The Rise and Fall of Paranormal Publications
by Michael J. Hallowell
ago – around ten, I reckon – there was a boom in the
market regarding UFO-related magazines. I recall
mentioning this in a previous Across the Pond column, in
But then, alas, it all went awry. One by one they fell;
Enigma, Encounters, Quest,
Beyond... until only a handful remained to beat the
drum regarding UFOs and other bizarre phenomena.
So what went wrong?
When I was in my teens – and that was a long time ago –
there was only one dedicated UFO magazine of any
substance; the Flying Saucer Review. It wasn't
available on newsstands, and could only be obtained on a
subscription basis. This added an aura of mystery to the
whole UFO enigma, for only dedicated enthusiasts would
go to the bother of paying for it. Things changed with
the advent of UFO Magazine, edited by the late
Graham Birdsall. UFO Magazine was available in
stores nationwide, and went a long way to popularising
Graham was a somewhat controversial figure. I only met
him twice, and was impressed by his enthusiasm and
dedication. Sadly he died of a brain haemorrhage in
2003. UFO Magazine ceased publication soon afterwards.
It was truly missed, and the lack of Birdsall's presence
could never be completely remedied.
The situation improved radically with the launch of
UFO Data, edited by Russel Callaghan. Alas, this too
ceased publication in 2009.
I think the downturn, which started in the mid-'00s –
was precipitated by nothing less than a loss of
mystique. As newsstand publications became available in
the early '90s, the general populace was able to
investigate the UFO enigma without too much bother.
Ufology became an open book, and, sad to say, the
novelty wore off.
There is, I think, an interesting parallel between the
rise and fall of fascination with ufology and the
current obsession with ghosts and hauntings. There is
currently a veritable mania with ghosts and hauntings
the like of which the UK has never seen before. There
are even satellite channels dedicated to the subject and
a host of non paranormal-related magazines still carry
columns and features on the preternatural on a regular
But there are signs that the current interest in spooky
stuff may be waning. As a writer who has penned ten
books and over one thousand articles on the paranormal,
I need to keep my finger on the pulse of publishing
related to preternatural phenomena. My feeling is that
we are on the verge of seeing the bottom fall out of the
market once again. One reason for this is the recent
tidal wave of poorly written books on hauntings which
can be picked up at relatively low cost in stores. Some
(although not all) are saturated with historical
inaccuracies and show little evidence of having been
properly proof-read. They find a market with those who
have little real interest in studying the subject, but
merely enjoy reading a few eerie stories to pass the
time. There's nothing wrong with this, of course, but I
don't think it will be long before the market for such
material goes into free-fall. I already know of several
writers whose publication dates have been set back or
even put on hold. Some publishers, I think, are sensing
that ghosts and hauntings are no longer captivating the
public's imagination the way they once did.
The situation with the UFO phenomenon is different,
however, and it's certainly true to say that in that
department all isn't lost. Recently I was told about the
launch of a new publication specifically dedicated to
the UFO enigma. The magazine, which has a number of
top-of-the-tree contributors, will be hitting the
newsstands soon. It's just possible that we are seeing a
renaissance of interest in UFOs.
Ufology, I think, is emerging from a period of torpidity
and may well provide a welcome alternative to those who
are tiring of ghosts and phantasms. Only time will tell,
of course, but the truth is that the UFO mystery
presents mankind with a challenge of immeasurable
proportions. Whether or not one accepts that we have
been visited by extraterrestrials – Greys, Reptoids,
Nordics et al – the very concept is riveting. Whether
one is a believer or non-believer, we need to know.
I must confess, I'm baffled that the UFO puzzle isn't in
the forefront of everyone's mind and not just "a good
number". If there's even a 1 in 1,000,000 chance that
alien life has visited our planet, the possibility is of
such great magnitude that it needs to be investigated to
a far greater degree that we have seen hitherto.
Or perhaps it has, and we simply haven't been told about
it. In any event, it will be good to see UFO Matrix
emerge in the not-too-distant future. Could Ufology be
the New Black? I hope so....
© Mike Hallowell, 2010
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