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Nick Redfern reviews The Chaos Conundrum

Nick Redfern has nice things to say about the new book over at Mysterious Universe, including:

I should note that Gulyas has a fine writing style; it’s one that is various parts sly humor, engaging wit, imagination, and the ability to craft and weave a fine, gripping story. This alone makes The Chaos Conundrum a book that not only massively informs, but which highly entertains, too.

So, with that all said, what do we get from reading Gulyas’ book? Let’s take a look. The book is not exactly an autobiography, nor is that the intention of the author. It does, however, contain several chapters that are, at the very least, semi-autobiographical, in the sense that Gulyas uses personal experiences to help get his points across. And they are points very well made.

Thanks, Nick!

The Chaos Conundrum: Now Available!

The Chaos Conundrum: “‘A compelling and very personal look at the impact the paranormal has had on the way we view ourselves and the world in which we live.'”

NTHUMBNAIL IMAGEOW AVAILABLE from the Redstar books online store, on Amazon in a few days, and in e-book versions as soon as we possible can. Nick Redfern, prolific author on the paranormal calls it, in his foreword, “A major contribution to paranormal research and observation.”

(I, of course, would never doubt the judgement of Nick Redfern 🙂

Writer and filmmaker Paul Kimball (who, through his wonderful work in editing the book, knows as much about what’s in it as I do), says that it is “A compelling and very personal look at the impact the paranormal has had on the way we view ourselves and the world in which we live.”

Personally, I’m excited to have this out there.  It’s an eclectic book, but Paul Kimball’s edits and suggestions made the book much more cohesive and compelling that it might otherwise have been.  It was the most thorough editing relationship I’ve had since graduate school and the book is much stronger for it.

There are some photos, ranging from a strange radio tower in downtown Flint to a family picture from 1932.  I look at everything from Roswell (ugh!) to the connections between religion, the paranormal, and extremist politics.  The best way I can describe this book (and one that I’ve used in conversations with friends) is that The Chaos Conundrum is what you’d get if you sat me down, bought me a beer and said, “Okay- what do you think about all of this?”

That said, it’s not what you’re expecting.  Honestly, it’s not what I was expecting when I started writing it.  But, in a way, it’s the sort of book I’d wanted to write for a very long time.

BUY IT HERE! (From Redstar)

BUY IT HERE! (From Amazon)

Chaos cover3a


The Chaos Conundrum- More information on the new book

To the right is the cover to my new book, due out in time for the holiday shopping season.


I’m excited about this one, not least because it contains a foreword by Nick Redfern, one of the greatest authors on paranormal issues in the world today (not hyperbole, seriously).  From the foreword:

Aaron Gulyas’ The Chaos Conundrum is a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, compilation of papers on a wide variety of paranormal phenomena. Or, as it’s collectively known in circles where the unusual is typically the usual: profoundly weird stuff. A cursory glance at the titles of the essays, and their attendant subject matters, might make some readers assume they are stand-alone pieces with no connecting or unifying parts. Well, those souls would be wrong. Actually, they would be dead wrong.

The connection is not so much the issues and topics that Gulyas places under his supernatural microscope. Rather, it is the fact that the essays all invite us to do one thing: address and consider alternative theories, paradigms, and ideas to those that the established figures of the paranormal would prefer we adhere to.

I invite you to indulge yourself in the work of a man who has made a major contribution to the domain of paranormal research, writing and observation.

Read it, consider it, and learn from it. Just don’t be an ostrich about it.

See, that’s pretty dang cool, right there.


This is a pretty diverse collection of essays on everything ranging from UFOs to religion to achaeoacoustics, which is pretty interesting.  I also get to talk a bit about Gray Barker, who I touched on briefly in Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist.  As I wrote about here, a couple years back, visiting the collection of his papers in West Virginia was an incredible experience and it was nice to be able to write about his work and its effect on me from a more personal perspective.

This one has been a much more intensive and compressed writing experience and the editing has been a really nice experience, with Paul Kimball of Redstar providing some great insights.

At this point, I’m thinking this may be my last (or close to my last) word on the paranormal for a while (at least in this particular form).  I’m really looking forward to this one hitting the streets.


IFS: Available for Free Reading on Kindle for Prime Members

After pressing a few more buttons (and, in a tactical move, making it exclusive to Kindle for a bit), In Fandom’s Shadow is available for free borrowing on Amazon Kindle devices for “Prime” members.

Work continues on the paperback version.  I hadn’t planned to do one from the outset of the project, so it’s taking a bit of work to get all the spacing and the cover how I like them (crucially, making sure I have the wording on the cover image credits correct– Creative Commons licenses are awesome, and so are people who make their photos available for commercial use…).

So, spread the word, tell your friends, and feel free to have a read through without buying it.

In Fandom’s Shadow: NOW AVAILABLE!

Cover of In Fandom's Shadow
Cover image photo policeboxGlasgow by Flickr user JHogan5 used under terms of CC-BY 2.0 license.

Only $2.99 on Kindle!  A similarly low-cost print version is coming soon and (if I get the kinks worked out) versions for other ebook platforms.

So what is this?  Well, it’s about 80-odd pages about the nature of being a fan (from my particular point of view) of Doctor Who in the 1990s through the advent of the new series and up to today.  It’s part autobiography, part analysis, part rant and the closest analogue I can come up with for it is that it’s not dissimilar to some of the single-author fanzine style publications that have appeared from time to time.

I enjoyed writing it, and hope people enjoy reading it.


Resurrection of the Daleks

Another sample from the Doctor Who work-in-progress.  This was my visceral, real-time reaction to watching “Resurrection of the Daleks” (presented with minimal editing!).

Although I deliberately set out to not have this book turn into yet another blow-by-blow Doctor Who episode guide, I found myself jotting down thoughts as I watched the Davison classic “Resurrection of the Daleks.”  I found that, in general, it held up well, although there were bits that I found Resurrection_of_the_daleksquite troubling, given what was to come in the next year of the show.  Plus, this story is a good example of the continuity overload of the mid-80s, as the story is a sequel of sorts to “Destiny of the Daleks” and a prequel of sorts to “Attack of the Cybermen.”

Teaching- this turned into kind of a longish thing…

The recently ended 2013 Day of Digital Humanities was a great opportunity for me to take a quick look at what I do in a typical day and how “the digital” intersects with my work.

Being a full-time faculty member at a large community college, my work is first and foremost teaching.  This semester, I’ve got five sections (3 “traditional”, 2 online) and in all of them, I’ve been thinking of ways to change up what I’m doing.  Many of these potential changes involve digital things.  Since the next classes I’m teaching will be compressed 7 1/2 week classes, a rethink is in order, regardless.  Here are some things I’m thinking about (subject to change–few of these ideas will be set in stone before the first day of classes and, maybe, not even then).

Visual Dynamism

I really enjoyed using Google Earth in the classroom (see below) and the students seemed to be more engaged with historical data mapped over satellite imagery than they usually are with the maps that I use.  This got me thinking about other, more visually dynamic ways to present information.  Prezi, of course, is popular, but I can’t afford the amount of Dramamine necessary for me to cope with using it.  There are a variety of interactive timeline tools which may be useful as well.

Get the students to talk more

I’ve been teaching, in one way or another, for around a decade at this point and the biggest weakness I have is–without a doubt–encouraging useful discussion in the classroom.  Whether it’s because I like the sound of my own voice too much (likely) or because the mass of students are intimidated (or annoyed) by the usual handful of students who do 90% of the talking, it’s something that I need to work on.  One key, clearly, is to find ways to ensure that students are familiar enough with material to usefully discuss it.

Exams are terrible

I hate grading them, students hate taking them, and my assurance that they’re the best (or even a good) way to assess students is decreasing every semester.  In my online classes, I’ve been experimenting with weekly cumulative assessment as a way to replace exams in a manner that is relatively low-stress, but “high-yield” (yes, I think of student learning as a field full of soy beans).  It needs tweaking, but I may be on to something.  Or not.

Students, in general, seem to like history, hate history classes

I am, however, teaching a history class, so…yeah.  Problem here.  Working on it.


Over the past few years, I’ve used both BlackBoard and self-hosted websites as a means of digitally-disseminating information to students as well as for recording grades.  This semester, I’ve been using Bb exclusively and while there have been headaches, the students seem to engaged with the material there more than they do on non-Bb sites.  Despite my usability concern with Bb and my desire for more open tools, I also have a compelling need to consider the students.  I’m still thinking this one over.

Omnia Mutantur

Everything changes, all the time.  What works one semester may not work the next.  What works one day might not work the next.  We often have to adjust and adapt to the students to whatever degree that it is practical.  If it is the students who must adjust to us, then we must provide tools to support and guide that change.  Often, we are in the position of having to not only teach our subjects, but also the skills of being a student.  These skills change over time.

These are disconnected thoughts, rather than a solution or manifesto.  There are dozens of books about teaching “today’s” students.  Some of them are worth reading, if only to argue with.  

This ended up longer than I expected.  TIme to hit the publish button and get back to work.


New Projects

I’m in the beginning and middle stages of a whole bunch of new things, many of which are exciting to one degree or another.  I’m a colossal dork, so I use the Project Name Generator to categorize projects in ways I’ll (hopefully) remember.  I use Trello to keep track of the different stages and (again, hopefully) keep myself on track.

Some of these projects are purely internal and self-contained–new class ideas, new assessment ideas, and the like.  Others will (once again, hopefully) see the public light of day in some way.  I like code names because they’re fun, but also they allow me to talk about things publicly (like this) without giving too much away.  There’s no legal reason why I shouldn’t talk about these things too much, but I’m becoming superstitious in my old age and don’t want to jinx anything.  So, here’s a brief rundown.

  • OPERATION LEMURIA is a project so utterly secret and potentially cool that I’m barely allowing myself to think about it.  If this works out, it will become public in some way in the Spring.
  • POSEIDON DREADED is a conference paper which is not–surprisingly–about Doctor Who.  At least, not directly.
  • STEAMY FREAKY PARACHUTE is a nifty little set of very brief history writing gigs.
  • SWIFT WOODEN JUPITER is a paranormal/history themed project.
  • RANDOM ANACONDA is not on the list above, but is a course re-development/updating project I’ll be working on in the Winter semester.

I need to get back in that habit of using this site as a place for keeping track of what I’ve been doing with my work-related time.  Stay tuned.

Hack and Slash

271 Marked-up Pages

I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first major, full on edit of the Saucer Book Project and I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far.  More words stayed than I thought would and I’ve been able to add a few thousand here and there, making connections more explicit and strengthening the argument.

And, of course, adding in the section about Billy Meier, the Swiss Contactee whose story spans decades.  Whole lot of information to sort through there, but I think I have an approach that’s narrow enough that it doesn’t become the Billy Meier chapter (it’s in with the 1970s stuff).  One of the biggest issues with the Meier material is that the original translations of the 1970s notes are pretty heavily edited (editor Wendelle Stevens removed inflamatory statements about religion and politics.  I mean, what’s the point?  Oh, and I think I met Stevens once, back in ’96 at a UFO slideshow in a hotel conference room.  Not sure though…)  Still, I think it works for my over all approach and, besides, a book about Contactees without Billy Meier doesn’t really work…