Late last year, one of Britain’s oldest established Fortean magazines closed up shop, with the publication of Issue #99 of Magonia. The magazine began its life in 1966, as the Merseyside UFO Research Group Bulletin, and in the intervening decades has become known as one of the best sources for sensible investigation of the UFO topic with a skeptical edge, with regular intrusions into other areas of Forteana and folklore (as Magonia editor John Rimmer told me, “Magonia has always been more than just UFOs, but despite regular attempts to break free of ufodom, we always seems to come back there in the end…). It has perhaps equally been seen as a thorn in the side of ufology – especially to those who support the ET visitation hypothesis for UFOs – with regular criticisms and debunking of some of the mythologies within the genre.
Every cloud has a silver lining though, and in this case it is that John (with recent help from Kentaro Mori) is maintaining an online archive of Magonia. According to John, the site now has “a pretty representative collection of articles which have appeared in Magonia and MUFOB back to the 1960s, and I’m adding to it all the time to make it as complete as possible.”
Given its influence in ufology, I was curious to know why the print version of Magonia had been hit on the head. Here’s what John had to say:
I decided to close down Magonia as a regular magazine, when I realised I was about to come up to number 100, and the horrible realisation hit me, what comes after that? Just plodding on to 200?
I couldn’t really face that. We’ve been around for forty years, in one form or another, and although I can’t say there has been no progress in ufology in that time, most of it seemed to be pointing to the conclusion that ufology didn’t really stack up as a legitimate subject, certainly not if you were looking to an ET-type solution.
Although the psycho-social approach that we pioneered (I don’t think I’m being too egocentric saying that) has got wide recognition, particularly in British and European ufology, too much of the subject seems to be stuck in a strange 1960’s timewarp, an opinion that is reinforced every time I read MUFON UFO Journal and some of its long-time contributors.
There are other online aspects of Magonia about as well. Topical book reviews can be found at the main Magonia blog as the ‘Magonia Review of Books’, along with other material of interest. A listing of shorter reviews, and brief notes about new publications can be found at a separate blog.
John says that Magonia should reach its century though: “I have planned a souvenir issue 100, a sort of ‘Best of Magonia’ for later in the year…but nothing in anyway definite yet.”
Personally, I’m so happy to see such a great resource as the Magonia archive online, and I’m very appreciative of the hard work that has gone into both the original publication and the new web presence. Intelligent reading on these topics is so rare – and regardless of whether you agree with all the articles, it has to be agreed they are intelligently researched and written – and so I hope that Magonia’s new incarnation lives long and prospers. I’ll certainly be noting new additions to the site here in the Fortean blogscans on the Daily Grail.