The Mysterious Valley, by Christopher O’Brien

Review by Martha Quillen

UFOs – October 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

The Mysterious Valley
by Christopher O’Brien
Published in1996
by St. Martin’s Press
ISBN 0-312-95883-8

THE MYSTERIOUS VALLEY stars author Christopher O’Brien as the intrepid investigator fearlessly pursuing the truth about “the otherworldly and unnatural” events taking place in the San Luis Valley. There, people have sighted UFOs, all kinds of unidentified flying objects: round, square, triangular.

UFOs, however, constitute only a fraction of the puzzling enigma O’Brien examines in his book. He recounts tales about the humming earth, bigfoot, alien abductions, alien visitations, visits by the devil, Native American magic, cattle mutilations, secret military installations, and lights, all sorts of lights (red, green, yellow, orange, white and combinations thereof, rapidly moving, slowly moving, and stationary — pulsing, strobing, streaming, and steadfast lights).

I’m not much of a believer in “otherworldly” phenomena, but usually I enjoy such paradoxical stories, anyway. O’Brien’s collection of unearthly happenings, however, was a bit too much for me.

Actually, O’Brien claims that he, too, is essentially skeptical, and even formulates a rule for it: “Rule #6 Always assume there is a mundane explanation until proven extraordinary.”

The author’s idea of mundane explanations, and my own, however, greatly departed.

Curiously enough, the number one craft sighted and documented by O’Brien was helicopters, a fact which led O’Brien to advance some startling theories. The author of The Mysterious Valley nourished numerous government conspiracies.

“On Friday, November 18, 9:45 p.m. seven helicopters were spotted circling Greenie,” O’Brien wrote. “A deputy saw them himself. Two of the choppers were shining spotlights at the ground and witnesses watched them for almost forty-five minutes. I wondered at the time if the military could be pulsing microwave frequencies around the valley, similar to the covert `Woodpecker Signal,’ aimed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow by the former Soviets to disrupt embassy personnel.”

O’Brien doesn’t seem to need much evidence to propose bizarre government plots, either. “A sobering thought,” he writes, “Is it too fantastic to suggest the possibility of the government’s role going even further into the realm of societal or military control mechanisms to be engineered and administered through beef, a primary food source?”

Elsewhere in his book, O’Brien describes some UADs (Unusual Animal Deaths) and some UFO sightings as “the real thing.” “They are the UADs and sightings that are by definition, physically unsolvable, and may tie in to the ancient history of the paranormal…” O’Brien explains.

“There is evidence to support the conclusion that our government, or a faction thereof, may be actively involved in a program reflecting a multilevel process of societal, political, scientific, and/or mythological manipulation of an unsuspecting public. It is conceivable that the government is capitalizing on the true nature of `the Real Thing’ while pursuing its own agenda. It is also highly probable that this group or groups within the government is simultaneously hiding `the Real Thing’ by imitating it.”

Furthermore, in his compilation of strange sightings, O’Brien includes military vehicles, and he speculates a plot every time a convoy rolls by. Without any evidence, the author implies there are giant secret bases under much of rural Colorado. The land near Creede, for example, “is a large, minimum-intensity æromagnetic anomaly area that’s rumored to have a possible underground facility.”

Perhaps O’Brien’s most revealing statement about the government, however, was, “I had been receiving tapes and reading material from investigator’s pertaining to the `patriot’ (militia) perception of the political economic situation that exists in our country. Although some of the material is rather alarmist and rings of paranoia, the majority of it seems well grounded in reality…”

In the next paragraph, the author continues, “According to my sources, shiploads of European military equipment arrived in Louisiana and was expedited to various sites around the northern states. I have numerous photographs purporting to be examples of this equipment that is supposedly being used for multinational training exercises under the auspices of the United Nations.”

— And that was my problem with the book. After fifty pages or so, I just couldn’t accept the author’s concept of reality, and I kept wondering just who these various sources O’Brien referred to were.

Besides, O’Brien calls himself an “investigator,” yet he writes that the town of San Luis was “founded in 1720,” when it was actually founded in 1851. He also writes that “Reporter Miles Porter IV left the [Alamosa Valley] Courier and attempts have failed to locate him.” It took all of one phone call to the Colorado Press Association for Ed to find Miles at the Tenmile Times in Frisco. Miles asked, “How can this guy find UFO’s if he can’t even find me?”

O’Brien also cites many expert viewpoints, but he primarily relies on experts in the paranormal, mythology, aliens, spaceship-calling, Atlantis, and other areas of the occult. When O’Brien does report veterinary and CSU reports on animal mutilations, he merely scoffs at the idea of misidentified scavenger depredation. Yet, he doesn’t seem too concerned with what those reports actually say, and why they may be wrong.

O’Brien has also seen a good number of mystifying marvels himself, including a floating creature that was “partially translucent and tapered at both ends while opaque in the middle.

“It reminded me of a two-to-three-foot long lizard,” O’Brien reports. “I heard a trilling sound in my head as I saw it. I immediately ran to the spot. It had been visible only in the gate opening, appeared to be eight to ten inches off the ground (I didn’t see any legs); and left no tracks in the treeless desert sand. This one will have to go in the Ripley file.”

O’Brien’s frequent personal sightings tend to belie his self-assigned role as an unbiased investigator, since surely, after experiencing dozens of extraordinary events, we would all be believers. And that seems to be pretty much what O’Brien is (except he denies it, which can make his book downright irritating).

All in all, The Mysterious Valley is not for everyone. If you’re a true believer in aliens, or have had an unusual experience, you’ll probably like it. If nothing else, after reading the book you’ll know you’re not alone.

But this collection of accounts of dozens upon dozens of UFO sightings, and hundreds of cattle mutilations is at many points genuinely tedious reading (especially the lights, so many lights).

In the end, I felt O’Brien piled together too many sightings, animal mutilations, lights, shape-shifters, legends, bizarre government plots, alien encounters and paranormal theories to be taken seriously — and I couldn’t help but think that the possible murder and mutilation of people’s livestock was a far too serious matter to be lost in space.

–Martha Quillen