As of the moment, the von DÃ„niken vein of ancient mysteries is running thin. Half of this latest book consists of odds and ends: a second-hand rehash of the marvels of megaliths; a long swatch of gibberish about electrons; a rather plaintive account of how he was hoaxed into investigating such dud wonders as an alien skeleton that proved to be the remains of a small terrestrial mammal. For the rest, von DÃ„niken describes his most recent journeys to the South Pacific, India and Pakistan, and South America in search of extraordinary sites--which he never quite managed to reach. Giant stone footprints in the Kiribati Islands were inaccessible because islanders use the spot for sanitary purposes; strong local prejudice among the Kashmiris discouraged any attempt to open their tomb of Jesus; floods blocked the way to Mohenjo Daro; and a jaunt to see cave drawings of astronauts in Iran was frustrated by the revolution. (Von DÃ„niken did manage to check out a few less exciting locales.) In compensation, we are offered touristy tidbits (coconut milk is highly nutritious, the Indus is one kin. wide near Hyderabad, etc.) and sundry reflections on the faults of civilization and the virtues of native life (or, when the roads are bad, vice versa). Now and again, there's a flash of the old von DÃ„niken: could the rebel angels in the Book of Enoch have been the mutinous crew of a spaceship? did Solomon shuttle between Jerusalem and Kashmir in a steam-powered helicopter? But such inspired moments are rare. Readers who relished the manic style of the earlier books, and their bounty of cosmic lore, will find this one paltry and limp.