Trance-formation of America by Mark Phillips & Cathy O’Brien

We all know that the world of politics is a manipulative and sometimes seedy realm. Politicians and distrust are two words that go hand in hand in the minds of many people, and the reality of this is borne out by the broken promises and sexual scandals that often hit the news media. I got the first hint that this was merely the tip of the iceberg when I read a chapter called “The Depths of Evil” in David Icke’s book I Am Me, I Am Free. This offered a brief condensation of Trance-formation of America, and the reading of it left me thinking, “Surely this is simply too outrageous to be true – that the world I’m living in is nothing like the way everyone thinks it is?”

The trouble is, I’ve been discovering that, in general, the world really isn’t the way most people think it is. Most people are blind to the fact that the food instrustry is destroying health. Most people are blind to the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is not about health, but wealth. Most people are happy to continue raping the planet of all resources and poisoning it with pollution, and will think of this situation as normal life. This book challenges the reader to get to grips with information claiming the governments of the USA (and other countries) are rotten to the core – so rotten that the word diabolical is maybe the only one that fits.

Co-author Cathy O’Brien suffered sexual abuse by her father Earl as a young child. When it was found out by the authorities, the US government offered her father immunity from prosecution if he would agree to have Cathy introduced into the MK-Ultra mind-control program. Child abuse victims are specifically targeted because because of the effect on the mind caused by trauma. The mind becomes compartmentalised, learns to close off memories as a coping mechanism, and develops Disassociative Identity Disorder (what used to be termed Multiple Personality Disorder). After much painful training, Cathy developed numerous personalities which could be switched by various programmed methods. Each personality was hidden from the others and she lost all awareness of the passage of time. This compartmentalisation allowed her to be used in various criminal activities: prostitution to high-ranking government people, government sanctioned drug-running, “carrier pigeon” secret messaging.

In adulthood Cathy lived with her handler Alex Houston in a sham marriage. Houston was not her first handler; there was also Wayne Cox, with whom she had a child, Kelly. Like Cathy herself, Kelly was introduced to MK-Ultra at an early age and was soon taking part in child pornography and prostitution to members of the government. Cathy eventually became what is termed a “Presidental Model,” and was in close contact with the likes of Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill & Hillary Clinton. Some of the sexual stuff that Cathy claims went on between her and these people almost beggars belief. One of the worst was when Bush took Kelly into another room and violently raped her while Cathy had to listen to her daughter’s cries on the other side of the wall. This book took so long for me to read because at times I just couldn’t take it. I had to put it aside for a while and read other things. It was too terrible.

Co-author Mark Phillips first met Cathy by going into business with her “husband” Alex Houston. When Houston eventually put some trust in Phillips, this paved the way for Phillips to find out what was being done to Cathy and Kelly, and to make a plan to rescue both of them. After a lot of running, and much learning about mind-control, he was able to de-program Cathy and eventually bring about her complete recovery – and uncover all the memories that the government thought it had so effectively hidden. Kelly was not quite so fortunate and remains in psychiatric care.

So, what should we make of a book like this? Are Cathy O’Brien and Mark Phillips a couple of sensationalist attention-seekers wanting their fifteen minutes of fame? After having read the book and also seen Cathy talk about her life on video (look her up on YouTube), I just don’t get that impression. She does not seem the slightest bit unhinged. And it strikes me that you would have to be more than just a little unhinged to write the sort of things she writes and risk prosecution from countless famous names.

For me, the thing that helps pull this book out of the realms of fantasy is the picture section. We have photographs of Cathy and Kelly, pictured with some of the people mentioned in the book. Business cards, with addresses and phone numbers, are supplied for many, many people involved in the events of Cathy’s life, any one of whom can be easily contacted to verify information. There are several letters from the government, demonstrating Cathy and Mark’s ongoing quest for justice. There are medical reports on Kelly, showing evidence of her sexual abuse and her ongoing psychological trauma.

Cathy describes a mutilation inflicted on her by one of her handlers, where the inside of her vagina was made to resemble a grinning witch’s face. It was hard to believe until I stumbled upon an actual video of it being examined by a doctor.

It’s no surprise that this book is self-published. What publisher would dare to take it on and risk prosecution? For me, therein lies the most convincing aspect of the story. There are countless high-profile people named and shamed in this book, and yet here it is in publication with not a single charge laid against Cathy and Mark. Why? Is it perhaps because it’s a true account and to draw attention to it through a legal battle would only bring the awful truth out into the public eye? Or should I perhaps give the government the benefit of the doubt and simply say they are innocent until proven guilty?

People who read conspiracy books are often accused of wanting the world to be a more exciting place than it really is, trading the mundane for the sensational, swapping rational investigation for wish-fulfillment. Well, here’s a book that will really put you to the test. Because there is nothing to like here, nothing pretty, nothing that makes me feel good. It only makes the world seem like a much darker and more foreboding place than I thought it was … if it’s true. Is it?

Let me be absolutely frank and rational, because this book left me feeling disturbed and frustrated. I need more than a testimony. And that’s all this is, when you get right down to it. I need something resembling proof, or else I’m trafficking in rumour.

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Infinite Love Is the Only Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion by David Icke

David Icke has written many books on the subjects of the global conspiracy and the nature of reality. I’ve read three before this one, all of them published on or before 1996. So I thought it was about time I jumped in at the deep end and read something from his more recent research. This one was published in 2005.

The book begins with a couple of chapters summarising Icke’s research into the global conspiracy and the inter-dimensional side of the manipulation, including his theories about shape-shifting Reptilians. These chapters serve only as a taster, and to really get into them properly, you need to read books like, And the Truth Shall Set You Free and The Biggest Secret – something I haven’t yet done, and therefore I have to remain on the fence with some of his assertions.

After that, the book starts going in the direction that most interests me, in a chapter called “Downloading Reality,” where the author aims to show to that the physical world is nothing more than a holographic illusion. Some of the claims are startling and fascinating – that our own DNA can be consciously modified, and this is the real explanation behind evolution. We also have the ability to heal ourselves to some extent. Icke talks in a lot of detail about DNA/RNA, and unfortunately I found myself getting confused, but that material did serve as an interesting introduction to some thought-provoking ideas.

There’s a chapter on the nature of religions. I first read Icke tackling this topic in I Am Me, I Am Free, and I was stunned by his insight. This time round, oddly, he concentrates on Judaism rather than Christianity, exposing the craziness of all the impossible rules and regulations.

Another chapter takes a look at society and invites us to take a hard look at much of what we consider to be normal life, in education, the media, health services, banking, etc. Good stuff.

Another chapter is critical of the New Age movement, which shows a dramatic shift in Icke’s views since he started out in 1990 with The Truth Vibrations. Back then he was very pro New Age. Now he believes the New Age movement to be the most enlightened of all expressions of religion, but still caught in the program. In the past, Icke spoke about our souls being on a journey of evolution. Now he denies that. Now he sees reincarnation as part of the program – another aspect of us being trapped in this physical life “matrix.”

This change in ideas is due, it seems, to an experience Icke had a few years before, when he was invited to take ayahuasca, a drink that shamens use to tap into the reality beyond our five senses. He claims that he was spoken to by a female voice for five hours. One phrase that was repeated many times was “Infinite Love is the only truth, everything else is illusion.” Getting to the bottom of that is the cornerstone of this book. For instance, if we are all one consciousness, if our separation from each other is just an illusion, if the only thing that exists is Infinite Love, and if we are everything that exists, then how can we possibly evolve by experience? I have to admit, he is asking the right questions and getting right down to the nitty gritty of what this idea of “oneness” (that he has been promoting for many years) implies.

My only criticism of this book is that the amount of new material in here is relatively small. Much of the book is a refresher course in research Icke has already expounded in previous books, and in greater detail. I have his previous book, Tales from the Time Loop (2003) on my shelf, waiting to be read, and I can tell that it contains massive amount of overlap. That said, I appreciate that Infinite Love was written to be self-contained, so that it can be understood without reference to other works.

It takes a certain type of mind to appreciate a book of this nature. You have to be unafraid to question everything you’ve been contitioned to believe, to take no norm for granted, and also to abandon skepticism in favour of allowing yourself to flirt with new possibilities. That’s me, for better or worse. I found the ideas in this book stimulating and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.

God Outside the Box by Patricia Panahi

I was drawn to this book by a review I spotted elsewhere, at a time when my life had just undergone great spiritual change. I had chosen to abandon my Christian faith, on the grounds that I had been ignoring terrible problems with it. See my personal blog for more detail. In short, I came to view my religion as a sort of mind prison, where you are lured into sacrificing your freedom to think for yourself to a massive set of beliefs that are laid out for you by others: the Bible and the Church. And any attempt to reclaim that freedom to think for yourself instantly makes you a denier of the Word of God. It was a breath of fresh air for me to start looking at life and universe and saying, “What do I think?” instead of “What do they want me to think?”

This book is essentially Patricia Panahi’s autobiography, and she has an interesting story to tell. In her childhood, she was in the rare position of having a Muslim father and a Catholic mother. They weren’t overly religious people, and didn’t impose their beliefs on their daughter. This allowed Patricia to look at what she was being taught from two standpoints that were very different, whereas most of us grow up with a single religious view and the idea that “I’m right, and everybody else is wrong.” In her college years, she learned about Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddism, etc., but always from the perspective of an outsider looking in. She started to notice ways in which all religions were expressions of some of the same ideas.

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help thinking how great it would be if we all had opportunity to learn it this way – if we were shown a big picture and allowed to choose, instead of being encouraged to blindly follow what those around us are doing, and never dare to question it for fear of being branded unacceptable or fear of facing some eternal punishment.

Patricia appears to possess that rare kind of skepticism that is actually looking for answers rather than looking to deny the reality of everything. A little later in life, a friend encouraged her to go to something called a “Rebirthing” session – a New Age type practice that involved lying down and allowing your higher self to affect you. The results of that session were the first big wake-up call to the idea that there was an actual spiritual dimension to life that was real and definite – something you could experience rather than simply have faith in. This awakening led Patricia to start reading everything she could get her hands on, on a vast array of spiritual topics. Over the course of her life since then, she has learned and experienced a great deal that she shares with the reader. Not only strange experiences that scientists would balk at like walking on fire, but hard experiences of life that contain priceless lessons.

The theme of the book is spiritual awakening. I felt a great sense of kinship with many of the ideas that Patricia communicates. I wouldn’t say I was on the same page with everything, but overall this is an excellent read. If you’re learning to see the world in wider terms than the rigid scientific mindset that says “This world is all there is,” or you’re daring to step outside the boundaries of a religion that has been programming you, I thoroughly recommend this book. It will be a great encouragement to you in your own quest for truth.

Faith Awakened by Grace Bridges

Faith Awakened caught my attention because it’s a post-apocalyptic novel set in Northern Ireland – specifically Bangor, which is only about forty miles from where I live. It’s not often the Emerald Isle gets the sci-fi treatment. This is also a Christian novel, and those who know me from my personal bloggery might think this would automatically make it right up my street. News that something is “Christian fiction” actually has the effect of making me feel quite ambivalent, because I’ve had the experience of reading some pretty bad Christian novels, dripping with melodrama. I’m pleased to announce that Faith Awakened avoids this trap to a large extent, which is no easy thing because this is essentially a love story.

Grace doesn’t pull her punches. She is not afraid to kill off about six billion people from the get-go, at the hands of a deadly virus. Then, rather than step into the “cosy catastrophe” genre, things get even worse for the tiny band of survivors. It seems that their mysterious immunity to the virus is temporary, as the virus mutates. There seems to be no hope for the last remnants of the human race … until the discovery of a cryogenic research laboratory. The survivors theorise that it may possible be go to sleep for many years, experiencing a virtual reality dreamworld, with your body safely sealed off from infection. Then, many years later, the virus will have died, and it will be safe to emerge.

The novel appears to jump back and forth in time, telling two apparently unconnected stories: one the life of Mariah in the post-apocalypse world, and the other the life of Faith in a world like the one we know. We are left to ponder what’s really going on – whether it is two points in time, or a real world and a virtual one; are Mariah and Faith separate individuals or the same person? Grace resists answering these questions until the end. I had a pretty good idea what was going on long before that, but I did like being left to deceipher it on my own.

This is a Christian novel only in the sense that the outlook of the central character is Christian – and only loosely Christian, at that. Characters refer to God as “The Awakener” and Christians are “The Awakened.” Christianity itself is not mentioned by name. During the reading of this novel, I coincidentally happened to be moving away from my personal Christian faith, so I was glad that this was more of a story told from the author’s peronal outlook than an attempt to convert an audience.

The author often uses very broad brush strokes in telling the story. The usual advice you hear in writing circles is “show, don’t tell,” whereas Grace has largely chosen “tell, don’t show.” But I’m going to defend her stance. The entire life of Faith is crammed into these pages, and it’s often not high-octane drama where you want to pull the reader in and show him every detail. It’s a gentler, everyday kind of story, and I found myself mostly content with the fast pace with which events were told. That said, there were points where I wanted the author to really zero in and pull the reader right into the direct experience of the protagonist.

On purely a personal interest level, I would have to say that the overall nature of the book as a love story didn’t really grab me as much as other aspects that I would have preferred to have seen developed, such as the nature of the totalitarian pre-apocalypse society, and a deeper exploration into virtual reality. In terms of the story the author wanted to tell, the stand-out for me was that I got the distinct feeling I was reading something autobiographical at times. And having now met Grace in person, I can confirm that this was indeed the case to a large extent. And it’s this that elevates the book to more than mere entertainment.

Faith Awakened is a self-published novel, and since so many self-published authors take the easy route of not learning correct grammar and not weeding out errors from their manuscript, I always feel I need to comment on this topic. Well, I’m pleased to say that this novel is very cleanly presented – obviously a labour of love in every way.

I had opportunity to meet Grace in person recently, in the bizarrest of coincidences. I happened to be reading her book while members of the Christian Fiction Review Blog (of which Grace is one) were gearing up to review my own novel, Chion. Grace happened to be living in Ireland at the time (she’s actually from New Zealand, and had been living in Germany until recently), so we arranged to meet up at a halfway point between our towns. Grace brought her laptop, and we decided to interview each other. I’m delighted to share that interview with you here. Grace has also agreed to allow Faith Awakened to be featured here for free download. For more information, visit the Faith Awakened website.

The Grace Bridges and Darryl Sloan interview:
[ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ]

I Am Me, I Am Free by David Icke

I first heard of David Icke on the Terry Wogan show in 1991. I was about nineteen at the time. Icke had once been a famous footballer, until his career was cut short by arthritis. He then went on become a BBC television sports presenter. The reason why he was being interviewed by Terry Wogan was because he had recently published a book called The Truth Vibrations, where he claimed to have undergone profound spiritual changes and was in contact with beings from a higher dimension. The audience was very amused. Even more amused when Terry asked him if he was the Son of God. Not given time to explain the difference between a son of God and the Son of God, hilarity ensued. For me, the outrageous nature of this made the Wogan interview one of the unforgettable moments of television, and the name David Icke was firmly locked in my mind, forever shelved under messianic crackpot. Well, not quite forever, it seems.

Earlier this summer, whilst browsing the website of Christian conspiracy theorist Mark Dice, I came across an audio interview of Mark interviewing David. I thought it was a strange combination of interviewer and interviewee, given their opposing backgrounds, and so I got curious. I can’t remember what specifics in the interview caught my attention, but I was enthused enough by David’s presentation to seek out some of his books.

I chose I Am Me, I Am Free first, primarily because I was more interested in Icke’s spiritual views than his conspiracy theories or his radical theories about shape-shifting reptilians. Why was I not put off immediately by the knowledge that he believes reptilians are walking among us in human bodies? I don’t know. Maybe the Mark Dice interivew sounded too sane, and maybe the fact that I couldn’t marry this sanity with the outlandish claims created a sense of intrigue in me. In any case, I chose not to jump straight in with his reptilian book, The Biggest Secret, but rather to break myself in gently.

I Am Me, I Am Free disturbed me from the first chapter. And it disturbed me because it was chipping away at a closed-minded attitude that I possessed and didn’t know I possessed. It disturbed me because it seemed to be right. Some way into the book, I felt that I was finally starting to understand the greatest spiritual battle of my life: the battle between athiesm and Christianity. Icke woke me up to the “mind prison” that is conventional science – the idea that the world should only be understood in terms of “this is all there is,” that the burden of proof is the only measure of rational thought. But wait, he doesn’t stop there. He also makes an attack on religion, too. This was the most problematic aspect of the book, because I was a Christian as I was reading it, and had been consistently a Christian for about seven years.

But for the first time in my life I started understanding that there was an alternative to dogmatic religion and equally dogmatic science. And that alternative was the pursuit of truth without any attachment to an “ism,” without the necessity of taking on a strict set of beliefs, without fear of damnation. Just the breaking free from closed-minded assumptions you’re not even aware of and the openness to all possibility. I dared to deconstuct my Christian beliefs and start again from the ground up. Guess what? I can’t accept the Christian view of reality any more. One personal example of this (not from the book) is the way we can encounter things in the Bible like God commanding the Israelites to slaughter the men, women and children of Amalek (1 Samuel 15). We can’t understand this, so we put it on a shelf in our mind, thinking that we’ll get an explanation some day. But you know, it never comes down the from shelf. It just gathers dust. But you start to wake up to some of the craziness you’ve allowed yourself to believe, when you dare to deconstruct your beliefs and attempt to put them together again. Suddenly the bricks don’t fit as neatly as you thought they did.

The book covers much more ground than I’m mentioning here. There’s some excellent material on self-esteem and a particularly difficult chapter on mind control, which makes some terrifying claims that need further verification. But it’s the sort of book that contains much in the way of self-evident truth, and it’s the sort of book that you don’t have to accept hook, line and sinker. You can gain something from it and leave what you find unacceptable.

For me, this was a totally life-changing book. I didn’t expect this to happen to me when I started out. I know the world is full of people making all sorts of claims to enlightenment, and I don’t consider myself an easy man to fool. Richard Dawkins didn’t get very far with me. I’ve been waking up to a lot of things over the past few years, and this book has served only to step that awakening up a gear.

David Icke is an extremely important thinker in today’s world, and I am a better person for having discovered his books.

The Mars Run by Chris Gerrib

When I got some distance into The Mars Run, I realised I was reading something that belonged to that rare sub-genre known as “mundane science fiction.” If you think that’s me putting it down, you would be wrong. Let me educate you. Mundane SF is a tricky beast to write, and something that I, as an author, have not attempted. Mundane SF is all about what’s really likely. You are not allowed to feature time-travel, interstellar space travel, teleportation; even aliens are frowned upon. Mundane SF takes what technology we already have and theorises realistically about what seems genuinely possible in the future. Doesn’t that make for rather dull sci-fi? Depends on what you’re looking for in a story. For me, I like to sink my teeth into a good human drama. That’s what The Mars Run is. If anything, I found the mundane SF aspects of the novel fascinating. When Gerrib tells me about a spacecraft that has a spinning central section creating an area of the ship with artificial gravity, it excites the scientist in me, in a way that the phrase “Kirk to transporter room” won’t.

The novel is set in the 2070s, told in the first person by Janet Pilgrim, a young astronaut in her late teens. In order to raise money for college, Janet agrees to become a crew member on a cargo haul from Earth to Mars, a vocation no more exciting than a present-day truck driver. A mining colony has been established on Mars, and there is regular traffic between the red and blue planets. There is also the danger of pirates; outer space is the new ocean. Janet’s ship gets attacked and the whole crew murdered – except her. Janet is given the opportunity to join the pirate crew. It’s that, or death. From there on, the trip to Mars turns out to be much more dangerous and difficult that she ever expected.

On the author’s website, Gerrib writes, “Warning – explicit sex and language!” I’m a Christian, so you know right off the bat that I’m going to be tolerating rather than appreciating those two things. In actuality, the sex is not very explicit at all. It’s almost written as summary. Which is no bad thing, considering that there’s a lot of raping going on – or at least something very close to rape, as Janet spends a good portion of the novel forced to play the role of sex slave, and using her feminine wiles to get the upper hand. The exception is a consensual and rather pointless lesbian relationship. I can imagine what a movie of the novel would be like (Kleenex to the ready) but as a book, with Gerrib holding back on the eroticism, the lesbian relationship seems superfluous and is ultimately swallowed up by the larger story.

The Mars Run is a self-published novel. Gerrib’s writing style is clear and streamlined, respecting the reader’s intelligence. When Gerrib writes about an astronaut placing his helmet against a closed door in a vaccuum, he expects the reader to figure out on his own that this is a little trick you can play to hear what’s going on inside the room. Too many author write timidly and slow their work down with pointless qualifications. Not Gerrib. I spotted some grammar and punctuation errors, but not a lot. It wouldn’t take a great deal of work to lick this into truly professional shape.

The novel is a character drama, and on the characters it succeeds. Everyone was well defined, their actions believable, and the reader really feels for Janet’s plight. The only part of the story that I disliked was an overly long section near the end where Janet seems to be carried along by events over which she has no control, and everyone around her is merely talking politics. Thankfully, this section is not characteristic of the story as a whole.

This was an enjoyable read, and one I’ll remember. Reminded me of Robert Holdstock’s space trader novella Elite: The Dark Wheel. I had qualms about some of Janet Pilgrim’s moral decisions in the story, but the ending was surprisingly refreshing on that score.

North of Sunset by Henry Baum

There’s a new serial killer with an unusual MO stalking Hollywood: no one with a personalised number plate on his car is safe. The psychopath’s name is Curt Knudsen and he’s known to the public as the Vanity Plate Killer. His name is no secret to the reader, because this is no mystery story. Author Henry Baum likes to take you right inside the head of your killer, putting his life and his motivations in full view. But this is not only the tale of a serial killer. It’s a shifting-perspective novel that lets you see the thoughts and feelings of several very different and flawed individuals: a detective, a paparazzi photographer, a producer, and principally, top Hollywood actor Michael Sennet. Michael and the killer become inextricably linked, due to an unfortunate incident. A paparazzi photographer captures Michael’s infidelity on camera and tries to bribe the actor. Michael, in a fit of rage, clobbers the photographer to death. To cover his tracks, he dresses the scene to make it look as if the Vanity Plate Killer commited the crime. But Curt Knudsen isn’t too happy about having his image tarnished by a copycat. However, if you think the rest of the novel is about Curt out for Michael’s blood, think again. There are far more complex issues going on in the killer’s head. The story also has an amusing and insightful satirical side, poking fun at our tendency to become starstruck when encountering celebrities – celebrities who may well be immoral behind all the glitz and glam.

North of Sunset is very well written. The style is snappy and polished, a rare find in a self-published novel. The author also pulls off two very tricky things of note. The first is his decision to write a story about bad people. When you learn about how to tell a story effectively, they tell you to make the reader sympathise with the protagonist(s). Well, there’s not much to sympathise with here. Even the characters who aren’t killers are still wrapped up in their materialism, greed and adultery. And yet the novel remains a page-turner. Secondly, the author indulges in talking us through a lot of each character’s backstory. It’s usually better to reveal a character’s nature through his present actions in the story rather than communicating it through lengthy passages of exposition about the character’s past. And yet there’s no denying that Henry Baum is able to do just that and make it all very interesting. The author is involved in the Hollywood movie industry and rubs shoulders with the sort of people he’s writing about. The writing definitely carries an air of realism. As an author myself, but with a different background, I know I couldn’t handle the same material as Baum.

The only disappointment I found in the novel (and this is purely personal) is that I rather liked old Detective Harry Stein. He was the one character with a bit of moral backbone, and he seemed a little underused in the story. I would have liked to have seen him get a bigger slice of the action.

Nevertheless, North of Sunset is a very good thiller, both insightful and inventive. A worthy read for those who like crime fiction.