Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: Uninvited Visitors

© 1967 by Ivan T. Sanderson

I have learned a new acronym with my infrequently occasional paranormal / cryptozoological / pseudoscientific reading:


It stands for “Out Of Place Artifact.” Any archaeological object that exists in a time period when it shouldn’t.

I re-learned the term from re-reading Ivan Sanderson’s Uninvited Visitors. Sanderson, a cryptozoologically-interested zoologist and jack-of-all-trades (including espionage against the Germans in the Caribbean during the Second World War), penned a bunch of books in the 60s before his somewhat untimely demise in the early 70s. A few of his weirder works trimmed their sails my way a decade later, as a starry-eyed youngling wanderin’ the creepy shelves in my mom’s library. Such was Uninvited Visitors, which I stumbled across and read this past weekend after an expanse of some forty years.

Now, as far as OOPARTs go, my first thought was the “Baghdad Battery.” That’s a working (or workable) electro-chemical battery, similar in theory if not design to the one that starts your car in the morning, discovered in the Middle East and dates back a dozen centuries. In other words, an OOPART is something that shouldn’t be where it is, time-wise.

Sanderson does not mention the Baghdad Battery in his book on the section where he introduces the awesome acronym. But he does write about iron nails found in glaciers whose ice predates the invention / discovery of steelmaking. And a wall painting dating back to the Roman Empire of what appears to be a rocket sitting on a launch pad with guide wires holding it steady pre-liftoff. Interestingly oddball stuff, though I had to chug a whole shaker of salt to get through it.

But I liked the book. I didn’t recall it as well as I probably will recall Sanderson’s other main work, Invisible Residents, which is also on my Acquisitions List. The subtitle of Uninvited Visitors is A Biologist Looks at UFOs. Hmm. There’s a viewpoint you don’t hear much from.

Sanderson firmly plants himself in the Scientific Method, a là Professor Hynek in his The UFO Experience, recently reviewed here. However, Sanderson’s book’s not as dry, and not as skeptical, because my newly favorite zoologist (who, incidentally, spent much of his later years in a house an hour’s drive from where I live) allows himself to freely speculate on the who, what, where, how, and why of flying saucers. And boy do I mean freely. There’s a picture of Dr. Sanderson on the back cover of the book working the telephone and smoking a cigarette. I’m thinking he may have been smoking something a lot heavier than tobacco researching his material.

There’s a lot in Uninvited Visitors. For example, in addition to the aforementioned OOPART, you’ll read about –

* New acronyms to replace UFO – UAOs, “Unexplained Aerial Objects” and UAPs, “Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena”

* In-depth investigation of the classic Flatwoods Monster of early-1950s Virginia UFOlore

* Are UFOs, ahem, UAOs, biological entities?

* An unidentified blobby thing that washed up on the shore off Hobart, Australia – too tough to cut yet it inched frantically away from an open flame!

* Star jelly and weird stuff that falls from the skies

* The “life” that is a virus – “dead” in one generation, “alive” in the next

* The Wassilko-Serecki Theory – “some UAOs could themselves be life forms, indigenous to space and ‘feeding’ on pure energy …”

* The Greys (as well as the Nordics, hairy giants, and other alleged alien species) and … gypsies?

* Men in Black – “MIB”s and the Mothman

* Instant Transference, a speculative method of travel that violates Einstein’s (alleged) speed limit of c

* Different universes that may share the same physical space (higher dimensionality, I guess)

* A quick digression into the possible why of alien abduction (the Hill case, the Villa Boas case), still in its infancy at the time of publication, 1967

* Possible varying degrees of intelligence among the various alleged UFO occupants, as well as a possible explanation for the varying types – sizes and shapes – of UFOs

* Panspermia and “seeding” of Earth (probably more novel in 1967 than it is today)

* The 16th-century Piri Reis map of Antarctica (sans ice …)

* A theory of cosmic evolution which links human beings to actual UFOs

* Cameos by Charles Fort, Carl Sagan, Dr. Hynek, L. Sprague de Camp, Otto Hahn, and Carlos Allende.

Some are mere mentions, some he digs and delves into for pages and pages.

I ate this stuff up as a kid. Still do, I suppose, since I couldn’t put Uninvited Visitors down all weekend. Read it in four hours over three days, and I wish it was longer.

Grade: B+ / A-

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