Joseph P. Farrell
Reich of the Black Sun: Nazi Secret Weapons and the Cold War Allied Legend
Adventures Unlimited Press, 2004
Even though I acknowledge that governments conspire—against the electorate, against organisations, and against other governments—I have never been a conspiracy buff: there is a difference, in my mind, between conspiring to make Britain more multicultural, as did the Labour government of Tony Blair, and covering up alien abductions. All the same, this does not stop me from having some fun weaving the mythology of Nazi UFOs and secret bases in Antarctica into a novel, as I am presently doing, and informing myself with the extant literature on this topic. And it was for this reason that two years ago I purchased the book under review here.
Reich of the Black Sun argues that the secret weapons developed by the National Socialists during World War II were subsequently appropriated by the Americans, under whose aegis former National Socialist German scientists continued their research during the Cold War. Among them are innovative aeronautical projects (unidentified flying objects) and even anti-gravity technology. Dr. Farrell’s is a more science-oriented narrative of the discovery by Hitler’s scientists of what Miguel Serrano calls ‘the other science’ in his Esoteric Hitlerist volumes.
At the time, this was my first encounter with speculative history of this nature: similar books that I was lent in the past were returned unread. And had I been looking for proof of suppressed events, I would have been disappointed, because Dr. Farrell’s prose is tendentious and calculated to maximise sensation, despite a quasi-scientific veneer. He follows the useful tactic of exploiting the gaps between primary records, and inserting there elaborate speculation and loaded questions in the vein of ‘Could there be more to this than we’ve been told?’ His conclusions precede and predetermine the research methodology, and his prose is clearly aimed at an audience that is already predisposed, indeed actively looking for reasons, to believe in mind-blowing conspiracy theories. The psychologist in me imagines that in an age of alienation, secularism, and boredom, mind-blowing theses provide stimulation and meaning. Certainly, feeling that they are in on a secret, in on the workings of a monstrous conspiracy that most citizens have no knowledge of, infuses feelings of superiority in both unremarkable and marginal readers alike.
Another minus in Reich of the Black Sun is the number of typographical errors: these are numerous, and multiply as one progresses, leading one to speculate that an error by the publisher led to an uncorrected draft making it to publication. Whatever the cause, the quantity of errors is very distracting in the first edition.
What makes this especially disappointing, however, is that Reich could have been a hugely entertaining book. Unfortunately, Dr. Farrell’s approach lacks sophistication, and this limits his appeal to well informed, slightly above-average minds, with above-average critical analysis skills, but crucially lacking when evaluating evidence. It is a shame, because the potential offered by the material under examination only marks the present effort as a wasted opportunity. With less blatant bias, a more clinical tone, sophisticated arguments, and a more devious use of research techniques, an author wishing to run with the idea would have produced an effective series. Even more unfortunately, the second volume in the series (Reich is the first) is no better: it is longer, and has been proofread much more carefully, but it grows tedious after a while, as hundreds of pages are spent going back and forth in what seems like grasping, without ever making a convincing case for the existence of a German anti-gravity device. The result is that even though I am open to alternative perspectives and interpretations of historical data and events, and likewise sceptical of officialised histories, I find myself resisting Dr. Farrell’s narrative, and mentally rebutting him on every page.
The trick is obviously to plant a seed of doubt, and to very deviously hide the fact that this is, ultimately, still a form of science fiction—we may call it, science fictory. Doing it well requires extraordinary skill and, more importantly, an utterly cynical realism in one’s understanding of human psychology—of the fiendish kind some may find in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
On the topic of Nazi secret weapons, as obviously partisan and as hastily put together as it was, I still prefer Ernst Zündel’s classic UFO: Nazi Secret Weapon? The latter offered an entertaining overview of the now well-known theories / mythos without Zündel—who contributed to their elaboration—trying too hard to be taken seriously; and perhaps it is because of that Zündel’s was a more successful effort. And even better from my point of view is Miguel Serrano’s treatment of this exact same topic, which we find in parts of his 1978 book, El Cordón Dorado: Hitlerismo Esotérico (the latter volume covers much more besides). There, in the chapters dealing with the UFOs and the Antarctic, it is presented in much more erudite form and without rationalist pretensions: Serrano’s narrative inhabits a mystical space between history, mythology, fantasy, and poetry, with some elements of autobiography thrown in, so it becomes a philosophical / metapolitical work of literature and reflection.
Despite its defects, Reich of the Black Sun contains a wealth of information and parts of it may prove a useful source of inspiration for a writer of fiction. For me, however, this sits in a neutral space between science and speculation, and I would rather it went more one way or the other.
Let us hope I will have better luck next time.