Marking Time

Jacques Vallee. Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact. Contemporary Books, 1988.
A new book from Vallee is something we would once have waited for off the boat as eagerly as Americans once flocked to the New York docks to secure their copy of the latest episode from Charles Dickens, bearing news of the death of Little Nell. However, since hearing Vallee speak in London a few years ago under the aegis of a curious UFO organisation we have not heard of before or since, we began to have a suspicion that the former Greatest-Living-Ufologist's views and understanding of the subject may not have developed greatly since the days of Passport to Magonia - certainly his stage presentation hadn't.

This book confirms our suspicions. It is simply a scissors-and-paste job on the author's previous books: largely Passport with a dash of Invisible College and Messengers of Deception. The only concession to anything that has happened in the last ten years is a few notes about the Hopkinsonian abductions scattered around. This isn't to say that the book is worthless - nothing Vallee writes is - just that it adds nothing to what we have already learned from him. If you have none of his other books on your shelves, this is probably as good an introduction as any to the work of one of the most influential figures in ufology {he gave us our title, after all), otherwise keep your money in your pocket. I can't help feeling it would have been more honest if the publishers had called the book 'Jacques Vallee's Greatest Hits', rather than implying a major new work from ufology’s fading guru.
  • John Rimmer, from Magonia 30, August 1988.

Jacques Vallee responded to this review in the following issue of Magonia, and I have reproduced his letter below.

1 comment:

Magonia said...

Dear John I have no quarrel with your comments on Dimensions in Magonia of August 1988 - it is your prerogative to like or dislike any book you review but some points of clarification are needed in view of the imminent publication of the book by Souvenir in the UK. First, regarding the fact that Dimensions summarizes and updates earlier works, it would have been fair to note that both my introduct ion and the dust jacket make it absolutely clear to the reader that some of the material was published before
Second, it would have also been fair to point out that Passport to Magonia, Invisible College and Messengers of Deception have been out of print for 5 to 10 years. Not every Briton had the foresight, as you evidently did, to purchase them as soon as they came out. Yet the information they brought to light is still very current, so much so that you will find it ext ensively reprinted (without attribution or credit) in numerous 'new' books where it is presented as original research.

Third, some facts which have been published before do bear
repeating lest they be forgotten in the shuffle: for instance, Invisible College pointed out for the first time 13 years ago that the structure of many abduction reports was identical to that of initiation rituals. yet this fundamental observation has not yet percolated into the consciousness of American UFO researchers, who are still charging ahead with speculation about the clinical and genetic motives of the 'alien' scientists aboard UFOs. What may seem obvious and passé to you in England is not necessarily obsolete in the United States.

Fourth, I do think the reader will find much that is novel in Dimensions because it articulates clearly for the first time the full extent of the bankruptcy of the ETH.

As for the organisation that brought me to London a few years ago and "had not been heard of before or since" it was, very simply, the organisation founded by Dr Hynek when he moved to Arizona. It is still in existence under the name ICUFOR, although Allen's death has obviously shattered its once ambitious plans for international research. My only link with it, for which I feel no need to apologise, is one of continuing friendship.

It is true that I have never spoken publicly about my own research of the past ten years. Your criticism on this point is well taken: I acknowledge it, and will try to remedy it. My only rejoineder is that here, as in the UFO matter generally, it is rash to construe the absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

With warm regards, Jacques Vallee, San Francisco.