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StarGate – Review

by: Devlin, Dean & Roland Emmerich

Publisher: Signet Books

Copyright: 1994

Cover: (*TRADEMARK Le Studio Canal)

Type: Paperback

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 2/5/1995

Summary: Shooting for a new definition of mediocrity! Hit!

Republished from Crushies Book Reviews – Volume II Issue No. 2 – February 1995 – Copyright 1995.

First, the good news.

It is doubtful whether you will find a more entertaining, informative story than the first eighty-five pages of Stargate. This is especially true if you are familiar with the works of Zecharia Sitchin (see July & August 1994 reviews). For instance, in the third chapter of STARGATE, we find Daniel Jackson, our protagonist, giving a lecture to a gathering of renowned archaeologists and Egyptomologists on how the great pyramids of Egypt were not built. There is discussion of the remarkable mis-spelling of the name “KHUFU” and the supposed discovery of the mis-spelled name on three walls of the great pyramid by Vyse which Sitchin covers in some detail. The authors of STARGATE have managed to give the entire incident the significance it deserves as a work of archaeological detective work.

Jackson, an Egyptologist playing out in left-field with his unorthodox ideas and theories, does not realize that some of his conjectures are on the verge of being proven as fact. Unknown to him, some sixty years before in 1928, nine-year Catherine Langford watched as her father’s workman unearthed a number of strange artifacts from the sands of Egypt. One of those artifacts, Catherine discovered in consulting her copy of Ancient Egypt, was a depiction of the god Anubis, overlord of the Land of the Dead.

After attending his lecture, Catherine visits Jackson in his apartment and invites him to participate in a project requiring Jackson’s formidable skills as a hieroglyphics interpreter and linguist. Jackson of course accepts.

And now, the big-government-cover-up-and-dirty-secrets news.

When Jackson arrives at the research site, he discovers it is controlled by the military. By the time we get this far in the story, STARGATE has climaxed and now seeks shelter in the tried and true formula of mediocrity . What is left is the typical, run-of-the-mill hi-tech adventure game with the action-hero in constant peril; dumbfounded, amazed and intimidated but courageous natives shuffling around the action; and of course, the alluring, beautiful native girl who falls in love with one of the “strangers”.

This book is a no-buy.

STARGATE however is an entertainment package.

The movie was advertised around the holiday season last year–just in time for Christmas shopping. In your local computer store, there was and is Stargate the CD-ROM from which you can learn how Stargate the movie was made. If the water really has stopped dripping from your kitchen faucet or your eyes have just glazed over from watching, you can also play Stargate the game, conveniently located on the same CD-ROM from which you learn about the movie.

As an entertainment project, STARGATE proves once again that persistence, even upon the path of mediocrity, leads to fruition. At least, I hope it proves that. I would hate to think someone undertook this thing as a lark.



Celestine Prophecy, The – Review

by: Redfield, James

Publisher: Warner Books

Copyright: 1993

Type: Hardcover

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 2/5/1995

Summary: Good Story. An Indiana Jones type adventure in search of “spirit”.

Republished from Crushies Book Reviews – Volume II Issue No. 2 – February 1995 – Copyright 1995.

It’s new to me. Maybe not to you. The story is supposed to be true. But there is no way to prove it. You must rely upon the word of the author. It’s called an adventure. I’ve read two thus far and THE CELESTINE PROPHECY is the better of the two. Unfortunately, I don’t believe a word of it. But….

It is a really good story.

The author goes to a restaurant and meets an old friend. She tells him about a mysterious manuscript–an ancient artifact found in South America that reveals the ten great secrets of life. Intrigued, our author takes off for Peru, South America, high adventure and learning.

In a sense, the basic premise of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY stems from the philosophical foundations of Carl Jung. It purports to show that there is an over-riding order to life. Coincidence, serendipity, fate–there is a constant waxing and waning of structure and purpose in the individual’s life, cresting with faith in the very process of life itself, and plummeting to fear, doubt and emptiness when the individual breaks the connection with life and stands isolated in ego.

The adventure of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY is meant to be both physical and spiritual. The physical adventure is obvious. For instance, our hero meets a fellow traveler on the plane trip down to South America who just happens to also be in search of the mysterious manuscript. After landing, when our hero goes to the hotel at which the traveler is staying, he is met by the sound of flying lead and eventually the sight of the fellow traveler racing toward him yelling the simple word “run”. Refreshingly enough, our hero does. It is a masterful scene setting the tone for everything else in the story. There are no super-heros here.

In his search for the insights provided by the manuscript, the hero meets, almost by coincidence, others who are in the same search. The more significance our hero assigns to these coincidences, the more coincidences seem to occur. It is part of the adventure. It is the spiritual aspect of the adventure. The allegory of mass-man in search of meaning in life can not be overlooked. It is presented artfully in The Celestine Prophecy. But just as there are those in search of insight, there are those whose minds are closed by the security of knowing rather than questioning. The villains in other words.

It is here, in drawing these villains, that THE CELESTINE PROPHECY may irritate some. The nefarious intent of the villains is not decisively sinister by any means.

Early on we learn that the hierarchy of the local Catholic Church is determined to keep the manuscript secret. Indeed, the church has marshaled the forces of the state on its side. So our hero and cohorts must search for the manuscript and attempt to avoid the forces of the church at the same time. The church, in the persons of the priests and bishops, see the insights of the manuscript as subversive. The author does not allow the intent of the church to be fully developed or reasonably justified. For instance, in an interrogation scene when our hero is temporarily captured, one of the clerics says that the church is opposed to publication of the manuscript because it undermines the authority of parents. Within the context of the struggle, it is an irrelevant argument. The real issue is the authority of the church. But it strains our credibility to believe that the church would go to such extraordinary lengths to suppress a manuscript aimed at so few. If there is a problem with THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, it is the circumvented perspective of the insights it purports to uncover.

When I hear the phrase, “your energy field”–which luckily I don’t hear too often–I am reminded that the word “moronic” is difficult for me to pronounce–luckily. This “energy field” stuff pops up with incredible frequency in THE CELESTINE PROPHECY, especially as our hero uncovers more and more of the ten insights. It’s not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with “energy fields”. But the concept as employed by new-age devotees resounds with a certain immaturity. The human body and mind pulsates with so much energy–from thermal, to wave, to radiant–that it seems a purposeful disregard of reality to utter something as moronic as “your energy field is low today”. But of course, if you are new-age, you can’t use the old-age word “aurora”. Still, there must be a better phrase for new-agers to get across the idea that someone is in the dumps.

If you can get past the human “energy field” references, you will definitely enjoy a good story.



World of the Odd and the Awesome – Review

by: Berlitz, Charles

Publisher: Fawcett Crest

Copyright: 1991

Type: Paperback

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 2/5/1995

Summary: Excellent bedtime read.

Republished from Crushies Book Reviews – Volume II Issue No. 2 – February 1995 – Copyright 1995.

Definitely not to be confused with his WORLD OF THE INCREDIBLE BUT TRUE (see review in the August 1994 issue), this Charles Berlitz work, WORLD OF THE ODD AND THE AWESOME is both informative and entertaining.

There are close to 300 snapshots of unusual and weird events discussed in the book. In the forward, Berlitz places his collection of facts into perspective when he writes, “there are increasing indications that the psyche is not simply a behavioristic pattern within one’s intelligence but something more, perhaps possessing motive and mobile force”.

Some of the reports leave you guessing or speculating. Some of the stuff is just odd. For instance, the 204-page manuscript, now in the possession of Yale University, which was purchased from a Jesuit college in Italy in 1912. Apparently no one has been able to decipher the strange, unknown alphabet in which the manuscript was composed. It remains a mystery.

There are other mysterious manuscripts and stone tablets popping up here and there-oriental script turning up on ancient stones and pottery found in Tennessee, stone tablets inscribed in Phoenician and “other Semitic languages” found within the deep interior of the Amazon in Brazil. These little oddities add up to the inescapable conclusion that history is not what we are customarily taught. But because education is a matter of knowing rather than questioning, and because people see history as some sort of personal affirmation of their own cultural worth-the rationale of which totally escapes me-the oddities will remain oddities.

There is also some decisively weird stuff in World of the Odd and the Awesome. A baby born in 1935 in New York City and who survived for twenty-seven days was found not to have a brain when it died. Even weirder, the German brain specialist Hufeland autopsied a man who was rational until the moment of his demise. He had no brain, just eleven ounces of water in his head. (Kinda’ makes you wonder about some of our political leaders, doesn’t it?)

The most curious tidbit Berlitz covers is an incident that happened in Chicago in 1982. If memory serves me correctly, it was mentioned in the papers twice (at least in the Chicago Tribune). It involved a woman who was apparently walking down the street on a moderately windy day when she suddenly burst into flames. The reason I remembered the story is that the first newspaper article seemed a straightforward, unbiased news report. The second article mentioned something about the presence OR absence of a cigarette lighter. In Berlitz’s rendition of the story, a short single paragraph, he reports what appears to be just the facts. A man saw the woman crossing the street. He glanced away for a second and when he saw her again she was engulfed in flames.

This is a perfect bedtime reader.



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