Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, November 2016
by: Brent Raynes
A True History of Extraterrestrial Encounters in the Grand Canyon State
by Preston Dennett
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road
Atglen, PA 19310
2016, 192 pages, US $19.99
Reviewed by Brent Raynes
The state of Arizona has long had a noteworthy history of UFO sightings and a deep involvement with this controversial and enigmatic subject going all the way back to around 1913 when a game warden in Winslow saw a low flying “silver tin plate” shaped object. Preston Dennett's UFOs Over Arizona takes a detailed and fascinating look at this state's reported UFO activity. Some of the major players in ufology were Arizona residents, like Jim and Coral Lorenzen, founders of the Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization (APRO) with its headquarters in Tucson, as well William Spaulding's Ground Saucer Watch (GSW), and atmospheric physicist James E. McDonald. A good many of the hundreds of perplexing cases in this book were ones that they had documented during their years of research and investigations, along with dozens of other lesser known but equally serious and dedicated ufologists. Some of the most well-known cases in ufology come from Arizona too, like the Travis Walton abduction, or the controversial Phoenix Lights. Actor Jamie Farr, well known for his role as Klinger on the TV series M.A.S.H., is one of Arizona's most famous UFO sighters.
Even for the seasoned ufologist however, there are many cases in this book that they will find themselves unfamiliar with. In addition, there are some truly thought-provoking incidents that are certainly very intriguing, and at times challenge your concept of reality. For example, there is the remarkable story of a father and his 12-year-old son who were returning home from a funeral one night when they began talking about UFOs. The father expressed his opinion that UFOs might be us from the future. The son asked his dad if he could prove it, at which point the father a bit humorously asked him if he wanted to try and find out. So they stood outside the car skywatching on the side of a road when suddenly a UFO approached and hovered at close range, with two occupants inside looking at them, occupants who exchanged waves with the father, and then took off. The experience had left a deep impact on both. The son exclaimed, “That was you, Dad.” There are also accounts of what sound like pterodactyls, flying humanoids, a possible alien hitchhiker, people believing they were being abducted (including, believe it or not, the abduction of a cactus!), numerous close range encounters with UFOs and their occupants, and even UFOs tracked on radar. Compelling photographs of alleged UFOs are also provided.
The Mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack:
From Victorian Legend to Steampunk Hero
by John Matthews
Destiny Books, a division of Inner Traditions International
One Park Street
Rochester, Vermont 05767
2016, 360 pages, 6 x 9 US $19.95
Includes 8-page color insert and 34 b&w illustrations
Reviewed by Brent Raynes
The chilling legend of Spring-Heeled Jack takes us back to the Victorian London of 1838. What a strange and haunting apparition it was that must have frightened these citizens, at times physically attacking women. Described as a tall and thin figure with bat-like wings, clawed hands, wheels of fire for its eyes, and, on top of all that, a breath of blue flames, this mysterious and sinister appearing figure seemed also extremely agile, leaping over hedges and walls. News of such bizarre encounters spread quickly with numerous reports of sightings up until 1904. Whoever this oddball character was, he was never caught or identified.
The author shares ample details from the original 19th century newspaper reports of Spring Heeled-Jack, and draws thought-provoking comparisons to similar archetypal descriptions from other venues and epoches, such as the West Virginia “Mothman,” the recent hysteria over the Slender Man, and earlier folklore regarding fairies and other mythical, supernatural beings. A number of ufologists, including Keel and Vallee, noted the similarites in many of the accounts of Spring-Heeled Jack to “aliens”, though this book's author suspects the source for this legend and the resulting hysteria may have begun with what became known at the time as the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. That year, six articles appeared in the New York newspaper known as the Sun, describing how a famous astronomer had seen life on the moon, with visible flora, fauna, and even a race of “man-bats.”
Whatever the explanation, the author is well respected and seems to have done quite a thorough job covering the details of these remarkable cases from yesteryear. He also shares how the worldwide Steampunk culture has come to embrace 'ol Jack.