Books: Paranoiacs' paradise
The Daily Telegraph London

The Dreamland Chronicles: the Legends of Area 51 - America's Most Secret Military Base by David Darlington. Little, Brown, pounds 17.50

Alien Base: Earth's Encounters with Extraterrestrials
by Timothy Good. Century, pounds 16.99

The most powerful reason for believing that aliens have landed seems to be that the Defence Ministries of both the UK and the USA keep denying it. There used to be another reason: a secret site in the Nevada desert where captured aliens were used for interbreeding hybrids with humans and from which spacecraft were taken for test flights.

Unfortunately The Dreamland Chronicles has just demolished it.

"Area 51", as the hush-hush development is known, is still there, as it has been since the 1950s; it is still a paranoiac's Paradise and a Mecca for UFO hunters. Yet David Darlington shows it to be no alien maternity wing, but a research centre for, among other gizmos, the U2 spyplane and Stealth bomber.

Area 51 is a military black hole, swallowing up funds and releasing no glimmers of information. The substantial site, surrounded by no-entry signs warning "Use of deadly force authorized", and cocooned by a no-fly zone of hundreds of square miles, officially does not exist. Even the design of the coffee cups is classified. This has fertilised a rich crop of urban, or rather desert, myths. It has became a tourist attraction. A local one-horse bar has been born again as "Little A-Le-Inn - Earthlings Welcomed".

Darlington has written the most entertaining account of loopy officialdom and potty Ufo-dom this side of Zeta Reticuli (200 trillion miles away, but its saucers land in Area 51 most evenings).

People who believe aliens are being manufactured in Area 51 are, says David Darlington, "deeply disturbed". While a substantial proportion of Americans believe they were abducted by aliens, a hard core think they actually are aliens, somehow trapped on Planet Earth. These interstellar exiles even have their own magazine called Unicus (available, no doubt, in Milky Way newsagents for three Martian dollars).

In Alien Base, his credulous account of close encounters of every kind, Timothy Good (a violinist by training) goes one further. He suggests that aliens look vaguely human because they are vaguely human. Instead of us, it is they who have been breeding hybrids. They look humanoid because we are in fact alienoid. To which the only response is that if you were an intelligent life-form in Alpha Centauri, you certainly would not wish to be related to some of the spaced-out earthlings whose testimony is quoted here. Unwittingly, he has shown that although you do not have to be mad to be one of the case studies quoted in this book, it helps.

The "eye-witness" accounts are more or less accepted at face value. The closest Timothy Good approaches to a searching question is: "Are you sure that you actually went to the Moon?"

When a "contactee" proves inconsistent, such as the woman who first swore that her child's father hailed from Venus and then from Proxima Centauri, a postal district over four light years away, Timothy Good does not see why this adds a trillion-mile-high question-mark to the rest of the testimony.

If there really are spacepersons using Earth as an interplanetary service station, they surely must be more streetwise than the ones described here, who sound like creatures from an early science fiction novel: "They had come from a faraway world . . . Up there time passes much less quickly." The odds are against space travellers speaking fluent English or having your phone number in their address book, or, in the case of some vivacious Venusians, arranging to meet contactees in Paddington Station (perhaps they run Railtrack). "Zret and the Norcans" from Tau Ceti travel more than 11 light years to Earth for the fishing. Another band of aliens, having de-saucered themselves, proceed to put on a little display of gymnastics.

Warning. It is possible that there is not a word of truth in the above article. Paranoiacs have accused David Darlington of being paid by the "authorities" to hide the truth which is out there. Am I part of the same "X- Files"-style conspiracy?


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