Good In Parts

Ronald D Storey (editor). The Mammoth Book of Extraterrestrial Encounters. Robinson, 2002.
This volume is intended as the second edition of the Encyclopedia of UFOs edited by Story and published more than twenty years ago. When I reviewed that edition, I gave a qualified approval, though there were a number of gaps, and a decided American bias, it was by far the best round up on the subject then available. Indeed it is still one of the first sources I tend to go to for accounts of some individual cases.

Of course since then we have had Jerry Clark's magisterial efforts, so a second edition of Story has quite a task to make itself felt.. Well, I'm sorry the result is in many ways disappointing. It is even more eccentrically Americocentric; the essays on Spanish, Italian ufology etc., arc gone and the biographies are even more narrowed down. There are a few British entries (Jenny Randles, Tim Matthews (sanitised!), Nick Pope, Tim Good and Hilary Evans, and for some weird reason Raymond Drake a camp version of Eric von Daniken. No Charles Bowen, Gordon Creighton, Waveney Girvan, or Andy Roberts, David Clarke or Paul Deveraux or even John Rimmer! The whole of continental Europe is represented by Aime Michel and Michael Hesscman (?). There are no entries for Dennis Stacey, Patrick Huyghe, Chris Rutowski or Michael Persinger.

The trouble with this book is that it is not an enyclopedia, it is a miscellaneous collection of essays, some such as those by Martin Kottrneyer and Joe Nickell are really good, but not original to this book, others are reproduced from the first edition, others are just dreadful. Then there are the fillers, of which the indifferent book synopses by Randall Fitzgerald taken from another book are just about acceptable, but the New Age ramblings of contactee-newager Scott Mandelker arc not, and guess what, they were liftcd from another book as well!

Of course there have been worse, such as the John Spencer effort, but this is still a bargain, and worth it for the Martin Kottmeyer essays alone for those who have not read them elsewhere. It clearly gives an impression of the wide range of voices now in the subject, but the definitive encyclopedia, trying to give as objective picture and voice to all the currents in the subject is still to be produced. -- Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 80, January 2003.

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