Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained

In the current newstand edition of the Australian magazine Ufologist in my UFO History Keys column I wrote a piece entitled "The general sum of knowledge - UFO Encyclopedias." It surveyed the encylopediac treatments of the UFO subject.

Just after completing this piece I came across another interesting book that took a different approach. The Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained came out of the UK late in 2007 and has just appeared in bookshops in Australia. It is a weighty 760 page hardback with over 1,300 entries that tries to give a "wide ranging and balanced guide to unexplained phenomena." Edited by Una McGovern with contributions from the likes of Jenny Randles, Bob Rickard and Karl Shuker it gives a good general coverage of the UFO subject. Its dictionary format has each entry beginning with a "definition" followed by paragraphs which expands on the subject.

I was surprised to see myself getting an entry, definition and 4 paragraphs. I am "defined" as:
"Possibly the most celebrated UFO researcher in the southern hemisphere, Chalker has spent four decades collating alleged physical UFO evidence in Australia."

While "physical evidence" has been a primary focus for my research - from UFO landing cases ("physical traces") through to forensic DNA mediated investigations of alleged alien abduction cases (a possible "alien DNA paradigm"), I was pleased to see references to some of my other focuses such as historical cases (1868 Parramatta) and official investigations (specifically my comprehensive access to the Australian government UFO files between 1982 and 1984).

While a single general "unexplained phenomena" volume cannot give a comprehensive coverage of individual subjects the Chambers volume is a welcome and informative addition to reference works that cover this fascinating area. Others include "The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena" by Bob Rickard and John Michell and "Unexplained!" by Jerome Clark. All three in their own ways excel in many areas and give readers insights into the diversity of the unexplained.


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