Non-Fiction Reviews

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction and UFO’s, Witnesses and Scientists Report

(1996) C. D. B. Bryan, Orion, £6.99, pbk, pp627. ISBN 0 75280 169 4

Bryan gives accounts of interviews with those who claim to have been abducted, psychiatrists, hypnotherapists, and those who study and follow UFO sightings. Based around the 1992 Abduction Study Conference held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) and a large number of interviews held after the conference. Bryan has in effect successfully gathered a huge amount of information and opinion making this offering a must for anyone who is interested in the Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) phenomenon: there is however a ‘BUT!!!’

I am left with a sense of unease, and not because I have been convinced of the truth of alien abduction, far from it. The book is written in the very pervasive (to the untrained) style of pseudo-science: it is similar to Eric Von Daniken’s style. This is a shame, as well as suspicious. A book that sells itself as scientific research, and objective investigative journalism, should be just that. Not filled with descriptions of peoples' clothing or flowery nonsense describing just how hard they pull on their cigarettes or how over cast the bloody sky was when the author wrote the last chapter. The last chapter itself is, conversely, probably the best of the book; summarising the theories on the UFO phenomenon and asking several questions. It should have been the first chapter.

Any book that is published on UFOs will sell, but if it is to be taken seriously it must be written in a style that leaves no doubt as to the objectivity of its material. True science is about trying to find an answer to a specific question and finding it in a way that can be repeated and thus experienced by others. The real answer to the UFO phenomenon, at present, is as stated in this book (after the bit about the weather), that there is no concrete evidence of visitations by extraterrestrials viz., there is no such thing. If some of you reading this find the above hard to swallow, tough.

Simon Geikie

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