Believers and non-believers have always lived in a state of discontent when it comes to simple explanations of supernatural elements. Be it theoretical or exampled evidence, there seems to be a contentious agreement to disagree. With so many gaps between what we know and what we don’t know about our meager existence, closing this divide can seem like an insurmountable task. So, when the opportunity to review the new book Behind the Paranormal: Everything You Know is Wrong from Schiffer Books written by Paul Eno and Ben Eno came along, my curiosity got the best of me.
Seasoned paranormal investigators, this father (Paul) and son (Ben) team hosts the popular weekly radio show by the same name, Behind the Paranormal. At almost a decade in existence and claiming a listening audience in the millions, the broadcast’s success is evidence of the subject’s popularity.
At a meager 176 pages and presented in such a well-spoken and thought-provoking manner, it’s not surprising that my initial cursory examination of the review copy turned into, “maybe I’ll read a little more” before the book was eventually completed in a single sitting. As a mild fan of paranormal fiction, this book quickly turned into a literary seminar on a subject that I thought I understood, but clearly did not.
From the epic poem Mahabharata to Phillip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series, we all have our own vision of what lies beyond our known existence or what defines the Cosmic Journey. The paranormal elements examined here showcase the interactions between the vast probabilities of parallel worlds outside what many consider to be conventional knowledge. From storied encounters recorded throughout history to classic paranormal tales that have become urban legends, the paranormal has been a major influence on cultures around the globe. Even as modern sciences have evolved over time, the limits of studying consciousness outside the known world relies heavily on an open mind and a willingness to accept the ideas of the unnatural.
Piggybacking on past conversations with real people on their radio broadcasts, Behind the Paranormal takes readers on a journey of discovery as the authors discuss things like the history and religious aspects of the subject, including the origins of saints and how humanity defines Heaven and Hell. We are also provided with noted accounts of ghosts and other entities that many of us link to paranormal existences. And in one emotionally charged chapter, they even tackle the sensitive implications of suicides and how introducing other worlds into the real world may help diminish the desire to leave this one.
In the book’s epilogue, Paul Eno admitted to keeping his “feet on the ground, with an open-minded skepticism toward both the paranormal and science” in his journey of discovery. From the perspective of a speculative fiction community, fandom would do well to take this same stance every time a passage is written or a page is turned. Whether you’re a writer in the genre or a passionate (or passing) fan of the field, this book will make you think twice about your next encounter with works in the paranormal.
Behind the Paranormal: Everything You Know is Wrong may not have all the answers, and at times may even stir up a few more questions. But in the end, it is an enlightening look at how we might handle those answers we do have.