Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton author Dan Coffman releases 'The Coming'; Buckle up, it's gonna be a wild read

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The willing suspension of disbelief, Samuel Coleridge thought, was a necessary precondition for a reader’s enjoyment of fantastic tales: fiction so obviously, so egregiously, fictitious that only a person prepared to pretend to believe it, and for that moment to abandon reason and judgment, could hope to like it.

Perhaps today, though--when folks seem ready to believe literally any absurdity and lovingly embrace it--a less exacting, more postmodern, critical standard might be worth considering: call it the gentle tug of plausibility.

UFOs? Sure. We got ‘em. Earlier this year the U.S. Navy admitted being flummoxed by the nature of the Tic Tac-shaped “unidentified aerial phenomena"--UAPs, the Navy’s preferred acronym--which bird-dogged fighter pilots 15 years ago over the Pacific, at speeds and with a maneuverability not technologically possible on planet Earth.

Secretive government agencies? Take your pick. CIA. NSA. NRO. NGO. DARPA.

Warrior cults? History’s full of ‘em. The Maccabees. The Knights Templar. The Knights Hospitaller. The Mamluks. The Mahdists.

Conspiracy theories? Everyone’s got a favorite. Roswell. Men in Black. The Illuminati. The Trilateral Commission. The Shroud of Turin. The Priory of Sion. The death of Pope John Paul I, of Roberto Calvi, of Jeffrey Epstein. Korean Air Flight 007 and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

All of which is to say that the early 21st century is a great time for the writers of fantastic tales to be alive, because the truth may or may not be out there, but the grist of plausibility certainly is.

Dan Coffman, for the last 38 years a Chesterton resident, has just released his latest novel, The Coming, in which he explores the implications of a premise straightforwardly accepted by tens of millions of intelligent, rational people who have weighed the odds and the evidence for themselves: namely, that extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) is real, that it’s perfected the means of interstellar travel, and that for reasons of its own has visited Earth and made contact with select human beings.

Then, based on that simple and--for so many--uncontroversial premise, Coffman unpacks a series of What Ifs:

If the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, in the spirit of comity, were signaling within the Vatican his plan to publicly acknowledge the existence of ETI and to declare it no threat to the Good News of the Gospel, either on Earth or anywhere else in the Creation. . .

If a militant sect of the Church, persuaded instead of ETI’s demonic origins, were to take any action necessary to preserve the secret. . .

If a U.S. intelligence agency had its own agenda in deep-sixing the truth of close encounters. . .

All of this is entirely plausible. We know it’s plausible because we’re all too familiar with the bureaucracy of organized religion and the self-interest of government apparats. Coffman has mixed verity, supposition, and a healthy dose of paranoia, and produced a crackerjack of a read: a fantastic tale, to be sure, but one leavened by a truthiness which makes a peculiar kind of intuitive sense at the rump end of 2020. As Coffman tells the Chesterton Tribune, “A premise of the story is that evil exists on Earth, major societal institutions are flawed, and ordinary folks can overcome even the direst situations.”

Unlike one of the heroes in The Coming, Coffman himself is not a ufologist. Far from it, in fact, Even so, he’s willing to give what Charles Forte called “damned facts” their due: the anomalous phenomena which science conveniently brackets and ignores because it can’t explain--like strange objects and lights in the sky. “I am fascinated by all things mysterious,” Coffman says. “While many people believe the purpose of life is satisfactorily explained by their faith, others consider it the ultimate paradox. For all but this one existential enigma, I am a total skeptic.”

The Coming, then, is something of a thought experiment, Coffman suggests: an “intertwining of both historical and contemporary facts with fictional illusion to produce thought-provoking explanations to all manner of puzzles.” Readers will want to read The Coming with Google at the ready, since Coffman’s novel is chock-a-block--as Dan Brown’s novels are--with “actual places, events, and beliefs” whose incremental effect is to make the action “tantalizingly plausible.” Among other things, Tesla’s theory of scalar waves, the legend of Shambhala, the Maltese Knights, Taoism, Carthage College’s Griffin Observatory in Kenosha, Wis., the Grotto of Vermillion Brightness at Mount Loufo in Guangdong Province, China, the fresco art in the Visoki Decani in Kosovo, and the Jesuit missionary and astronomer Johann Adam Schall von Bell all have their role to play in The Coming.

Coffman also peppers the plot with the arcana of ufology and contemporary Christian views on ETI. "Only readers with an intimate knowledge of the UFO saga are likely to appreciate the numerous real people and events in this book,” he adds. “Recent UFO reports by reputable military personnel and the struggle of Christian denominations to reconcile the possible existence of extraterrestrials with their religion’s historical dogma are two current events examined in depth in my book.”

Ufologists, conspiracists, and just plain old fans of suspense will find The Coming an altogether satisfying read (even if Coffman himself admits that it barrels into a “completely impossible climax"). Be warned, though: the novel does conclude ambiguously. Declares a character after Earth has been saved from an extinction-level event, “Whether aliens are Satanic demons, malevolent superhuman beings, or principled policemen of the universe, we may have just played a part in one of God’s miracles.”

For more information on Coffman’s work, visit his Facebook page: VerityFable.

The Coming is available at Amazon, the iTunes store, and Barnes & Noble.


Posted 11/18/2020





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