Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Review: INVASORES by Alejandro Agostinelli

INVASORES by Alejandro Agostinelli
Buenos Aires, Editorial Sudamericana, 2009
347 p., ISBN 978-950-07-3061-7

A book with a title like INVASORES (“The Invaders”) conjures up images of David Vincent pulling into an abandoned diner, rubbing his sleepy eyes, only to look up at the image of the archetypical flying saucer, all lights and strange sounds. But INVASORES is an conundrum: a book about the UFO phenomenon written by an acknowledged skeptic. But in Alejandro Agostinelli’s own admission, the skeptics somehow come out worse for wear in this important book.

For INVASORES is written lovingly, in a unique style that causes the reader to “see” the mythical, magical UFO landscape of Argentina in decades past. It isn’t a casebook or another book regarding claims of this alleged sighting or that alleged crash – it carefully examines the social, cultural and political underpinnings of Argentinean society during the turbulent, saucer-active decades of the 1970s, when colorful – if not downright bizarre – characters appeared on the national scene to claim alien contact or simply draw attention to themselves.

It can also be described as a two-act play: Act I looks back to the early days of the contactee era, which was as active in South America and Europe as it was in North America: groups of believers ascending to the heights of the tallest skyscraper in Buenos Aires to witness – at a date set by supposedly non-human intelligences – the maneuvers of an unidentified flying object; a gallery of fathers, sons and siblings involved in metaphysics, spiritism and nascent ufology, and an unbeatable touch of humor masterfully delivered by Agostinelli’s hand: a Russian mathematician involved in the time-honored practice of table-tipping, prone to giving the table a good kick. When reproved, he would reply: “These things are like cars. They must be primed first!”

The backdrop throughout the first act – the madness of the ‘70s – is Argentina’s unstable political situation: a rotation of governments, both military and civilian, and uncertain economy, and the quiet anguish of a population unsure of the next move. A situation ripe for charlatans and spectacular claims, such as those of Francisco Garcia, a septuagenarian, self-avowed half-human/Martian hybrid whose rantings about Earth’s involvement in a cosmic war between Mars and Jupiter would supposedly be made good by the arrival of the Martian fleet at the Chascomús Lagoon on August 20, 1973. When the event did not take place (a strategic redeployment by the Martian Admiralty?) a crowd of five thousand spectators turned on García, who was forced to beat a hasty retreat into the pages of contactee history.

The second act of INVASORES centers on more familiar fare: the Argentinean cattle mutilation wave of 2002, Valentina de Andrade's LUS saucer cult and its dissident member “Commander Clomro”, and the otherworldly amours of contactee Martha Green. While the book remains available only in Spanish, it offers interested readers a glimpse into the human frailties and hopes which, after all, are the backbone of what we call ufology.

INEXPLICATA rating: Five stars (* * * * *)

To read more about INVASORES, or to order a copy, please visit