- von DANIKEN, Erich
- (1935-)Swiss writer of a series of purportedly nonfiction books, beginning with Erinnerungen an die Zukunft (1968 Germany; trans Michael Heron as Chariots of the Gods? 1969 UK), which, based on a mass of oftensuspect and internally inconsistent data, argues that the Earth was visited by at least one ALIEN spacefaring race before and at the dawn of historical time; thus, for example, the Great Pyramid (a CRYOGENIC chamber) and the Easter Island statues (images of the visiting aliens) were quarried with lasers and lifted into place by helicopters. It is central to his thesis - which was far from original to him - that all ancient peoples were moronic, capable only of copying what the spacemen showed them. Scientific howlers abound, and logical flaws proliferate; yet the books sold in their millions and sparked off a host of imitators, some of which - like Mystery of the Ancients (1974) by Craig and Eric Umland, claiming that the Maya are the descendants of stranded explorers from beyond the Solar System - are so entrancingly funny that they may in fact be spoofs. A hagiography of EvD is Daniken Intim (1976; trans David B. Koblick as Disciple of the Gods 1978 UK; vt Erich von Daniken: Disciple ofthe Gods) by Peter Krassa. A cheerful and detailed demolition is The Space-Gods Revealed (1976) by Ronald Story (1946-); there is furtheruseful discussion by E.C. Krupp in In Search of Ancient Astronomies (anth 1979; rev 1984) ed Krupp.The vast publicity given to EvD's speculationshas had a negative effect on sf, in that the whole notion of ancient astronauts became such anathema, even to those of only moderate scientific literacy, that it became an sf TABOO. It is hard to find a worthwhile sf treatment of the topic in the years since 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), although the idea of an ancient race having "seeded" the Galaxy, populating its worlds or spreading scientific knowledge to assist their primitive indigenous lifeforms, has become almost a CLICHE of SPACE OPERA.JS/JGr
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.