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Close To My Heart

Many of us have made simple decisions which changed our lives. It could be as simple as turning right instead of left at an intersection or saying "Yes" rather than "No" to an invitiation. For many of us, that change happened after reading a book. Things weren't quite the same. We saw things differently, we found ourselves wondering different thoughts, we made decisions for different reasons. We were imbued with a sense of wonder. This series takes a look at the books that had such an impact.

[Editor's Note: Here you will find the other titles in the Close To My Heart series.

Genesis
W.A. Harbinson
Corgi Books (1980), Dell Books (1981)
W.A. Harbinson

Genesis
W.A. Harbinson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1941. Leaving school at fourteen years of age, he became, first, an apprentice fitter in Belfast, then an apprentice Gas Fitter in Liverpool. At nineteen, he left England to emigrate to Australia, where he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a trainee telegraphist, then switched to the medical branch before returning to England in 1967. He now divides his time between West Cork, Ireland, and Paris, France. For the past three years, he has been the regular film columnist for the Paris-based English-language cross-cultural magazine, The Eyes.

W.A. Harbinson Website
ISFDB Bibliography

A review by Nathan Brazil

'It will end in ten years. Within ten years every major government post will be run from this colony. We have people everywhere, in every country, in every government, and those people have electrodes in their heads and will do what we tell them.'

My discovery of Genesis came shortly after its first publication, in 1980. Most of my SF purchases were from a specialist store called Andromeda, located on the outskirts of the city centre in Birmingham, England. This was the place to go for all those American imports and small press titles that were rarely stocked by British retail chains, in those days. A vital part of each weekend was to spend some time browsing the packed shelves of Andromeda, looking for something to transport me to another world. It was the legal alternative to drugs, and in Thatcher's Britain, a necessity.

One Saturday morning, on my way out of the store, a book glinted in a ray of sunlight. It must have been one of the first to use metallic foil effects as part of its design. The title, Genesis, was in silver, cleverly graduated to produce a standout 3D effect. But it was the stunning cover image that held my gaze, a glorious mixture of bronze and gold, depicting some kind of enormous dark circle, descending through night time clouds over an old church. Below the title were the words 'The epic novel of the world's most fearsome secret.' This, I thought, was something worth a look. So, taking the book from the shelf I flipped it over and read that Genesis was a novel about a global conspiracy -- remember this was in an age before conspiracy theory had become an art form -- concerning the enslavement and subversion of humanity. One man's dream, stretching through time and across icy polar wastes, to the vacuum of space itself. I'd never heard of the author, W.A. Harbinson, and all I could deduce was that the price being in sterling meant he was British-based. It was science fiction, but not as I knew it. Looking at my watch I saw it was almost time to meet my mates in the local pub, but I had a few minutes to spare in which I decided to see how the book started. Genesis opened with an action sequence, set in 1944 where a B-52 was on a bombing run over Germany. As bombs explode below, the crew sees balls of crimson light, rising vertically toward them. Soon they are under attack from what the world would come to know as Foo fighters. After two pages, I was hooked, and scuttled to the counter to make my purchase.

'The Canadian government has flying saucers. The US government has flying saucers. But someone, somewhere, has flying saucers so advanced we can't touch them. Those saucers don't come from space.'
At the heart of Genesis is the question of who builds flying saucers and where they come from. The characters and plot, while hugely entertaining and well written, are subservient to this central enigma. Harbinson's approach was to tell the story from three sides, with the viewpoint shifting between Epstein and Stanford, an old scientist and his young sidekick who are eager to solve the mystery, Richard Watson, a student who is abducted and subject mind control experimentation, and Aldridge, an American traitor whose icy genius almost won WW II for Nazi Germany. The two investigators and the unfortunate student play out their parts in the present day, which in this case is the late 70s. Aldrige's story is told mostly in chilling, autobiographical flashback sequences, detailing his remorseless and relentless quest for scientific perfection at any price. A true epic conspiracy thriller, Genesis became a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, succeeding where many other titles failed. The main reason for this was that its premise is based on little known but indisputable facts. Information which the author was later to use in greatly expanded form for a factual work; Project UFO: The Case For Man-Made Flying Saucers. It is this factual basis which set Genesis above the also rans, and made it a precursor of TV shows such as The X-Files and Dark Skies. Anyone who reads Genesis with an open mind cannot fail to end with the uneasy suspicion that, although the author is very clear that his work is fictional, its basic suppositions concerning the real origin of flying saucers could very easily be correct.
'Surveillance is widespread. Every citizen is on file. The salient facts of every individual human have been fed to computers. Television mesmerises them. Piped music fills their factories. Credit cards and employment cards have rendered privacy obsolete. All these people are numbers. Their so-called freedom is an illusion.'
The shocking brilliance of Genesis was rooted in its blend of fact with real world historical characters, shoehorned into prophetic fiction. I'd never read anything quite like it. The book was a too-close-for-comfort alternate history, and as time went by has become a warning against the kind of world which is currently being forged by those who insist security means no privacy. Since its publication, many authors have latched on to the man-made explanation for UFOs. But no one else has used the theme as convincingly, or with as much attention to verifiable detail. Most published versions of Genesis carry fourteen pages worth of authors notes, and source references. This information shows that at the end of WWII a small colony of highly advanced German scientists could have fled to an Antarctic base, carved under the ice by slave labour. The Nazi's ability to build and maintain huge, underground development facilities is well documented. Similarly, the secret weapons program of the Luftwaffe included a range of highly advanced technology which was later used to send man to the Moon, and develop the B2 stealth bomber. Whether an elite Nazi group actually did establish an impregnable polar colony, is another question. However, the author's notes tell of a 1947 US military expedition to Antarctica. The largest force ever sent to that region. The force was provisioned for eight months, but after suffering losses returned to America in a matter of weeks. In almost 60 years since that time, there has been very little exploitation of the region, and the one thing that all nations with a claim to it have been able to agree on, is to keep out!

After many years of writing other successful material, under two published identities, W.A. Harbinson eventually produced a series of novels titled Projeckt Saucer. Book #1: Inception and Book #2: Phoenix, are prequels to Genesis, (which became Book #3 in the series), with Book #4: Millennium, and Book #5: Resurrection, as sequels.

Copyright © 2005 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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