The Mindsnatchers

The Threat

by David M. Jacobs
Simon and Schuster, 287 pp., $23.00

According to a Time/CNN poll published a year ago, 64 percent of Americans now believe that creatures from elsewhere in the universe have recently been in personal touch with human beings. One such mortal, Whitley Strieber, writes that he has “received nearly a quarter of a million letters claiming contact” in the past eleven years alone. Indeed, many people, most of them mere students of the topic rather than “experiencers,” think that the aliens, having subjected abductees to breeding experiments in parked spaceships or secret underground laboratories, have already produced a race of hybrids who will someday rule or even replace us.

The hybrids may in fact be shopping and commuting all around us as I write. And even if they aren’t, their mixed parentage could help to explain the familiar images found in abduction memories like the following, culled from each of the three books under review here:

He’s got on a, a multistriped t-shirt…. And some, like little blue shorts…. They had sophisticated-looking toys, like maybe they got them out of Edmund’s Scientific or something…. They have a yo-yo…. It looks like an Etch-a-Sketch screen, except it’s filled with all sorts of stuff.

They were dressed like 1920s thugs, and came into the bedroom with old fashioned Tommy Guns, aiming at me and blazing away.

Beth Collings saw a naked man in an enormous white cowboy hat…. Karla Turner…mentions two people she knows who have seen aliens disguised as hillbillies. Katharina Wilson had an experience with an alien masquerading as Al Gore.

Once recollections of this kind are taken to be authentic, guesswork about the aliens’ true nature and purpose becomes irresistible. What if, for example, Katharina Wilson’s visitor wasn’t just masquerading as Al Gore but was “Al Gore”—the hybrid or body snatcher who has already replaced the man from Tennessee? And if so, the alien takeover of our executive branch surely wouldn’t have stopped at the second in command. Consider this provocative observation by the renowned abduction expert David M. Jacobs:

Because the late-state hybrids are mainly human, they have strong sexual drives but little conscience. It is as if they have human attributes but lack human controls. Even if they do have a conscience, they know that the human victim will immediately forget what has happened to her. The hybrid might assume that there is no lasting effect upon the human and he therefore can do and say anything he pleases with impunity.

Could the space creature that has assumed the form of Bill Clinton be hideously mocking us when it keeps invoking “executive privilege”?

Of course there are difficulties to be ironed out before speculations along these lines can become fully respectable. One of them has to do with distance. In the planets circling our Sun, no creatures besides ourselves are known for their partiality to tourism. What, then, about the next nearest star, Alpha Centauri? Voyaging from that vicinity at the generous estimate …

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Letters

When Words Collide’: An Exchange October 8, 1998