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Lost Kings By Canadian Writer Paul Vitols Is A Powerful, Multi-Layered Short Story About A Journey Cut-Short, But Points The Way To A Much Deeper Kind Of Exploration


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

I’m tempted to categorize this short story under the tradition of what I’ll call “road trip enlightenment literature.” Think of Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road, Robert Pirsig‘s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Peter JenkinsA Walk Across America, or maybe Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley.

But, you know, stories about journeys involving characters who confront extraordinary situations and grow (or falter) in the process has been “a thing” since The Odyssey, the second-oldest extant work of Western literature, most likely created in the 8th Century B.C.

Whatever the case, I hasten to add that LOST KINGS by author PAUL VITOLS manages to transcend genre or category and say something unique. This work doesn’t read or feel derivative — it’s more like a creatively fresh iteration of the hero’s journey archetype.

The reader will be immediately drawn into a vivid world inhabited by two young vagabonds, John Pulkis and Stephen Eckert. They’re two guys from Canada who are on a mission to travel around the globe so that they can experience an epic, life-altering adventure before going to college and getting bogged down in “real life.”

Paul Vitols

Travelling across Europe, the young men reach a major mission malfunction in Italy — they basically run out of cash. Things haven’t worked out like they planned and it looks like they’ll have to scrap their grand plan to circle the globe on a wing and a prayer. Savage disappointment, the death of a dream and the humiliation of failure triggers a kind of spiritual crisis for 20-year-old John Pulkis

It’s interesting to note that his traveling pal, Stephen Eckert, while also disappointed, appears to remain anchored in the daily practicalities of material reality. He fills their van with gas, makes lunch, cleans the refrigerator, does the driving — while Pulkis is thrust into a more extoic introspective journey of mind and experience. He enters an agitated state of self questioning and doubt, but also confronts a marvelous expansion or transcendence of his ego-based consciousness — and yet this experience is cruelly truncated. That precipitates an “agony of the Self” that is now more unbearable than before.

I don’t want to give away any more because I’m eager for readers to discover this wonderful, deeply redolent, nuanced piece of literature for themselves.

Paul Vitols manages to enfold layers of meaning into a short work characterized by striking description of place and landscape, a decent plot to challenge animated characters and a theme that is multifaceted — on this latter issue I would suggest (with some trepidation) an overarching motif that features what I’ll call the “passion of the Western mind” colliding with the “enlightenment of the Eastern psyche.” But that’s just one aspect.

While my original comparison was to “journey of discovery” kinds of writing, I would also say this short story also brought forward for many other correlations (for me, anyway) that would be just as apt, specifically, Herman Hesse’s Demian and Siddhartha — and especially George Orwell’s Down and Out In Paris and London — the chapter where Orwell takes a job at French hotel as a “plongeur,” a French slang term for “dishwasher.”

I haven’t even mentioned the huge significance of one of the character’s struggle with Sir James Frazer’s massive volume, The Golden Bough — but there I go again, telling too much! I urge you to discover this A-List piece of literature for yourself and enjoy its many layers.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

Paul Vitols is perhaps best known as the co-creator and screenwriter for a popular CBC television series, THE ODYSSEY, a fantasy-adventure featuring children. The show ran for three seasons from 1992 to 1995 and achieved international distribution and acclaim, including a run on the Sci-Fi Channel in the U.S.

The Paul Vitols Website has a lot of interesting stuff, and links to more of his books. You can find it HERE

You can check out his Patreon site HERE

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Eden Phillpotts Wrote 300 Books, Including ‘Saurus’ — A Hyperintellectual Lizard Visiting Earth From Outer Space


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

A large nut-shaped metallic object comes crashing to earth and buries itself on impact into the bucolic pastures of the East Devonshire countryside.

A distinguished and semi-retired biologist who lives nearby investigates. He digs out the object and is stunned to discover it’s not a natural meteorite, but obviously something hollow and of intelligent design.

But the real surprise comes when his team of workmen finally manage to open the space capsule. Inside they find three small boxes. One contains an egg, the next contains a cache of seeds and the third a mysterious tin containing what appears to be some sort of jelly.

Of course, they have to hatch that egg. Out of it emerges a rather humanoid-like iguana. This iguana has no tail. It also sports a large, bulbous head and large, luminous eyes that gleam with intelligence from Day 1. The seeds are also planted. The result is a rapid-growing plant that produces a fruit resembling a tomato. It turns out the tin of jelly is “baby food” for the newly hatched reptoid — apparently sustenance until the space tomatoes are ready to eat. And so “Saurus” is born — an extraterrestrial envoy from some mysterious source in outer space.

Prolific British author EDEN PHILLPOTTS leveraged this science fictiony premise as a vehicle that would enable him to present a series of essays and commentaries on the state of human affairs, from geopolitical and theological, to historical and philosophical.

So this is not a thrilling science fiction yarn with a well-developed plot, and not the brand of space opera action that was thriving in 1938 when this book was published. Saurus matures to adulthood in just weeks, learns to read and write quickly — and then he learns to type. That’s his only method of communication since he cannot not speak. Fortunately, he commands a blazing fast word-per-minute proficiency.

After a deep read of world history, a thorough survey of philosophy, math, theology and sundry other topics he begins to spill forth with his assessment of earth’s collective humanity and our current level of psycho-social development. Of course, these are the views of Eden Phillpotts.

It’s interesting to note this book came out in 1938, a dire time for Great Britain. The nation still bore the scars of the first Great War. Everyone knew that a second World War was certainly right around the corner. Also, the rising menace of the Russian communists and the gigantic figure of Joseph Stalin rumbled menacingly on the Eastern horizon.

Marker denoting “Eltham” the home of Phillpotts in Torquay, Devon, England.

One would think that simmering atmosphere would have informed and influence the many opinions Phillpotts espouses through the fictional vehicle of his intellectual lizard — and yet I detect scant sense of fear or anxiety within these pages. In fact, Saurus is the very personification of staid English tact and aplomb. The qualities of politeness and a certain pragmatic chivalry infuse the fundamentals of his discourse.

I’ll also say that Phillpotts does not come off as radical in his politics, nor does he display the agitation of a social malcontent who is deeply critical or pessimistic about the fate of mankind. His views on the achievements of his own culture are measured.  That Great Britain spread a common law grounded in the fundamental liberty of the individual throughout its empire is what Phillpotts considers his country’s greatest contribution to the world. Yes, he acknowledges that Britain committed its share of atrocities in its forays around the globe, but he says these sins are ultimately mitigated when the basic principles of English law and culture take hold after the dust settles. As Saurus writes, the British find “hating” to be “very fatiguing.”

On the other hand, Phillpotts’ central notion is that mankind is ultimately unable to live up to its own highest ideals. For example, Saurus identified the GOLDEN RULE as perhaps the most enlightened concept ever idealized. Unfortunately, no one is able to adhere to the Golden Rule for long, be it an individual or a nation. So Phillpotts says that while people understand what to do — they ultimately fail to do it — and the reason for that is that we fall prey to our passions, emotions and latent animal instincts.

Adelaide Phillpotts as a child,

And there’s so much more. For example, Phillpotts upholds the first American President George Washington as one of the greatest men in history and that England should have learned more from his example — but I’ll leave it there.

Unfortunately, one can never consider any of the hundreds of popular books Phillpotts wrote without also noting his infamous, years-long incestuous relationship with his daughter, ADELAIDE PHILLPOTTS ROSS. She revealed the incestuous nature of her relationship with her father in a 1976 interview. It started when she was a girl and may have continued until she was 55 when she married an American bookseller, Nicholas Ross — which Eden Phillpotts objected to strenuously. Upon her marriage, he never spoke to her again. He died in 1960 at age 98.

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Ode To Odin By Bruce McLaren Is Fantastically Satisfying Romp Featuring An Archaeological Dig In Central Asia


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

The science of archaeology is often leveraged by fiction writers because it lends itself so well to a premise involving travel to an exotic far-off land where the characters can encounter strange people, breathtaking landscapes and brave harsh conditions as they strive to unlock some tantalizing mystery of the past.

ODE TO ODIN is no exception as it incorporates all of these elements, and it does so brilliantly. Author BRUCE MCLAREN regales us with visceral and vibrant descriptions of the brutal but beautiful deserts of Central Asia. He smacks us in face with furnace arid winds and makes us feel a scorching sun lashing our backs while bloodthirsty insects sting and suck our blood. Yet, at the same time, he evokes the aching loveliness of the landscape and imparts to us the thrill of what it must be like to explore an alien landscape harboring strange wonders and awe inspiring vistas.

Bruce McLaren

That’s great, but you know what? This guy’s power of description is not what I liked best about this novel. What made this an almost insanely fun read is the author’s take on human nature. This is a an acid-dripping, go-for-the jugular cynicism that exposes certain people for what they really are — petty, ego-driven, neurotic posers who care for nothing but their own pleasures and bald-faced pursuits of power, money, food, sex and alcohol.

But  just as McLaren demonstrates the beautiful/harsh dualism of Mother Nature, he also exposes the dualistic nature of the human psyche. Yes, some characters in this story are debauched and cruel but others show empathy, caring and a capacity to love deeply.

I’m probably making this sound like a work of heavy-weight literature, but this is actually a pretty down-to-earth piece of writing that anyone can read as a popular lark of a novel. McLaren’s wizardry is that he makes a work of literary depth an easy read. Readers will eagerly turn pages — and that’s despite that fact that this book incorporates only a bare minimum of plot.

Rather, it follows the daily experience of a young, post-graduate who makes a rash decision to join the dig of a brilliant archaeologist who has long since fallen out of favor with the academic establishment . This is the titular Odin who has devolved into an outright pariah.

Kyzyl Kum Desert.

The viewpoint character never names himself. It’s through his eyes and thoughts that we experience what it’s like to spend three brutal months on an excavation in a remote region of Central Asia, in this case, the semi-autonomous nation of Karakalpakstan within Uzbekistan.

Nomadic Karakalpak people, 1932 photo.

The dig has a lofty goal — to uncover the origins of the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, arguably the first monotheistic religion and a belief system based on a dualistic cosmology of good versus evil. To that end, the archaeologists are supervising the excavation of what they believe to be a Zoroastrian fire temple which has been buried beneath the sands of the Kyzyl Kum desert for untold centuries.

But as the title implies, the pivot point of the book revolves around the bombastic archaeological genius of Odin. He was once a rising star in academia and being groomed for a top professorship or perhaps even chair of the department for a major British university. Odin goes rogue early on in his career, however, opting to pursue his passion in his own highly eccentric and iconoclastic way.

Alabaster bust, Zoroastrian priest with Bactrian headdress, circa 3rd Century BCE

Here again McLaren’s theme of dualism plays out in the demented psyche of Odin. He’s at once erudite, handsome, fantastically charming and brilliant while also completely bereft of human compassion and self restraint — he’s a debauched satyr, egomaniac and pursues his lusts for sex, power and booze with absolute absence of moral restriction.

Odin’s MO is always the same — he wins over people he wants to use and control with his irresistible, almost magical charisma — only to eventually utterly alienate all those unfortunate enough to fall under his powerful spell and throw in with his grand designs. When Odin is done with people, he kicks them to the curb like a contemptible piece of trash, and he does so without an ounce of remorse.

Yes, he’s loathsome — but oh-so-hilarious!

Whether by design or accident, McLaren leverages archaeology as a metaphor for personal self discovery. Just as the method of the archaeologist is to peel back the layers of history inch by inch by stripping away the soil one strata at a time — so does the narrator seem to dig into his own psyche one level at a time as he strives to find out who he is and the meaning of his own life, belief system, worldview, and so forth. It’s an ingenious way for a fictional character to work toward personal self discovery.

Finally, a depth of authenticity underpins this work of fiction because McLaren himself is the real thing. That is, he holds a doctorate in Middle Eastern Archaeology from the University of Sydney and has spent years out in the field conducting excavations. He’s well published in peer-reviewed journals. He has genuine insight into the real world of archaeology. This experience adds power and informs the results when he lets his hair down to write a colorful yarn featuring archaeologists as fictional players.

Oh, one final-final note: I want to mention that there’s a “shadow character” that looms in the background of just about every chapter of this book — that of ALEXANDER THE GREAT — but I’ve already gone on too long so I’ll just let readers discover that for themselves.

So Odin To Odin is one of the best of the 120 books I’ve read so-far this year — and there’s just a month to go in 2018.

SEE ALSO MY REVIEWS OF SIMILAR TOPIC BOOKS:

A HISTORY OF PYRRHUS by Jacob C. Abbott

HUMPHREY, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER By Kenneth Vickers

ELISHA’S BONES By Don Hoesel

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SIR WILLIAM HERSCHEL By Edward Singleton Holden

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

Retro-Review: American Diplomat George Horton’s 1901 Novel of Greco-Turkish Conflict in Crete Is A Work Of Historic Significance


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Like Another Helen, penned by American intellectual and distinguished diplomat GEORGE HORTON, is a competent novel but not a great work of literature. It appears to have been an attempt by Horton to write a popular novel for a general audience, but one which would also educate readers on the brutal and dramatic events which occurred on the island of Crete during the 1898-1908 Greek rebellion against the Ottoman Turks.

The result, however, is a book that falls short of being a gripping portrayal of this violent chapter of history. At the same time, the entertainment factor is anemic. It misses the mark with an attempt to engage readers with a tale of three adventurous men opting to plant themselves in the middle of tumultuous events in an exotic location.

An obvious comparison is Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway creates for us the itinerant soldier Robert Jordan who elected to participate in the Spanish Civil War. But where Ernest Hemingway produced a masterpiece, Horton’s book, published 40 years earlier, is light-weight by comparison and forgettable.

George Horton

Let’s face it, George Horton was no Hemingway. He was a serious intellectual and scholar, however, who mastered Greek and Latin. He was a noted translator of the works of the archaic Greek poet Sappho. Horton was also a respected journalist and formidable literary figure of his day. He was a prominent member of the Chicago Renaissance, a group of writers that produced some of the America’s brightest literary lights.

Horton’s considerable output of books and journalism went hand-in-hand with his work as a diplomat. He was appointed to a number of consular position in Greece and the former Ottoman Empire. He was the Consul General in the Greek-controlled city of Smyrna in what is today Turkey. Horton witnessed the catastrophic burning of Smyrna at the end of the Greco-Turkish War. The victorious Turk army took some extra revenge on their bitter enemies by setting fire to the Greek and Armenian quarters of the city which killed tens of thousands.

Horton’s book, The Blight of Asia, documents the burning of Smyrna and the ethnic cleansing promulgated by the Turks against Christian Greeks and Armenians. The Blight of Asia is still regarded today as a work of historic importance.

In Like Another Helen, Horton gives us vivid descriptions of Cretes’ villages, manner of dress, culinary tastes, attitudes and outlooks of the people, religious practice and other authentic insights into the culture. He also provides us with a window into how the tensions between the Islamic Turks and the Christian Greeks came to a boil after decades of uneasy Ottoman rule on an island that had for centuries been fundamentally Greek.

John Dryden

Horton plucked the title for this book from an 1697 ode titled Alexander’s Feast written by England’s first Poet Laureate JOHN DRYDEN. The poem tells of a feast celebrated by Alexander the Great after his conquest of the Persian city of Persepolis. In the story, Alexander is goaded into vengefully burning Persepolis by his beautiful lover, Thais — Thais being the one who is “like another Helen” — of Troy, that is.

In Horton’s book, “Helen” is reincarnated as Panayota, a young maiden of extreme beauty. She is the daughter of a widowed priest in the Cretan village of Ambellaki. The village is prompted to go to war when Panayota is threatened to be taken captive by a nearby Turkish warlord who wants to add the lovely Greek maiden to his harem.

Traditional Cretan Greek manner of dress.

This is all pretext for plot, of course, as this was a time when all of Christian-Greek Crete was embroiled in throwing off the suzerainty of the Ottomans. Horton adopts the plight of Panayota and the chivalrous attempts to save her as a pivot point around which to tell the story of the Cretan struggle for independence.

The first part of the novel involves almost whimsical descriptions of village life evincing the gaiety and colloquial charm of the simple merchants, goat herders, orchard tenders, fishermen and their deeply pious Christian culture — but then Horton leads us into war — and he does not flinch from portraying the horrors of village bombardments, massacres, gun battles, village burnings and the desperation of refugees fleeing all the mayhem and violence. Consider the description in this passage:

“A woman, completely crazed with fear and grief, came stumbling along the stony road, bearing upon her back a lad nearly as large as herself, holding him by the wrists. His throat had been cut, and the head fell back horribly, lolling from side to side, pumping out the blood that had soaked her dress to the hips and her long hair that dabbled in the gash.”

Yes, and Horton shows us mass hangings, babies burned alive, bones being shattered by sizzling bullet strikes, rotting corpses strung out for vengeful public display, young women splayed and broken strewn across rocks, their twisted bodies twisted, gashed and bloody after a mass suicide leap down a mountainside … and so forth.

While these would seem visceral descriptions of human depravity in times of war the odd effect of Horton’s prose renders it all with a curious lack of gravitas. Furthermore, the plot gimmick of gallant men striving to rescue a fair maiden creates a melodramatic effect that detracts from what in reality was an utterly depraved and barbarous episode in world history that would have better been handled with a staid seriousness stripped of literary theatrics.

NOTE: You can download the ebook version of Like Another Helen here: GET FREE BOOK

PLEASE SEE MY REVIEWS OF OTHER HISTORY BOOKS:

A HISTORY OF PYRRHUS by Jacob C. Abbott

HUMPHREY, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER By Kenneth Vickers

DOWN THE OHIO AND MISSISSIPPI 1789-90 By Samuel Forman

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

Intuitive Counselor Mellisa Feick Offers A ‘Radical’ Approach to the Akashic Records In Engaging, Readable Book


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

This book offers a “radical new approach” to the Akashic Records. That would suggest there is an “old, tired approach” to leveraging what is both a steady artifact of ancient wisdom and what has become a staple of modern New Age thought.

Certainly, what we call the Akashic Records today can be found described in the texts of the world’s oldest systems of thought, philosophy and religions. That includes Vedic texts, the Torah and Kabbalistic writing, such as the Zohar, Greek oracular divination, Sufi wisdom, even the Bible — and much more. To take just one specific example, the sages in the Indian regions of the Himalayas proclaimed that the soul of every person — their “jiva” or “atma” — was recorded in a divine “book” that would remain for eternity as a permanent record of every second of every person’s life.

Fast forward to the 20th Century and we find guys like Edgar Cayce telling of his ability to travel to that certain etheric or astral realm where he could find a specific “book,” not only for the life of a specific person, but information on absolutely any event that ever happened in history — or all of time.

C.W. Leadbeater

The Sanskrit word ākāśa translates variously as “sky,” “aether,” or “space” and is also sometimes said to refer to “the memory of nature.” The term Akashic Records itself was not in popular use until a founding member of the Theosophical Society, C.W. Leadbeater, solidified the concept in his 1899 book CLAIRVOYANCE. But it should also be noted that Henry Steel Olcott wrote in his BUDDHIST CATECHISM about, “a permanency of records in the Akasha, and the potential capacity of man to read the same when he has evolved to the stage of true individual enlightenment.”

But wait — there’s more. The case for the Akashic Records has gotten even better in recent years.

A growing cadre of outlier physicists and cosmologists are floating the theory that we live in a simulated universe, a virtual reality — a kind of cosmic computer. That would mean that each of us are akin to an avatar playing in the greatest computer game environment of all time. That would also suggest that when we die, our avatar could be “saved.” Everything we ever did, thought, hoped and dreamed would be kept like a computer file — and in this way we would never die. Furthermore, the “program” that is/was our life can be “called up” or “resurrected” at any time.

This is the way physicist Frank Tipler or Tulane University described it in his 1994 book, The Physics of Immortality. He makes a strenuous argument (along with a lot of mind-numbing math) that if our universe is not already a cosmic computer, of sorts, it is evolving toward becoming one — something he compares to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the OMEGA POINT.

In Frank Tipler’s scenario, being “saved” like a computer file is almost an exact analog for being “saved” for immortality in the traditional religious sense. Perhaps all of those blinking “Jesus Saves” neon signs hanging over those gritty inner-city missions have something going for them after all!

About a decade after Tipler’s book came out, noted Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom made waves with his proposal that we live in a simulation in 2003. Since then, the idea has continued to gain remarkable momentum, even among popular mainstream scientists, such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He puts the odd that we live in a virtual reality at 50-50.

Tom Campbell

Perhaps the foremost champion of this model is TOM CAMPBELL, a physicist who enjoyed a long career working on hard, nuts-and-bolts science projects in missile defense and statistical risk analysis for NASA. In his exhausting trilogy of bookS titled, My Big TOE (Theory of Everything), Campbell lays out across some 900 pages in excruciating detail — technical, scientific and philosophical — his argument that we live in a virtual reality, a digital universe in which he says, “all reality is data.

Implicit within Tom Campbell’s model is the existence of what is essentially the Akashic Records. Campbell would say (and has said), “It’s all data, and that data is available to anyone who can learn how to access it.”

So all of this is a long-winded way for me to say that no reader should dismiss MELISSA FEICKs book as just another selection in the popsugar New Age candy store. She’s on solid ground here working in a system that combineS an ancient pedigree with growing support from modern hard science.

But what is her “radical” new approach? I won’t give too much away except to say that Feick models the Akashic Records — or perhaps re-envisions them — away from the standard “cosmic library” motif that has long characterized it. Up until recent times, using a “library metaphor” to describe the Akashic Records has made sense because a library has been the closest physical analog we have to a cosmic storehouse of knowledge.

But we’re in the digital-computer age now and print books, and even libraries, are fast becoming passe. Furthermore, classical physics has given way to quantum physics. Every culture tends to frame transcendent ideas using terms and imagery that reflect what we have now, and what we can understand in terms of framing comparison models today.

Melissa Freick

So Feick describes for us an Akashic Records that looks more like a combination of cosmic helical DNA model and multidimensional levels that fit togethers in a dynamic, ascending spiral configuration that is fluid and omni-directional and interactional. She suggests that, through a process of meditation and focus of intent, anyone can reach the Akashic Records, find their own “strands” and manipulate them to make corrections that will re-wire or reprogram our entire lives and existence, past, present and future.

Worried about the burden of “bad karma?” No problem, says Melissa Feick. Now karma is erased, rewritten or rendered mute by some simple adjustments in the patterns that represent our own “file” in the Akashic Records. I’m not being glib when I say “simple adjustments.” I’m only echoing the way Feick describes the process. Not only can anyone learn to access their own Akashic file, she says, it’s super easy.

Feick herself is a working intuitive counselor and spiritual guide who uses her gifts and developed abilities to serve clients who want to know more about what’s in their own Akashic files. She holds a degree in psychology and also lists a variety of skill on HER WEBSITE, from Reiki Master to Angel Therapy Practitioner.

This book is well written with a relaxed, easy prose that is easily accessible and engaging for the average reader. She never lectures or talks down to us. She offers lofty ideas without being preachy. The tone is friendly, positive, chatty and informational. Melissa Feick seems a happy warrior eager to share her gifts and life experiences which clearly have been focused on helping other people in big ways and small in the daily game of life.

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

Sociologist Simeon Hein Warns Denial of UFO And Other Anomalous Phenomenon Could Have Unexpected Consequences For Human Race

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

So SIMEON HEIN is a guy with some serious academic chops. He holds a PhD in sociology which he earned at Washington State University in 1992. He’s into things like nonlinear research methods, statistical analysis and technological determinism.

He’s also into a lot of stuff that makes mainstream scientists grind their teeth, such as UFOs, remote viewing and crop circle research. One is tempted to say that Dr. Hein is himself a kind of Black Swan — you know, an outlier, someone willing to dally with the fringe — or should we say the leading edge?

 

But first, what is this reference to Black Swan that Hein uses in the title of this book?”

The Black Swan Theory is that which states that certain events can happen that are totally unpredicted and unexpected, can produce a major effect, often hugely negative — but are then rationalized after the fact with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight.

The concept was first put forward by the Lebanese-American intellectual and scholar NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB. Simeon Hein’s book title is a play on Taleb’s 2007 highly influential book, THE BLACK SWAN.

UFO witness Louise Voves.

So this book presents a series of case studies of unexpected events that Hein calls Black Swan Ghosts. It’s things that are not supposed to happen, or even exists, yet they do happen and they apparently do exist. An example Hein provides is that of a wonderful Idaho lady by the name of Louise Voves. She was picking huckleberries in a remote rural area with her brother one day in the 1970s when a gigantic “tortoise-shell” shaped UFO suddenly appeared over a nearby treeline and maneuvered around right before their eyes and at close range.

There was no mistaking this object for anything known, man-made or natural. The object created significant marks on the grass below. It was seen by several other witnesses as well. When Louise reported the sighting to police, things quickly get all Blacky Swany.

The police must have informed the military because troops quickly descend at the sighting location and banish all “ordinary” citizens from the area. They tell Louise that she must not only forget about picking huckleberries in this prime spot, but she should also forget what she saw and never speak of it again. Army and Air Force personnel are on the scene for several days, but the incident gets no press coverage and the military clams up — it’s like it never happened.

But wait — this event may be a “Black Swan Ghost” event in itself although it does not constitute an overarching Black Swan scenario.

Simeon Hein PhD

The singular event is wholly unexpected, yes, but we can’t say it produces a large-scale effect. It’s localized at best. One also cannot say it is rationalized with 20/20 hindsight, although many UFO sightings are rationalized. But the Voves sighting is not so much rationalized as it is denied and covered up, and for authorities, hopefully forgotten.

But If I understand Dr. Hein’s thesis correctly, he’s more concerned about the meta-analysis here. He’s not just pointing to individual cases, but the thousands of UFO encounters similar (and many far stranger) to that of Louise Voves. They’ve been happening from at least that day in 1947 when pilot Kenneth Arnold made arguably the first postmodern UFO sighting report.

Hein says that the way our government, media, culture and society has been handling the UFO phenomenon for some 70 years may invoke a large-scale Black Swan scenario in the near future. It holds the potential to create a widespread impact on all the people of earth. He warns of the possibility of a kind of culture shock that will shake the collective psychology of the human race to the core.

In other words, once day the dam of secrecy may burst. The years of cover-ups, the official lying and overzealous use of the “Top Secret” classification system, the inability or unwillingness of the media to report the story and general public apathy will one day all fall away — the truth will be undeniable — it will be stunning — and our major institutions will be rattled.

Furthermore, Hein says there is plenty of blame to go around — and this is where I give Simeon Hein very high marks, indeed. That’s because most prominent ufologists today keep of a steady drumbeat of blame for UFO secrecy against the usual suspects — the government, the media and the military industrial complex.

Certainly, Hein takes his shots at these entities as well, but consider this passage from Black Swan Ghosts:

“It’s pretty clear that it’s not just the federal government that’s withholding secrets about this issue. The public as a whole wants it this way or they would be demanding more information. It’s clear that the federal government has black budget programs around this issue. However, the public seems to trust that the government knows what it’s doing or they would demand more. They could easily pick up the phone and call their Senator of Congressperson. But they don’t.

“They don’t because it is easier not to know. The public wants to keep ignoring the elephant in the room and then blame the government for the secrecy rather than take the responsibility. It’s just a whole lot easier to pretend you can’t do anything about it.”

Thank you Dr. Simeon Hein!

This is why we need more sociologists in ufology. They have a broader perspective on the complexity of the matrix that makes up society. Government, the media, the military and corporations don’t exist or operate in a vacuum. The general public is also a primary, fundamental player and a key element that contributes to the overall situation as it exists today. Few of our most prominent ufologists today ever make this leap.

This is a juncture where I’m tempted to launch into a more in-depth analysis of the social dynamics of how all this works — but that will take me far astray of what’s supposed to be a book review of Black Swan Ghosts.

I’ll just close with some additional notes:

An excellent feature of the ebook format of this book are video links to the UFO cases cited. They’re terrific and lend great weight and credibility to the stories presented.

UFO events are not the only category of example used by Hein to make his Black Swan case. He also takes a look at cold fusion, the overwhelming scientific evidence for biological-microbial fossils existent in rocks from Mars and meteorites, crop circle phenomenon, remote viewing and more.

Hein writes well. His presents his narrative in clear, concise language that’s palatable to a general audience while also including enough thoughtful, academic gristle to make this a work of depth that challenges the reader and makes a call for action.

Hein has established an organization he calls the Mount Baldy Institute.  Its website is HERE. His YouTube channel also provides many entertaining and edifying videos which you can find HERE.

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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The Reluctant Messenger By Psychologist Candice M. Sanderson Is Marvelous Example Of Channeled, Transcendent Literature At Its Best

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

The Zen tradition has a saying that goes something like this: “You cannot go to enlightenment; enlightenment must come to you.”

That might be a good adage to describe the experience of CANDICE M. SANDERSON, a pragmatic, hard-working, by-the-book psychologist who was minding her own business one day when when transcendence suddenly came knocking, unbidden and out of the blue. No one could have been more shocked than her.

After all, a psychologist might tell you that hearing voices is an indication of mental illness. So here we have a psychologist who found herself questioning her own sanity … and yet, the communications she was receiving from “Out There” didn’t have the characteristics of delusion or perhaps some sort of cognitive deterioration of a woman now edging into her sixties. Just the opposite. The messages she was getting were soft, coherent and elegant, almost lyrical. The information was exotic, but certainly not “crazy.”

Despite agonizing self doubt and an understandable bout of denial, Sanderson relented and decided to let the voices in — and all of us are far better off because she did.

Readers of THE RELUCTANT MESSENGER will travel along with Sanderson on a remarkable journey that unfolds like the proverbial lotus flower. This first downloads of information are interesting enough, but perhaps not so unlike much of  New Age pronouncements already out there. (There’s no shortage of books today based on channeled information, not to mention perhaps thousands of YouTube videos. In fact, this is a phenomenon literally centuries old).

Candice M. Sanderson

But as Sanderson grows into her practice and becomes ever more accepting of the remarkable experiences, she  learns to tune in her “frequency” with greater skill. What she she brings out thereafter just gets more amazing page after page.

I’ve read dozens if not hundreds of book written by channelers. For me, what makes Candice Sanderson’s book different is twofold.

First, she’s simply an excellent writer. Her prose flows effortlessly. She crafts easy sentences that are lean, concise, punchy and on target.  Words stream into sentences, sentences meld into paragraphs making for pages that glide down a path of least resistance. Better yet, despite the lofty nature of her subject matter, Sanderson never comes off as pretentious nor devolves into smarmy sentimentality. The result imparts a grounded sense of authenticity despite the mind-blowing information offered.

In fact, I found a certain ironic humor in how so many of the major revelations coming at Sanderson are triggered by the act of getting into her car, snapping on her seatbelt and getting ready for her commute to work! Driving to work is usually a grim routine of low-grade stress for most people, but for this author, it sets the stage for visionary inspiration!

The other aspect that separates THE RELUCTANT MESSENGER from other channeled works is the array of sources and kinds of entities Sandersen communicates taps into. Readers will be regaled with wisdom from:

• Disincarnate entities
• Angelic beings
• Extraterrestrials
• Deceased people
• Native American demiurges
• Ascended Masters
• Christian divinities
• Buddhist mystical figures
• Cosmological physics perspectives

… and more. Don’t worry, I’m not giving too much away because, believe me, you’re going to want to hear what all of the above have to say. All off these powerful sources aren’t trotting across the stage of Sanderon’s mind merely to spew vague philosophies — they’re throwing down some real cosmogonic red meat you’ll all be chewing on for a long time to come.

Saint Teresa of Ávila, 1515-1582

At the risk of overstating things, I have to confess that a certain name kept pinging through my mind as I was reading through this document — Saint Teresa of Ávila — the visionary 14th Century Spanish saint, not so much to make a one-to-one comparison with Ms. Sanderson, but because so many of the themes of both are similar. Saint Teresa said: “It is love alone that gives worth to all things.” She also said that everything we experience in this physical world is “vanity” and but a shadow of the greater reality of “the divine.”

But — whether a legendary saint or any of today’s popular working channelers — I’m betting Candice Sanderson would say that every one of us has the same potential to open to our own latent inner numinous because, after all, as her sources reminded her many times: “We’re all One.”

ADDITIONAL NOTE: I recently read the story of another somewhat “reluctant channeler” — Betty White — the wife of early 20th Century writer Stewart Edward White. See my review of THE BETTY BOOK HERE published in 1937.

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Free Ebook About Channeling Ghosts and Spirits Is a Remarkable Window Into What Mediums Were Learning About The Afterlife 150 Years Ago


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Mediumship, spirit writings and the séance were becoming all the rage by the late 1860s and perhaps would peak in England and America around end of the 19th Century. After, say, 1910, the fascination with empirical science began to gain steam, and before long, science fiction magazines were emerging, displacing that sense of wonder one filled by the spiritualists and occultists.

But in 1869 a klatch of free-thinking transcendentalists gathered somewhere in America — and apparently they had access to one incredibly talented medium. The result is this remarkable document, “Strange Visitors.”

Download the free ebook here: STRANGE VISITORS

It’s a collection of “original papers” which are messages channeled from the dead, but not just any of the dearly departed. This ambitious project goes for the cream of the crop. They seek contact with luminaries from the world of science and literature, philosophy and government, art and poetry, and more.

Nathaniel Hawthorn

Such VIP Dead as Lord Byron, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Napoleon Bonaparte, Edgar Allen Poe and William Thackeray are contacted and queried for their impressions of what it is like to die and what the `The Other Side’ is like.

Also, people who were famous at the time, but more or less forgotten today, are tapped for after-death reports.

Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington

For example, there is a session with LADY BLESSINGTON, who was born to poverty in late 18th Century Ireland as Margaret Power. She suffered through a bad marriage to a drunken sea captain (which ended with his death in debtor’s prison), until she finally married into the aristocracy, landing Charles Gardiner, the 1st Earl of Blessington. Upon her elevation into high society, Lady Blessington became Countess Blessington and something of a celebrated literary figure across Europe and among elite, over-educated Americans.

But who is Henry J. Horn, the editor of this document?

I’ve done considerable sleuthing, and the best candidate might be a lawyer who spent most of his life here in my native Minnesota. Today, the “Horn House” at 50 Irvine Park in St. Paul is a prominent landmark listed with the Minnesota Historical Society. Born in Philadelphia in 1821, Henry J. Horn passed the bar in Pennsylvania and moved to the Twin Cities area in 1855. He purchased the Horn House in 1881. The home was built by Dr. Jacob Stewart in 1874 and designed by the German-American architect August Gauger. Henry J. Horn died in 1902.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any connection between Mr. Horn and spiritualist groups, mediums and séances — but is it likely that a high-profile, respected Minnesota attorney would lend his name to such an arcane publication? It’s a mystery.

An even bigger mystery is the identity of the medium himself/herself. Who was this remarkable person who contacted these disincarnate souls, and via “automatic writing,” produced reports an array of richly divergent writings (and poetry)from beyond the veil?

Charlotte Brontë

What’s even more amazing is that these manuscripts are much more than musings about the Afterlife — for example, an entire Gothic novel is presented, purportedly written by the ghost of Charlotte Brontë herself!

There are also political ravings by Napoleon — clearly still a megalomaniac-imperialist in the hereafter. A dirge by Edgar Allen Poe reveals that he remains a bleak, dreary, haunted poet despite having cast off the agony of the flesh!

The examples of Napoleon, Brontë and Poe might lead one to believe that these missives are not so much after-death communications, but rather, impressions of a creative medium with a literary bent — except that the majority of these works read like “authentic” contact with the dead.

Here’s what I mean:

In recent decades an interest in mediumship has experienced a resurgence. It all goes hand-in-hand with the rise of all things “New Age,” but interest in the idea that “no one truly dies” has also received a boost from medical types, such as Dr. Raymond Moody and his groundbreaking book LIFE AFTER LIFE and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross with ON DEATH AND DYING.

Others have since have gone much further with talking-to-the-dead kinds of books — consider the likes of psychologist Michael Newton and psychiatrist Brian Weiss who use hypnotic regression to document volumes of intense information from people’s past lives, but also from deceased loved ones.

Then there’s a whole string of folks from all walks of like who are either channeling the dead or reporting intense experiences in the Afterlife — books I’ve read recently (some reviewed here) along these lines include those by Natalie Sudman, Erika Hayasaki, Julia Assante, Dr. Eben Alexander, Dr. Allan Botkin, Bill Guggenheim, Dr. Don Miguel Ruiz, and many more —

— and the point is, the descriptions and communications these folks report about the after-death environment are remarkably similar the writings presented in “Strange Visitors” — which suggests that there is a certain authenticity to these works.

So this obscure gem published in 1869 is of great significance and interest.

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Nancy Tremaine’s Story of Alien Contact With Reptilian Beings Is Relentlessly Weird But Is Also A Tale Of Courage And Hope That Deserves Serious Consideration


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

The late journalist Jim Marrs, who wrote bestselling books about UFOs and sundry conspiracy theories, described something he called the “mental boggle point.”

That’s the point when even the most open-minded people confront information that is so unbelievable that the mind succumbs to a “rubber band effect,” snapping back to beliefs that are more comfortable and socially acceptable.

I wager that some of the even most enthusiastic supporters of the reality of UFOs, aliens and the like will reach their mental boggle point when reading the story of NANCY TREMAINE. If her experiences are true, then our reality is far, far stranger than most of us have ever dared imagine, and the implications of the UFO and alien contactee phenomenon are shattering.

In SYMBIOSIS, Tremaine documents a lifetime of UFO contact since age 12. She grew up in Novi, Michigan, a small town close by the outskirts of Detroit. Early one evening in 1961 she and her girlfriend Cindy, also 12, were stunned when a flying saucer appeared suddenly over their residential neighborhood. The object was “bigger than a house” and hovered close.

Nancy Tremaine

Cindy’s father was also a witness on the scene. It was not yet dark. The object was observed by many others in the neighborhood, including at least three police officers. At one point, the UFO sent down a light beam that zapped an unmarked police car and stopped it cold.The officers radioed the sighting back to their Chief of Police, Lee BeGole — who today in his 90s still remembers the report from his men.

Tremaine and her young friend were abducted into the craft. The aliens performed a number of highly intrusive physical examinations upon Nancy. Cindy was merely locked up in a “tube” positioned above from where she observed the aliens working over her friend. It seemed that the aliens had particular interest in Nancy, but not so much Cindy.

The two girls were let go after an indeterminate amount of time. A period of missing time then occurred. The next thing Nancy knew, she was back in her home where her obviously disturbed father was doing his best to reassure her she that was safe.  He told his shaken daughter that what had just happened was to never be spoken of again — not even a secret whisper to a friend — period.

And so, Neither Nancy Tremaine and Cindy maintained utter silence about the event for 50 years. The two women could not even bring themselves talk to each about it despite the fact that they shared an astounding incident that deconstructed all sense of normalcy. It changed their world view. The event may have contributed to Cindy’s future as a lifetime alcoholic.

Nancy had no memory of what had happened to her inside the craft. She only recalled standing in the street observing the fantastic object in the sky and the stunned, fearful reactions of Cindy and the police officers. The next thing she knew, she was home. But some deeper undercurrent haunted her for the next five decades.

Nancy suffered from classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Much about her life was dysfunctional. She married and divorced four times. She suffered mysterious panic attacks. Her sexual experiences were often disturbing and her libido sometimes went into hyperdrive. She experienced odd blips of missing time and inexplicable anxieties. She had a pervasive sense of being alone in the world — as if she were in a strange place where she did not belong.

It was not until 2011 that Tremaine finally underwent hypnotic regression to find out what happened on that day so long ago. The sessions revealed a lifetime of fantastically freakish events retrieved from her memory. What she had to say under hypnosis was extraordinary and weird.

The most sensational claim, of course, it that Nancy Tremaine says she met an an alien back in 1961 of a type known in UFO circles as a “reptilian,” a kind of humanoid lizard being.

Furthermore, Tremaine says she has since developed a deeply loving relationship with a particular reptilian whom she has dubbed “Mr.” (that’s Mr. with a period). Tremaine says that she has been impregnated by Mr. and bore  him a son whom she calls Drax. Drax is actually a three-way hybrid resulting  from a combination of Nancy, her human lover, Sid, and the reptilian Mr. (Sid is not the real name of her boyfriend. She said Sid stands for “Some Guy I dated.”)

Has your mind reached the mental boggle point yet? Well, hold on. There’s more.

Not only did Nancy Tremaine give birth to a human-reptilian hybrid alien child, she did so at the age of 62! Yes, she has a picture of her swollen, pregnant belly which she shows us in this book. But she didn’t give birth naturally to this baby — it was simply taken from her one night by the aliens. One day her stomach was showing, the next day it was flat.

She also has pictures of an odd set of round footprints in the snow that lead up to her house and appear to enter right into her doorway. Tremaine said these are tracks left by Drax when he came to visit her one night.

Okay, I’m probably revealing too much information here, but I promise those who want to read Tremaine’s book there is plenty more information to challenge your mind and world view.

David Icke

Now — those who are already  schooled in UFO lore are probably familiar with what has become a well-defined sub-genre of ufology which is the suggested existence of a class of aliens known as the reptilians. For better or worse, reptilians are probably most associated today with the prominent, prolific and vociferous conspiracy theorist, DAVID ICKE.

Icke is a British citizen who has written numerous books postulating a variety of conspiracy-driven scenarios.  One is that our planet has been visited by an interdimensional race of reptilian beings for thousands of years. Icke says the reptilians have mastered shape-shifting and can appear as humans that are undetectable from real humans. They possess extremely advanced holographic technology that makes them masters of illusion on many levels. Icke says the reptilians have infiltrated world governments, banks, corporation and our society in general and are meddling in human affairs on all levels.

But many others report the existence of reptilians as well. In fact, thousands of experiencers and contactees tell of seeing or interacting with reptilian beings. Others contend that their existence is hinted at in the Bible. The snake who tempted Adam and Eve, for example, is a metaphor for the interference of reptilian in the affairs of humankind. Other religions also feature snake or reptile motifs in various godlike roles interacting with mankind.

Curiously and intriguingly, reptilians also pop up in other modes of altered-consciousness explorations. One of the most striking are the DMT experiments of DR. RICK STRASSMAN. DMT is a powerful hallucinogenic compound that is produced naturally in the human brain’s pineal gland in microscopic amounts. DMT is sometimes called “the Spirit Molecule.” In medically approved and legally sanctioned studies, Dr. Strassman injected some 400 volunteers with DMT. These subjects described the powerful psychedelic and psychotropic effects they experienced — some of which included not only interaction with reptilian beings, but sex with reptilians, or experiences of being raped by reptilians.

Encounters with reptilians have been reported by those partaking in ayahuasca ceremonies under the guidance of shamans in the rainforest regions of South America. Ayahuasca is a powerful natural hallucinogenic compound made from the banisteriopsis vine combined with another plant, usually the shrub psychotria viridis. The combination contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors and the psychotropic compound dimethyltryptamine. Interactions, good and bad, with reptilian figures under the influence of ayahuasca are commonplace, and these date back to ancient times as reported by indigenous rainforest dwellers.

Reptilians entities have even been glimpsed or perceived by REMOTE VIEWERS, including perhaps the greatest of all the U.S. Military remote viewers, JOE MCMONEAGLE.

Perhaps one of the foremost experts on reptilians today is JOHN RHODES who heads up the website reptoids.com. Mr. Rhodes has done in-depth research into all aspects of the reptilian phenomenon. He prefers the term “reptoids” which he says is a more accurate description for who and what these beings truly are. His most fundamental claim is that reptoid are not aliens or interdimensional beings but a species native to our own planet earth. They evolved here, Rhodes says, and they live in a vast realm they maintain in the interior of the planet. You can view an excellent lecture by Rhodes on everything he has learned about reptoids here: JOHN RHODES: MUFON LECTURE.

Reptilian statues at Horiuji Temple, Japan, from about 600 A.D.

I’ll make only brief mention of an entirely other angle to the reptilian issue, and that involves the idea of mythical archetypes. Some scholars have made the suggestion that snake or reptilian themes are fundamental to the human psyche — some would even trace it to the limbic system of the human brain, which is also called our internal “Lizard Brain” — and so when people enter into altered states of consciousness (including hypnosis) the reptilian archetype can be triggered and brought to the forefront of human experience in a vivid and meaningful way. But all this is a deep subject far beyond the scope of this review.

The point is, Nancy Tremaine’s story may be bizarre and seem unbelievably fantastic, but she is hardly alone concerning the deep relationship she believes she has developed with a reptilian entity. It’s a worldwide phenomenon that exists across cultures in all parts of the globe and has been manifesting in human experience since the beginning of time.

Figurine of ancient Vinča Culture of Serbia features many reptoid-like statues. Dated to 5700 B.C.

Simple-minded skeptics will find as easy mark in Ms.Tremaine. No doubt they will pounce on her revelation that she was sexually molested as a youth. Indeed, much about her entire life story is shot through with the painful sexual abuse experiences she suffered personally and within her family. Her own daughter was sexually molested. She speaks of a certain uncle who apparently was a serial molester — a man who got his hands on numerous members of Tremaine’s extended family. Everyone knew it, but no one did anything about it, she said.

An entire body of skeptical belief exists that seeks to explain away all alien abduction phenomenon as rooted in the trauma of sexual molestation. The basic theory is that victims of molestation grasp at a false alien abduction fantasy as a way to repress or distance themselves from what really happened to them. They re-frame the painful experience in a way that is less shameful and personal, and as a way to deal with guilt, and so forth.

Of course, skeptics will also gleeful discredit anything Tremaine says because they reject utterly the efficacy of any information obtained by way of hypnotic regression. Skeptics maintain that this form of memory retrieval is 100% unreliable because it readily encourages elaborate, creative imaginings by the subjects. They also claim a hypnotist has a tendency to “lead the witness” with either overt or subconscious suggestion.

Geneticist J.B.S. Haldane

But these same skeptics have a major problem in the case of Nancy Tremaine — it’s the fact that the genesis of her lifetime of contactee experience was a UFO event that has been corroborated by multiple witnesses. Her story that is supported by the highly respected former Novi, Michigan Chief of Police Lee BeGole who has street named after him. Her friend Cindy is on record with both seeing the UFO in 1961 and being aboard the craft where she was ensconced in a tube. Other witnesses have come forward was well.

Granted, merely observing a UFO does not equal a lifetime of interaction, having sexual relationships with and breeding a hybrid child with a reptilian being — but it does add considerable weight to her narrative. And Nancy Tremaine offers a body of other circumstantial evidence to support the reality of her story.

I say — just read the book. Don’t judge it by its cover art or dismiss because its outlandish premise triggers your “mental boggle point.”. Nancy Tremaine deserves to be heard. Her story is worthy of being considered and taken seriously. Remember the words of British geneticist and evolutionary biologist J.B. S. Haldane who said:

“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we CAN suppose.”

NOTE: Please see my reviews of other UFO books by clicking on the following links:

EXTRATERRESTRIAL ODYSSEY by Rocky Kvande

MANAGING MAGIC by Grant Cameron

HOW TO TALK TO AN ALIEN By Nancy DuTertre

ALIENS IN THE FOREST by Noe Torres and Ruben Uriarte

SEARCHERS by Ron Felber

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Reclusive UFO Abductee Calvin Parker Breaks Silence With Book On Iconic UFO Abduction Event At Pascagoula, Mississippi, In 1973: An Important Breakthrough For Ufology


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

I was 14 years old in 1973. My family subscribed to two daily newspapers — the Minneapolis Tribune (now the StarTribune) and a North Dakota-based paper, the Grand Forks Herald. I was already a news junky and read them both every day.

In about mid-October of that year both papers carried a sensational story about two Mississippi men who were abducted by robot-like aliens with crab-like claws and wrinkled, leathery skin. The men were “floated” into an oval-shaped UFO, subjected to an examination and released after about 30 minutes.

The newspaper stories were accompanied by intriguing pen-and-ink drawings of the bizarre aliens creatures and also a sketch of a blue-glowing UFO.

Even as a teenager, I was profoundly struck by the fact that such an amazing account was presented in two mainstream newspapers. It gave the story an added jolt of legitimacy to my young mind. Now 45 years later, that feeling remains.

Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker in 1973.

Normally sensational stories like this appeared only in the National Enquirer or FATE or UFO magazines, but the Pascagoula incident was a case that somehow transcended standard divisions of journalism. It’s almost as if the event carried with it an intuitive sense that something real must have happened. The story circled the globe in top-tier newspapers and broadcast media around the world.

One of the many sketches of the “alien robots” that grabbed the two men and floated them into a UFO.

It’s just one of the reasons that the Pascagoula abduction has always remained among the most vexing and iconic UFO incidents of all time. Furthermore, skeptics, including guys like Philip Klass and Joe Nickell, threw everything they could at the story of the two abductees, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker. But the pushback of the knee-jerk naysayers seemed to ring hollow and fall flat. A sense of strained desperation characterized debunking attempts.

Another fascinating aspect of the case was the difference in the way the two men subsequently dealt with what has happened to them. The older man, Charles Hickson, a Korean War combat veteran, shipyard foreman and solid southern working man, spent the rest of his life talking about it, granting hundreds of media interviews, writing a book and even occasionally hitting the lecture tour.

But young shipyard welder Calvin Parker, just 19 at the time, wanted none of it. He suffered a nervous breakdown a week after the abduction and essentially went into hiding thereafter. The general impression has been that Parker sent himself into a kind of self-imposed witness protection program. This created an aura of mystery about Parker which has ever since bolstered the “high strangeness” mystique and legacy of the Pascagoula UFO abduction event.

So when I heard a few months ago that Calvin Parker had not only resurfaced but was coming out with a book to tell his side of the story — after all these decades! — my anticipation meter redlined! What would he have to say? And better yet, would he reveal new details about one of the greatest UFO cases off all time?

Artists impression of Pascagoula UFO.

Well, after reading Calvin Parker’s PASCAGOULA: THE CLOSEST ENCOUNTER I am not disappointed. Despite some agonizing drawbacks to this book (which I’ll discuss in a bit) — this direct witness/abductee account provides enough additional information to make it one of the most important contributions to ufology in recent years.

I say that because, other than the enduring influence of the Pascagoula event, this case essentially went cold more than 40 years ago. Unlike other famous incidents, such as Roswell or England’s Rendlesham Forest encounters, where new clues and evidence have continued to trickle out over the years, Pascagoula was essentially a “one and done” happening that presented little opportunity for further investigation.

Hickson on site of the event, 1973.

But Calvin Parker’s book has changed that. For one thing, it provides the testimony of several local residents who were in proximity to the area where the abduction event took place. They offer credible, objective accounts of having seen a UFO like the one described by Hickson and Parker in the area in a time frame before and after the event.

But the bombshell of this book for me is the revelation that Calvin Parker underwent 90 minutes of hypnotic regression with none other than the famous ufologist BUDD HOPKINS in 1993, twenty years after the event. Parker never received a copy of the tape Hopkins made of the session. Worse, Hopkins died in 2011. The fate of the Parker regression tape seemed that it was lost.

Dr. David Jacobs

But now thanks to the dogged work of long-time British UFO investigator Philip Mantle, the tape was found and its transcript is presented in full in this book. The way the tape was found is an interesting anecdote in itself — it turns out is was in the possession of another venerable ufologist, Dr. David Jacobs. After Hopkins’ death, Jacobs was entrusted with Hopkins’ documents and materials. He agreed to provide the tape for this book.

Scottish writer David Lindsay

The transcript itself reads like a surrealist masterpiece. It’s almost like something concocted from the mind of DAVID LINDSAY while retaining the flavor of an honest southern man who spent his life working with his hands, living in small towns and leading a simple life.

The hypnotic regression suggested that much more occurred either during the original Pascagoula event itself — but more likely through a series of alien visitations upon Calvin Parker from the time he was six years old and throughout his life. Furthermore, the narrative of the transcript includes unsettling, shifting focuses in time, brutal and violent interactions with alien beings and jarring vignettes featuring random bits of imagery that add mystery and drama.

I’ll say no more and let readers discover the rest for themselves.

British ufologist Philip Mantle

Before I get on with some final business I think it’s important to recognize veteran British UFO researcher PHILIP MANTLE for the role he played in breathing new life into the Pascagoula UFO incident. It was Mr. Mantle who approached Calvin Parker and urged him to write this book. Mantle also published it under his FLYING DISK PRESS stamp.

I should not be be underestimated what a major coup this represents to the world of ufology — and Philip Mantle is the guy who pulled it off. Mantle has been one of the U.K. longest and most irrepressible UFO investigators for decades. It required someone with his connections and skills (such as tracking down the Hopkins tape) to provide Parker with the encouragement, morale boost and platform to break open an exemplar of classic ufology. (NOTE: See my review of Philip Mantle’s novel: ONCE UPON A MISSING TIME).

Now a bit of pain: It truly grieves me to say that the editing of this book is awful, both in terms of the way certain content choices were made in presenting certain blocks of information as well as in respect to run-of-the-mill typos, punctuation errors and spelling.

Charles Hickson published his own version of the Pascagoula abduction event in 1978.

I almost never play “Grammar Police” in my reviews even when it is warranted, but in this case we have a book that could and should take its place as a classic among the shelves of the best UFO literature — but the lack of proper editing mars the overall effort.

I was thrilled that the editors did a superb job in retaining the sound and cadence of Calvin Parker’s deep-southern Mississippi drawl — but to then sprinkle it with British spellings for words like humor (humour) and center (centre) jar on the ear like potholes in an otherwise well-paved road.

Another major problem: In the Hopkins transcript portion, some lines are often miscued as “BUDD” when “CALVIN” is actually speaking and vice-versa — such a snafu is inexcusable for a document of such importance and relevance.

But to end on a positive note, this book includes a lot of excellent photos and illustrations. I was especially delighted to see updated photos of Calvin Parker as he is today.

I was thrilled and gratified to finally read Calvin Parker’s story after all these years. It returned to me that feeling of wonderment I experienced as a 14-year-old so many years ago growing up in a small town in northern Minnesota, where I spent every clear night out in the backyard with my 6-inch Newtonian reflector observing the stars and pondering: “Who might be out there?”

Please see my reviews of other UFO books by clicking on the following links:

MANAGING MAGIC by Grant Cameron

EXTRATERRESTRIAL ODYSSEY by Rocky Kvande

LOST ON SKINWALKER RANCY by Erick T. Rhetts

THE CIRCLE AND THE SWORD by Nigel Mortimer

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Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

The Betty Book is a Masterpiece of “Spirit Writing” Literature Channeled by Betty White With Help From Her Famous Author Husband Stewart Edward White

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Stewart Edward White was a popular author in his day. From about 1900 through the early 1920s he published some three dozen books, both fiction and nonfiction, and they sold well.

His first book, The Westerners, was made into a Hollywood movie. Eight of his books would get movie treatment. The majority of his work featured outdoors themes that explored America’s “vanishing wilderness.” He wrote about his personal adventures with camping, cabin-building, panning for gold, hunting, fishing canoeing, Alaskan adventures and hiking deep outback trails.

His writing made him the first to be awarded the rare designation of Honorary Scout by the Boy Scouts of America in 1927, a recognition also given to the likes of Charles Lindbergh and James L. Clark. He hobnobbed with such luminaries as former President Teddy Roosevelt. Many of his works were later adapted into TV shows for The Wonderful World of Disney.

It was in 1919 that his life took a strange detour.

Stewart and his wife were at a party where someone suggested they noodle around with an Ouija board, “just for laughs.” Stewart describes himself as a skeptic, but more so, just basically unfamiliar and uninterested with occult phenomenon and esoteric thought. His overall notion was that psychic phenomenon had “been disproven.”

A Ouija board for sale in 1919.

His party friends disliked the planchette normally used with an Ouija board so they substituted an overturned whiskey glass. No one was in a serious mood so they asked goofy, inane questions. They hooted with laughter and scoffed with derision as the Ouija board only seemed to be obliging them by spelling out absurd and simplistic responses.

At one point, however, the Ouija expressed frustrations with the party folks. It abruptly spelled out: “Why do you ask such foolish questions?” This intrigued Stewart White.

But there was another thing that caused Mr.White to become even more intrigued — it was the way that shot glass moved under his fingers. He was aware of the scientific theory that such movement was caused by involuntary motions of the hands driven by cues from the subconscious mind — what today is called the ideomotor effect — and yet, he had a nagging sense this wasn’t what was happening. He couldn’t shake the feeling that “some other force” was involved.

One other thing gave him pause. At one point, the Ouija started spelling out the name “Betty” over and over again. Betty happened to be Stewart’s wife. She was standing off to the side no longer paying attention to the party game. Her husband told her the Ouija was requesting her participation. Betty shrugged her shoulders and obliged. She sat down and put her finger on the shot glass. The Ouija then began spelling out over and over again: “Get a pencil … get a pencil … get a pencil.”

The small peculiarities of the Ouija party captivated Betty just enough to pick up a pencil a few days later. Yes … despite having little or no interest in the occult or spiritualism … she decided to go ahead and try her hand at automatic writing!

A rare photo of Betty White along with her husband Stewart Edward White.

Automatic writing is when someone writes down information without conscious intent. The hand seems to move on its own as it spells out words. The paranormal suggestion is that the writer has set his or her mind aside and is channeling information from an unseen agent, such as a spirit or nonhuman entity of some sort.

Those who lean skeptical say it is information percolating up from the subconscious, or basically the same ideomotor effect that drives the Ouija. There is no outside influence. This information is coming strictly from inside the brain of the writer — who is also probably just deluding him or herself, the skeptics say.

As for Betty White, she just put all theories aside. Neither she nor her husband proclaimed to have an agenda, no investment in any particular theory, philosophy or occult influence — and for some extraordinary reason — Betty began the fantastically tedious process of trying to make headway with automatic writing!

This was remarkable — because this effort can be elusive and banal in the extreme. And for what reward, exactly? It involves endless hours of sitting with a pencil poised over a sheet of paper and getting into a certain frame of mind — a state that would allow her hand to flow, to seemingly write stuff down as if the her hand had a mind of its own.

A 19th Century depiction of automatic writing.

I dare say 99 out of a 100 people … no, more like 999 out of a 1,000 people … who give this a try once or twice give up in abject frustration. But Betty persisted. She was able to generate just a few words and phrases at first. Later came more complete sentences. The information imparted by these phrases and sentences was just intriguing enough for Betty to soldier on. The interest, support and participation of her husband was certainly helpful.

Betty eventually reached the point where she could generate pages of material via automatic writing. She then graduated to what today we could call “channeling.” She sat back in a mild trance state and dictated by voice information coming directly into her mind while her husband wrote it all down.

But just with who or what was Betty communicating? Ghosts? The spirits of dead people? Some sort of super-intelligent disincarnate intelligence? It seemed to be the latter. It was through a suggestion of a friend that Betty and Stewart decided to call their unseen source “The Invisibles.”

That’s not what the nonphysical entities called themselves. Indeed, these beings who were so eager to speak through Betty were also highly reluctant to talk about themselves. The details about their own true nature would be “an unnecessary distraction,” they said. The information they wanted to impart to the human race was paramount.

Stewart Edward White

The Invisibles insisted that what they wanted to tell humanity was not just urgent, but “extremely urgent.” They said humankind had become lost is a miasma of trivial thoughts and petty pursuits They said that “thoughts are things,” and therefore, bad thoughts, negative thoughts and useless thoughts were doing great damage to the human condition.

They told Betty and Stewart that the dominant philosophy of materialism — that people were mere physical matter interacting with a purely physical world — was a dead end. They said humanity had become cut off from “a larger truth and reality” about their individual and collective existence — which they said extends far beyond the borders of the physical body.

They said the human brain was not merely a lump of meat acting and reacting to stimulus from the material world. The suggestion was that we had become convinced that we are mere biological machines, and that our reality ended at the border demarcated by the outline of our skin.

The Invisibles then imparted a vision of each human being as a much vaster entity composed of a nonphysical component that was just as real as the physical body. Although the Invisibles, Betty and Stewart all disliked loaded terms such as “spirit” or “soul” because of the religious baggage attached to these definitions, they nevertheless used them for the sake of convenience.

The Invisibles stressed the idea that a person’s “soul” was also a bona fide “thing with actual physical substance.” About this, Stewart  White asked them:

“I may be literal-minded. But I am going to ask whether this spiritual body as you describe it is a symbolic statement meant to convey a concept or whether you mean it literally as you describe it, as a material thing.”

The Invisibles answered:

“It is ACTUALLY MATERIALLY THAT in its own condition of health and development. It is flesh and it is blood.It may not be the same kind, but it is as real, as warm, as living as your own.”

At this point Betty paused to actually experience directly what the soul or spiritual body was like. After about a half hour, she offered:

“It is a pulsing, living body purified of organic frailty … durable, flexible, susceptible of more powerful action through susceptibility of sense.”

And so the majority of the information offered in The Betty Book is a kind of instruction manual for how human beings can expand their vision and understanding of themselves and get into greater touch with what is actually the larger aspect of who we are. Think of the physical body as the tip of the iceberg that peaks above the surface of the water — and the nonphysical or “spiritual aspect” as the greater, more significant and more important component of each individual person.

Tina Keller M.D., a pioneer of Jungian analysis.

The kind of information and instruction offered by The Invisibles through Betty is some of the most remarkable channeled material I have ever read. Every page is deeply substantive and intellectually challenging — this is anything but more of the same New Age pap offered since, say, the 1960s, when a resurgence of channeled writings began to re-emerge  into popular circulation on our bookshelves.

Even the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung was deeply impressed by The Betty Book. Shortly after The Betty Book was published Jung gave a copy to his long-time associate Dr. Tina Keller, a pioneer in psychiatric medicine and psychoanalysis. Keller said she read an re-read The Betty Book and all of the subsequent channeled books that followed it. Keller said:

“Betty White, the brilliant woman who had accidentally discovered her mediumistic gifts, dictated to her husband, the writer and explorer Stewart Edward White, a long series of teachings, full of wisdom and salty humor, for practical application of living. They were communicated by different personalities of quasi-personalities whom the Whites called “The Invisibles” …. My own experiments, based on the books, proved this to be both true and extremely important.”

The late Jane Roberts and “Seth”. Roberts channeled the disincarnate entity to write dozens of books.

As for myself, I can think of no greater compliment to make about The Betty Book than it offers channeled information on par with the work of the great Jane Roberts, author of the Seth books. Roberts is the gold standard for intelligent and authentic channeled material, in my opinion.

Betty White’s information is far superior to, say, the healing advice and Atlantis predictions of Edgar Cayce, or the largely bland and vague pronouncements we get from so many of the popular psychic mediums selling books today.

There’s some additional information in the appendix that is fascinating. Stewart and Betty get together with some like-minded friends and conduct a series of experiments in which The Invisibles bring forth a variety of physical phenomenon to demonstrate their reality. This includes producing visible auras around the bodies of the participants. The Invisibles also conjured a series of “masks” which appeared over the face of Betty causing her to look like her child self. Other masks gave her more bizarre, exaggerated caricatures.

After the success of The Betty Book, Betty and Stewart produced several more volumes derived from Betty’s mediumship, the most successful of which was THE UNOBSTRUCTED UNIVERSE released in 1940. This book sold so rapidly that the printers had difficulty keeping up with month-to-month demand.


I think it’s significant to note that the financial success of all the channeled Betty books was no big deal to Stewart and Betty White. They were fantastically rich and had been so from birth. Both were the children of multi-millionaires. Betty was from one of the most venerable aristocratic families of Rhode Island. Stewart’s grandfather and father made millions in the lumber business. Stewart and Betty lived an exciting lifestyle of globe trotting, yachting and exotic adventure. That means the old skeptic’s charge of “they were just selling sensational books to make money” cannot apply.

It’s safe to say that Stewart Edward White, his books and the metaphysical books he produced with Betty are largely forgotten today. Some of them were reprinted as paperbacks with sensational titles and lurid images in the 1970s. They were sold in airports and drugstore racks designed as impulse buys for folks with casual interest in the paranormal.

Whatever the case, Betty White’s channeled information eloquently edited and assembled by her talented husband deserve a prominent place in the pantheon of the best metaphysical writings ever produced.

NOTE: You can read The Betty Book for free on the Australian Project Gutenberg site here:  THE BETTY BOOK FREE

ADDITIONAL NOTE: You may be interested in my reviews of similar books, just click the links below:

AFTERLIFE CONVERSATIONS WITH KEN KESEY (AND OTHERS) BY WILLIAM BEDIVERE

THE GHOST OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY BY FRANK DEMARCO

GHOSTS I HAVE SEEN AND OTHER PSYCHIC EXPERIENCES BY VIOLET TWEEDALE

A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS BY DAVID LINDSAY

APPLICATION OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS BY NATALIE SUDMAN

Follow @KenKorczak



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

‘Traveler’ Is A Fictionalized Rendering of a UFO Crash Event In 1897 Texas As Told By Newspaper Accounts Of The Day

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

The premise of this novel centers around one of the most iconic UFO cases in history, but most of it reads a lot more like the Dukes of Hazzard or an episode of Hee-Haw than the X-Files. There’s a lot muscle cars, old pickup trucks, horses, hay bales and Harleys. Where you find them you’ll find a lot of good ol’ boys, hayseeds, hickster lawmen, slutty women and biker gang types.

This ambitious book also takes us back more than 100 years to tell the tale of a UFO-crash event through the eyes of the frontier people who witnessed it. That would be the residents of Aurora, a hardscrabble small town in northern Texas where the Dallas Morning News famously reported in April of 1897 that a UFO crashed and left the body of a dead alien for the simple townsfolk to bury.

But wait — this book attempts to do even more. In addition to telling a story from two different historical timelines, it makes frequent breaks away from the dual fictional narratives to provide readers with scads of straightforward information about UFOs.

Co-author of TRAVELER Kerry Trent Haggar

Does it all hold together? Well … I guess I’ll say with mediocre enthusiasm that it does. It presents a coherent narrative for the most part. The diversions from the fictional tales to give us nonfictional UFO information aren’t so intrusive as to scuttle our sense of a story that flows and makes sense.

On the other hand, whatever chance this tale had for being a riveting page turner was lost when the authors decided on the three-pronged approach I describe above.

That’s too bad because the premise for TRAVELER is an idea with tremendous plot potential: A plucky young reporter gets her hands on a hot story — a deep mystery that’s even more complex than anyone imagines — and she sets out to unravel the mystery using her skills as an investigative  journalist to write the scoop of the century.

But all that is washed out because the narrative is constantly switching gears between competing story timelines with added breaks to fill us in with UFO background information.

TRAVELER co-author Johnny Cochrane.

Another major drawback for me is that the authors’ choice to play their story for lowbrow laughs. It features characters that are painfully stereotypical, comical “white trash” types — you know, folks that are barely employed, grow “weed” on the side for extra cash, poach deer for food, live in shabby dumps, drive junky cars, hang out in frowzy bars, etc.

Even our newswoman heroine, Bonnie Reynolds, is a rather saucy tramp known to engage in the occasional casual three-way sex romp with her lusty dominatrix roommate. Here is how the authors describe reporter Bonnie Reynolds:

“142 pounds of alluring femininity … She was and forever would be a little slutty and a little dirty but perfectly happy with herself for being that way …”

Okay! So she’s not exactly Florence Nightingale. But hey, I’m no prude. (I was even a newspaper reporter once). It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Bonnie Reynolds’ licentiousness makes her a more interesting character in some respects, I suppose. It’s just that, because her impulsive debauchery is a baseline trait for more or less everyone in this tale, it doesn’t exactly make her stand out as a unique viewpoint character.

Aurora’s UFO crash has been subsequently investigated a number of times over the years, but each re-opening of the case only seems to deepen the mystery.

Sadly, I feel compelled to call out one particular passage in this book that brings great discredit to the authors — and although it’s only a couple of pages worth — it involves descriptions of Native Americans, of the Comanche people, and their attack on a group of settlers.  The way this scene was written  left me with a sense of loathing. That’s because it’s put forward with a  certain gleeful viciousness I found disturbing.

Were the fierce Comanche people of this historical period saints? Absolutely not. But were the Spanish, Mexicans and American settlers who were invading, milling around and robbing the lands of the First Americans one iota better? Again — absolutely not. It was a different, complicated time. There were few paragons of virtue to be found on any side of the equation of the untamed West. But if one is inclined to write about atrocities committed by one group — then at least give a balanced account of history. There was plenty of blame to go around.

I could go on here with more to criticize as well — but I’ll only mention the painfully bad editing of this product. I despise playing ‘Grammar Police’ but sometimes authors who produce indie books or those issued by small press operations (in this case FLYING DISK PRESS) give me no choice. Don’t blame the messenger.

All in all, I can neither recommend or not recommend TRAVELER because ultimately its quality will be in the eyes of the reader — and I think opinions will be widely split.

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

The story of the Aurora UFO crash which appeared in the Dallas Morning News was written by S.E. Haydon. His great-great-grandson Stan Haydon published a small book in 2013 which is also a slightly fictionalized account of the event.

Stan Haydon said that story has been a source of constant controversy within his family for “five generations.” He suggests that his grandfather believed the story to be true and not a hoax by the original Haydon, as has often been charged by skeptics.

You can read my brief comments on this short, 29-page booklet over on Amazon HERE



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

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Canadian Author Luke Murphy’s Novel “Dead Man’s Hand” Is A By-The-Book Crime Thriller Worth A Read On The Beach


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Calvin Watters is a brutal thug — in exchange for a payday, he’ll cut of a man’s finger with a tin snip or smash off a toe with a hammer. The people he works for are greedy bookies and casino owners who worship at the altar of money and power in the Bad Taste Capital of the World, Las Vegas.

But not to worry, Calvin Watters is the hero of this crime thriller and his story arc will take him from angry-at-the-world punisher-for-pay to a kind of righteous, cop-friendly big ol’ Teddy Bear.

Calvin Watters shares the protagonist stage of DEAD MAN’S HAND with Las Vegas Police Department Detective Dale Dayton. He is brought into the plot when one of Vegas’ biggest casino owners is brutally murdered. It’s Dayton’s job to catch the killer.

Watters gets entangled in the whole mess when a conspiracy among conniving creeps attempts to frame him for the murder. Watters is seen a perfect fall guy — he hangs out with sleaze, lives and works on the criminal edge, has been arrested a few times — and he’s black.

There’s much to like about this tightly written, fast-paced crime thriller with an excellent plot involving greed, conspiracy and murder. The character of Calvin Watters is vividly drawn — he’s complex, dark, alienated and violent, and yet embodies a heroic aura that is engaging and charismatic.

Luke Murphy

The action scenes are well handled. The violent murders give us just enough visceral feel for their horror and brutality, but without dwelling on them overlong for prurient interest or gratuitous effect.

Author LUKE MURPHY also has a tremendous feel for Nevada’s Sin City. Murphy lives and writes out of a small town in Canada — and yet, readers will feel the hot streets of Vegas thumping out from these pages as if Murphy penned this novel while sitting on an orange crate in a dicey studio apartment with dirt streaked windows six blocks off The Strip.

It all makes for a standard, fast-paced summer-on-the-beach read that will keep you turning pages to reach to a clean, no-aftertaste denouement that wraps up in a nice bow.

I chose the descriptive word “standard” in the sentence above because there are many elements to DEAD MAN’S HAND which prevent it from rising above a rather formulaic genre novel, however. One reason is that all the supporting characters are basically cardboard cut-out props we’ve seen in thousands of crime novels, cop shows and movies.

Detective Dayton, for example, is a tough big city cop married to “The Job.” His wife has left him because he’s always working and never home. Now the only thing he has to go home to is an empty house. He mopes over his vacated marriage and buries himself in his police work to get his mind off his busted personal life. It sounds pretty familiar to me.

Carter Shaw (Deep Blue) is tough LAPD cop, wife divorced him because he was married to ‘The Job.’

Tough NYC Cop Andy Sipowicz (NYPD Blue) first wife divorced him, married to ‘The Job.’

Jimmy McNulty, tough Baltimore cop (The Wire), wife Elena divorced him because he was addicted to ‘The Job’ and booze.

 

Lt. Vincent Hanna (Heat) tough cop, twice divorced, third wife Justine frustrated with police-workaholism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: I rant in much greater detail about the cop-with-a-dead-wife-and/or-dead-marriage-issue in these two reviews:

THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY

SEASON OF THE HARVEST

All the other supporting characters are strictly off-the-shelf tropes, as well. For example:

Calvin’s girlfriend comes off as a weepy daylight drab. She’s the classic ex-hooker with a heart of gold. Her personality is about as stimulating as a wax bean. Her only role is to cling to Calvin and moan about his safety, offer him sex and, I suppose,  wring her hands in her spare time.

Detective Dayton’s partner, Jimmy Mason, is an extremely standard prop — an African American good guy buddy cop with 20 years on the force and a nice wife and stable family at home. (See: Danny Glover’s ‘Roger Murtaugh’ in Lethal Weapon.)

The primary antagonist is Ace Sanders, and with a name like “Ace” you just know he is a Vegas gambling big shot. He’s driven by a lust for power and money to do a lot of bad things. We don’t know we he’s that way because we are offered no background or origin story for Ace, which makes this character flat as a taco wrapper.

Even the former U.S. Marine Corps sniper dude — now gone bad and working as a paid-for-hire assassin — comes off as a hollow stand-in because we’ve all seen this trope so many times now in books and movies.

There are other aspect of this book which rob it of that edge-of-your seat tension it might have had — but already I’ve gone on long enough and my further comments may devolve to petty bickering — so I’ll leave it there.

All in all, this book gets my recommendation, however. Despite a few drawbacks, It’s a taut-enough thriller with an adequate level of escapism and action to provide you with more than enough entertainment to make you feel like you got your money’s worth.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

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Retired Attorney Terry Lovelace Offers A Spell-Binding True Story Of His Lifetime Of Harrowing Alien Abduction

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

If this UFO book is not one of the most talked about in recent years, it deserves to be. Despite painfully dodgy editing — it’s written in a compelling, lucid style and delivers hair-raising descriptions of alien abduction phenomena.

Oh yes, and there are intriguing photos and X-rays film sheets of what the author believes are alien implants in his leg.

TERRY LOVELACE comes out of obscurity to plant himself center stage among the likes of other famous abductees, such as Travis Walton, Betty and Barney Hill and the two men who were taken aboard a craft in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in 1973 – Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson.

Lovelace is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He used the GI bill for law school after an honorable discharge. In addition to private practice, he served as Assistant Attorney General for the state of Vermont. He kept his UFO story under wraps throughout his professional life, he says, because revealing this information would have been career suicide for a lawyer – which is certainly true. Now that he is retired, he wants his story known.

On the one hand, his details about a lifetime of frightening, intrusive abductions by aliens breaks no new ground – all the familiar elements of what other experiencers have reported for years are here. It’s almost as if he has taken the standard elements of what has become the “UFO abduction genre” and re-told a story deeply familiar to the UFO community.

On the other hand, Mr. Lovelace’s natural talent as a writer and gifted skill for rolling out a compelling narrative will inject a new vividness and feeling of visceral terror for the reader.

In an unexpected way, this latter aspect may unfortunately cut both ways for the author.

What I mean is, this narrative is so well-rendered it will give rise to a higher degree of skepticism among some. Indeed, a negative review on Amazon has already suggested that Mr. Lovelace simply “read a lot of UFO books” and has borrowed all the standard UFO abduction elements to cobble together a riveting fictional tale – which he is passing off as true.

Terry Lovelace

But one would be equally justified in saying that Lovelace is telling the truth because his experience confirms historically well-documented elements of UFO abduction scenarios as reported by thousands of others.

Well, I call myself an “open-minded skeptic” but that does not mean I am a skeptic when it comes to the reality of the UFO phenomena – something is going on that is real, certainly – the evidence is beyond overwhelming.

I take pains to say that because now I want to discuss a central absurdity in the story of Terry Lovelace – not because this makes his tale untrue – but simply because it is absurd – or perhaps suggests a deeper meaning.

I also at this juncture issue a ! SPOILER ALERT ! – I repeat — ! SPOILER ALERT ! – because I want to describe the element of the primary event of his story which was his 1977 abduction experience at Devil’s Den State Park in northwestern Arkansas.

So, if you have not yet read the book – stop reading now. I urge you to go buy the book, read it and come back hear after you have. If you decide to keep reading now – well, I have issued you a fair and unambiguous ! SPOILER ALERT !

THE ABSURDITY

So here is what I find absurd.

Consider: Mr. Lovelace reports that he has been experiencing abductions since childhood. Strange beings which he first perceived as “monkeys” were coming into his bedroom at night. They tormented him with their menacing presence and frightened him to the limit of his ability to withstand the intrusions.

Seeing the cover of Whitley Strieber’s book in a shopping mall sent Terry Lovelace into an unexpected panic. Many others have reported the same mysterious reaction to this book’s cover image.

The “monkeys” are eventually revealed to be the classic Grey aliens. They take him away, bring him back and wipe his memory – except for dreamy trace memories along with lingering fear and a sense of loathing. Later in life he is abducted repeatedly at the whims of his tormentors. They can get him anywhere. They even snatch him once while he’s out riding his motorcycle.

It’s clear the Mr. Lovelace is never safe no matter where he is – be it at home tucked safely in bed, out riding his motorcycle, or anywhere else. Despite this fact the aliens – for some reason — decide to choreograph a fantastically elaborate abduction event in the summer of 1977.

At the time Mr. Lovelace was a young Air Force sergeant serving at Whiteman Air Force Base near Kansas City. The aliens set things in motion weeks before the actual abduction.

They (apparently) telepathically implant a powerful suggestion into the mind of Lovelace and a fellow Airman, Toby, with whom Lovelace serves on an airbase ambulance crew. The aliens want the two men to drive to a remote area in Devil’s Den Park in Arkansas, a six-hour trek from their home base.

The aliens also engineer painstaking details. For example, Lovelace is an avid photographer. He is eager to take spectacular nature photos at Devil’s Den – but he inexplicably forgets his camera on the kitchen table. The suggestion is that the aliens wanted to be sure they were not photographed. A variety of others unusual camping supply snafus occur, as well.

Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas is home to the largest sandstone crevice area in the United States.

The two men make it to Devil’s Den – but strangely again — they decide to basically trespass on federal land. That is, they don’t go through the park gate, register, purchase an entrance ticket — rather, they circumvent a chain barrier to take a back-way into the parkland, drive their car along some primitive path to a secluded high-elevation meadow.

I’ll skip over some events now – including a long hike the two men take during which they inexplicably fall asleep – and pick it up when the men are sitting by their campfire at night and gazing at the stars. In the night sky they espy three strange “stars” in a triangular formation – and they are mesmerized by them as they slowly drift closer to their camp location.

(NOTE: Just like in the 1976 Allagash abduction of Jim and Jack Weiner in a remote wilderness area of Maine, Lovelace’s buddy Toby “signals” to the UFO with a flashlight as it approaches).

This gradual advance of the strange three stars takes maybe two or three hours. The “stars” turn out to be lights on the corners of a monstrously gigantic triangle-shaped UFO. It’s bigger than a five-story building. It comes to a stop and hovers about 30 feet above the ground near the tent of our campers.

The men are then abducted inside the giant UFO where they are subjected to the usual medical-testing procedures common to abduction stories. They also see 50 to 60 other human beings waiting around to be “processed” or undergoing intrusive exams. They see a lot of other stuff inside the UFO as well, such as fish tanks with bizarre living creatures floating in pink liquid.

Okay – I’ll stop there, and ask this question:

If the aliens have already been abducting Mr. Lovelace at will for his entire life and from any location – right inside his home and often under the noses of his unsuspecting parents, sisters and later his wife – why then the need to lure him out to a remote corner of the wilderness for a clandestine abduction?

Why also bring a behemoth, five-story UFO for Mr. Lovelace when at all other times in his life they have been able to show up in smaller craft and zip him away with ease?

And get this: Lovelace says the aliens made sure that the two men parked their car near the treeline at the edge of the meadow to ensure there would be enough room to land the giant UFO – even though the object never landed, but hovered 30 feet above the ground. An average car is only about 5-feet high. It wouldn’t have been in the way any more than their tent was in the way.

Now here’s another thing: There were 50 or 60 other abducted human beings aboard the UFO. Does that mean all those people also went through the same elaborate pre-abduction ritual of watching three mysterious “stars” in the sky approach them for three hours while they became gradually passive? If they did this for all 50-60 people, the process would have taken days to get all captives aboard.

But if the three-hour pre-abduction ritual was done exclusively for Lovelace and Toby – then why?

I don’t lay out all this information to show that I’m a skeptic – although typical skeptical louts will pounce on the fundamental absurdities of the Devil’s Den abduction to argue that it’s all too preposterous to be true.

A MUFON photo of an anomalous object — “implant” — removed from the body of an alien abduction experiencer.

I am inclined to suggest something else – that because the intensely elaborate choreography of the abduction was unnecessary – it was all theater. And I’m not saying it was a theater production with Terry Lovelace as director – but it was the aliens who put on the show.

For some reason (I keep saying that!) the aliens wanted Mr. Lovelace and his friend to experience a sort of cosmic passion play, complete with George-Lucas-worthy giant spaceships, hordes of fellow frightened abductees and B-movie sci-fi monsters swimming in pink fish tanks.

One must also consider that wiping the memory of Lovelace (conveniently?) failed in the long run. Sinister special agent creeps from the government drugged him and forced him through an ostentatious hypnosis session in which he coughed up the whole event – the aliens, who so carefully choreographed everything else, failed to anticipate or have a contingency plan for this.

Of course, the government agents tried to make him forget everything as well. Like the aliens, they failed too. So now Lovelace has shared everything in a tell-all book – even though a hybrid human-alien payed him a recent visit and warned him that if he blabbed too much – his own government might kill him.

What are we to make of it?

Paranoid conspiracy theorists will offer that all of Lovelace’s experiences were implanted in his head during the monstrous drug-infused hypnosis session he was subjected to several months after returning from Devil’s Den. They’ll say he may have never been visited by aliens at all – but the government wants him to believe that it did happen — and then tell all of us ordinary citizens in a book so that we might believe it too.

But why?

I bet Lovelace would contend that his X-ray sheets of weird implants in his leg are his ace in the hole. If none of this happened to him, then how do you explain the reality that he harbored strange objects in his leg? As a lawyer, Lovelace understands the value of hard physical evidence when making a case to a jury. But that’s no problem for the skeptics — they’ll just say he faked the X-rays,

As for me, I am going to say the Mr. Lovelace’s story is true — I can be skeptical, yes — but in this case, despite all, I believe Terry Lovelace. This is not fiction, and I don’t think he is trying to pull one over on us.  I’ll say no more as to why I conclude this, but leave you with this reminder:

The world of ufology is our culture’s most confounding, bottomless rabbit hole – a labyrinth within a labyrinth — a mystery wrapped inside an enigma tied with a conundrum — a universe where the only certainty is uncertainty.

NOTE: BELOW ARE JUST A FEW OF THE OTHER UFO BOOKS I REVIEW HERE ON TOP 10 BOOK REVIEWS:

MANAGING MAGIC By Grant Cameron

EXTRATERRESTRIAL ODYSSEY By Roger “Rocky” Kvande

HOW TO TALK TO AN ALIEN By Nancy DuTertre

ALIENS IN THE BACKYARD By Trish and Rob MacGregor

ALIENS IN THE FORREST by Noe Torres and Ruben Uriarte

SEARCHERS by Ron Felber



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Marine Biologist Ingrid Honkala Tells The Story Of Her Near Death Experience And Subsequent Life Guided By Spiritual Beings Of Light


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

This is a book about love and agony — love and agony, love and agony – love discovered, and love lost – love rediscovered, only to slip away once again – until finally an ultimate answer is found hiding in plain sight amid the thorny, tangled thickets of this elusive game we call life.

It’s the story of a unique life, but at the same time, not so terribly unlike billions of other people. That’s a central paradox that rings throughout this narrative – everyone is “special” – but if everyone is “special” then no one is “special” — because if everyone is “special” then that would be the norm!

Well, the reality is that everyone IS special — while at the same time — everyone is one and the same because we are all part of the totality of All That Is. Each of us manifests our individual nature while we remain an integral part of a cosmic whole – and the fundamental quality that makes up this Cosmic Wholeness is Love – with a capital “L.”

Ingrid Honkala, Ph.D.

Colombian-born INGRID HONKALA grapples with these vexing philosophical concepts as she relates to us the story of her life which was shattered when, at the age of three, she fell into a giant tank of water and drowned.

She experienced an NDE – Near Death Experience – during which all sense of time and distance vanished. She felt herself “become a part of everything” and as if “the Wholeness and I were one.”

Needless to say, she was rescued from the frigid water and resuscitated, but about a year later, she began to sense the presence of intelligent entities which she describes as “star-like figures of pure shining light.” They were of many different colors. They seemed interested in her and cared about her. She soon understood these light-form entities were concerned about her life. They were willing to speak with her and offer her guidance.

Thus, at age 4, began the journey of Ingrid Honkala, an odyssey of being guided by spiritual Beings of Light who were clearly there to help – but as she would also learn — to never interfere.

She still had to make all her own decisions, make her own mistakes and be responsible for whatever good or ill she created. She still was required to struggle through adversity – often with great pain — when the pitfalls of life came calling time and again.

The author is an expert on mangrove ecosystems.

If all this sounds a tad Airy-Fairy-New-Agey to you, consider that Ms. Honkala – that is, Dr. Honkala – is a Ph.D. scientist who earned her doctorate in marine biology. She has worked for NASA, is a world expert on mangrove ecosystems and spent three harrowing years doing research while dodging bullets in the war zone of Tumaco, Colombia, during that country’s grinding war against the FARC rebellion.

When it comes to hard sciences like biology, math, chemistry and oceanography, this woman takes a backseat to no rational-material scientist. Her husband is a former United States Navy Special Forces dude.

Dr. Honkala’s résumé gives her a certain grounded aura of authenticity – in any case, this is almost besides the point. That’s  because I think the way she tells her story in these pages comes across with a hard-to-miss sense of credibility, honesty and no-nonsense truth. If this woman says she has maintained a life-long relationship with intelligent guides manifesting as points of light – I think we can believe her – and give pause to contemplate the inspiring message she feels compelled to share.

So, I give A BRIGHTLY GUIDED LIFE my best recommendation. It’s a heartfelt rendering of one’s person’s life story that is unflinching and honest – dealing out the good with the bad – and ending with a message of hope for all.

NOTE: PLEASE SEE MORE BOOK REVIEWS ON THIS SITE BY KEN ON THE NDE TOPIC:

APPLICATION OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS by Natalie Sudman

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES by P.H.H. Atwater

DEAD OR ALIVE by Erika Hayasaki

THE BOY WHO DIED AND CAME BACK TO LIFE by Robert Moss

WOLF’S MESSAGE By Suzanne Giesemann



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Veteran UFO Investigator Grant Cameron Makes His Case: U.S. Government Has Been Managing A Subtle, Controlled Disclosure Strategy For 70 Years


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Who is the most important person in ufology today?

Forget Steven Greer or Tom Delong or Stanton Friedman or Linda Moulton Howe or Richard Dolan or Leslie Kean or Steve Basset or Timothy Good or Luis Elizondo or Robert and Ryan Wood or Michael Salla — or even the now mostly silent Jacques Vallee.

The most significant figure in the study of UFO phenomenon today is this guy: GRANT CAMERON.

Cameron, a well-mannered Canadian from the Great Plains city of Winnipeg, has been doggedly seeking the truth about UFOs for 42 years. He was unwittingly thrust into this role after a personal encounter with the famous Charlie Red Star in 1975.

That was the name given to a blood-red, pulsating ball of light that amazed people dwelling in a series of small towns in southern Manitoba near the North Dakota border.

The Charlie Red Star UFO was captured in many photos as it cruised the countryside of southern Manitoba from 1975 to 1976.

For an incredible two years, Charlie Red Star haunted the skies of this sparsely-populated, wide-open prairie landscape dotted by small farming communities. The conservative, no-nonsense folks of the region could only gape in wonder at the bold aerial antics of the unfathomable object gamboling across their heavens.

Grant Cameron – who previously had zero interest in UFOs – suddenly knew that he would spend the rest of his life trying to find an answer: “What was that thing?”

Now, more than four decades later, he feels he has an answer. He sums up his conclusion with a single word: “Consciousness.”

Grant Cameron

More than anything else, the central most important aspect of the UFO phenomenon is the idea that Consciousness is primary and material reality is secondary. If you want to understand UFOs, you must start there, Cameron says.

Furthermore, if you stay mired in materialism – specifically, the paradigm of material, nuts-n-bolts science – your fate in the UFO field will be an agonizing entanglement in one bizarre rabbit hole after another – it might even drive you insane.

Cameron has avoided insanity, however, or even evolving into an eccentric UFO weirdo. He’s maintained a kind of grounded dignity. He has diligently sought answers while living gracefully with uncertainty and staying close to facts.

But that doesn’t mean he has rejected high strangeness out of hand. Cameron has since embraced a lot of way-out-there stuff, from the accepting the reality of ETs interacting with us daily to the existence of trans-dimensional portals that can punch us through to parallel worlds. (NOTE: See Cameron’s video documentation of Xendra Portals HERE

This book, MANAGING MAGIC, sticks to slightly more practical matters, however. A few years ago, Cameron said he was done with investigating UFOs. He concluded that chasing lights in the sky and sifting through endless classified government reports obtained through FOIA requests was fruitless.

Recent release of a U.S. Air Force F/A-18 fighter jet footage of a UFO exploded speculation that the government was about to reveal more of what it knows about UFOs

But just like Michael Corleone’s famous lament from Godfather III – “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in” – Cameron felt compelled to write another UFO book. That’s because of what he believes he now knows about the issue of Disclosure – official government disclosure to the public about the reality of UFOs.

A huge portion of the UFO community has been foaming at the mouth for decades, excoriating the government for withholding information from tax-paying citizens who have a right to know . In fact, ranting and raving about oppressive and corrupt government secrecy is an almost inseparable issue from the central premise of UFOs itself within ufology circles.

Government secrecy fosters delicious conspiracy theories and a self-righteous “feel-good” outlet for venting and blaming the powerful elite for the condescending way they treat the masses. The evil cabals at the highest levels of society have earned our virtuous rage of the sainted public.

Let’s face it – playing the victim is a guilty pleasure for many people — perhaps even when justified.

Cameron now believes, however, that our government has likely adopted the correct course all along – that course is an extremely gradual disclosure designed to drip-drip-drip out UFO information over a period of decades.

Doing it that way is for our own good, Cameron says. That’s because the actual truth behind the phenomenon is so bizarre, so enormous, so weird and so epistemologically shattering – a long, drawn-out disclosure is the only responsible thing to do. In the conclusion of Managing Magic he writes:

“After decades of work on the disclosure problem I have become much more sympathetic to the position the government has taken, and how they have handled the situation they were handed in the 1940s.

“Many in the UFO community will say that full disclosure should be a simple thing and done ASAP. The more I view the evidence, the less I agree with that position and the more I see a potential for disaster were that approach to be taken.”

He also states near the beginning of the book:

“The American government is taking the lead on this measured disclosure. When the facts get reviewed, this becomes very evident.”

This view is anathema to so many in ufology. Again, the endorphin rush they get from the righteous indignation they feel at the hands of a deceitful government is a fundamental aspect – in an ironic sort of way – of why people get enthralled by the UFO issue in the first place.

Rock star turned UFO investigator Tom DeLong.

Dr. Steven Greer.

Cameron offers a blunt assessment on some of the biggest names in ufology today – especially rock-star-turned-ufology-star TOM DELONG, former front man for the band Blink 182. Another is DR. STEVEN GREER the emergency-room-doctor-turned-self-proclaimed-greatest-ufologist-of-all-time.

Cameron points out what these two men have in common: They are both supreme ego maniacs. As such, they have been easily manipulated by government disinformation agents who are only happy to use them to leak both factual UFO information to the public – and disinformation when it suits the government strategy of a nuanced, subtle and gradual disclosure process.

That’s the crux of what Cameron is trying to tell us here. Our government, in fact, IS disclosing UFO information to us – but it is also misleading us with smoke screens when it wants to. The government is threading a delicate middle path between disclosure and disinformation – this middle way is designed to gradually acclimate the public over a period of many years – a necessary strategy to avoid catastrophic consequences.

But be warned: This is complicated.

Cameron’s thesis toils under the burden of that complication. I advise the reader to consider the information in this book with great care. The potential to misunderstand what Cameron is telling us is considerable. There are occasions in which the author would appear to contradict his own theories – but I believe that’s an artifact of the tangled labyrinth we necessarily must stumble through. The truth about UFOs is the the proverbial, “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, hidden inside an enigma.”

With Managing Magic, Grant Cameron makes a heroic effort to light a pathway through the most vexing labyrinth ever to confront mankind.

NOTE: SEE SOME OF THE OTHER UFO BOOKS KEN HAS REVIEWED ON THIS SITE:

EXTRATERRESTRIAL ODYSSEY By Roger Kvande

SELECTED BY EXTRATERRESTRIALS By Bill Tompkin

PASSPORT TO THE COSMOS By John Mack M.D.

LIGHT QUEST By Andrew Collins

SEARCHERS By Ron Felber



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Six Questions With British Science Fiction Author Gareth L. Powell: “Life’s better when we help each other.”

Gareth L. Powell

KEN KORCZAK:

It’s tempting to call British writer Gareth L. Powell a rising star in the science fiction genre, but he’s been around and publishing for some two decades. Still, it’s safe to say his just released novel, EMBERS OF WAR, has catapulted him into higher spheres. His work has been compared to famed SF author and fellow Brit Iain Banks. One of the hardest working writers on the Scepter’d Isle, Powell’s ‘Embers’ is flying off the shelves at Warp Factor 9.

It’s his sixth novel. His first published book was the 2008 collection of short stories, The Last Reef and Other Stories.

So here is a six-question lightening round with the Bristol-based author GARETH L. POWELL:

KEN: Your just-released space opera epic, Embers of War, seems to be more than an ember on the science fiction market — it’s on fire with readers. One of the main characters is a sentient spacecraft that is dealing with guilt form the role it played in a brutal galactic war. I heard through the grapevine (okay, it was Twitter) that one of your inspirations for your new novel was an exhibit called “The Golden Age of Luxury Liners.” Is that true, or shouldn’t I believe everything I read on Twitter?

GLP: That’s actually true. It was while reading about the Carpathian coming to the rescue of the Titanic that I conceived the idea of an organisation dedicated to rescuing the crews from wrecked starships.

KEN: Let’s say that you ascended a mountain and confronted a burning bush. Through this medium the God of Science Fiction gave you the 10 Commandments of Science Fiction. What would be the first three commandments etched into your stone tablet, and please begin your responses with “Thou shalt …”

GLP: There is only one commandment, and that is: ‘Thou shalt not bore the reader.’ Everything else is up for negotiation. There are no hard and fast rules for science fiction. When you have the whole of time and space as your canvas, you have an almost infinite number of ways you can tell your story.

KEN: Obviously, the U.K. has produced some of the greatest science fiction writers – Arthur Clarke, Brian Aldiss, H.G. Wells, China Miéville. Iain Banks, Malorie Blackman, Nicola Griffith, Nick Harkaway to name just a few — as a British author, do you find any advantages or disadvantages of writing under the shadow of a waving Union Jack? I know one of your novels was a finalist for a best translated award in Japan. But, for example, do you have concerns about gaining traction in, say, U.S. markets? I guess what I’m trying to ask is: Is there anywhere that the sun sets in a challenging way on the Brit Lit empire?

Powell’s 2013 alternate history novel, Ack-Ack Macaque, won the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Award for Best Novel.

GLP: British science fiction has always been a powerhouse of imaginative thought, and I’m proud to be part of that tradition. However, I don’t write as a self-consciously “British” author. I’m writing stories for anyone who wishes to read them. That said, I’m not as well known in the U.S. as I am in the UK, but I’m hoping my new novel EMBERS OF WAR will start to change that.

KEN: Science fiction great Ray Bradbury kept a sign on his writing desk that said, “DON’T THINK!” Do you have a sign on your desk? If you don’t, what might such a sign say in terms of some fundamental writing advice to yourself?

GLP: I have a note pinned to the cork board above my monitor that says, “Be specific.” This is to remind me that I should try to find the specific, relevant details in a scene. So, rather than just say the dead body smelled, I should try to describe exactly how it smelled. Or rather than saying one character has brown hair, I should say they have hair the exact colour of strong tea before the milk is added. These details make the writing more vivid.

KEN: You have a robust Twitter presence and a lot of followers that interact with you enthusiastically. How do you find the time to work your Twitter so much?  You also offer to answer writing questions to all comers. I know a lot of writers decry Twitter as a distraction, maybe a necessary evil and frequent challenge to one’s writing discipline.

GLP: I probably spend far too much time on Twitter, but I enjoy interacting with readers and fellow writers. The science fiction writing and publishing community (especially in the UK) is quite a tight knit community. If you’ve been around a while, you tend to know a lot of people from it. So for me, Twitter is like hanging out in a convention bar, talking with friends and peers. Plus, I remember being a fledgling author, and the lessons I had to learn the hard way. So if I can help those aspiring writers just starting out now, I’m glad to pass on the fruits of that experience. Life’s better when we help each other.

KEN: The great French writer Gustave Flaubert said, “Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.” What do you think?

GLP: Writing is an emotional and financial roller coaster, but it’s all I’ve wanted to do.

My thanks to Gareth L. Powell. For more information about his work and other books, you can click: HERE

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The Abduction Chronicles Is An Unusual Ufology Tale With Zany Vaudeville Overtones


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Most books involving the difficult subject of UFO abduction are frightening, dour, and deadly serious as the author struggles to deal with the agony of a life shattered and eschatological shock.

But not his one.

The author keeps his tongue firmly implanted in cheek. He not only evinces an attitude of whimsy and fun, but displays a sense of humor that’s downright cornball throughout his narrative.

Elitists and snobs might even use the term “lowbrow comedy.”

Thomas L. Hay

I have a feeling that would be okay with the author, a man from a small town in Missouri who has enjoyed a long and classic all-American life of hard work, military service, love, relationships and basic middle-class success – but a life that from childhood which has been shot through with the intrusion of the UFO phenomenon.

THOMAS L. HAY plays it coy with his readers. How much of this tale is true and authentic and how much is sensationalized and fictionalized? That’s the deal he has struck with his audience. You’ll never really know for sure. If you become irritated with Mr. Hay’s unrelenting attitude of playful whimsy and rapid-fire wisecracking as you read – well, I suppose you can always stop reading any time you want to.

It all makes for an usual offering in the realm of UFO literature. I have feeling that some readers will think that Mr. Hay has broken the mold in a successful way, while others will think this is just broken.

Here’s my meta-observation: I have the impression that Thomas Hay is a person who may have experience encountered some kind of genuine UFO/alien phenomenon during his life. The first chapters telling of his childhood growing up in a small Midwestern town have a certain ring of authenticity about them. When he tells of an abduction experience as a teenager, I get a strong intuitive impression that this might have been something that really happened to him – but it almost doesn’t really matter.

The Author is a veteran of the U.S. Navy

With THE ABDUCTION CHRONICLES, Thomas Hay is not trying to convince anyone of anything one way or the other. Completely without pretension or phoniness, the author has cobbled together a kind of farcical vaudeville version of a close-encounters tale with a strong dash of soap opera melodrama — and then finished out with elements of science fiction thriller overtones.

The book works best for me when the author stays close to the plausible effects the UFO abduction phenomenon has on life, work and relationships – but when he ventures into large portions of the narrative that are clearly fictional, it too often devolves into pure zany farce – perhaps purely for the sake of having some fun with a topic that is all too often handled with such too much morbid seriousness.

It’s almost as if the author us saying; “Hey, lighten up everybody. If you really are being abducted by aliens you might as well have a good laugh about it. Roll with it. Life goes on!”



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Analog Science Fiction Tale by Bill Johnson About Time Travelers to Ancient Ski Lodge Will Challenge Readers, But Entertain Those Who Can Bring Something To The Table


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Just a few paragraphs into the lead-off science fiction story in the Nov-Dec 2017 issue of ANALOG, I began to feel a strange swoon – it was borne of a certain brand of déjà vu that I’ll call … um? … synchronistic familiarity?

Let me explain:

The story is titled HYBRID, BLUE, BY FIRELIGHT. The setting is a ski-lodge sort of facility with a fine restaurant, rooms and other creature comforts for travelers – except this place is positioned in the year 42,967 BCE in a remote Arctic-like region — and the “guests” are time travelers from a variety of future timelines.

As it happens, I have been to this place many times. For real.

I call it The Restaurant on the Edge of Time (The RET for short) – and the way I get there is through the practice of lucid dreaming.

Years ago (somewhere in the 1990s) I perfected the practice of lucid dreaming after reading Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming written by Stanford University psychophysiologist STEPHEN LABERGE – even though I was a spontaneous lucid dreamer years before confronting LaBerge’s ground-breaking work.

Rather than retell everything here, I will now refer you to the first article I published on my visit to The RET – the earliest publication of this story (that I can find) appeared on one of my blogs in 2006 – but for right now I suggest you pause before you read the rest of my review of Bill Johnson’s science fiction story, read about my dream adventure at The RET which I have re-posted here:

THE RESTAURANT ON THE EDGE OF TIME

Okay! Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the trip to The RET!

So now let’s talk about this novella, Hybrid, Blue, by Firelight. It’s a challenging piece of fiction, to be sure, which is often the case with hard science fiction crafted in the best tradition of the genre. The author is BILL JOHNSON. He won science fiction’s top honor, the HUGO AWARD, in 1998.

I like science fiction that make you think – even sweat a few bullets out of your forehead – if you are going to understand what is happening in the story. Grapple you must with solid, meaty scientific theory based on … you know … real science. ‘Hybrid’ is that kind of story.

A short synopsis: This tale involves two brokers of genetic goods – one is a man (a homo sapiens sapiens) by the name of Martin. His partner is a kind of omnipresent  AI figure, appropriately named “Artie.”

An artists conception of a Red Deer Cave individual.

Martin and Artie ply their trade at the Stone Eagle, a luxury ski-lodge hotel positioned some 40 thousand years in the past. Time travelers of multiple species of man – NEANDERTHALS, DENISOVANS, RED DEER CAVERS and others – all meet at this exotic nexus to wheel and deal on what they need to manage the future timelines of their races.

Accouterments of trade include things like human female ova, resistance to diseases, whole intact species of animal, such as dogs, and so forth.

But the set-up is unstable, in that, maintaining the Stone Eagle is subject to problems, such as time quakes and wobbly reality shifts that quaver amid an array of future timelines … this precarious footing adds tension and sense of urgency to the narrative.

It’s an ambitious premise and difficult to pull off.

Author Bill Johnson is counting on his readers to be intelligent and informed about the latest theories concerning the origin of the human species – but I also believe Johnson expects his reader to contribute mightily in another way toward making the story a coherent whole.

Alexei Panshin

I could be wrong, but I believe the writing technique Johnson is using is what science fiction literary critic ALEXEI PANSHIN described as: “… a provocative vagueness deliberately introduced in order to prevent … readers from understanding too clearly and exactly what was happening and thereby losing their sense of mystery.”

Panshin ascribes the genesis of this writing technique to the legendary science fiction master A. E. VAN VOGT. The great man himself confirmed Panshin’s theory, saying:

A.E. van Vogt, Golden Age science fiction author who left subliminal gaps in his prose which he expected his readers to fill in.

“Each paragraph – sometimes each sentence – of my brand of science fiction has a gap in it, an unreality condition. In order to make it real, he reader must add the missing parts. He cannot do this out of his past associations. There are no past associations. So he must fill in the gap from the creative parts of his brain.”

When this technique works, it can create fiction that is rich, compelling and delicious beyond belief. Unfortunately, leaving subliminal gaps within a narrative tends to leave many readers baffled – such is the nature of their personal thought processes that subliminal promptings invoke no response for them – and the effect is only confusion. Some readers can “auto-fill,” some can’t.

On the other hand, there are some aspects of Hybrid, Blue, by Firelight that are problematic for less exotic reasons. For example, there is a scene where the characters come upon some dead bodies, and these are covered in buzzing flies – and yet, they are in a cold climate. Our characters are wearing animal skins and fur, there is snow on the ground, they’re traveling by dog sled – so how can there be carrion-eating flies under these frigid conditions?


There can’t be flies, and so this makes no sense. It’s a small detail, but jarring enough to sow uncomfortable confusion in the mind of the reader, who then begins to question the fundamental integrity of the overall scenario.

As for me, though, I enjoyed the story. My subconscious mind was auto-filling like mad. I felt I was treated to a vivid, sensual and luxurious science fiction feast. Also, I was delighted to confront an intelligent fictional scenario that so closely matched a beloved location so near and dear to my own dreams — literally.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Chicago-based Author William Hazelgrove Delivers a Spellbinding Narrative on the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Think of some of the most incredible achievements of human ingenuity – the construction of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the digging of the Panama Canal, landing a man on the moon …

… well, after reading AL CAPONE AND THE 1933 WORLD’S FAIR I’m tempted to put what the city of Chicago pulled off in the depths of the Great Depression right up there with some of the most stunning accomplishments in human history.

At the very least, I had no idea about what an extraordinary undertaking Chicago’s Century Of Progress was, how enormous were the odds against its success, and how this event should today be viewed as a pivotal achievement that shaped the future of our country.

Not only did Chicago find a way to fund a multi-million (billions in today’s dollars) fantasy project when the American economy was gutted and on its knees, it did so while de-fanging the most organized, entrenched and deadly crime syndicates America had ever known – the murderous empire of Al Capone.

The confluence of ridding Chicago of Capone with the creation of the 1933 World’s Fair makes for a narrative so rich, intriguing and full of plot twists and turns, this work of historical fact is as much fun to read as an work of audacious creative fiction.

William Hazelgrove

All that’s needed to create an absorbing, fascinating book to tell the story is one of America’s hardest working writers, and preferably a Chicago-based author with excellent gut feel for the soul of the Windy City — enter WILLIAM HAZELGROVE.

I’ve read six or seven of this author’s work, both fiction and nonfiction, and I’ll say this is his best work to date.

In Al Capone and the 1933 World’s Fair, Hazelgrove finds a rhythm on the first page and proceeds to weave together a gigantic amount of information – including the biographical stories of the real people who lived these events – into an enthralling narrative that makes for a mesmerizing whole. Its historical fact transformed into compelling entertainment.

While giving us the overall scoop, Hazelgrove deftly highlights key characters of the era, from the people integral to building the World’s Fair from the ground up, to those individuals who found their lives pivoting around Chicago’s mind-blowing party of the century.

Sally Rand, born Helen Beck, performs the ‘Bubble Dance,” a version of her famous feather dance.

Among the most fascinating was Sally Rand, the small-town Missouri girl who found early fame in Hollywood silent films, only to be washed out of Tinsel Town at the advent of the “talkies.” Rand’s lisp abruptly jettisoned her career as a film star. She retained her most potent weapon, however – great physical beauty and an uncanny aura of sensual sexuality that made leering at her lithe body an irresistible draw for a nation of sexually repressed men.

Rand would ride her famous feather dance to future fame and fortune. It was her semi-legal, glorified peep-show at the 1933 World’s Fair that made it possible. It’s pure Americana: Even a washed-up starlet’s tawdry burlesque shtick illustrates a central element of the American Dream — absolutely anyone can rise from rags to riches to become “somebody,” and a self-made success.

With a certain matter-of-fact, blunt irony, Hazelgrove points out – that’s what Al Capone did too!

Finally, Hazelgrove’s take on the Chicago World’s Fair provides us with an overarching sense of sociological context and a greater appreciation for the lasting implications the Century of Progress delivered for American society – but he does so without lecturing his readers, or resorting to preachy opinionating about what (or should) make America the great social experiment it is.

Yes, certainly, I have some quibbles with this book, but these pertain to a bit of dicey editing here and there and some problems with fact checking (what year did Sally Rand die?) – however, these are minor factors that don’t meaningfully detract from what is an overall fine and fascinating read that I can strongly recommend.

NOTE: Here are some of my other reviews of William Hazelgrove books:

MADAME PRESIDENT: THE SECRET PRESIDENCY OF EDITH WILSON

THE PITCHER

ROCKET MAN

JACK PINE

REAL SANTA



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Irish Author Simon Maltman Crafts Enjoyable Short Fiction Crime Thrillers That Might Leave You Wanting For More

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

The great science fiction writer, Ben Bova, said, “All great fiction is based on character development.”

If that’s the case then BONGO FURY has it made. The protagonist is Jimmy Black, and he’s a fascinating guy. Black is a “Prod” living in a backwater of Northern Ireland. He runs a shop selling various musical accouterments, from guitar strings and drum skins to old vinyl records – but business is rather anemic.

Not a problem for the resourceful Jimmy Black. He’s a guy with one foot in the world of the up-and-up and perhaps just a couple of toes still mired in the seedy underground of Irish organized crime. Jimmy plays it straight for the most part, but his darker past tends to pull him back into the dangerous games miscreants play.

Simon Maltman

His “extracurricular dealings” bring in enough extra cash to keep Bongo Fury – his music shop – afloat and to support a sweet two-year-old daughter he shares with a lovely Polish immigrant.

It’s a fascinating set up for some great fiction, and for the most part, author SIMON MALTMAN pulls it off. In addition to a vivid main character, there’s A decent plot here, as well as adequate description of background setting and perhaps even a mild theme. (Somewhat shady good guys finish first?) The author also handles dialog well, and displays decent skill with crafting tight action scenes.


Anyway, this offering is just 40 pages, or so, and those are double-spaced pages. So, what you get here is basically a long short story. If you go ahead and buy Bongo Fury 2, perhaps you get a bit more meat for your dime.

As good as BONGO FURY 1 and BONGO FURY 2 are, I must say that these are works that beg to be a novel. The weakness of both books is that the denouement of each  seems rushed. A short piece of fiction needs to be powerfully compact, yet complete. That means cobbling together a resolution that delivers with impact — but the finish should provide the reader with the sense of satisfaction and finality for having confronted a complete story.

I suppose you could look at it this way: I found Bongo Fury 1-2 so enjoyable I wanted more — and so that’s why I was disappointed with the endings. I’ll give Mr. Maltman the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he or his publisher is engaging in cliff-hanging as marketing strategy to move future issues … and I do hope we see more of two-fisted drinker (and puncher) Jimmy Black.

NOTE: Simon Maltman is also the author of the full-length novel: A CHASER ON THE ROCKS.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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British Author Steve Petrou Offers Insightful Wisdom In heartfelt Story Of His Family’s Battle With Infertility


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

This is a book that reads like a classic Greek tragedy.

But not all Greek tragedies end in despair and disaster. Sometimes they result in what the ancients called a “catharsis” – and a catharsis can bring healing, hope and understanding.

As it happens, the author is a Greek-Cypriot. Greek was his first language. STEVE PETROU immigrated to England and established himself there as a successful owner and operator of a fish-n-chips shop, what the Brits call a “Chippy”.

His wife Vaso is also Greek-Cypriot. After falling blissfully in love and marrying, the two soul mates set out to complete the perfect picture of their lives by producing children – and that’s where the odyssey of the Petrou Clan begins.

Vaso was unable to get pregnant naturally. After years of suffering, the desperate couple opts to try IVF – In Vitro Fertilization. Anyone who thinks this is always a simple, clinical process that just sort of “zaps” a healthy fetus into a woman’s womb will be well-informed here about the potential pitfalls and enormous challenges that can result from the IVF process.

Author Steve Petrou, his wife, Vaso, and son, Petros

The couple’s experience was a nightmare of such monumental proportions it seems a miracle they persisted through three arduous trials of IVF before finally achieving success.

You can read all about the incredible journey of battling infertility in the author’s first book – All I Ever Wanted to Be Called Was Mom. In this follow up, and as the title implies – I Only Wanted To Be A Dad – you are going to get much of the same story, but this time focused through the eyes, mind and experiences of a father – and it’s important to say this – a male – a man!

Yes, having babies and then raising children is not 100% “woman stuff.” The man may perform just 1/1000 of what a woman does in the physical process to create a new life – but ahhhh – his role is still vital, integral and a lifetime commitment.

In these pages, Steve Petrou brings remarkable insight to the critical role the father/man/figure plays in the real-life drama of bringing children into the world, especially when that process takes extraordinary measures.

FROM “CHIPPY” TO “AUTHOR”

In my review of the first book I noted that it read like it was written by a person who was a professional fish-n-chips man first and a writer second.

But just a few pages into I Only Wanted To Be A Dad, I was amazed at how vastly the writing had improved. I think it should be recognized that in between the first and second book Steve Petrou evolved from “Chippy” to bona fide “Author.”

The first book was a powerful read because of the story and content. This book is just as powerful, but we get the added benefit of reading the prose of a man who is coming into his own as a skilled writer.

Indeed, in telling a true story, the narration takes on the riveting quality of a thrilling work of fiction. Consider this paragraph as the author accompanies his wife as she is being wheeled into surgery for a dangerous C-Section operation:

“Walking down that long corridor, expecting death to meet you as soon as that door opens, make your legs tremble. You do not want that walk to continue, wishing you could go back into the room where you felt safe. You are scared, want to cry and scream because deep down in your heart you know that if you enter through that door, you will lose everything. You think you are screaming, asking them to stop, but not a sound leaves your mouth. The distance between you and that damned door keeps getting shorter.”

That’s a compelling passage and there’s a lot more where that came from.

This is certainly a book that will help an uncounted number of people because of the insight it offers in dealing with the agonizing condition of infertility which a growing part of the world population is confronting every day.

But also, this book serves as a  kind of Man’s Manifesto, in that, it lays out a viewpoint and philosophy for the modern male in our society who aspires to be the best father, family man, husband and care giver he can be.

The view offered is an appeal for compassion, understanding and an encouragement for men to make a brutally frank and blunt self-examination — and then strive to be the best kind of man one can hope to become – keeping in mind that none are perfect and that we should all expect to learn lessons from bad mistakes we will inevitably make along the way.

I found this book to be an extraordinary narrative on many levels. Every man should read it, married or unmarried, father or childless, young or old.

NOTE: You can read my review of this author’s first book HERE.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Once Upon a Missing Time by long-time UFO researcher Philip Mantle is a terrific read that is compelling and entertaining, a work of integrity but never waxes ponderous


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

When I saw that one of Britain’s most respected, renowned and dogged UFO investigators, PHILIP MANTLE, had published a work of UFO fiction my first thoughts were, “Uh-ho.”

That’s because I have been down this road before with researchers famous in the UFO field, most notable the great Jacques Vallée, who a few years back took a turn at fiction with his novel Fastwalker. It was pretty bloody awful.

Others in UFO or similar fields have also attempted a fictional turn with disastrous results, notably NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin who wrote a fantastically boring science fiction novel called Encounter With Tiber.

And so I was not only pleasantly surprised – but absolutely delighted by Mantle’s, ONCE UPON A MISSING TIME. This is a terrific book that delivered everything I expected from a tale of close encounters with strange beings – but the plot also took unexpected turns which makes this book a work of depth and pragmatic integrity.

As far as I can tell, the story is based on a bona fide UFO abduction event known as the Aveley Abduction which occurred on a dark country road in West Essex in 1974. I believe the story was first reported in Flying Saucer Review by writer and long-time UFO investigator Andrew Collins. Collins also writes about the Aveley Abduction in his recent book, LIGHTQUEST. (See my review of LightQuest HERE).

I’ve also seen the story of the Aveley Abduction bounced around in the endless echo chamber of the Internet – often with details slightly altered and with the “names changed to protect the innocent” – but with the core of the story essentially in tact. Some call it the U.K.’s “most important UFO multiple abduction case.”

The events involve an ordinary family: Dad a school teacher and mum a social worker, who along with their 12-year-old daughter, enjoy a middle class lifestyle that couldn’t be more grounded and normal. But then they confront the extraordinary – or I should say – the extraterrestrials!

The result is the shattering of three lives. In additional to the eschatological shock of having their world views torn to shreds, the larger effect precipitated upon the close-nit, small-town and social network of their staid Yorkshire community is vexing, to say the least.

Ufologist and author Philip Mantle

What makes Once Upon a Missing Time truly a top-notch read is Mantle’s considerable skill at creating vivid characters. He makes us feel strong empathy for them as they struggle with their stunning situation.

Believe me, taking a run-of-the-mill school teacher and a plodding social worker and selling them to the reader as interesting and sympathetic characters is no easy task for any writer – but Mantle pulls it off.

The author gets it done – in my opinion – by not being a blowhard and trying his hand at “great literature.” Rather, Mantle writes within his own capabilities. His years spent writing nonfictional UFO accounts and serving as editor of a number of UFO publications has provided him with the pragmatic clarity of a journalist, but also the expanded skill of observation required for someone in the endlessly enigmatic, twisted and tangled field of Ufology.

The result is tale well told, the ordinary made extraordinary, and a piece of fiction that displays a keen eye for what makes common people tick. Once Upon A Missing Time has my highest recommendation.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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The Long UFO Journey of Greg Bishop “Defies Language”

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Greg Bishop is an aging UFO warrior who got sucked into the bizarre vortex of ufology when still a young boy – and now all these decades later he bears the psychic scars that only UFO investigation can inflict upon the eager seeker who just wants to know the truth – but where finding any truth may be impossible.

His efforts have been persistent and bordering on heroic. In this book Mr. Bishop takes us on a breezy sojourn through his thoughts and experiences gleaned from his persistent pursuit for understanding of the UFO phenomenon. In these pages, he often veers from one extreme to another – from the brutal realization that much about UFOs is depressing bunk, while at the same time, acknowledging there remains tantalizing evidence that something “nonhuman” has been interacting with mankind for thousands of years.

But just what is it? That’s the question that torments Greg Bishop. That’s what makes him the kind of UFO junkie I can appreciate. Bishop has learned to live gracefully with uncertainty. He knows that just when you think you’ve found some solid footing about who or what UFOs are, the game changes suddenly and quixotically. Fact becomes fallacy, truth becomes fraud – but just when you’re ready to chuck it all and give up, guess what?

Something happens to suggest that: “They’re he-e-e-r-e!” And so the devotee is off and running again on the universe’s most mercurial quest.

George Adamski: Perhaps the most famous of the ’50s Era Conactees

Howard Menger: Was this famous Contactee a fraud, a CIA asset, or the real deal?

His journey has sent Bishop reaching for answers and grappling to suggest new models. For example, he suggests that the 1950s contactee era, ala the likes of George Adamski, Howard Menger, et.al., might be viewed (or explained) as a kind of post-modern art movement – an attempt to inject radical new ideas into the collective consciousness of humanity leveraging the benign space visitor motif. Was this “art movement” a conscious creation of the various Adamskis and Mengers? Were they blatant bunko artists — or perhaps they were unwilling pawns of actual alien influences, meddling with the mind of humanity for a planetary social engineering project?

Who knows?

While Bishop conjures new paradigms, he also decries our penchant to latch on to pre-packaged explanations for what UFOs are, especially the long-dominant belief that, “They are alien beings from other planets visiting the Earth in nuts-and-bolts spacecraft.” He says a statement like this is “so loaded with semantic baggage … it is meaningless.” He writes:

“Belief implies a lack of critical thinking. UFOs are automatically assumed by most to be structures vehicles piloted by intelligent being from other planets. They don’t need to be … there are many reasons that a skeptical mindset and lack of assumptions make the subject more interesting and worthy of consideration. To settle on one explanation is to shut down serious inquiry …”

Greg Bishop

That goes for all the theories and models floated in the past 50 or 60 years – that UFOs are interdimensional beings/craft, time travelers, ancient ‘gods’ or exotic but indigenous races that co-evolved with humanity right here on earth, or that the UFO phenomenon is a manifestation of consciousness evolution of the psyche of mankind itself.

Maybe it’s all of the above – but ultimately – the brutal fact is that we still find ourselves mired in a radical state of: “We just don’t know.” That does not mean that we should stop clawing at our intellects to eke out some measure of understanding, Bishop suggests.

So this is a pretty good read – and that goes for both the extremely experienced UFO enthusiasts (guys like me who have read thousands of books and articles and done actual investigations) to the casual reader who likes to browse a UFO book occasionally to scratch a UFO itch.

Be aware that this is one of those books that has been cobbled together from a collection of the author’s blog posts and other published articles from over the years – these kinds of books tend to suffer a bit from lack of focus or a certain unevenness in the quality of what’s included and what probably should have been cut.

However, for the most part, IT DEFIES LANGUAGE challenges, entertains and invites us to stretch our minds. Greg Bishop urges us to think outside the box, shake off our preconceived notions, guard against getting rutted in outmoded models, avoid fallacies and traps – and beseech our Higher Power of choice for the wisdom to know the difference.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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A Classic Notepad Used by Hemingway and Picasso — No Writer, Artist Should Be Without This Nifty Item

KEN KORCZAK:

If you are a writer and book lover like me, you are also likely a wonk for cool writing implements. I recently discovered the Moleskine Classic Notepad which has more than a century of tradition behind it.

Originally manufactured in France, this very notepad was highly prized by such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh and famed travel writer Bruce Chatwin.

Here’s my video review of the Moleskine Notepad — would make a great gift for your literary, bookish and artistic friends (and no, I’m not on the company payroll!
Just love this item!)

A Small UFO Book With A Gigantic Story: A Broad Daylight UFO Encounter In A Small Minnesota Town Is Just The Beginning of an ‘Extraterrestrial Odyssey

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

It’s a given that all books or stories of human-UFO encounter involve strangeness for the very fact that these are unusual events that outside what is generally accepted as normal.

But then there are stories about UFO encounter than involve something called “high strangeness” – situations that are so weird and mind-blowing that they strain our standards of rational thought or what we can easily believe.

The story of small-town Minnesota man Roger Kvande is solidly in the realm of the latter — high strangeness. Here’s a guy whose experiences goes well beyond a simple sighting of a flying saucer, an encounter with aliens or even the classic narrative of a ‘typical’ abduction scenario.

Mr. Kvande’s experience is a deeply involved, multi-dimensional series of events that is also multigenerational. Not only has Kvande experienced a life-time of interaction with alien beings, but the phenomenon also seems to have been visited upon his father and at least one grandparent.

An enormous amount of ground is covered in this rather small book, EXTRATERRESTRIAL ODYSSEY. It’s about 140 pages with large type in a tiny format, a 4 by 7-inch paperback. I purchased it through the Lulu.com print-on-demand publishing service. Even though it’s a manuscript that can be completed in a long afternoon read, the reader may come away contemplating the implications of the story for weeks or months to come.

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Roger “Rocky” Kvande

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A flying saucer buzzed downtown Bagley, MN, in 1966.

The main event of the book is centered around an incident that is said to have occurred in the town of Bagley, a small community of about 1,300 people in the northwest corner of Minnesota. (It’s just over 100 miles from my own home town of Greenbush, Minnesota).

On April 22, 1966, legend has it that “a flying saucer” was observed by multiple residents as it flew down the main street of Bagley, narrowly missed colliding with a school bus and then landed on the outskirts of town. There witnesses reported seeing “four dwarf-like beings” emerge from the craft. They appeared to conduct a brief inspection of the vehicle before getting back in and taking off and vanishing into the sky.

It’s a sensational event in and off itself – but this is only a warm up as Mr. Kvande’s fantastic story rolls out – including the fact that he was actually on board that UFO at the time it buzzed the streets of his city!

How does that amazing circumstance come about? Well, I won’t say more because I don’t want to issue a series of spoiler alerts or give it all away for those who have yet to read this book. I will say, however, that the tale is somewhat convoluted and not entirely well handled by the primary authors of the book, William McNeff and Craig. R. Lang, both long-time investigators with the Minnesota chapter of MUFON.

To be fair, McNeff and Lang had a tough job. Kvande’s story is not a simple one. I give them great credit for writing what is ultimately a thoughtful and intelligent account which makes a heroic attempt to ground Kvande’s experience in some theoretical physics and solid scientific investigation.

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The “Sunflower Man.” Kvande reports seeing an alien being that resembled a large, walking sunflower.

Mr. Kvande not only interacts with aliens over his lifetime and takes a ride on a UFO. He also travels in time, has his consciousness displaced into the minds of other people in the past or alternate universes, and he even develops a relationship with a UFO craft that seems to have its own intelligence – as if the UFO was a living being with individual consciousness.

I told you there would be high strangeness!

UFO experiences aside, I should add that Roger “Rocky” Kvande has otherwise led an ordinary life — in fact, he has enjoyed a long career of considerable success in the computer, electronics, software development and programming fields. He’s been a much sought-after employee for a string big name clients who have benefited significantly from his talents with computers and electronics.

Despite its drawbacks, I consider this a gem of a book that is a must read for serious ufologists and for those looking for UFO stories that break the mold. It’s not a “more of the same” offering that those of us who read a lot of UFO literature. Mr. Kvande’s tale is weird, different, and iconoclastic. Despite being outlandish, his story has a disturbing ring of truth about it that will seriously challenge — and vex — even the most open-minded UFO enthusiast.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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Paul H. Smith’s Epic Saga of Remote Viewing Is The Most Complete Book On History and Other Aspects of Psychic Spying

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

I’ve read a lot of books about Remote Viewing, but I’m willing to bet that this one, READING THE ENEMY’S MIND by Paul H. Smith, is THEE definitive book on the topic.

Clocking in at more than 600 pages, Smith slogs through just about every aspect of remote viewing — from the mind boggling to the mundane — from the first days of its development through its eventual demise as a sanctioned government project.

Smith was a U.S. Army Intelligence Officer and among the original remote viewers. Here he doggedly documents the endless and banal bureaucratic twists and turns of managing a super secretive, highly classified intelligence operation — but, wow! — it was a spy game unlike any other in the already dark and spooky underworld of international espionage.

Most readers eager for sensational stories of extraordinary paranormal happenings will find themselves enduring some eye-glazing moments as Smith plods through all the crushingly boring — the red tape, the funding methods, the inter-governmental squabbling. However, those who wade through it will be rewarded with a greater perspective about what really happened inside our government’s unlikely foray into “psychic spying.”

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Paul Smith

But there is much to amaze as well. There’s lots of juicy paranormal stuff — psychic powers, UFO tangents, channeling strange entities, spoon bending — that will satisfy the inquiring mind.

It would take pages to provide a truly comprehensive review of everything Smith covers in this book, so let me focus on one area where I think the author provides invaluable insight into a deeply controversial topic.

The insight I am talking about is the window inside Smith gives us on certain people who emerged as high profile public remote viewers after the official program ended — especially Ed Dames and David Morehouse.

Smith tells that Dames and Morehouse are two guys who more or less went off the deep end and were ensnared by the most unscientific and fringy possibilities associated with remote viewing.

Smith levels his biggest criticism at David Morehouse, whom he describes as a barely involved, minimally trained slacker who was, if not actually AWOL, absent for much of the time when he was supposed to be on duty working RV sessions. Morehouse also had periods of mental instability, a disastrous illicit affair, was once suicidal — none of which was precipitated by the strangeness of remote viewing — although Morehouse sought to use RV as an excuse for his behavior when he was facing court martial.

Yet Morehouse is active today as a “celebrity” remote viewer, promoting himself as one of the original “Psychic Warriors” (That’s the title of his book). He also peddles a RV study course, he leads remote viewing seminars and is popular on the lecture tour. But Smith paints Morehouse as little more than a failure at remote viewing, a fraud and a blatant, self-serving opportunist.

But the guy who really sucks up all the oxygen in the world of remote viewing today is former U.S. Army Major Ed Dames.

Smith is somewhat kinder to Dames in terms of his work ethic and commitment to military intelligence. Smith even gives him high marks for his professionalism as a soldier. However, when it came to performing the actual remote viewing sessions, Dames was rarely the one sitting in the psychic spying seat. Rather, Dames served more often as a monitor and facilitator for other remote viewers. His own ability to remote view were unremarkable, and he barely worked more than a half dozen official RV sessions himself.

Smith writes that Dames also frequently thwarted protocol by improperly “front loading” remote viewing sessions — that is, Dames frequently attempted to “lead” or bias remote viewers with his own unstoppable obsession with UFOs and his own pet theories about extraterrestrials.

When Dames could not goad disciplined remote viewers into coughing up questionable information about ETs, he would go ahead and conduct his own sessions with sloppy protocols, which would, not surprisingly, confirm his own belief system about aliens from other worlds.

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Paul Smith’s organization, RVIS, or Remote Viewing Instructional Services

Even worse, Dames displayed an extreme proclivity for apocalyptic scenarios. Again and again, Dames came up with end-of-the-world predictions both during his time with military intelligence, and for years after as a public figure — and he continues to do today. Dames has appeared dozens of times on the hugely popular Coast to Coast radio program hosted by Art Bell, and over the years had made one disaster-scenario prediction after another, none of which have ever come true.

Smith also sharply criticizes Ed Dames for the claims he has made about his involvement with the development of the remote viewing program — in short, Smith says that many of Dames’ claims about what he did and to help develop the military remote viewer program are flat out false. Dames was a far more marginal player than he has long advertised himself to be, according to Smith.

So this is an outstanding book which is an invaluable historical document that both dispels the many myths that still linger about remote viewing, and which provides incredible insight — a clarifying window into one of the strangest times in the history of U.S. espionage and intelligence operations.

Please see also my reviews of these books on astral travel and remote viewing:

EXPLORATIONS IN CONSCIOUSNESS BY FREDERICK AARDEMA

LIMITLESS MIND BY RUSSELL TARG

MASTER OF MY SHIP, CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL BY SKIP ATWATER

THE TRANSCENDENT INGO SWANN BY RAUL DASILVA



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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A Fictional Tale of An Astral Traveling Psychic Spy Takes Time to Lift Off, But Soars After Plot Gets Tangled & Intriguing

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

This book starts out flat and bland — the author even manages to make the amazing experience of astral, or out-of-body travel seem mundane and boring – no small feat considering the wild, bizarre ride the OBE is (for those of us who have actually tried the real thing over the years).

And yet, readers who stick with this novel will be rewarded with a plot – even if it is one that develops slowly. If you keep on reading, you’ll get drawn into an intriguing situation that makes the last third of the book a worthwhile read, indeed.

But to enjoy this book, it will probably help if you have a pre-established interest not in just astral travel, but something called REMOTE VIEWING. Remote viewing was a method of psychic spying developed by U.S. Military Intelligence with the help of the CIA beginning in the early 1970s. the program ran through the mid-1990s.

Yes, it was real – and yes – this form of psychic spying really worked. It’s controversial, for sure, but the skeptics of remote viewing are full of crap. That’s my opinion after reading dozens books. articles and academic papers on the topic. But what was even more convincing to me was trying my own hand (mind) at remote viewing – I can tell you it’s real, and it works.

So, our hero in CRASH & BURN is Peter Ludvick, a young man who was born with two unusual gifts: A perfectly photographic memory, and the ability to “go OBE” – to travel outside his physical body each night during his natural periods of REM sleep.

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His abilities attract the watchful attention of the CIA.  They hire him to work as a kind of psychic super spy. Ludvick can float around like a ghost and go anywhere in the world with his astral body. No barrier can stop him. Ludvick can pass through the thickest walls of steel or concrete, travel any distance in a flash, and so he can penetrate any facility belonging to any government anywhere in the world.

Because he has a photographic memory, Ludvick can come back with extremely detailed information about America’s enemies. This makes him worth more than his weight in gold to the CIA – in fact, they pay him millions of dollars a year for his fantastic ability.

Ludvick soon finds himself living the high life. He has a fascinating job working for his country, which he loves with the fervor of a true patriot. He marries a beautiful woman, the love of his life, and together they enjoy a charmed existence of wealth, travel, adventure and career fulfillment. The American government considers Mr. Ludvick among its most precious assets.

What could go wrong?

Plenty – as readers will soon find out. The CIA, after all, is the CIA. You know that old saying, “It takes a criminal to catch a criminal.” Even admirers of the CIA might admit that, over the decades, the darker forces of the international spy game have rubbed off on our own guys. Any government agency with a nearly unlimited “black budget,” which necessarily lurks in the shadows and operates under immense secrecy is a recipe for corruption — a place where evil can fester — an organization that can rot from within.

Astral spy Peter Ludvick eventually develops a deep mistrust for his powerful CIA task masters whose double-dealing in both his professional and personal life gives him good reason to want out —– ah, but just walking away from the CIA has never been easy.

I won’t say anymore, but I give the author great credit for eventually cobbling together a sticky situation for his protagonist, and then concocting a clever way for him fight back and get his life back. When the plot finally gets going, it grabs you like glue — making readers stick with it to the end — and feeling glad they did.

Please see also my reviews of these books on astral travel and remote viewing:

READING THE ENEMY’S MIND BY PAUL H. SMITH

EXPLORATIONS IN CONSCIOUSNESS BY FREDERICK AARDEMA

LIMITLESS MIND BY RUSSELL TARG

MASTER OF MY SHIP, CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL BY SKIP ATWATER

THE TRANSCENDENT INGO SWANN BY RAUL DASILVA

EYES OF AN ANGEL BY PAUL ELDER



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

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Gillian Will Attempts to Put Wyoming on the Map (correctly) in this serialized novel of political intrigue, comedy and romance

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Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Keep in mind I’ve read only the first “Episode” of this 13-part series which the author bills as, “a serial novel for people who like to watch TV.” Each offering is about 20 pages – the first is free, and so writer GILLIAN WILL is really putting her writing chops on the line by trying to make the first installment so compelling you’ll want to pay hard cash money for the next.

Part of me wants to think: “Has this what it’s gotten down to? Writers are so desperate to compete with the Boob Tube today that they’re employing marketing gimmicks to ensure readers that books can be just as fun, easy – and mindless? – as television?”

But that’s the way I think when I am a cynical reviewer in a bad mood (which is almost all the time).

I’m in an okay mood today, however, so I’ll give all the credit in the world to GILLIAN WILL for attempting to innovate, find new audiences for books and, who knows, create a new niche market or genre of literature.

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Gillian Will

Whatever the case, it gets down to judging the book not by its cover or sales scheme, but on the literature itself. On that score, I issue high praise, indeed. I found the first installment of THE STATE OF WYOMING to be refreshingly well written – smart, with perky and punchy prose, effortless character development and a plot that gets going fast.

The premise is also a winner for guys like me who are addicted political wonks. It involves a mythical federal government program called “The Fifty States” which is basically an empty bureaucratic shell staffed by one person for each state – and their actual job or function is so vague even the program’s director would have trouble explaining the purpose of the operation to Congress – or to the American people, for that matter.

The viewpoint character is a likable slacker who’s collecting a government paycheck as “Wyoming,” meaning he represents his state in Washington by doing little more than showing up to his desk. The reason the Elliot Vance landed such a cushy job is that he happens to be the grand-nephew of former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance.

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Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State, Carter Administration

Not to worry – Mr. Vance’s life is about to get complicated when a lovely blonde Congressional aide shows up to his cubical one day with an actual assignment for him – it seems he’s needed in his “home state” of Wyoming for a special mission – and now he must actually visit The Equality State for the first time in his life.

The first installment is free – thus, you can’t go wrong – so I say give it a try. I’m betting more than a few will opt to keep reading through the next “Episode,” which, after all, is only 99 cents, or free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, like me.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

All NEW: KEN’S BOOK REVIEW SITE ON FACEBOOK: REMOTE BOOK REVIEWING

Follow @KenKorczak