22 July 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret History of Extraterrestrials: Advanced Technology and the Coming New Race by Len Kasten

The Secret History of Extraterrestrials: Advanced Technology and the Coming New RaceThe Secret History of Extraterrestrials: Advanced Technology and the Coming New Race by Len Kasten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The extraterrestrial presence on Earth is widening and, as we enter the Aquarian Age, will be admitted officially, causing shock and an urgent universal need to understand the social and technological changes derived from our space brothers. A primer for the explosive advances humanity will experience scientifically and spiritually in the coming years, this compendium explores the ET phenomenon and its influence on humanity past and present.
The book surveys contact with ETs and abduction accounts, unexplained public and undisclosed military technology from aliens including anti-gravity devices, exopolitics (the influence of ETs in human affairs), the Iraqi Stargate, the Hybrid Project of alien interbreeding by abduction, Nazi ties to UFOS and their secret underground base in Antarctica, government cover-ups of alien interactions including Roswell, and the transformation triggered by the Hale-Bopp comet.
Based on interviews with people who are witnessing the coming changes as well as those visionaries who are actually bringing them about--including John Mack, Major Jesse Marcel, Paul LaViolette, Robert Bauval, Michael Salla, and Helen Wambach--this book sketches out a breathtaking vision of the planetary revolution just around the corner.

I started this book not expecting a whole lot, to be honest, but am pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be an interesting read on this always fascinating topic. I've read quite a bit over the years about the ET/UFO phenomenon and because of this I was familiar with most of what Kasten presents in the book. However, what he does manage to do is compile it all together well, presenting the various angles of some of the incredible claims that we are (and have been for a long time) being visited by extraterrestrial beings who are actively involved with human affairs. There's a lot to be absorbed and pondered by the reader in this book, and it's probably a good starter text on the topic. I would certainly recommend it to anyone new to or inquiring about the subject as I feel that it presents a good overall spread of information.

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07 July 2015

DUNE - 50 years on: how a science fiction novel changed the world

From: Books | The Guardian

In 1959, if you were walking the sand dunes near Florence, Oregon, you might have encountered a burly, bearded extrovert, striding about in Ray-Ban Aviators and practical army surplus clothing. Frank Herbert, a freelance writer with a feeling for ecology, was researching a magazine story about a US Department of Agriculture programme to stabilise the shifting sands by introducing European beach grass. Pushed by strong winds off the Pacific, the dunes moved eastwards, burying everything in their path. Herbert hired a Cessna light aircraft to survey the scene from the air. “These waves [of sand] can be every bit as devastating as a tidal wave...they’ve even caused deaths,” he wrote in a pitch to his agent. Above all he was intrigued by the idea that it might be possible to engineer an ecosystem, to green a hostile desert landscape.

Sand dunes of the central Oregon coast
About to turn 40, Herbert had been a working writer since the age of 19, and his fortunes had always been patchy. After a hard childhood in a small coastal community near Tacoma, Washington, where his pleasures had been fishing and messing about in boats, he’d worked for various regional newspapers in the Pacific northwest and sold short stories to magazines. He’d had a relatively easy war, serving eight months as a naval photographer before receiving a medical discharge. More recently he’d spent a weird interlude in Washington as a speechwriter for a Republican senator. There (his only significant time living on the east coast) he attended the daily Army-McCarthy hearings, watching his distant relative senator Joseph McCarthy root out communism. Herbert was a quintessential product of the libertarian culture of the Pacific coast, self-reliant and distrustful of centralised authority, yet with a mile-wide streak of utopian futurism and a concomitant willingness to experiment. He was also chronically broke. During the period he wrote Dune, his wife Beverly Ann was the main bread-winner, her own writing career sidelined by a job producing advertising copy for department stores.

Frank Herbert
Soon, Herbert’s research into dunes became research into deserts and desert cultures. It overpowered his article about the heroism of the men of the USDA (proposed title “They Stopped the Moving Sands”) and became two short SF novels, serialised in Analog Science Fact & Fiction, one of the more prestigious genre magazines. Unsatisfied, Herbert industriously reworked his two stories into a single, giant epic. The prevailing publishing wisdom of the time had it that SF readers liked their stories short. Dune (400 pages in its first hardcover edition, almost 900 in the paperback on my desk) was rejected by more than 20 houses before being accepted by Chilton, a Philadelphia operation known for trade and hobby magazines such as Motor Age, Jewelers’ Circular and the no-doubt-diverting Dry Goods Economist.

Early paperback edition cover
Though Dune won the Nebula and Hugo awards, the two most prestigious science fiction prizes, it was not an overnight commercial success. Its fanbase built through the 60s and 70s, circulating in squats, communes, labs and studios, anywhere where the idea of global transformation seemed attractive. Fifty years later it is considered by many to be the greatest novel in the SF canon, and has sold in millions around the world.

Read more HERE.

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BOOK REVIEW: Zero! by Martin Caidin, Masatake Okumiya, Jiro Horikoshi

Zero!Zero! by Martin Caidin, Masatake Okumiya, Jiro Horikoshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the thrilling saga of war in the air in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II told from the Japanese point of view. It is the story of the men who created, led, and fought in the deadly Zero fighter plane. In their own words, Jiro Horikoshi (who designed the Zero), Masatake Okumiya (leader of many Zero squadrons) tell the inside story of developing the Zero and Japan's air force. They tell what it felt like to bomb American ships and to shoot down American airplanes — and then of their shock when the myth of invincibility was shattered by the new Lightning, Hellcat, and Corsair fighters. They tell of the fight against the growing strength of a remorseless American enemy; and how, in desperation the Japanese High Command ordered the creation of deadly suicide squadrons, the Kamikaze. And finally they reveal their reaction to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A very interesting book, told from the perspective of two Japanese men who were very closely involved with Japanese naval aviation. Not so much about the Zero fighter as about the whole Japanese WW2 war effort, specifically the war in the air waged over top of the huge naval battle groups amassed by both the Japanese and the Allies. After reading this book, one thing is abundantly clear and that is that the Japanese totally underestimated and were woefully unprepared for war against the USA and Britain and their allies. What we see is that they were so wrapped up in their own perceived superiority in morality, intelligence, discipline, training and technology to really notice how much of a chunk they'd bitten off. A few smart ones knew this, but the Japanese leaders persisted for years with their doomed agenda, bolstered by a few victories along the way. Ultimately, their backsides (and this unfortunately included the civilian population, not only the military) were well and truly kicked. The perfect example of this is the Zero, which was considered more than adequate for the job even as far better American designs began appearing. I guess I found myself becoming very frustrated with the overall Japanese attitude as I read this book, and as much as I feel ashamed to say it, they got what was coming to them, so to speak. To open hostilities with the USA by simultaneously bombing three military installations was to invite a huge backlash. It's a terrible, terrible shame that Japanese civilian collateral damage was so devastatingly high, but after reading this book I have to admit, once again, that we reap what we sow. The nation of Japan is one example. Overall, this book is a very good read, and a definite must-read for military history buffs. A very educational and sobering story with a solid lesson that came at a massive cost to all sides.

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