Newest Review: ... Zone quality, whatever the actual truth. We read that, apparently, Pope John XVIII opened an ancient document in 1960 and nearly passed... more
The Unquiet Sky
Mysteries of the Unexplained - Calkins
Member Name: Jake Speed
Mysteries of the Unexplained - Calkins
Advantages: Good fun
Disadvantages: Bit out of date
Mysteries of the Unexplained was first published in 1982 and edited by Carroll C Calkins. It's a huge collection of accounts, musings and possible explanations for some of the most enduring mysteries and strange events that have drawn particular fascination over the decades (or even centuries). Ancient prophecies and predictions, the Mary Celeste, UFOs, Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, ghosts, and so on. The book is split into five sections each with subsections. 'Beyond the Walls of Time' looks at Prophecies, Anomalies, & Coincidences, 'Unearthly Fates' looks at Spontaneous Combustion, Inexplicable Crimes and Assaults, & Appearances and Disappearances, 'Monsters and More' looks at Monsters (obviously!) and Ghosts, 'The Unquiet Sky' looks at UFOs and Atmospheric and Astronomical Oddities and, finally, 'The Realm of Miracles', looks at Cures and Immunities, Signs and Wonders. This is certainly a fun read for anyone interested in these Arthur C Clarke type mysteries books and at over 300 pages is a big volume too with a lot of information.
There is a lot of stuff here about people who appeared to be able to predict the future, like Nostradamus and some lesser known characters who seemed to have visions of future wars, technologies and plane or train accidents that then transpired as they had warned. Many of the individual cases highlighted in the book are very interesting and the 20th century ones (man walks into a bar and asks about a train crash that then happened a few days later etc) are quite spooky with a real Twilight Zone quality, whatever the actual truth. We read that, apparently, Pope John XVIII opened an ancient document in 1960 and nearly passed out when he saw how accurately it predicted something or other. The book offers a rational approach to these mysteries and strange events but certainly doesn't profess to have all the answers.
There are some areas touched on here that don't always feature in these types of books that are quite interesting - like the 'cattle mutilation' incidents commonly linked to UFOs. American ranchers in the desert have cited many cases of strange lights in the sky at night and then finding dead cattle in a rather gruesome state as if parts of them have been deliberately and skillfully dissected and taken away. The theory that ET has popped to planet Earth and nabbed a bit of cattle to study scientifically has unsurprisingly become popular but there are other possibilities. This desert area was used for nuclear testing decades ago. Could the culprits be the US government in helicopters at night secretly taking cattle to test radiation levels and conviently blaming it all on men from outer space?
The UFO section here is a good one and nicely layed out with a distinction drawn between the different types and shapes of UFOs. Another section I enjoyed related to Bigfoot (Or Sasquatch), Bigfoot being an entertaining if slightly improbable component of the world of mysteries. Bigfoots are supposed to be huge 7ft tall ape creatures who walk upright and lurk in the Pacific Northwest of the United States in big gloomy and dark forests. The only problem with the Bigfoot legend, as fun as it is, is that these furry rascals are rather elusive and no body or skeleton is ever found, something which you'd imagine would have happened by now if they really existed. Despite many recorded sightings (and there are many eyewitness accounts related here that are entertaining, however dubious most of them might be) though the most important and famous piece of evidence for the existence of Bigfoot is a short film Roger Patterson took in the 1960s of what he claimed was a female Bigfoot strolling some distance away across rocks towards the trees of the forest. Patterson's spooky film remains fascinating to read about as you ponder still frames from his footage. Was it a big hoax? The majority would say yes but Patterson's film has yet to be completely debunked and it ensured the Bigfoot myth would live on.
Bigfoot's ice glazed cousin, the Yeti of the Himalayas, is also interesting to dwell on yet again although for some reason I've always found Bigfoot to be more compelling and creepy than the Yeti. Maybe it has something to do with Bigfoot (apparently) lurking near areas where people live in cabins and caravans rather than a lonely mountain top. Whereas the Bigfoot legend survives through Patterson's footage and various scattered eyewitness accounts, the Yeti legend rests on strange footprints photographed in the snow by expeditions. The book, as most books of this type tend to, points out that the world is more than capable of throwing up a species or two from its more remote corners that we haven't discovered yet, but that the Yeti is a difficult one to prove as footprints in the snow could any animal's prints, rendered strange and large by the sun melting the area left behind.
The Mary Celeste also has a mention here too which is great because I love the Mary Celeste mystery. The Mary Celeste is the name of a cargo ship that sailed from New York in 1872. It was discovered perfectly seaworthy off Gibraltar a month later. The only problem was that the crew had completely vanished without trace never to be found! There are dozens of theories surrounding this puzzling nautical legend and the book does an excellent job in supplying some of the more interesting ones. My favourite being the theory that a hallucinogenic fungus in the ship's supply of rye bread drove them all mad! Presumably, according to this possible explanation, they all turned on each other and jumped overboard or something.
All of this though barely scratches the surface of the myriad of mysteries and inexplicable events touched upon in the book. Spontaneous human combustion, frogs raining from the sky, paranormal activity, zombies, voodoo, the Loch Ness Monster, demonic possession, ball lightning, crying statues and much more can found within the pages of this enjoyably eerie and informative book. I think they could have added one more to be honest, based around why the editors of these books always have a C in the middle of their name! The range of pictures and illustrations is well up to scratch too as you delve into the various legends, prophecies and accounts of monsters, ghosts and men from outer space.
Mysteries of the Unexplained is a lot of fun if you are interested in these types of books and certainly worth considering.
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