Saturday, July 1, 2023

Book cover: "Strangers from the Skies"

  • Star Wars-like pre-title cover scroll: "Flying saucers ... UFO's ... great balls of fire! Where do they come from? What do they want? Why has the Air Force adopted a policy of silence and ridicule? Do the UFO's hold the key to man's future? DO they explain mysteries of the past? Are they only natural phenomena? Or is the planet Earth actually being visited by"
  • Title: Strangers from the Skies
  • Author: Brad Steiger (1936-2018). He was born Eugene Olson, which is the name on the copyright page of this book.
  • Publication date: 1966
  • Publisher: Award Books (A171X). The company published books between 1964 and 1977, according to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Its first book may have been a reissue of The Wizard of Oz and its final book appears to have been the 1977 reissue of the 1969 anthology Tomorrow's Worlds
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 158
  • Cover price: 60 cents 
  • Topics mentioned on back cover: Swamp gas, blistered skin, weather balloons, balled lightning, astronauts photographing UFOs, saucers sinking into rivers, cultists and Albert Einstein.
  • A few of the chapter titles: The Saucers and the "Robots" That Terrorized an Argentine Ranch; The Fiery UFO That Crashed Near Pittsburgh; The Clergyman Who Waved Hello; Helmeted Aliens Over New Zealand; The Paralyzing Force That Stalked an English Village; and Space Ship on a Minnesota Highway.
  • First paragraph: "Senior Moreno! Senor Moreno, wake up!"
  • Excerpt from the middle #1: "Nearly exhausted with the incredible donnybrook in which they had just engaged, the two Swedes continued on their journey, each agreeing that they should keep the story to themselves."
  • Excerpt from the middle #2: "The William Denton family of Wellesley, Massachusetts announced that they had been paying regular visits to Mars as early as 1866. ... Denton's studies convinced him that the Martians had been examining our planet and had found us out as a people early in the 1800's."
  • I'm sorry. What? William Denton (1823-1883) was, according to Wikipedia, "a self-taught geologist, preacher, and a promoter of occult practices such as psychometry." In "fairness" to the Dentons, what Steiger describes as "regular visits to Mars" were not via spaceship but were purportedly the result of psychometry, the idea, unsupported by science, that you can touch an object and learn its history. (I saw it portrayed once in Cathy's Curse.) In a May 2022 dissertation titled "Spiritual Matter: Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism, Whiteness, and Material Performance," Hazel Rickard writes: "The Dentons’ son Sherman and William’s sister Anne Denton Cridge all had psychometric visions of life on Mars after touching meteorites. ... As William Denton concluded: 'there are at least four distinct races of human beings on Mars,' including 'The four-digited race' described by his son Sherman, 'the dark, stunted race' described by Elizabeth and Anne, a 'pink-skinned' and 'stareyed race' described by all three, more advanced than the others, but lower than humans because they 'worship images' or statues, and the fourth 'superior race' described by Anne and Elizabeth, marked by their moral transparency, luminescence, simplicity, beauty and a 'communistic system of living' (Souls of Things, vol. 3, 276)."
  • Rating on Goodreads: 3.41 stars (out of 5)
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.6 stars (out of 5). It surprises me to see the rating that high. The book has been reprinted several times and seems to enjoy a good bit of popularity with modern-day readers. Steiger wrote dozens of books about UFOs and the paranormal, and this was one of his earliest efforts.
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2016, Kevin wrote: "Back, so many years ago, when I was in high school, this was one of the first books that I read about UFOs. It helped spark my interest in the subject. It was filled with sighting reports that seemed to refute the idea that all UFOs were balls of light seen at night." 
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