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Volume 9
Number 1
January 7, 2004

Editor: Joseph Trainor

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SPIRIT LANDS ON MARS

The robot rover Spirit bounced to a landing on the floor of Gusev Crater on Mars Saturday, January 3, 2004, at 11:51 p.m., Cape Canaveral time.

"'We're back,' said NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe, 'I am very, very proud of this team, and we're on Mars.'"

At ground level, Gusev Crater appears to be "a massive crater that contains what may be a dry Martian lake bed."

"Ten of 13 earlier Mars missions" from the USA and other countries "ended in failure, so this was a significant victory for NASA, which has been under a cloud since the explosion of space shuttle Columbia" in February 2003.

"'Virtually every single thing went right, including landing right-side-up so we could get photos and mosaic panoramas within the first few hours,' said William Hartmann of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson (Arizona), author of A Traveler's Guide to Mars."

"Spirit landed facing south on a smooth, cratered plain marked by whirlwinds of dust, in 'fantastic' position to roll off its airbag-shrouded landing craft," engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California stated.

"The rover will begin rolling slowly over the crater floor next week, analyzing soils and rocks for the next three months."

"The mission's principal investigator, Steven Squyres of Columbia University, said his team planned to check out almost every instrument aboard the rover before planet analysis begins."

"Scientist Jennifer Trosper said Spirit is encountering 20 percent less than expected of the solar energy needed to charge its batteries because of the high level of dust. Less energy may eventually force the team to prioritize Spirit's jobs, she said."

About the size of the USA's state of Connecticut, "Gusev Crater, where Spirit landed, is several billion years old and notched by a channel that appears to have been carved by water."

(Editor's Comment: If no one has yet named this channel, I have a suggestion. How about Quinebaug Arroyo, after the river in eastern Connecticut?)

"Meanwhile, British scientists report no contact with Beagle 2, which was supposed to have landed" at Isidis Planitia on December 25, 2003. "The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, Beagle's mothership, will be in position to start trying to contact the lost lander" on Wednesday, January 7, 2004. (See USA Today for January 5, 2004, "'We're back. We're on Mars,'" page 1A.)

STARDUST TAGS A COMET IN DEEP SPACE

It was a weekend double-header for NASA. Hours before the robot rover Spirit landed on Mars, the robot spacecraft Stardust successfully intercepted the comet Wild 2 on the far side of the sun.

"A spacecraft with an outstretched scoop about the size and shape of a tennis racket flew on Friday," January 2, 2004, "through a cloud of dust and gas surrounding a comet, capturing tiny particles from the early solar system to be brought back to Earth."

"Officials of the Stardust mission said the close encounter with a comet appeared to be a success. The 770- pound spacecraft suffered no disabling damage as it passed through the thickest dust swirling off the comet's icy nucleus. Scientists will examine radioed data to determine what the craft learned about the dynamics and chemistry of cometary dust and how much was collected."

"'Life is good!' exclaimed Tom Duxbury, the manager of the project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as the Stardust spacecraft sped away from the comet Wild (pronounced Vild--J.T.) 2."

"'We've flown through the worst of it, and we're still in contact with the spacecraft,' he continued, 'We're just bubbling all over.'"

"Several striking pictures of the comet's nucleus taken by the spacecraft had scientists shaking their heads in wonder and surprise. The rough surface is pitted with what appears to be craters or sinkholes or something they have not thought of. Jets of dusty gas can be seen streaming off the comet."

"The comet was 242 million miles (387 million kilometers) away, on the far side of the sun when the American spacecraft made its closest approach at 1:42 p.m.," Cape Canaveral time on Friday. "It passed within 150 miles (250 kilometers) of the comet's 3.4-mile (5.6- kilometer) wide core of ice and rock, relatively pristine leftovers from the materials that formed the planets of the sun."

"Stardust started out on its journey of almost five years and 2 billion miles with a launching in February 1999 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. It followed a circuitous route, returning two years ago to the vicinity of Earth to use the force of terrestrial gravity for a change in trajectory."

"Well before the encounter, the spacecraft deployed its dust catcher, a kind of space-age flypaper. The racket-shaped frame holds a collection area made of aerogel, a silicon dioxide substance that is 99.8 percent empty space. It thus has enough 'give' in it to slow and stop tiny (cometary) particles without altering them radically."

Stardust is now on its way back to Earth with its precious cargo. "The plan is to seal about an ounce of comet dust into a capsule and drop it by parachute onto a (U.S.) Air Force test range in Utah when the spacecraft returns to Earth in January 2006." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for January 3, 2004, "Spacecraft catches tail end of comet," pages 1A and 5A.)

HUNDREDS WATCH A UFO IN SOUTHERN SIBERIA

"Russian Civil Defense authorities sent a helicopter to the Siberian region of Kemerovo, whose inhabitants claim having seen an unidentified flying object (UFO) which gave the impression of having 'landed.'"

"Regional authorities quoted by Russia's Itar-Tass news agency explained that during the early morning hours of Friday, December 26, 2003, residents of the village of Gurievsk," near Kemerovo, "followed the maneuvers of a UFO for over half an hour. The object, which had the appearance of a fireball, eventually fell to Earth."

"According to eyewitness accounts, no explosions were heard, nor were there any reports of fires or toppled trees received, as seems to occur whenever a meteorite is involved."

Kemerovo is located about 300 kilometers (180 miles) east of Novosibirsk. (See the Spanish news agency ANSA report for December 29, 2003. Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y Gloria Coluchi para esta historia.)

FIRST PANTHERS, NOW UFOs: THE HUDDERSFIELD MYSTERY

"Twinkling Christmas stars may have been replaced by UFOs over Huddersfield," a mid-sized city near Manchester in UK.

"Shocked pensioner Malcolm Stapp is adamant he saw a couple of flying saucers in the night sky."

"Mr. Stapp, 74, of Salendine Nook, said: 'It sounds incredible, I know, but I couldn't believe I saw what I was seeing.'"

"He had been watching a film on TV and was going to bed at 12:30 a.m. on Monday," December 29, 2003, "when he saw a bright light in the sky."

"He said: 'It was stationary over Huddersfield for at least 15 minutes. At one point, another appeared travelling north and going very fast--a lot faster than the jets that fly over here. It was certainly not a helicopter or a plane.'"

"He added: 'Both UFOs were globular with lots of lights on them. I tried to look at the stationary one through binoculars, but it was just a blur of intense lights. I watched it for 15 minutes, and it was still there when I went to bed. I've never seen anything like it before.'"

"PC David McSweeney, of Huddersfield police, said they had received no other reports of sightings of UFOs the early hours of Monday." (See the Huddersfield Daily Examiner for January 2, 2004. Many thanks to Jim Hickman for this newspaper article.)

(Editor's Note: Huddersfield has been the site of numerous sightings of phantom panthers during the past month. For more, see UFO Roundup, volume 8, number 48, for December 17, 2003, "Moors panther sighted all around Huddersfield," page 5.)

SOLITARY UFO SEEN BY A WOMAN IN ONTARIO

On Tuesday, December 28, 2003, at 5:35 p.m., the eyewitness, Mrs. L.B., "facing west" in Eganville, Ontario, Canada (population 1,319) saw "what looked like a star, that was just too large to be one. Looking through binoculars was astonishing. It looked like it had thousands of lights attached to it," she reported, "And it almost looked like it had bright lines connected to all of the lights. It was very bright, and it seemed to change shapes--first circular, then almost like it was an acorn."

"It stayed in one spot for approximately an hour and a half. It was just there; it did not approach. It did not seem to move. It just disappeared. High in the sky. I would like to know what it was, and if anyone else saw it."

Eganville, Ont. is on Provincial Highway 41 about 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Ottawa, the capital of Canada. (Email Form Report)

GIANT SNAKE CAPTURED ON ISLAND IN INDONESIA

"Indonesian villagers claim to have captured a python that is 14.85 meters (49 feet) long and weighs 447 kilograms (985 pounds), a local official said Monday," December 29, 2003.

"If confirmed, it would be the largest snake ever kept in captivity."

"The reticulated python was captured in Jambi province on Sumatera Island."

"Hundreds of people have flocked to see the snake at a primitive zoo in Curugsewu village on the country's main island of Java, Republika reported."

"Local government official Rachmat said the reticulated python measured 14.85 meters (49 feet) in length and weighed in at 447 kilograms (985 pounds)."

"The Guiness Book of World Records lists the largest- ever captured snake at 9.75 meters (32 feet) long. The heaviest--a Burmese python kept in Gurnee, Illinois-- weighs in at 182.76 kilograms (403 pounds), the book said on its Web site."

"Republika said the snake, which was caught last year (2002) but only recently put on public display, eats three or four dogs a month."

"Reticulated pythons are the world's largest snakes. They are capable of eating animals as large as sheep, and have been known to attack and consume humans."

"The species is native to the swamps and jungles of Southeast Asia." (See the Indonesian newspaper Republika for December 31, 2003. Many thanks to Michael Strainic for this newspaper article.)

(Editor's Note: In 1911, Colonel Percy H. Fawcett shot and killed an anaconda 60 feet (18 meters) long on the banks of the Rio Xingu in Brazil.)

"MOTHMAN CURSE" STRIKES TWICE LAST WEEK

The "Curse of The Mothman Prophecies" struck again last week, as an alleged suicide was averted on one of the movie's outdoor sets and an actor featured in the film suddenly died.

The first incident took place in Kittaning, Pennsylvania (population 4,787), near Pittsburgh. The film's bridge collapse outdoor scenes were filmed on the Kittaning Citizens Bridge, which, according to Loren Coleman, "was used as a stand-in for the Silver Bridge" over the Ohio River, which collapsed on December 15, 1967. Curiously, this disaster was predicted over a year earlier by the weird entity known as Mothman, which was seen repeatedly in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"Soft sympathetic words, a listening ear and a strong arm were the incredients used to save the life of a would- be jumper on the evening of (Tuesday) December 30, 2003."

"Christopher Shaffer, 30, of Kittaning, Pa., said he was walking home from a weightlifting session last Tuesday when he saw a man hanging from one arm on the other side of the Kittaning Citizens Bridge. Shaffer immediately realized that the man was preparing to jump into the frigid waters of the Allegheny River."

"'I walked up to him and began talking,' Shaffer said, 'He told me he just wanted to '...end it all.' He began talking about a variety of subjects, mostly religion, and I could see he was very confused so I asked him if we could talk about it. At first he was hesitant, but he kept talking.'"

"After several minutes of conversation, the would-be jumper allowed Shaffer to help him back onto the walkway. Shaffer suggested they go somewhere they could talk. As they walked off the bridge at the corner of Water Street, they were met by Kittaning police chief Ed Cassesse, who was off duty, but happened to be at Armstrong 911 when several phone calls concerning the incident came in."

In UK, actor Sir Alan Bates "died Saturday, December 27, 2003, at a hospital in London after a long battle with cancer."

Bates played the role of "Alexander Leek," a professor and paranormal investigator, in The Mothman Prophecies. The role was based upon real-life author/investigator John A. Keel, who wrote the book The Mothman Prophecies in 1975, upon which the movie was based.

Bates was best known for his performances in movies such as Women In Love and The Fixer. In The Fixer, based upon Bernard Malamud's novel, he played the role of an accused killer.

The actor was the latest in a long list of people associated with the production of The Mothman Prophecies who have died under sudden or mysterious circumstances.

However, no harm has come to the film's major stars-- actors Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Debra Messing.

Debra Messing, who is pregnant, told the tabloid Globe that she has been experiencing strange food cravings lately.

"'They keep changing,' says the Will & Grace beauty," who grew up in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, "'I went through a big health-cereal-with-blueberries phase and I did that three times a day. Then I went through a big fast-food burger phase. Now I'm settling into pizza pretty well. And I'm liking grapes these days, too.'" (See the Pittsburgh Leader-Times for January 3, 2004, "Soft words, strong arm help save man's life;" Entertainment Weekly for January 9, 2004, "The Quiet Type," page 18; and Globe for January 6, 2004, "Pregnant Debra Messing's wacky food cravings," page 22.)

TWO CROP CIRCLES FOUND IN ABBOTSFORD, B.C.

Two crop circles were found in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada on Friday, December 12, 2003 by Laurel Leaman-Konrad and Jo Slingerland. The circles were found near the "trident formation" discovered in Abbotsford in August 2003.

Cerealogist Paul Anderson reported, "One circle was in cattle corn, and the other was partly in cattle corn and partly in grass. The circles were about 30 to 46 metres (100 to 150 feet) apart." The second circle "was slightly than the one in cattle corn alone, approximately 16.75 metres (55 feet) in diameter. Grass in the larger circle was roughly splayed out."

"The field had been harvested, and both circles were in deteriorated condition, noting the possibility of them being part of an older formation last year (2003). Estimated to have occurred in July or August (2003) at the time of the other (trident) formation in Abbotsford and Agassiz, B.C. but not known about at the time."

"A helicopter was also witnessed circling over part of this field last summer."

"This was the seventeenth and last report of 2003 in Canada." (Many thanks to Paul Anderson of Canadian Crop Circle Research Network for this news story.)

RADAR FAILS TWICE AT AIRPORT IN DENVER

"There was a radar problem Saturday night," December 20, 2003, "at Denver International Airport. All flights in and out of the airport were grounded at the time."

The outage took place the same time as the mysterious power blackout in San Francisco, California. (For more on this blackout, see UFO Roundup, volume 8, number 50 for December 31, 2003, "Mysterious power outage darkens San Francisco," page 7.)

"It happened shortly after 7 p.m., when contact between the planes and the control tower was lost. The airport stopped all flights for an hour. The United (Airlines) flights were diverted to Colorado Springs" in southern Colorado.

"Inside the (Denver) terminal, large crowds began to congregate."

"The actual problem lasted for about ten minutes. The radar came back up and then went down again for a few minutes. The airport doesn't know what caused the outage."

"The radar problem came in the evening after a relatively smooth day, where, despite an extra volume of travelers, waiting time at the security gates averaged just five minutes." (See the KUSA-TV Channel 9 news broadcast transcript for December 21, 2003. Many thanks to Daniel Wilson for this news story.)

NEW BOOK CLAIMS HITLER HID OUT IN ARGENTINA

"Adolf Hitler lived in Patagonia," in southern Argentina, "after fleeing Germany in 1945, claims Argentinian journalist Abel Basti in a tour-guide-style book which discusses the locations in the Andean foothills which served as a refuge for several former Nazi leaders."

"Hitler and his lover, Eva Braun, did not commit suicide--rather, they fled to Argentina's shores aboard a submarine and lived for years in the vicinity of San Carlos de Bariloche, a tourist site and ski haven about 1,350 kilometers (810 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires, according to the journalist."

"In his book, Bariloche: Nazi Guia-Turistica, which goes on sale next week, Basti reproduces documents, affidavits, photographs and blueprints aimed at steering the reader (or visitor--S.C.) to the sites that sheltered Hitler, Martin Bormann, Joseph Mengele and Adolf Eichmann."

"He (Basti) is displeased when asked if his book challenges the official story of the Hitler/Braun suicide, saying that the corpses of Hitler and his lover were never found, as is the case with other Nazis who allegedly committed suicide."

"'The only 'official' story is the report made by General Zhukov (commander of the Soviet armies that occupied Berlin--S.C.) to the Kremlin, stating that Hitler and several Nazi leaders had escaped, presumably to Spain or the Americas, and this is what Stalin advised the U.S. government,' he retorted."

"Basti's book includes a photo of the Incalco Ranch (In the language of the indigenous Nahuel people of Argentina, Incalco means near the water --J.T.), located in Villa la Angostura on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi (lake), 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bariloche. This was the refuge chosen by Argentinian Nazis to hide Hitler and Eva Braun."

"This residence, set amidst a pine forest and which can only be reached by boat or hydroplane, belonged to Argentinian businessman Jorge Antonio, one of the most trusted aides of two-time president Juan Domingo Peron." (Editor's Note: Juan Domingo Peron was president of Argentina twice, first from 1946 to 1955 and the second time in 1973 and 1974.)

"Basti makes mention of Rudolph Fraude, son of Ludwig Fraude, the German millionaire, as a key player, in his capacity as Peron's secretary, in placing former Nazis in Argentina, among them (Adolf) Eichmann, who was captured in 1960 outside Buenos Aires by Israeli commandos. He was executed two years later in Israel."

"The book's author, having been involved in several Nazi-related investigations with European television networks, claims that Hitler also lived at Hacienda San Ramon, 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of Bariloche, which belonged at the time to the (German) principality of Schaumberg-Lippe."

"The epic distance that exists between Berlin and Patagonia was shortened, according to Basti, by the wave of German submarines that reached the shores of southern Argentina after the Second World War."

(Editor's Note: True enough. Two German submarines, the U-530 and the U-977, were captured by the Allies in the South Atlantic in July and August 1945 after making mysterious voyages to Argentina.)

"'There is numerous and reliable evidence that Nazis fled to Argentina, with the arrival of Nazi U-boats in Patagonia,' he noted, recalling the 'vital assistance' offered by Peron's government at the time 'to admit the Fuhrer's henchmen into that country.'"

"Basti, who lives in Bariloche and initiated his research into the relocation of Nazis to the picturesque city, claims to have the accounts of passengers aboard the U-boats, Nazis who reached Patagonia--accounts which will constitute the basis of his second book." (See the Chilean newspaper Las Ultimas Noticias of Santiago de Chile for January 2, 2004, "Bariloche was Hitler and Eva Braun's final refuge." Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales y Liliana Nunez Orellana para esto articulo de diario.)

(Editor's Comment: The Hitler-in-Argentina tale is an old one. It first surfaced in a book by Ladislao Szabo entitled Hitler Esta Vivo (Spanish for Hitler Is Alive-- J.T.) back in 1947. A second book by Michael X. Barton was published in 1969 entitled We Want You: Is Hitler Alive? Then Ernst Zundel took up the banner in 1974. Out of these books has sprung the "Saucer Nazi" theories.

Both theories agree that Hitler escaped from the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin and fled to Argentina in a U-boat. However, believers in the Antarctic Reich theory contend that Hitler left Argentina in the early 1950s and moved to Neuschwabenland (German for New Swabia--J.T.), an SS colony under the ice of Antarctica, right next to the prehistoric ruins of Kadath. Here, they say, Adolf lived out his life, resuming his artist's career and painting a series of Antarctic icescapes.

The Redemptionists believe that Hitler traveled to the moon in 1954 and met with aliens from Aldebaran, 68 light-years from Earth. The aliens brought Adolf back to Aldebaran with them. But he will come again in the flagship of a vast Aldebarani space armada, to "redeem" Earth. Sort of like a Cosmic Douglas MacArthur. Presumably, these aliens have figured out a way to stop the clock on aging, because, come April 20, 2004, Adolf is going to be a spry young 115-year-old!

If I get to choose, I'd much rather have the Aldebarani bring back Elvis. Speaking of whom...Happy Elvis Day! Today is "the King's" birthday. He was born on January 7, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi.)


From the UFO Files...

1927: SHADOWS IN KAMULA

Although author Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) is best known for his "sword and sorcery" tales of Conan the Barbarian, REH wrote and sold three stories about another barbarian hero, Kull of Atlantis. And the origins of this character are almost as strange as the creation of Conan.

Science fiction author and REH biographer L. Sprague de Camp tells us: "Kull, the hero, is an Atlantean who flees his native land, becomes a soldier in the Valusian army and fights his way to the throne of that kingdom...Howard posits Lewis Spence's theory, which links the Atlanteans with the Cro-Magnon folk of postglacial Europe, although Kull's army includes a force of Lemurian archers straight out of Churchward's Mu."

The first Kull story, The Shadow Kingdom, "assumes that a race of serpent-men, men with reptilian heads (Reptoids?--J.T.) once disputed the earth with true men. Defeated but not exterminated, the serpent-men plot to sieze Valusia...This conflict is but one long battle in the long war between men and monsters--a concept from the higher wisdom of Madame Blavatsky."

"While The Shadow Kingdom owes something" to REH's "readings in occult and Atlantist literature and the fiction of Lord Dunsany and probably of William Morris, it is largely the product of Howard's own exuberant imagination."

"Delighted with the acceptance of The Shadow Kingdom" by Weird Tales in 1928, "Howard dashed off eight Kull stories and began but failed to finish three more."

(Editor's Note: These were Black Abyss, Riders Beyond the Sunrise and Wizard and Warrior. More on Black Abyss in a minute.)

A couple of years later, in 1930, REH finally got around to revealing exactly when the Kull saga took place. In Kings of the Night, a Bran Mak Morn story, Robert reveals that Kull's Valusia flourished "one hundred thousand years ago," between the third and fourth glaciations of the Pleistocene Period.

De Camp also points out: "Of the three Kull stories that sold in Howard's lifetime, he reported that 'they wrote themselves, without planning on my part.' He also said he had dreamed them before he put them on paper. All this may be true."

If it is true, then it's possible that Robert E. Howard experienced a psychic phenomenon which your editor has dubbed retrocognition, i.e. dream-channelling or psychic glimpses of the prehistoric past.

When these "Kull dreams" began in 1927, REH was a 21- year-old apprentice author who had held dozens of short- lived, low-paying jobs since his graduation from high school. The most ancient building he had ever seen was the Alamo, the old Spanish mission in San Antonio, Texas.

Yet his sleeping brain was regularly "tuning in" on a lost kingdom of the early Ice Ages. Nowhere is this dream element stronger than in his unfinished Kull story, Black Abyss.

The story takes place in "languid Kamula," which Robert describes as a "dreamy pleasure city of snowy marble and lapis lazuli that crowned the crest of the hill...amid the green hills of Zalgara."

Kamula is far north of Valusia's capital, and Robert hints strongly that it is an older civilization that was conquered by the Valusians and annexed to their empire

.

Here Robert describes the city's opulence: "thus with Brule leading the way, they paced through voluptuous chambers hung with golden tapestries and down undulating, curving halls wherein were niched alabaster statuary and great jade urns of flowers. The scent of rare incense spiced the air from hanging censers of silver openwork and all about lay evidence of a high culture gone lax and soft, degenerate, weak, hovering on the brink of decay."

Brule the Spear-Slayer, a Pictish warrior and leader of the king's personal guard, tells Kull that "great hulking Grogar," another Pictish warrior, has been knifed to death in seldom-visited corner of the palace. When Kull arrives, he finds Monartho, the Pict left behind to keep watch on Grogar's corpse, likewise slain.

Behind both dead Picts is a secret panel of incalculable age. Pushing it open with his own prodigious strength, Kull discovers a doorway leading into the Black Abyss of the story's title.

And then things really get weird: "They bent together, ears straining at the opening. From beyond the wall came a faint far music--a thin, shrill wail--weird uncanny music, rising and falling as an echo of demonic mirth. What spectral piper lurked beyond the mysterious portal in that living blackness?"

"Kull almost shuddered at the hideous tune that clawed and plucked at his sanity. Hatred lurked in that music, a mad mocking hatred and vileness beyond man's dreams of obscenity. All the venom of a thousand years of human hatred was condensed into that shrill dancing thread of sound. Suddenly Kull took another glance at the face of the dead warrior sprawled at his feet."

"Yes! That expression stamped on the dead features-- horror and surprise and pain were there, aye, but the features of the corpse were also frozen in an expression of--listening!"

"The devilish music set his skin crawling clammily. Even grim Brule went sickly pale as the demonic piping seeped from the black cleft."

"''Tis the sort of music dead men dance to, on the scarlet floors of hell,' he shuddered."

Yes, here was Robert writing at the peak of his prowess. But, unfortunately, that's all he wrote. The pastiche ends seven paragraphs later with "Kull nodded, his savage eyes probing into the blackness. He stepped forward into the unknown dark. 'Come!'"

In 1967, Lancer Books published a volume containing most of the Kull tales. Fantasy author Lin Carter completed Black Abyss and the other unfinished stories, using fragmentary notes left in an envelope since Howard's death in June 1936.

Apparently, there was nothing "additional" for Black Abyss. Not only can a sharp-eyed reader determine the exact sentence where Lin Carter takes over, Lin finished the story by introducing a monstrous alien worm--a scene quite similar to an event in his own 1966 fantasy novel, Thongor of Lemuria.

(Editor's Comment: One of these days we'll have to do a feature story on Thongor and his mystic origins.)

In the end, in Black Abyss, what Robert E. Howard has left us is a tantalizing pastiche similar to his unsold Conan tale, The God in the Bowl--a detailed report of an unusual dream, which he never got around to "working" into a satisfying short story.

Now, do any of REH's nighttime bursts of retrocognition have roots in actual reality?

That we can answer with an unqualified...maybe! (See the books Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard by L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin, Bluejay Books Inc., New York, N.Y. 1983, pages 222 to 226; King Kull by Robert E. Howard and Lin Carter, Lancer Books, New York, N.Y., 1967, pages 61 to 67; and Bran Mak Morn by Robert E. Howard, Baen Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y., 1996, pages 70 to 73.)

Next Week: In Search of Kamula

Welcome to 2004, readers. Spirit has landed safely on Mars...Beagle 2 is still missing...Cassini is closing in on Saturn...and Britney Spears got married over the weekend, only to have it annulled 12 hours later. A new year means a new volume. Which means UFO Roundup if off again on another year of hunting for saucers, aliens, strange mysteries, ancient artifacts and assorted phenomena. Since we're beginning a new year, it's time to repeat the UFO Roundup Pledge.

"UFO Roundup will continue to provide attribution whenever possible for each item that appears in the newsletter."

"UFO Roundup will also diligently protect the confidentiality of UFO witnesses who are interviewed by our newsletter. No witness's full name or address will be published unless the witness gives UFO Roundup specific and explicit permission in writing to do so."

"UFO Roundup pledges to give you complete and comprehensive coverage of the continuing drama of the unidentified flying object."

See you next week!

UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 2004 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO Roundup on their Web sites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.

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