Charles Pellegrino

I mentioned Charles Pellegrino in my previous post, and also in my post about Battlestar Galatica, so clearly his book Flying to Valhalla had a pretty big impact on me. Not that it was really good or anything, but the ideas in it have stuck with me for a long time. The treatment of the aliens is interesting, too: Their civization has fallen because of genetic engineering which has given them photographic memory. They become too bogged down in the specifics (naming every tree in a forest) to function at a high level.

Thinking maybe I should check this book out again, I was looking into Pellegario's books at Amazon, and he's even more interesting a character than I thought. He's an expert on the Titanic, and has written two books about it. He is a paleo-archeologist who has designed space-propulsion engines and hangs out with Arthur C. Clarke. His work seems characterized by combining his widely-varied intrests (this finally explains to me why the Titanic plays a role in Flying to Valhalla).

He's also sort of strange. Consider his reviews on Amazon, which are under his Real Name(tm), but oddly refer to himself in the third person as they defend his research. His books have the air of the 'crank' about him (and notice his extreme distress at criticism in the Amazon comments and on his website). Which other reviews are actually him? The one entitled "Defending Time Gate" by "A reader" sure sounds like him. See Michael Parfit's scathing review in the New York Times, and Pellegrino's response. And what's this stuff about zealots in New Zealand burning his lab?

It seems, at minimum, that he has a habit of writing that gives a false impression, then tempermentally clarifying his remarks with what seems a technical distinction. But it seems by and large he's on the level. I am going to try to pick some up and see if they're any good.

These sound interesting:

Return to Sodom and Gomorrah takes a look at the historical context for Old Testement events, a topic I am fascinated in because I've been reading the fantasitc Darthmouth Bible, which is abridged and annotated for help understanding biblical references. It has me convinced of the historicism of lots of the OT.

Ghosts of the Titanic, on the last minutes of the Titanic and memories by those who were there.

Ghosts of Vesuvius uses forensic archaeology to uncover what happened at Vesuvius, and by connection, on 9/11.

Unearthing Atlantis: This review is so funny it makes me want to read the book: "Pellegrino's voyages into the Earth and back through time are so eye-opening, even mind bending, that you will never look at your world, or even your own back yard, the same way again. I know I won't. Like his other archaeology books, you simply cannot put this one down. They read better than any novel - and especially better than Pellegrino's own science fiction novels."