Friday, 3 September 2010

Welcome to Mars in the US

Followers of the ‘Welcome to Mars’ podcast in the US will be pleased to note that a limited number of copies of my book of the same name published by Strange Attractor Press and derived from the radio series – repeated in its six-hour entirety on Resonance FM over the recent bank holiday weekend – are now available through Their page for the book also contains a very handsome five-star review from Found Highways, a reviewer based in Las Vegas, which I am not at all embarrassed to quote in its entirety:

‘Imagine the following cultural artifacts: the John Birch Society, "brainwashing," Elvis Presley, the Roswell flying saucer, Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Soviet space program. In Welcome to Mars, Ken Hollings connects all these things not in the same book or even the same chapter, but in the same paragraph.

As the late-night TV commercials used to say, "There's more!" Suburbia, UFOs, Klaatu, LSD, the CIA, the Long John Nebel radio show, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, UNIVAC, Dianeticist L. Ron Hubbard, behaviorist B. F. Skinner, rocket designer Wernher von Braun ("the only man in history to have the undivided attention of Adolf Hitler, Walt Disney and John F. Kennedy"), Mad magazine, the RAND corporation, "the Beast" Aleister Crowley, mass-murderer Charlie Starkweather, film director Nicholas Ray, and that's not all.

This book is about connections. I'll bet you don't know what connects William Castle's horror film The Tingler (starring Vincent Price), Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story, and global thermonuclear war.

To slightly correct the subtitle, this is the story of fantasies of science and pseudoscience in the immediate postwar period, with an aim to show what might have influenced what. The pseudoscientific beliefs are ludicrous in most cases, yet necessary to explain people's subsequent behavior. For instance, is it a coincidence that a UFO flap immediately followed the launching of Sputnik by the Soviets in 1957? (A "flap" is between a single UFO sighting and what the Air Force called a mass delusion.)

Hollings' favorite philosopher seems to be The Amazing Criswell, a 1950s TV psychic whom I know only from a cheap VHS copy of Plan 9 From Outer Space and the Tim Burton biopic of Ed Wood starring Johnny Depp.

This book is an answer to Criswell's question from Night of the Ghouls: "But what records are kept, what information is there, how many of you know the horror, the terror I will now reveal to you?"

These are the records, this is the horror.’

See also:
Welcome to Mars posts

Pictured above: one of Strange Attractor’s promotional postcards for Welcome to Mars: ‘a searingly accurate and deeply disturbing exposé of the fantasies of American modernism’ – Dr Jacques Vallée

No comments: