The now annually-anticipated round-up of the cerealogical year from Steve Alexander and Karen Douglas is here and reviewed by ALLAN BROWN…
Our ripened cereal canvas has been wiped clean, and this year’s astonishing formations are being ruminated upon in a very literal sense. Like any folk, I am grateful for the calm after the storm and use these interim months for some serious, or perhaps even ‘seriological’ research. But as autumn turns to winter and spring starts to seem a long way off, a particular kind of crop circle ‘blues’ starts to set in.
Then, like discovering a never-before-seen formation lying on the mat inside one’s front door, something wonderful arrives around this time of year, to wipe away those blues.
Now, for some unbeknown reason, I appear to have assumed the position of the Egon Ronay of this years crop circle publications, having recently reviewed the calendars too, and as such, feel obliged to become increasingly acerbic about the delicacies placed in front of me. Just to reassure you that I’m not a dewy-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears crop circle commentator, I had decided my next literary outing would be a cutting and acidic one, something that would give even Julie Burchill a run for her money. Unfortunately, however, the beast within will, for the moment, have to remain firmly bound and shackled, as, rather frustratingly, my editor has requested a review of that very publication I had started to wax lyrical about in the paragraph above.
If you are the sort that reads headings before starting the main body of an article, you will have cottoned onto what that publication is; yes, none other than Karen Douglas’s and Steve Alexander’s latest offering, the ‘Crop Circle Year Book 2001’.
This is the third Year Book that Karen and Steve have put together, and, as with the previous two, this is a publication of the highest order. To those of you who have not come across Karen and Steve before, you just THINK you’ve never come across them before, as their contribution and commitment to the crop circle phenomenon is truly first rate.
Steve Alexander continues to be the phenomenon’s principle recorder, and if you’ve seen crop circle photographs before, the chances are that many of them will be Steve’s. The level of professionalism he has brought to bear on the subject has raised the profile of the phenomenon to new heights, and he alone has set the standard for aerial crop circle photography.
The ‘Crop Circle Year Book’ is not, however, just a collection of crop circle photographs of the season past, but a commentary and record, both visual and verbal, of the most extraordinary phenomenon presently unfolding on our planet. As such, this publication would only be half as good if it weren’t for Karen’s gentle and insightful observations of the phenomenon as a whole, as well as the individual formations themselves.
Karen has written and lectured widely on the circle phenomenon and is co-organiser of The Glastonbury Symposium event. Whenever I have heard Karen speak, I have always felt a sense of wonder and awe return to my heart, a heart hardened by the cynicism, doubt and delusion that seems to accompany any interest in the intangible, the inexplicable and the miraculous. Her introduction, subtitled ‘Dreams, Meditations and Aspirations’, sets the tone for the following 24 pages, but it is the two-page article entitled ‘The Crop Circle Phenomenon - A Hermetic Device?’ that demonstrates the calibre of the commentator in question and I hope that this article or one like it will eventually find its way onto the esteemed pages of Swirled News.
So, what, I hear you say, exactly is the ‘Year Book’? It is a record of the season’s formations, beautifully photographed, for the most part from the air, and shows the formations in situ in the landscape as well as close ups of such clarity that in some instances you can literally make out individual stems of crop.
The book takes us on a tour through the vivid greens of the early spring, right the way through to the golden brown’s of the early autumn, and includes all the ‘major’ formations of the year. Two double pages are dedicated to the massive Milk Hill formation, which rekindled a global interest in the phenomenon, and includes a short article by Michael Glickman, entitled ‘Size Does Matter’, and indeed one of Mr Glickman’s hand-crafted diagrams of the formation in question accompanies the ‘centrefold’ photograph. In addition to this, we have a short article by Andy Thomas, my esteemed editor, and in what must be a proud moment for Mr Thomas, two of his photographs from inside the formation are included, alongside those of the maestro himself.
With a selection of photographs of formations from other counties, namely Hampshire, Cambridgeshire, Somerset and Gloucestershire, which were all home to some true astonishments this year, like ‘the Angel’, ‘the Face’ and the ‘Arecibo Reply’, the Year Book is simply the best record of the crop circle phenomenon in 2001 available and, for the price, must be the best deal too. I counted about 62 full-colour photographs, and this doesn’t include the translucent background ‘mood setters’ which underlay some of the pages.
The quality of the reproduction is faultless and the layout clear and concise. If I have one criticism to offer, it is that I bought my copy before being asked to review it, and as such have foregone the opportunity of getting a free copy, but at least you can rest assured that I write this review untainted by allegations of bribery, ‘cash for questions’ or indeed sexual indiscretion, as Steve’s just not that sort of boy.
So order your copies now, as my chunky plaque emblazoned with five gold stars will add significantly to the cost of postage and packing...
‘CROP CIRCLE YEAR BOOK 2001’, by Steve Alexander & Karen Douglas, 24 pages, paperback, Temporary Temple Press 2001, ISBN: 0-9537446-2-0.
The easiest way to order a copy is to click the Temporary Temples ‘Crop Circle Year Books’ button on the right, on our main page… This will take you into Karen and Steve’s website which gives all necessary details and provides an online ordering service.
UK costs, including P&P: £12.50 (UK), £15.50 (EU), £16.50 (US & rest of world)
Or write to: Temporary Temple Press, 27 St Francis Road, Gosport, Hants, PO12 2UG, UK (Tel: +44 (0) 2392 352867)