the Suns of Yesterday

I. L. Olivyer and J. F. Boedec. Les Soleils de Simon Goulart; la Vague OVNI de 1500 a 1600. Les Runes d'Or, 1981.

We are all it little wary, aren't we of these books which tell us that UFOs have always existed, that extraterrestrial allies helped Joshua zap Jericho and that those fairies your granny played with at the bottom of the garden were little green spacepersons keeping a low profile ... Vallée was great fun, Bastide dazzles us with the farfetchedness of his fantasies, but after the third volume of Drake's drumming up of Gods and Spacemen from the Ancient wherever, our interest began to flag along with our credulity.

So anyone who comes along with more of the same had better make out a pretty good case, or set about it in a new and more productive way. Messieurs Olivyer and Boedec can claim to have done both these things. Not only have they come up with some totally new (to me at least) material, but they have shown how such material can be analysed to give something more than the anthologies of anecdotes previous UFO archaeologists have given us.

Simon Goulart (1543-1628) wrote a book titled Histoire Admirables et Memorables de Notre Temps which takes a very Fortean view of what are the truly important facts of history. It is, as he himself claims, a collection of remarkable happenings, just that. From this collection Olivyer and Boedec have abstracted those which relate to aerial phenomena, and these in turn they have classified according to whether they can be ascribed to natural causes ... or not.

To this task they bring considerable ufological expertise. Boedec is the author of the admirable Les OVNIs en Bretagne (1978) which showed how a UFO investigator, focussing on a limited geographical area can exploit this concentration of interest to arrive at conclusions which a wider ranging book is apt to blur. They also bring a lot of technical knowledge which, for the non-French reader, is apt to be heavy going: but you can do as I do and skip those bits, with no great loss. What is really valuable in this book is the base material, and the analysis of it which makes is abundantly clear that some at least of Goulart's reports relate to anomalous phenomena of a nature to defy conventional explanations.

The book is handsomely printed with facsimile reprints and illustrations. The analytical material is clearly set out in tabular form in keeping with the authors' scientific intentions. This is not a book which is going to revolutionise our notions of what UFOs are all about; but it is a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the phenomenon as a whole. -- Hilary Evans, from Magonia 14, 1983.


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