MAJESTIC by Whitley Strieber
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Once upon a time there was an author named Whitley Strieber who wrote some pretty good horror novels (The Wolfen, The Hunger, etc.), but then the flying saucers came and took him away and when he returned he wrote only about them and his fiction wasn't so good anymore. In fact, it's never been worse than in this overwrought retelling of the Roswell incident--a true-life case, legendary among UFO-buffs, wherein, allegedly, a saucer with dead occupants crashed in New Mexico in 1947 and was spirited away by the feds. Strieber opens in 1989, with the account of reporter Nicholas A. Duke, who claims ""the scoop of the century""--i.e., the real story of what happened in Roswell, as told to him mostly by Wilfred Stone, charter member of the CIA and the man entrusted by Harry Truman to handle the perceived UFO menace. In a mix of newspaper reports, government documents, confessions by Stone, and third-person reconstruction by Duke, the story unfolds: the discovery of saucer debris by a New Mexican farmer; the dispatching of Stone to the site; Stone's finding of the craft and dead aliens; the autopsy of the aliens; the shackling of media coverage and decision--prompted by fear of the unknown and our warlike nature--to create the biggest cover-up ever by ridiculing all future UFO reports and by setting up the ultra-secret Majestic Agency to harbor UFO knowledge. Overlaid on this story, though, is another--a hazy rehash of the psychospiritual events recounted in Strieber's Communion and Transformation, with Stone in the Strieber role: of how Stone had been monitored by ""the visitors"" since childhood; of how, after Roswell, they tested his soul--for ""[a man] sees in those dark angelic eyes a reflection of what he truly is""--and found it wanting. Some eerie and even powerful scenes, but mostly big pretense and tepid suspense, and scarcely a novel. Still, on the strength of the Strieber name alone, this shrill, pseudohistorical retread of the author's two earlier UFO books may well coast onto the bestseller lists. (For a calmer and more cogent account of the Roswell incident, see Timothy Good's Above Top Secret, 1988.)

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1989
Publisher: Putnam