Strieber, Whitley (1945– )
Best-selling author of fantasy and horror stories, several of
which, including Wolfen and The Hunger, have been adapted as
successful movies. In 1987 he completed a nonfiction book,
Communion, in which he relates his personal experiences in encounters
with what he believes to be extraterrestrials. The encounters
included an abduction and examination by strange
creatures in a flying craft. The response led to two follow-up
books on the same theme Transformation The Breakthrough
(1988) and a novel, Majestic (1989). All three made the bestseller
Strieber was born on June 13, 1945, in San Antonio, Texas.
He was educated at the University of Texas (B.A., 1968) and the
London School of Economics and Political Science (certificate,
1968). From 1970 through 1977 he wrote novels while working
at an advertising company, becoming account supervisor and
vice president.
The idea for his novel The Wolfen (1978), later made into a
successful movie, is said to have arisen from the experience of
encountering a pack of feral dogs while walking through Central
Park in New York. His other publications include Black
Magic (1982), The Night Church (1983), Wolf of Shadows (1986)
(with James W. Kunetka), and The Consequences of the Twentieth
Strange Magazine Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
Century (1986). His novel The Hunger (1981), notable for the
very different twist it gave to the vampire myth, was made into
a movie in 1983. Strieber has also designed games based on
various periods of history, including a game about the late Middle
Ages entitled ‘‘1480 Age of Exploration’’ and one covering
computer games. He has participated in archaeological projects
in Central America and has been involved with a scientific
group attempting to authenticate the Turin shroud.
Soon after the publication of Communion, Strieber received
more than five hundred letters, many claiming similar experiences
of contact by extraterrestrials or other creatures. His experience
was further publicized in an article in the International
UFO Reporter (JanuaryFebruary 1987), in which Strieber characterizes
such reports as ‘‘visitor experiences.’’
Strieber eventually came to the conclusion that, in spite of
the intrusive nature of the initial abduction experience, the extraterrestrials
were a benevolent group. In 1989 he founded
the Communion Foundation to assist in establishing a productive
relationship with the space beings. Professional psychologists
working for the foundation began to catalog similar reports
in a database and follow-up studies involving mental and
physical tests with selected volunteers were planned.
Strieber immediately ran into conflict with the ufological
community, which draws a sharp distinction between the more
negative abduction reports and the more positive claims of encounters
with flying saucers, which are classified as contactee
accounts. Strieber’s account began to sound more and more
like a contactee story of the type that had been written off as
either fraudulent or religious hyperbole. In 1991 he closed the
Communion Foundation and returned to fiction writing. He
reportedly is still interested in the field, however, and has continued
having encounters with extraterrestrials.
Clark, Jerome. UFOs in the 1980s. Vol. 1 of The UFO Encyclopedia.
Detroit Apogee Books, 1990.
Conroy, Ed. Report on ‘‘Communion’’ An Independent Investigation
of and Commentary on Whitley Strieber’s ‘‘Communion.’’ New
York William Morrow, 1989.
Strieber, Whitley. Communion A True Story. New York William
Morrow, 1987.
———. Majestic. New York G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1989.
———. Transformation The Breakthrough. New York William
Morrow, 1988.