Some stories and series really do push against the expectations and boundaries of a genre, and deserve their reputation as daring and different. ThisSome stories and series really do push against the expectations and boundaries of a genre, and deserve their reputation as daring and different. This first book in the Xenogenesis series, by Octavia Butler, is just one of those books. Wrapped within its simple prose is a tale with diverse themes, such as identity, exploitation and power politics. It is also a thrilling story, with some twists and turns that keeps driving the plot forward and keeping the reader interested....more
In essence this book was Graham Hancock's sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods and in other ways, it's an appendix to that book. In Fingerprints, GrahamIn essence this book was Graham Hancock's sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods and in other ways, it's an appendix to that book. In Fingerprints, Graham lays out his fundamental theory: that human civilization is far older than we think, and there existed a world spanning, Ice Age civilization, which was destroyed in an world wide cataclysm, which only left clue to its previous existence. It is a tall order for a journalist, with no background in archaeology to go forth and prove, and while Fingerprints is an erstwhile attempt with an intriguing theory, it lacked a major important element: good solid evidence. It's not that he failed to provide to any evidence in Fingerprints, there were many ideas presented, but a lot of it was simply conjecture. But in Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, Mr. Hancock presents a far more compelling physical argument for his original thesis, backing up his original concept with field research and real world observations. The book is far less Indiana Jones than Fingerprints, but let's face it, Indiana Jones was not a very good archaeologist. He damaged sites, and often failed to document his finds correctly. Because of that, the book is a tad drier than Fingerprints, yet only because there is more research and evidence being presented, yet there are still moments of excitement and danger, as the author travels around the world, diving in fast changing currents to examine structures that may or may not be man made, up close, with an untrained, but experienced eye.
Often in dealing with esoteric and speculative books, I use the phrase "won't change a skeptical mind" but honestly, Underworld could change an open, skeptical mind, especially when his early first decade finds are coupled with other discoveries that are coming out on a regular basis, suggesting that prehistoric human civilization is far older and more complex than previously thought. Often, while reading the book, nothing becomes more evident that the many dismissals of Mr. Hancock's theories and research are not engaged in the research at all, stating that the evidence contrary to their standard evidence is wrong because it is contrary to the standard evidence, even if the evidence is equally as weak. Mr. Hancock offers several examples of this academic laziness, while never accusing anyone of outright conspiracy, he does expose a conspiracy of willful ignorance, where even serious scientists simply wave their hands and say, "that's just a rock" having never gone and looked at the site up close. Mr. Hancock goes out of his way to invite a skeptical geologist to an controversial underwater site off the coast of Japan. In the end, he doesn't convince him that the site is man made, but you can definitely see the man's mind being challenged, as the argument unfolds real time throughout the book. The book is not only an interesting read on a controversial subject, it actually is science, that is, science as a method of inquiry, taking place throughout the book, as well as speculation.
Read this book if you've read "Fingerprints of the Gods" and were intrigued by the ideas in his book. There are moments where you think you're slogging through it, but if that was never happening, that would only mean Mr. Hancock was not presenting worthy evidence. Also, he continues on with his habit of asking questions to tell you thing, which sometimes is a bit tabloid, but he does this a lot less in Underworld than he did in Fingerprints. Outside those two complaints, the book represents one of his best work so far....more
An interesting rethought on a tired old area of study in desperate need of something new. Mac Tonnies takes a topic that seemingly has no answers (ie,An interesting rethought on a tired old area of study in desperate need of something new. Mac Tonnies takes a topic that seemingly has no answers (ie, the strange encounters with others who claim to be from outer space, but often exhibit familiar terrestrial behavior, along with technology that seems nothing short of anachronistic, pretending to hide from us on secret missions, while flying through the sky in lit up saucers with blinking lights) and asks a different question: what if these beings are not external aliens, grey humanoids from Beta Reticuli, but a very terrestrial species, that lives side by side with us in, manipulating our perceptions of them for whatever agenda they may have, including, basic survival on a planet populated by violent hairless apes, armed with world destroying weapons? Mr. Tonnies explores his thesis loosely, tying most of his ideas into his trans-humanist philosophy, making suggestion along the way, which he chooses to leave open to interpretation. His evidence is scant, mostly relying on dubious reports from such writers in the field as Whitley Streiber, and blog entries from his own website, as well as other second hand sources, so anyone looking for a smoking disclosure gun will not find it here, and he himself state that he is simply running from the assumption that the reader accepts that the phenomenon is real.
In the end, much like Jacque Vallee, Mac Tonnies is simply reframing the discussion. Like Vallee, For Mr. Tonnies, the data is already available, it is the conclusion that seem hard to pin down. The ETH is just one theory among many, and is no more supported by the evidence than the EICH (everyone is crazy hypothesis.) Both leave out huge swaths of evidence that don't fully qualify their arguments, and are filled with people ready to accept these conclusions and comfortably chalk up the outlying anomalous facts as either not existing, or not relevant to their core belief. Mr. Tonnies simply tacks away from either of those extremes towards an excluded middle ground that could refugees from both sides a place to find some comfort.
It is a lucid discussion that never beats anyone over the head with its philosophy, never takes the reader's point of view for granted, and gives anyone who's ever read about the phenomenon, thinks it had some merit, but has come to no conclusions another avenue to explore.