

Adam Gorightly. Saucers Spooks and Kooks, UFO Disinformation in the Age of Aquarius. Daily Grail Publishing, 2021.


Adam Gorightly takes us on a fascinating exploration of the car crash that underlies and undermines ufology in the USA. He begins with the research of Stanton Friedman into Major Jesse Marcel’s testimony about the recovery of alien wreckage at Roswell. This led to the publication of Incident at Roswell in 1980, co-authored with William “Bill’ Moore, that initiated our obsession from crashed saucers.
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14 June 2021

THE GHOSTS OF THE ZEITGEIST

Monica Black. A Demon Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors and Ghosts of the Past in Post-WWII Germany. Metropolitan Books, 2020.

Looking at Germany today it is almost impossible to imagine the wrecked and devastated nation described in this book. After the moral collapse of society in the Nazi years, the country was plunged into near-anarchy with the disappearance of all the arms of government, the destruction of the physical infrastructure, and the arrival of millions of homeless refugees.
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