27 February 2024


D.W. Pasulka, Encounters: Experiences with Nonhuman Intelligences, St Martin’s Essentials, 2023.

Pasulka, who is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, regards the belief in UFOs as a ‘nascent religiosity’ and that the perception of the subject is mediated and manipulated by the media and unnamed agents of disinformation.

She claims TV, films, video games and other media give the stereotyped viewpoint that flying saucers come from distant star systems. So she was surprised to meet scientists who live like mystics and believe that we are dealing with interdimensional intelligence.

Agreeing with Jacques Vallee, Pasulka believes that to get to the heart of the matter we should speak to the UFO witnesses and experiencers, who are living with ‘alien’ contacts in the here and now. Rather than seeing nuts and bolts craft these people report entering altered realities, encounter angels and demons and are often touched by uncanny coincidences and dreams.

Chapters of the book look at the high-strangeness experiences of Dr. Iya Whiteley a space psychologist, an anonymous scientist who works for a major space agency, José a former US Marine, Simone who researches AI and works for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DAPRA), Patricia Turrisi and Len Filppu. Like indigenous peoples throughout the world their stories tend to reinforce a spiritual aspect to anomalous and UFO experiences that are in synchrony with land and place.

To anyone with anything more than a superficial interest in UFOs none of this comes as a surprise, especially for anyone who regularly reads Magonia or Fortean Times. Indeed, my book Portraits of Alien Encounters carries very similar stories recounted by people in Northern England back in the 1970s.

The people Pasulka encounters are well educated and hold important positions in society, yet are they reporting anything more credible or ‘real’ than nuts and bolts UAP craft? And, do their qualifications make them better reporters?

Jacques Vallee towers over the narrative like a modern day guru who guides Pasulka with cryptic comments on how to deal with this subject, but does this blend of techno/mysticism about non-human intelligences who live beyond time and space really add up?

Pasulka seems to accept these findings, yet the people she ‘encounters’ are influenced by the same mythmaking structures and the same concerns as those expressed by the people in my (Portraits of Alien) Encounters book. There is no mention of alien abductions and how they fit in with the ‘new’ techno/myths and AI, nor does she address how these ideas have filtered into Congress or how they have secretly powered the US government to study UAPs.

Like other important people Pasulka has gone down the UFO rabbit hole and joined the alien bunny club. Nonetheless Encounters is a fascinating look at different people and the sheer variety of their (psychological - I would say) experiences.
  • Nigel Watson

16 February 2024


Joanne Morreale. The 
Outer Limits. Wayne State University Press, 2022.
“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity....

10 February 2024


Sam Knight. The Premonitions Bureau, Faber and Faber Ltd, 2022.

This is that rarest of literary animals – a book about what might loosely be called the paranormal that not only made it into the mainstream, but received excellent reviews from those who would normally be complete cynics unwilling to soil their eyes on any such work. Sam Knight, however, has cracked it.

30 January 2024


Mark Norman. The Folklore of Devon. Exeter University Press, 2023.

There is a certain journalist/commentator who delights in informing us every April 23rd that St George, the Patron Saint of England, "is ackcherly Turkish". I wonder what he would make of the possibility that the old Devonian folk song character Uncle Tom Cobley is ackcherly German?

17 January 2024


Katy Soar [Editor] Circles of Stone: Weird Tales of Pagan Sites and Ancient Rites. British Library 2023.

Katy Soar’s persuasive introduction to Circle of Stones made me pick up a collection of stories exploring the native (wraith-like) stones that cover the British Isles. They are rich objects for human sacrifice, devil worship, pantheistic cults and magic. Stones are ambiguous and mysterious. 

15 January 2024


Chris Aubeck. Saucers. Tracing the Origin of Disk-Shaped UFOs. Aubeck, 2023.

Flying saucers first arrived on the scene in 1947, we all know that. Well we are all wrong, they have been around since at least 1885. And as soon as they arrived on the scene people started shooting at them. Fortunately this did not start a 'war of the worlds', as being shot at was what these paricular flying saucers were designed for.

6 January 2024


Ray Harryhausen Special Collection. Blu –Ray Box set. Via Vision 2023.

Unsealing this box set of eight Ray Harryhausen films I was reminded of the early 90’s when I met Ray Harryhausen at the Everyman cinema in Hampstead, London. He was delivering an illustrated talk on his work. Apart from myself, and a friend, the cinema was full of young animators who’d come to hear the master of stop-motion animation. It was an inspiring evening.

4 January 2024


S. D, Tucker, The Saucer and the Swastika: The Dark Myth of Nazi UFOs. Amberley, 2023.

The year 1947 is thought of by many to be year zero for the modern age of UFOs. When Kenneth Arnold reported batwing/crescent shapes whose flight he describes as like that of a saucer skipping over water, it was mutated into the phrase that, for many, still describes the phenomenon of strange objects in the sky and sea. 

17 December 2023


Claude and Corinne Lecouteux. Tales and Legends of the Devil: The Many Guises of the Primal Shapeshifter. Inner Traditions, 2023.

The traditional folk devil really was a bit of a loser, no matter what his plans to steal gold, abduct virgins, capture the souls of the virtuous or just generally take over the world. Even if he was able to lure some lonely traveller or adventurous youth to actually enter Hell, they would nearly always escape by outwitting the rather dim demon, and usually taking a chest of gold - or some previously abducted virgin - with them.

2 December 2023


Ghost Stories for Christmas Volume 2 BFI BluRay. 3 disc set.

Director Lawrence Gordon Clark is celebrated for his direction of the seventies TV adaptations of the ghost stories of M. R. James. Clark brought a technical finesse, dramatic pacing and sensitivity to these productions. He was hugely sympathetic to the spirit of James’s writing.