Thursday, May 25, 2017

Some books for the younger generation of aspiring UFO & Fortean enthusiasts

Three recent books from Australia are each in their own way interesting reads particularly for the younger generation of aspiring teenage UFO and Fortean enthusiasts and future serious researchers.
Most directly for those interested in UFOs Peter Butt and Blackwattle has produced a 355-page e-book publishing in chronological order a rich selection of Australian government UFO files. Peter Butt is best known for his "bad river" solution to the Bogle & Chandler mystery, covering it in both a great documentary and more recently in book form. He has also taken on the Nugan Hand story and has produced other intriguing real-life mystery studies. 
Peter told me, "As a young fellow, I’d read the occasional Post and Pix magazine, which dined out on UFO stories. I was never taken in by them, but found them entertaining and thought provoking about life elsewhere in the Universe. Indeed, that interest prompted me to make a film in 1980s about the origin of life. I filmed with NASA scientists and interviewed Fred Hoyle and he invited me to film his colleagues at Siding Springs who were looking for organic molecules on Halley’s Comet. Hoyle of course believed that life was seeded from space and Halley’s comet held the promise of proving his case. At the same time, Hoyle was a sceptical of intelligent life making the journey here."
"I am also a sceptic," he said.
"I certainly doubt the ebook would be of any interest to true believers or conspiracy theorists. Moreover, it is not a highly developed thesis, rather a fun starter for young people to appreciate the evolution of the UFO siting phenomenon, which really took off here and elsewhere following Orson Wells’ radio program. The first part of the ebook charts this evolution from the early 1900s until the official investigations begin in Australia."
Here I think Peter sells his e-book a little short as I found it an entertaining run through some of the files (a full take on the files would require multiple volumes), including some cultural linkages with posters and hyperlinks to some of the 1950s films of the invasion genre.
Readers should also embrace Peter Butt's other work, which go much deeper into controversial areas such as the Bogle & Chandler affair and the Nugan-Hand saga.  Check out his Blackwattle Press site.  
Rockpool Publishing brings us popular dream researcher Rose Inserra's contribution to the publishers "Supernatural series", the first being "Witches and Wizards: The real life stories behind the occult's greatest legends ..."  Good production values with a nice 1950s classic retro SF cover deliver what is really an uncritical and lightly researched take on "popular ufology" which seems to accept a wide range of often internet-based material.  The result delivers a ufology that I have little in common with.  However it is an entertaining, if somewhat unbalanced, take on the wild and wooly side of ufology, that region which seems to accept just about every claim.  Surprisingly, given that much of the book material seems to have come from Internet "research" I would have thought a little bit of fact-checking might have avoided simple mistakes like "John Keele" as the author of "The Mothman Prophecies" - should be John Keel. 
The author description reveals Rose's love of "researching into mysterious phenomena began in her teaching days, when she strived to inspire her students to delve further into the mysteries of the universe, using information from science and myth to form an educated opinion."
The overwhelming flood of uncritical and unchecked information on UFOs and paranormal themes out there, particularly on the Internet, absolutely calls for a more critical and in-depth checking of facts.
This theme is in part taken up in Stella Tarakson' entertaining offering "Aliens, Ghosts and Vanishings - Strange and possibly true Australian stories" from Penguin Random House. I"m glad that the "possibly true" caveat is applied given sections like the one on "drop bears", cast as "the koala's evil twin", but it's all part of the fun of reading this nicely researched book.  What I really liked about the book is that it provides the young reader audience with references, "What more?" sections and even "Want even more sections".  The subject matter needs that kind of deeper engagement, fact checking and continuing evaluations.  While not without problems, the book is overall very engaging and nicely done, enhanced by the illustrations of Richard Morden. There is plenty of information here to nurture the budding ufologist, paranormal researcher and Fortean traveler. Sections include mystical creatures, mysterious locations, haunted places, UFO sightings, bizarre disappearances and strange happenings.
I even found myself represented:
Enjoy young readers, but dig deeper and develop a critical mind.  It will help you identify and analyse the real mysteries which are included in these books.