Saturday, October 18, 2014

#1183: Whitley Strieber

Whitley Strieber is best known for two things: his horror and scifi novels, including The Wolfen and The Hunger, and his horror and scifi novels Communion and its sequels. The thing is that whereas Strieber admits that the first two books are works of fiction, he claims that the latter are not.

Communion recounts the tale of the author’s alleged abduction by non-humans in 1985. Though he is careful not to characterize his abductors as extra-terrestrial aliens (indeed, they sound much more like something out of Twin Peaks) and as a matter of fact seems to admit that the abductors may exist only in his own mind, later works has not focused much on the latter possibility (it might be argued that he seems to struggle with the distinction itself). Nonetheless Communion turned out enormously popular and pushed Strieber to the forefront of the various lunatic strands of the esoteric movement.

When the book editor of the Los Angeles Times’ pronounced the book to be fiction and removed it from the non-fiction best-seller list Strieber played the victim card and the Galileo gambit: “Placing this book on the fiction list is an ugly example of exactly the kind of blind prejudice that has hurt human progress for many generations.” He had to acknowledge, however, that the non-human beings in the “autobiographical” accounts (Strieber was partially responsible for popularizing the Grays) were remarkably similar to elements of his horror stories. That could, of course, be because he was already unconsciously aware of these beings when he wrote said horror stories, but there are some other, more obvious, potential explanations that don’t reflect as well on Strieber as a rational agent.

Anyways, Communion’s success led to a demand for more mysterious experiences, so Strieber followed by a series of book describing new mysterious experiences, including The Secret School (1996), which examined strange memories from his childhood (suggesting conspiracy theories and mind control by the military), and Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is to Come (2011). In the latter he reflects on how advances in scientific understanding since his 1987 publication may shed light on what he perceived: “Among other things, since I wrote Communion, science has determined that parallel universes may be physically real and that time travel may in some way be possible,” which is apparently supposed to suggest that his alleged experiences are backed up by science. It also contains musings on UFO sightings, crop circles, alien abductions, Roswell, and cattle mutilations in an attempt to discern any kind of meaningful overall pattern. He concludes that we as a species are being shepherded to a higher level of understanding and beingness within an endless “multiverse” of matter, energy, space and time. In other words, when Strieber relates his experiences to “science” he does not mean science by “science”.

Other works include The Master of the Key and The Coming Global Superstorm (with Art Bell), which was the inspiration for the blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, and his website Unknown Country. His podcast Dreamland used to be a companion show to Coast to Coast AM. Dreamland once described Linda Moulton Howe as “our Dreamland science reporter”.

He has also appeared in other roles, such as the role of producer for NBC’s “Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us?

Diagnosis: Though he tries to convey an image of calm rationality he has some serious troubles keeping it up for more than a few sentences at a time. Serious tinfoil-hatter.


  1. I seem to remember the aliens in "Communion" turned out to speak Gaelic.

    Huh? We've got people here who already do that.

  2. Strieber is a good fiction author, and he should have stuck to areas where he was most effective. One of his better books was the 1984 novel he wrote with James Kunetka, "War Day."

  3. Were the aliens that abducted Whitley Strieber in the service of Adolf Hitler, who as I understand it, is still traveling around in a flying saucer. Or has Strieber perhaps been influenced by L Ron Hubbard who noted that there is very little money in fiction writing. But if you are willing to exploit people's gullibility... or is gullible yourself... It is a sad fact that people will believe in almost anything, including Santa Claus.