2 September 2011


David Godwin (compiler). True UFO Accounts from the Vaults of Fate magazine: 60 years of Close Encounters. Llewellyn Publications, 2011

For a good number of years, before it was bought by Llewellyn and turned rather New-Agey. Fate magazine was actually quite a good Fortean journal, noted for its excellent book review section which featured the likes of Jerry Clark, J. Gordon Melton and D. Scott Rogo, and the always sensible comments of this then owner/editor Curtis Fuller. It had not always been thus, for it had been started by the rather notorious Ray Palmer.
This book brings together material from across the whole time span, though the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are rather sparse, no doubt due to the copyright laws and perhaps the unwillingness of some of the still living old hands to co-operate with the new owners. There is some very interesting early material here, for example Kenneth Arnold's report of an investigation into ghost lights in Nevada in the 1930s, with a reader's subsequent piece on similar lights in Oklahoma.

There are also early accounts of the some classic sightings, such as Father Gill and Lonnie Zamora, as well as a piece by Aime Michel, essentially an extract from his then forthcoming book Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery which features what he believed was the first genuine French encounter with a ufonaut. To the more cynical eye this 'ufonaut' looks more like a drunken motorcyclist than any creature from the far stars.

There was another side to these early days; the wild behaviour of Ray Palmer, so some pretty odd pieces are included, included a report from 'Professor' George Adamski on his UFO photographs; an article claiming that flying saucers were Martian spaceships, hailing Percival Lowell as "the expert on Mars", alongside a quote from the noted astronomer Professor Ronald Webster. Actually Ronald Webster was a pseudonym often used by Palmer himself, as was I imagine the name of the author of this article. Palmer under his own name rants on about his experiences at the hands of the US and Canadian authorities over some allegation of spying.

The more recent articles tend to the new agey, so there are a couple by women who think they are reincarnated or some such aliens - it's one up on imagining you are really the secret daughter of John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Even this recent material there is still some good stuff, such as our friend Nigel Watson's article showing the similarity between modern UFO beliefs and the witchcraft beliefs of earlier centuries and how both may be influenced by shamanic traditions. There are debates between Stanton Friedman and John Keel on Roswell (both wrong, but Friedman far more so) and Jim Moseley and Karl Pflock on the ETH.

Compiler Godwin regrets the domination of the ETH as an explanation for UFOs and suggests things might be much more complicated.

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