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Room 101


A Sci Fi Worlds Interview with Nick Redfern

Last year, when I interviewed Nick Redfern in Sci-Fi Worlds, he'd teased that one of his next projects was Science Fiction Secrets, a book chronicling the bizarre crossover between the non-aligned worlds of Sci-Fi and the esoteric realms of UFOs, the paranormal and conspiracy theory. This past Fall, the book arrived and I knew it would be a great way to start the science fiction-esque year 2010 with a fresh interview with Nick to discuss his foray into the strange connection between sci fi and esoterica.

Some of the topics delved into include Nick Pope and his UFO fiction, 9/11 and the X-Files spin-off that predicted it, Philip K. Dick, and Dennis Wheatley's UFO books to name just a few.

Richard Thomas: Just want to start by saying thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

The first thing I wanted to ask you about is 9/11. I remember, in one of your early appearances on BoA: Audio a few years back, you said you were skeptical about alternatives to the official government conspiracy theory that Osama bin Laden masterminded the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon. In the book, though, you dedicate a whole chapter to the pilot for The Lone Gunmen (a spin-off to the popular X-Files series) which astonishingly seemed to predict almost exactly the events of 9/11 *(i.e. planes being hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers). In light of this information, and considering the time that has passed since the event, what is your current opinion on 9/11 and is "government sponsored terrorism" something you think you'll ever look more into?

Nick Redfern: I kind of liken the whole government angle and conclusions relating to 9/11 to be like their conclusions and official reports on the JFK assassination and Roswell: no conspiracy, and all very much explainable. Personally, however - and just like the Roswell and JFK reports - I think there are very big questions that still require answering about 9/11 that just don't sit well with the government's version of events. I wouldn't say I'll never do something about terrorism, but as there are so many good researchers already delving into this area, I think it would have to be something pretty substantial and ground-breaking - and that wasn't being done by anyone else - to make me get involved in that area. There are people far more knowledgeable than me digging into all this field already.

Richard Thomas: I know you now live in Texas, home of Alex Jones, Jim Marrs and the JFK assassination: what's it like to live in what many consider the heartland of "conspiracy culture" ?

Nick Redfern: Yeah, me and my wife, Dana, live in the city of Arlington, Texas, which is about a 25-minute drive from Dallas. Until the summer of 2008 - when we moved to Arlington from Dallas - we actually only lived about an 8-minute drive from the Grassy Knoll! As for what it's like here, well, you obviously get a lot of tourists visiting the Grassy Knoll, Dealey Plaza etc. But, when you live here - I moved here 9 years ago - and after visiting it a couple of times, you kind of just incorporate it into your everyday life. In other words, if I drive along the stretch of road where JFK was shot, I honestly don't now give it much thought any more - I'm more concentrating on watching the traffic and the crazy drivers! That's not to sound cold-hearted, but when you've seen it once or twice, well...you've seen it. It's so small too - I was amazed. You see things like the Zapruder film and it looks like a large, sprawling area. It's actually not though.

Richard Thomas: Regarding Science Fiction Secrets, I recently wrote an article about Dennis Wheatley for BoA, someone you cover in some depth in the book. I focused more on his black magic books rather than science fiction, but how much of what Wheatley wrote about do you think was really just fiction and how much do you think might have been inspired by fact?

Nick Redfern: Well, we can never really know the answer to that question for sure. But, I would say that it's very intriguing that as with Wheatley and several other people I mention in my book - such as Ralph Noyes and Bernard Newman - had ties to the secret world of officialdom, and then went on to write UFO novels, with cover-ups and conspiracies at their heart. So, I don't rule out the idea that some of these people may have uncovered UFO secrets during the time of their links with the government, and then went on to incorporate those same UFO secrets into a fictional setting.

Richard Thomas: One sci-fi classic surprisingly not discussed in the book is 2001: A Space Odyssey. For readers not familiar with the screenplay, it involves the discovery of a mysterious monolith on the moon, very strangely a similar "monolith" appears to be sitting on one of Mars' moons. The first chapter in your book deals with Mars mysteries, so what's your gut opinion on anomalies such as the Phoebus "monolith" and famous "Face on Mars"? Do you think intelligent life could have once lived on Mars and maybe colonised Earth or perhaps vice versa?

You can hear Buzz Aldrin talk about it and see it in this video, jump to about 6 mins in and watch from there.

Nick Redfern: Yes, I do think that there was more to Mars than meets the eye in the distant past. The late Mac Tonnies wrote an excellent and very balanced book on the whole Face on Mars controversy, called After the Martian Apocalypse. For me, Mac presented some very notable data suggesting that there may have been a very ancient Martian culture. And, if they developed space-travel, it's not a big leap to imagine a visitation to the Earth in the distant past.

Richard Thomas: Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is widely considered by film buffs as the definitive science fiction film, the script of which was largely based on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? If you look at the film you'll see that it is lettered with what might best be described as "Illuminati symbolism" (as I covered in a previous column for BoA) what are your thoughts on this strange aspect of Blade Runner and why do you think the FBI were so interested in Philip K. Dick?

Nick Redfern: There's no doubt that Dick was a very paranoid man, and who saw a lot of conspiracy theories here, there and everywhere. That doesn't mean the conspiracy theories weren't valid. Rather, it means that he was so deeply into them that he quite often incorporated them into his work. As for the FBI, they watched him very closely because he claimed knowledge of a deep-underground, covert Nazi-type cabal that he believed was trying to influence people to its cause by infiltrating the world of science-fiction. In other words, he thought this group was trying to recruit science fiction authors who could spread the group's beliefs in a way that might allow impressionable people to be turned to their way of thinking.

Richard Thomas: Perhaps the film director with the most conspiracy theories surrounding them and their films, though, has to be Steven Spielberg. How much evidence do you think there is to support the rumours that Close Encounters and E.T. were both based on UFO "insider" knowledge?

Nick Redfern: There's no real, hard evidence. If there was, we wouldn't be asking the question now! But, there are a lot of rumours suggesting that elements of the US Government, military and/or intelligence world may have subtly promoted some key elements in both films.

Richard Thomas: Do you think Spielberg's UFO films or sci-fi series such as Chris Carter's X-Files might be part of some kind of official UFO Disclosure Project? If so, how old might such a project be? What are your thoughts on Bruce Rux's thesis that Orson Welles' infamous 1938 radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic The War of the Worlds marked the start of a UFO "education program" ?

Nick Redfern: I think it's possible, and I dig into this angle quite a bit in the book. Bruce Rux's theory is definitely an interesting one that deserves more attention. I'm not sure if this is all part of some planned official disclosure - after all, the Welles production is now 72 years ago, so it would have to be a very long operation! I think more likely is the scenario that at an unofficial level, there are people in Government that may have fed ideas to influential people in the science-fiction world, to see what the public reaction is, But, this seems to have been going on for decades; so that's what makes me think that maybe it's like some sort of periodic litmus-test to try and determine where people are at in their beliefs about alien life; rather than a program gearing up to a date and an end-game scenario.

Richard Thomas: Speaking of Wells in Science Fiction Secrets you explore the idea that the Soviets were inspired by Wells' novel The Island of Doctor Moreau to create an army of human-animal hybrids, what are the chances that such creatures were ever actually born and could these experiments be responsible for Bigfoot sightings in Eurasia?

Nick Redfern: Zero! As I note, this was a crackpot project, because gorillas and humans, or chimpanzees and humans cannot successfully mate, at all. It was a strange, surreal and odd project that actually had no hope of achieving any real, meaningful success.

Richard Thomas: H.G. Wells, of course, is famous for writing the first books about alien invasion, time travel and invisibility. However there's one sci-fi concept Wells isn't credited with and that's Star Trek style teleportation or matter transport. With Donald Rumsfeld admitting back in 2001 (on September 10th strangely enough) that the Pentagon was missing $2.3 trillion anything becomes feasible, do you think that teleportation might have been developed clandestinely and if so to what extent? Also what other science fiction type technologies (for example invisibility and time travel) is there evidence to suggest might have been developed in the black?

Nick Redfern: Yes, I think with black-budgets that all sorts of unusual projects have been worked on. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was a very black-budget alternative space-programme that is quite a bit in advance of what we know publicly about the space-programmes of various nations. I think also a lot of research has been done into invisibility and sophisticated areas of advanced camouflage. Personally, I think the idea that time-travel and teleportation have been successfully developed to where it's 100 per cent understood, functioning and controllable are still stretching things a bit.

Richard Thomas: Another figure that UFO conspiracy theories seem to follow is former member of the British Ministry of Defence Nick Pope. Back in the early 2000's, Pope, who used to work on the now defunct MoD UFO desk, wrote two fictional books (Operation Thunder Child and Operation Lighting Strike) that dealt with themes of alien invasion and UFO crashes. Do you think Nick was using his insider knowledge or is he just clever enough to make it look like he was, or might it be a case of both?

Nick Redfern: I think Nick obviously used a lot of his own personal knowledge of how the MoD works, and how the military works, to write an entertaining novel of alien invasion. I think it's fair to say that many people are split on whether the cover-up angles of the novel, and if the stories about alien bodies being taken to Porton Down etc are based on anything real, or just Nick incorporating widely-known allegations that were already prevalent in the UFO research community. I think Nick is probably very happy that people are still talking about the book, as a direct result of these scenarios and allegations!

Richard Thomas: Your follow-up book to Science Fiction Secrets is Contactees, which also came out this Fall. Tying these two subjects together, is there anything we can discern from the portrayal of contactees in science fiction?

Nick Redfern: Not really. Contactees is basically a study of the whole Space-Brothers movement from the early 50s onwards. I didn't really uncover anything to suggest a linkage between the official worlds secretly trying to infiltrate the sci-fi world in respect of Contactee cases. However, some people do believe that the 1950s film, The Day The Earth Stood Still was government-related in some way. And, admittedly, the main character in the film is very human-looking, as were the Space-Brothers. And, also as with the Space-Brothers, the alien - played by Michael Rennie - does offer warnings to the Human Race. So, maybe that's a science fiction film we should take a closer look at.

Richard Thomas: Where can people get a copy of Science Fiction Secrets and what else have you got planned for us in 2010?

Nick Redfern: People can get hold of Science Fiction Secrets at all good book-selling shops and on-line outlets too. I have 4 books coming out this year: a UFO book called Final Events; and Monsters of Texas (co-written with Ken Gerhard), Wild-Man and Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Staffordshire, which are all on my other big interest: cryptozoology.

Richard Thomas: Thanks again Nick !!

Nick Redfern: Cheers, Richard!

Richard Thomas, BoA UK Correspondent and Columnist.