Despite the fact that I own at least forty-four of the hundred-plus weird and rare UFO books on display in Jack Womack’s latest—and perhaps most eccentric—book, Flying Saucers Are Real! (Anthology Editions, 2016), my mind was still blown away by the revelations lurking within its glossy, transcendental pages. Some of these books are so strange that I’ve never even heard of them much less seen copies, and I’ve been known to haunt antiquarian book fairs all around Southern California for the express purpose of discovering previously overlooked UFOlogical treasures.
Here are just a few of the nightmares waiting to leap from the pages of Flying Saucers Are Real! and wriggle inside your brain cavities with catastrophic intentions:
▪ Hands by Margaret Williams and Lee Gladden (Galaxy Press, 1976) is a “true account” of a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who summons into the material plane a disturbing Boschian entity from another world, a “nameless, headless, eight-handed space alien nicknamed ‘Hands.’” The cover looks like a detail from a Henry Darger painting, but considerably more disturbing.
▪ In UFO Warning (Saucerian Books, 1963), UFOlogist John Stuart chronicles his formation of the New Zealand Flying Saucer Investigation Society and “tells of meeting beautiful young Barbara Turner—real name Doreen Wilkinson, the only other member of the NZFSIS—and how his wife failed to appreciate their demanding need to investigate the saucers, most evenings. The narrative takes a very disturbing turn as a ‘loathsome, hideous, evil, disgusting, horrifying’ being appears to them, making sexual advances toward Turner before vanishing; a few nights later, thirteen such beings manifest in her bedroom, and three of them rape her.” The book includes Gene Duplantier’s black and white illustrations of the aforementioned debaucherous beasts that look like they were drawn by Basil Wolverton while recovering from a particularly debilitating brain fever.
▪ Night Siege: The Northern Ohio UFO-Creature Invasion by Dennis Pilichis (self-published, 1982) is “an excellent example of the occasionally delirious crossover between ufology and cryptozoology.” This 39-page pamphlet not only boasts a wonderfully atmospheric cover depicting ethereal, glowing eyed creatures (that might be made of smoke and/or lumps of hair) crouching behind a copse of trees in a dark forest, but also contains L. Blazey’s charming illustrations, such as the wilderness scene in which a pair of Bigfoot are seen strategically trapping rabbits inside small cages. Who knew the Bigfoot people were capable of manufacturing cages for such purposes? Not me—and apparently not the rabbits either. Those Bigfoots don’t look like vegetarians. Poor rabbits.
▪ Round Trip to Hell in a Flying Saucer by Cecil Michel (Vantage Press, 1955) is one of those esoteric tomes I’ve often heard about but have never actually seen. According to Womack, the book pulls the curtain back on the fantastic odyssey of “Bakersfield auto mechanic Cecil Michel” who “tells of being taken to the planet Hell, where he meets Satan.” If you’re anything like me, you’re instantly going to want one of these for the theological section of your private library.
I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, Womack is the perfect tour guide through this most dubious art gallery, one which exposes the sociological implications of what might be the most important subculture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the often overlooked realm of UFOs and the limitless inner dimensions of those who choose to investigate them. The writing style of the book often reminds me of Jorge Luis Borges’ classic Book of Imaginary Beings laced with the sartorial tones of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary (seasoned, perhaps, with a dash of Rod Serling), a soothing style that puts the more nervous visitors at ease as they find themselves drawn a little too close to the dangerous anomalies on display here.
As William Gibson writes in his pithy introduction, “The truth, all these years, hasn’t, as The X-Files had it, been out there, but rather was in here,” and with the phrase “in here” Gibson refers not only to the pages of Flying Saucers Are Real!, but also to the often unfathomable and surprising mysteries hidden within the collective unconscious of the human mind itself, which is, undoubtedly, the most dubious art gallery of them all.
If you want to order a copy of Flying Saucers Are Real!, visit the publisher’s website by clicking HERE.