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Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge UFO Abductions
Budd Hopkins
Pocket Books, 512 pages

Budd Hopkins
In a Nova interview, Hopkins said:
... now that I know about the abduction phenomenon, and I've been looking into it for practically 20 years, I realize that in those early years before we accepted the idea of occupants, before we accepted the idea of abductions, and we were just looking at the objects themselves, that it was as if we were trying to get the license plate number on the get away car, without having figured out what the crime was.

Nova Interview
Intruders Foundation Online

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lela Olszewski

If you are a science fiction fan, does it follow that you believe in UFO's? Do you believe in the mathematical likelihood of life on other planets? The possibility of intelligent life? Do you believe that other species have visited our planet -- either for good or for ill? Are they here now? As Carl Sagan's Contact suggests, it's probably a matter of faith.

Witnessed is Budd Hopkins' third book on UFO abductions, resulting from a series of letters he received after people read his earlier books. In his introduction he states:

This abduction event so drastically alters our knowledge of alien incursion in our world that it is easily the most important in recorded history.
Why? Because it was witnessed by a group of international diplomats and high level security personnel in the heart of New York City and because Hopkins was able to discover the aliens' purpose for the abductions.

If you already believe in alien abductions, this book will provide the proof you've been looking for when skeptics challenge your beliefs, especially when abductees are accused of being deluded because no one else saw the abduction. It includes a careful recreation of the events of November 30, 1989, complete with letters, drawings, eye-witness accounts, audio-tape transcripts, electron microscope photos and X-rays. The abductee, "Linda Cortile," is a wife and mother who has experienced strange paralytic episodes for most of her life, culminating in the events on and after November 30th. The witnesses include two security officers, possibly working for the NSA, FBI or CIA, a highly placed UN official along with others in the entourage and in the Brooklyn Bridge area.

If you don't believe in alien abductions, the books insistence on using pseudonyms for everyone involved will be the first problem. The drawings could be done by anyone at any time. The electron microscope photos are meaningless. And the X-ray is barely discernable. And Linda's description of her paralysis is a classic example of a panic attack. How can any of this be verified? Hopkins answer is that people who don't believe have rigid belief systems and that all the people involved could never have agreed to a conspiracy, nor could Linda Cortile have hired them as actors to pull off a hoax.

Read as true crime the book is plodding: dramatic tension is created by Hopkins' repeated hints of the revelations at the end of the book, rather than from the unfolding of events. Hopkins painstakingly recreates every phone conversation, letter and event leading to his discovery of what happened, including the ways he was deceived by the two security men (who initially lied about their involvement and jobs). Much of the middle of the book outlines Linda's relationship with the two security men, who stalk her and kidnap (abduct!) her to learn more about her alien abduction. It isn't until the end of the book that Hopkins reveals that the purpose of the life-long abductions that Linda experienced was to make her bond (and perhaps breed) with "Richard," one of the security men, as part of the aliens' plan for genetic manipulation of the human race.

The book isn't a novel, nor is it in novel format, so it isn't fair to read it as fiction, but I'm reminded of something I heard Stephen Donaldson say a few years ago at a conference. He said that science fiction alters reality to answer the question, "What is alien?" and in doing so, illuminates the essential characteristics of humanity. Looked at from that perspective, Witnessed implies that to be alien is to be all-powerful, and that the essential characteristics of humanity are those of the helpless victim. Not only must Linda face a future filled with similar abductions, but she must face the possibility that her children are also being abducted and primed for future breeding experiments. I doubt that most SF readers enjoy novels which define humanity in this way, but rather are drawn to heroes and heroines who overcome the odds against them. Even many dystopian novels include some hope for the protagonist at the end, something that Linda, and humanity, can't look forward to in Budd Hopkins' vision of the future.

Copyright © 1997 by Lela Olszewski

Lela Olszewski is an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance, as well as an eclectic mix of other fiction and non-fiction. She is also a librarian with an interest in readers' advisory, and believes fully in Rosenburg's Law: Never apologize for your reading tastes. She has no cats.

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