Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 384
In COMMUNION, published in 1987, Whitley Strieber reported that he had been abducted by alien creatures and taken aboard a spacecraft, where he was subjected to an intensive physical examination. What made his book impressive was that the author is obviously intelligent, well educated, and sincere. COMMUNION hit first place on many best-seller lists. TRANSFORMATION: A BREAKTHROUGH is a follow-up book with a dust jacket bearing the same portrait of a humanoid whose face resembles that of a praying mantis; it is obviously intended to exploit the current American love affair with little men from outer space.
Strieber’s new book is not as gripping as COMMUNION because instead of focusing on a single dramatic event, it rambles in time and geography and gives the impression that the author was struggling under deadline pressure to piece a book together out of scraps of unrelated material. In COMMUNION, Strieber frankly admitted that his UFO abduction experience could have been a dream or hallucination. He does not believe that this discredits him or others who have had similar experiences. He speculates, for example, that super intelligent extraterrestrials may have other ways of traveling via thought waves, that they may not even possess bodies, or that creating hallucinations may be their way of communicating across cosmic distances. Having allowed the possibility that his encounters were subjective, Strieber feels free in his new book to recount his and other people’s dreams and other subjective experiences, such as those involving “life after death,” as if they could all be tangible, objective occurrences.
Once he has opened this door, all sorts of Hieronymus Boschian creatures fly out of the closet. The reader is not so much impressed by all these imaginings as troubled by forebodings of a new Dark Ages in which the painful advances of science have been negated and man is once again in thrall to fear and superstition. For want of sufficient new material to fill his book, Strieber even describes some of his childhood dreams and fantasies. The reader begins to perceive that this talented author, who has written much fiction in the speculative and horror genres, was born with an incredibly fertile imagination and has always enjoyed using it to amaze and frighten people. Real or imaginary, his little men have made him a millionaire.
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