Good evening ladies and gentlemen! Today I’ll be releasing my first biweekly paranormal book review with the title that most shaped my interest in high strangeness, the title that simultaneously started and nearly ended it all – John Keel’s The Eighth Tower: On Ultraterrestrials and the Superspectrum.
Originally published in 1975, although The Eighth Tower is billed as “the disturbing follow-up to The Mothman Prophecies”, the genuinely disturbing thing about it is the cold hard truth of the publishing world – most of the content from The Eighth Tower was what had been cut out of The Mothman Prophecies. Which just so happened to be a bulk of theoretical talk, which I’ll discuss in a minute here. And, to complicate matters further, the editors wanted some sort of hook, a terrifying plot to drive the book forward...
I’ll admit - The Eighth Tower is the book that actually scared me.
Let me back-track a little bit. I’ve been interested in the unexplained for as long as I can remember and gravitated towards reading about it very early. My grandma’s Reader’s Digest compendium, Strange Stories, Amazing Facts, had me thinking about spontaneous human combustion around kindergarten. Several years later, when my mom introduced me to Bigfoot via the Patterson-Gimlin film, that was when my interest in the paranormal became more developed. I’ve grown up reading authors like Linda Godfrey, Chad Lewis, Loren Coleman, even John Keel (The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings was my Holy Grail for a long time, but that’s another blog post). Not to say that some stuff didn’t freak me out, but my interest always outweighed any fear I felt towards the topic.
Then, in my late teens, I read Mothman Prophecies. It was revolutionary – yet somehow didn’t really jog me out of the conventional way I looked at the paranormal. However, it did convince me of something else – I totally needed to read more John Keel.
So, I got a few of his titles – among them, The Eighth Tower.
Interspersed among some truly amazing theories is an undercurrent of dread likened only to the cosmic horror of H. P. Lovecraft which, bizarrely enough, I had just discovered around the same time. From mention of the Moon Food concept – in which human souls are devoured by ambivalent space beings – to such chilling statements as “Whoever – or whatever – they are, they’ve got us surrounded”, there’s such a prominent feeling of sheer paranoia that pushed me to do something I’ve never done before.
I finished the book, put it at the back of my bookshelf, and took a break. Several weeks.
I got over it, of course, otherwise I suppose you wouldn’t be reading this. Still, though, amid the objective, elegant discussion of the superspectrum idea, that running narrative of otherworldly damnation always bothered me.
Then, I found out (special thanks to researcher Steve Ward) that all the talk of some sort of ancient computer running our world into swirling oblivion was the hook that the editors needed in order to publish this fantastic tome.
Now, years later, I’ve read it several times. It might be my most-referenced Keel book, or at least ties with Trojan Horse. Because, truthfully, The Eighth Tower presents the groundbreaking idea of the superspectrum as the possible source of paranormal manifestations in a beautifully clear fashion. Aside from the self-proclaimed gimmick, it’s a concisely theoretical read which makes a strong case for the interconnectedness of paranormal phenomena, and the importance of these unexplained manifestations on the world at large.
In ’78 it was republished in the UK as The Cosmic Question – a super-fitting title, as it exists as a whole series of questions about the paradigm of things. Rather than building off the same belief systems regarding the unexplained, it asks the core questions we can easily forget. Why do we experience the paranormal? Why do we believe what we see? Where is its source? Why do the same things happen whether people see a UFO or a monster or a ghost? Why do we believe the messages given to us from the unexplained?
From covering how ESP should be considered extended perception instead of extrasensory, to the reflective nature of paranormal phenomenon, The Eighth Tower is a glorious trip throughout paranormal manifestations, beliefs, effects, theories, and occurrences. It also has some of my all-time favorite quotes from anything paranormal related -
“Is Earth the Disneyland of the gods?”
“-the microbe would laugh in your face.”
And, last but certainly not least, regarding the transient nature of paranormal manifestations:
“We cannot name the place where flying saucers and hairy monsters come from, but we do know where they go. The poor slobs literally melt.”
The Eighth Tower is available on amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Eighth-Tower-Ultraterrestrials-Superspectrum/dp/193839819X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+eighth+tower&qid=1597082582&s=books&sr=1-1
Of course, it comes highly recommended. Regarding the running plot of gloom and doom – best to take that bitter pill with a grain of salt, or, hell, a whole handful. The rest is definitely worth it.