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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

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Borrowed plot gimmicks straight out of the boob tube sink this SF novel

download (3)Review By KEN KORCZAK

Artificial Absolutes is a book with a fairly intricate, well-developed story line buried under a gigantic mountain of cliché plot gimmicks that renders what might have been a decent book into a dreary mass of almost insufferable blandness.

The work often also devolves into mawkish dialogue so drippy with smarmy goo, it’s on par with a weepy love ballad written by, say, the Jonas Brothers, for tweenie fan girls.

To prove that I am not delusional or just being a mean reviewer, I will invite the reader to join me now by logging onto a favorite search engine and look up something like, “The 10 most common cliché movies scenes” — because many appear in this book.

The first cliché is one we all know and you probably won’t even have to Google it (although please feel free to do so) is that the best way to escape from the cops, or the bad guys, or anyone chasing you with guns is to squeeze into the ventilation duct work of a large building.

Time and again, movie heroes (and criminals) cleverly slip away from their pursuers by getting into the duct vents because they know that the clueless authorities or bad guys will be 100% perplexed and always fooled by this never-before-thought-of escape plan.

Artificial Absolutes includes this scene — and for good measure, it also presents the first cousin of the Great Air Duct Escape Plan — the dreaded — Escape Through the Opening at the Top of a Stalled Elevator Car Plan — and an oh-so-hackneyed climb up the cables of the elevator shaft to baffle one’s pursuers.

The next cliché plot gimmick that fills dozens of pages of this book is the:

“The bad guys can shoot at you all they want and they can never hit you, but the good guy can shoot back and score a hit on the bad guy almost at will.”

We have all seen it hundreds of times — Bruce Willis, Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris — they run around bristling with machine guns while being pursued by dozens of other guys with even more machine guns — but no one can hit the good guy! Yet, the hero can score a dead-middle-of-the-torso-shot while jumping, rolling and firing.

mary-fan-author-pic

Mary Fan

In Artificial Absolutes we are inflicted with page after page of the same. The first such scene features a sophisticated, high tech robot which chases our heroine Jane “Pony” Colt through the hallways of a building — the robot shoots and shoots and shoots but it can’t hit the broadside of a barn!

The conveniently inept robo-killer suffers dozens of near misses — right next to her shoulder! a real grazer just missing her head! a blast that splinters the door frame she just runs through! — it’s not the least bit exciting because we all know the scene — we’ve seen it hundreds of times in movies.

One would think that a super-advanced robot constructed in an advanced society that has mastered interstellar space travel would include some kind of sophisticated target acquisition and tracking hardware to easily laser down it’s prey — like our drones can do today. But not in this book.

Even when “Pony” and her brother, Devin Colt, are being chased by a squad of heavily armed, battle-trained starship troopers, all they have to is run, dodge, zig-zag — and they become completely unhittable targets! Robotic drones flying through the air at the same time can’t nail them either!

And yet, whenever Devin Colt chooses to whirl, shoot wildly from the hip while on the run with a borrowed gun — he can expertly knock the weapons right out of the hands of the bumbling, can’t-hit-nothin’ interstellar marines! And do it again and again!

Suffice it to say: Heroes who can run through a torrential hail of bullets without getting hit, while at the same time being able to shoot anyone they want — is among the used and abused of movie clichés — and the fact it has been transferred to the pages of a book does not make it any less of a hack.

For good measure, and to really slather it on, the book includes what has become one of the most universally used, overused and annoying visual gimmicks of all time — it’s ye olde:

The hero blows something up, but turns his back and walks away not bothering to look at the massive fireball erupting being him.

Here’s the scene right from the book at location 5561 on my Kindle:

“The attackers were gone, and not much remained of the mansion. Devin nevertheless fired a fifth grenade. He walked up the ramp as a colossal fireball rose behind him.”

Speaking of moth-eaten plots, the very central plot element, the heart of Artificial Absolutes, is an worn-to-baldness retread premise that has already been explored by hundreds if not thousands of other science fiction writers, beginning in the 1920s.

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

Just a few months ago I was wading through the free pulp science fiction of Project Gutenberg and selected to read the 1961, “The Memory of Mars” by Raymond F. Jones. In it, the hero falls in love with his childhood sweetheart. They meet in the third grade. They have a long courtship through high school, they fall madly in love and they get married. Later — GAK! — he finds out she was never real in the first place! She’s a robot!

In Artificial Absolutes, Devin Colt meets a beautiful woman, they date, the fall in love and he asks her to marry her. Later — GAK! — he finds out she was never real in the first place, She’s a robot!

His sister, you know “Pony Colt,” meets a handsome young man (boy). He rubs her the wrong way at first because he is a simplistic religious gasbag, yet they keep seeing each other, they go through some stuff together, they fall in love, she has finally found her soul-mate. Later — GAK!– she finds out he was never real in the first place! He’s a robot!

It just keeps happening!

But even by 1961, falling in love with lifelike robots was already far from original — dozens of others had already written a spin on the same plot element. In the mid-1960s Philip K. Dick practically built a career around stories in which perfect replicants of human beings pose questions of what is real and what is not real, and whether a robot can possess true consciousness or not have true consciousness.

END SPOILER ALERT!

Certainly, these are standard saws of science fiction, so we can’t take points away from author MARY FAN for trotting out this threadbare SF rag doll one more time — it’s a fan favorite after all — but we certainly can’t give extra credit for originality either.

There are many other elements of hackneyed plot devices and cliché gimmicks, but I simply can’t get to them all (er … cough, cough … Travan Float is a thin re-imagining of Mos Eisley of Star Wars … ) without making for too lengthy of a review, and I want to make a final comment:

Young writers today — those of Generation X, Generation Y and Millennial extraction — have all been raised on TV and movies like no generations before. They have also been embedded in the online world since they were babies. They have endured total immersion in on-the-screen fictional scenarios.

Thus, what I am seeing from one young writer after another today (I read more than 100 books per year) are plots and scenes in books that are soaked in movie and television clichés. Even the minor characters are not original creations — very often plucked right out of a TV or a movie.

For example, in this book Commander Jihan Vega would seem to be almost an exact duplicate of Admiral Helena Cain of Battlestar Galactica. Again, I challenge the reader to find a scene featuring Admiral Helena Cain on `Battlestar’ and compare her to Commander Jihan Vega of this book — they are near Kinkos of the same fictional person — different in name only.

Sure, in a sense, most books are at least somewhat derivative of other works and leverage broad themes, archetypes and conventions of their genre, but Artificial Absolutes takes the copy-and-paste lifting of other memes to such an extreme degree, the result is a literary work of Absolute Artificiality.

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