Tag Archive: Erich Von Daniken


Review by C.J. Bunce

After World War II, in essence a world stunned with death and destruction emerged to try to forge its way into the future after one of the planet’s most trying challenges.  Inspiring tens of millions was the true-life voyage of Norway’s Thor Heyerdahl, a pioneer made of the same mettle as Shackleton and Hillary.  Heyerdahl was a student in Oslo who spent a year in Polynesia, where he developed the idea that peoples like the ancient Incas could have traveled across the Pacific Ocean and settled the area easier than saling from the west.  After a decade trying to prove his hypothesis, Heyerdahl assembled a team of six men, five Norwegians and a Swede, and built a balsa raft consistent with parts and construction the Polynesians would have had available centuries before, which he named Kon-Tiki after an Incan sun god.  His challenge?  To complete the voyage from South America to Polynesia without assistance from modern technology.

Heyerdahl’s 1948 account of the voyage, Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft, became one of the best-selling books of all time (selling more than 56 million copies), his 1950 documentary of the voyage, Kon-Tiki, earned an Oscar, and an impressive 2012 theatrical adaptation, also named Kon-Tiki, was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film.  Both of these films are now streaming on Amazon Prime.

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last Odyssey

Fans of James Rollins novels will be happy to hear the 15th novel in his Sigma Force series has arrived.  Billed as a thriller, The Last Odyssey finds Rollins piecing together obscure and fantastical elements from the writings of Homer with his fictional version of an Illuminati.  Think Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and other lost artifacts of lore, Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code or the secrets of Nicolas Cage’s character in the National Treasure movies.  Rollins pulls in Leonardo da Vinci as a character, but his ideas are something more out of Erich von Däniken’s pseudohistory and pseudoscience or Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of–taking some of the most unlikely and untenable of possibilities from real history and connecting them together into an action/adventure story.

Coincidence after coincidence, characters there at the right time every time with knowledge of the most obscure data point necessary to move the characters to the next locale–for fans of Rollins’ brand of storytelling, it just doesn’t matter.  The zanier the ideas the more they come back for more.  And they’ll likely be pleased with this next installment.

The novel starts off well, with a promising opening act.  Rollins presents a group of people who uncover a medieval ship inside a far-away Greenland iceberg.  It contains Renaissance era and even ancient artifacts, items you might find in a roleplaying game or video game story like Assassin’s Creed or Tomb Raider, and you get the feeling this will be a romping fantasy quest.  The reader is teased with the concept of the Earth opening up with Ray Harryhausen or Clash of the Titans adventure via a glimpse of a mythical creature and extrapolations of ancient technology in the form of automaton robots.  But is that really what is going on?

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Nimoy in search of

Unlike many diehard Star Trek fans, my first fascination with Leonard Nimoy was not with Mr. Spock.  Neither was it like my parents’ generation who knew him from countless TV appearances in various supporting character roles, like Dragnet, Sea Hunt, Combat!, The Twilight Zone, and Rawhide.  Sure, my family watched Star Trek both in its original run and early reruns.  But as a little kid in the early 1970s my first encounter with Leonard Nimoy was as host of the unexplained mystery series In Search Of…

I’m pretty grateful for that series.  As a kid in my school ecology club with an interest in archaeology and anything related to science and history, I wasn’t that interested in standard school lessons in those subjects.  In Search Of… discussed ancient and not-so-ancient mysteries that never got discussed in school.  And the show addressed these mysteries with no pretense that the theories presented weren’t mainstream–that was the point of the program.  But what each episode had in common was the ability to create a sense of wonder about the world around us–not just the natural world, but myths and legends shared by peoples across the globe, and mysteries that have circulated by man for thousands of years.

In Search Of titles

After several hours of re-watching many of these shows on subjects from Lost Civilizations to Extraterrestrials, Magic and Witchcraft to Strange Phenomena, and Missing Persons to Myths and Monsters, it is readily apparent that science has changed some, but not necessarily a lot, in the past 40 years.  When it comes to theories about Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Nazca lines, UFOs, E.S.P., Noah’s flood, the Bermuda Triangle, and Amelia Earhart, most scientists still discount outlandish theories about the mysteries or conspiracies about any of these topics.  And yet there will always be those fringe few who believe something else.  In that vein, In Search Of… was a kind of precursor to The X-Files.  In fact, a 2002 brief revival on the Sci-Fi Channel featured The X-Files co-star Mitch Pileggi as host.  Is the series dated?  Only for the picture quality and the series’ eerie, synthesized soundtrack.  But for me, the soundtrack, and the great theme song, are essential parts of the show.

What fans of the series remember most is Leonard Nimoy.  If anyone else had hosted the series it may not have made it to 146 episodes.  But that distinctive voice narrates us through all these interesting ideas, these amazing subjects.  Does it matter if they are easily debunked?  Not a bit.  With my family it prompted conversation, and no doubt my own critical eye came from asking questions when something seemed too farfetched to be possible.  “No way!”  “Really?”

In Search Of DVD set

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