I normally put information about new and forthcoming books over in the Book News listing, but there is one recent item to which I would like give a somewhat wider promotion. My thanks to Mark Pilkington and his Mirage Men blog for alerting me to this. 🔻
In Magonia 61, November 1997, we published a piece by Philip Taylor, The Mystic and the Spy, which examined two of the earliest British UFO books, Bernard Newman's 1948 novel The Flying Saucer, and Gerald Heard's 1950 book The Riddle of the Flying Saucers. Newman's book was probably the first book ever to have the phrase 'flying saucer' in its title.
Heard was a mystic and an outsider, who later became something of a New Age pioneer, experimenting with LSD and mescalin with Aldous Huxley in 1950s California. Newman, on the other hand was very much an insider, with contacts deep inside government and the intelligence services, if he was not actually an intelligence officer himself, which seems quite possible. This makes the premise behind his novel all the more significant: that a group of scientists alarmed about the possibility of nuclear war, stage a series of fake UFO 'crashes' which result in a 'united earth' ready to face an extraterrestrial invasion.
Taylor summarises: "Newman’s book, now nearly 50 years old, presents familiar themes to us today: a saucer crash in New Mexico, an alien autopsy (albeit a particularly messy one). In the background, an ultra-secret military disinformation campaign designed to create a New World Order hidden from the general population. In 1948 the New Order that Newman envisaged was that of brotherhood and peace to all men and is plotted by pipe-smoking, back-room boffins, fresh from their successes in the War."
Today's readers will recognise strong hints of these themes in Mark Pilkington's own book, Mirage Men. Although it may be far-fetched to suggest that Newman had a direct input into American and British government policy, it is clear that he was tapping-in to the mood of the era amongst quite a lot of idealistically-minded people, many of whom he would have known personally.
Newman's book has now been re-issued by the American company, Westholme Publishing, who seem to specialise in military history amongst other topics, as well as having an interesting 'rediscovered fiction' list which includes Newman's book.
The publishers say: The first book to use the term 'flying saucer' in its title, this novel appeared in the wake of the Roswell incident and other UFO sightings, at a time when people feared both the threat from outer space and humanity’s tendency toward self-destruction. With a playful take on weighty matters, The Flying Saucer is a satisfying combination of science fiction and thriller, witty satire and political commentary.
I think this is well worth a place on any ufologist's bookshelf, and you can buy a copy using the link below. I presume everybody recognises the photograph used for the jacket cover? (Incidently Mark's book has now been published as one of these new-fangled kindle thingies, and I've also put a link below.)