‘The Gods Never Left Us’ by Erich von Däniken
2018, New Page Books
It’s tricky to remark on how amazing it is that Erich von Däniken is still writing prolifically in his 80s, without sounding just a bit patronising. Nowadays, his books feel like extended letters sent from his mountain home in Switzerland. He’s still analysing, arguing, questioning, probing. He bangs the same old drum, of course, but brings into the mix the newest scientific research, and the latest progress on the long, tortuous path towards disclosure. This helps to keep his newer books fresh and up-to-date. Erich von Daniken’s early work has spawned a media phenomenon in the form of the successful ‘Ancient Aliens’ TV series. By comparison, books must seem a quaint anachronism from the point of view of the newer generations. But I appreciate them, being a bit of an old hand myself, and I’m glad he’s still writing them!
This particular instalment kicks off with a fictional short story involving CERN and time travel, and the desire to be listened to by the gatekeepers of Knowledge. It would be too easy to psychoanalyse this short story and place von Däniken in the role of the central protagonist. It’s a curious thing to include in a non-fiction book, but, as with all von Daniken’s writing, it is enjoyable to read and engaging.
If there is a theme running through the book, it is signs from above. The Fatima sightings set the scene, dealt with briefly here. I suppose that the October 2017 event near Fátima, Portugal, which is held dear by the Roman Catholic Church, would be interpreted as a Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind by modern ufologists, in the sense of being a pro-active, human-initiated event involving a UFO-related phenomenon.
Book review: ‘The Sagan Conspiracy’ by Donald Zygutis
Subtitled “NASA’s Untold Plot to Suppress the People’s Scientist’s Theory of Ancient Aliens”
New Page Books, 2017
Carl Sagan was one of my heroes when I was growing up. His hit TV show ‘Cosmos’ was truly inspiring. Probably one of the reasons why I was drawn to science in the first place. My copy of his eponymous book was a school prize, still on my shelves. He came up with some great ideas, many of which were highly imaginative and, let’s be honest, pretty speculative. It was part of his broader appeal to push the boundaries of possibility, particularly regarding the potential for extraterrestrial life.
Later in his life, he seemed to become more conservative, more sceptical, more apprehensive about the darkness of superstition. These are natural changes as people age, of course. I assumed that Sagan had lost that early zest, but I was wrong. Having read this revisionist book, I realise now I was wrong about several things.
I always knew that Sagan had collaborated with the Russian scientist I. S. Shlovskii on a book entitled “Intelligent Life in the Universe” back in 1966, but I was unaware of the so-called Stanford Paper, which is the central plank of Zygutis’s book.
The full title of Sagan’s 1962 Stanford Paper is “Direct Contact Among Galactic Civilizations by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight”. It pre-dated Erich von Däniken, and beat Zecharia Sitchin’s 1976 book “The Twelfth Planet” by a country mile. How could that possibly be important, given the way Sagan seemed to vilify pseudo-scientists later in his life? Read on…