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Is this book cracking or crummy? Read my review and get the inside dope


Cherie J Gierak
Insight Publishing, Yreka, California
Edition / Year
In the section labelled

Circle's by Cherie J GierakThere is little information about the publisher of this questionable work online, but what there is gives the author's name as contact, so it is safe to say that Cherie Gierak's novel is a vanity publication. Just as well, given it is printed in a typewriter font and the title contains a gratuitous apostrophe. Experts, phooey.

Unpromising as it may look from the cover, you will be delighted to learn that Circle's contains The Most Ridiculous Plot Development Ever Written, and therefore counts as a significant work of literature. The plot point in question is near the end of the book, so you'll have to wait until I've picked holes in the rest of the story before we get to it.

The protagonist of Gierak's story is Colonel Paul Cantrell, "chief intelligence officer of the US Air Force, south western region". Paul is posted to a secret base in Arizona where the air force is holding a space alien under guard. One might expect that the care of a captured extraterrestrial would be directed by a team of top scientists, but The Alien - who is always granted a capital letter - is being looked after exclusively by a man known simply as "the caregiver" - no capital letter for him - a "deaf and mentally deficient" individual.

The caregiver and others who have come in contact with The Alien have been behaving oddly, and when Paul himself has what seem to be unsettling telepathic hallucinations, he determines to find out what has been going on. For some reason those Air Force officers who have had similar symptoms have been retired under a cloud rather than having their experiences looked into. The military have a peculiarly relaxed attitude to their captive, and the fact that the minds of those who encounter it are profoundly affected seems to be regarded as just one of those things.

Realising that if he pipes up he too may share the fate of his predecessors Paul decides to investigate on his own account. Fortunately because of his security clearance he has access to the relevant files, which he photographs so he can study them later in private, but there is a snag:

Returning to his quarters with the camera and film was no problem, but now how would get the film developed without arousing any curiousity? Then he remembered, he was due to give a lecture in a couple of days. He would drop off the film on the way to the lecture and pick it up on his way back.

One must assume the local drugstore has people handing in rolls of snapshots of confidential documents all the time, and one more will excite no interest.

Once he has got the photos back, he reads how his one-time boss Joe had been diagnosed with schizophrenia after being in contact with The Alien for a while. Joe had been sent to the "small community" of Sedona, Arizona. Paul resolves to meet with him under the cover of inspecting another base, Luke, near Phoenix.

(The geography of the state of Arizona is important to this story. Gierak helpfully supplies a map so you can follow Paul's extensive travels across the state with your finger. )

To further disguise his actions, Paul hits on the cunning ruse of appearing to spend much of his time locked in a motel room in Phoenix in the arms of his favourite Tart-With-A-Heart, Margie. This fabulously gorgeous individual will play her part by staying in the room watching TV with the curtains drawn for the duration. His scheme settled upon, Paul exits through the rear window wearing a wig and false beard, borrowing her car to go and see Joe.

When he finds Joe in Sedona, his former boss is in a pitiful condition, having turned into a stereotypical recluse whose only friends are his German Shepherd dogs. Once Paul has removed his false beard and wig, Joe is pleased to see him though fearful. Paul, convinced the medication the military doctors have prescribed Joe is making him unwell, eloquently persuades him to go off his meds:

"No wait Joe, could you do me another favor if you would. Don't take that pill, in fact lets throw them away and see what happens," Paul asked.

Joe, despite his anxiety not to have to back to the hospital where "they do terrible things to you", nevertheless complies. In the conversation that follows he discloses he has in his possession a record of his time with The Alien, which is coincidentally just the sort of thing Paul is looking for in his search for The Truth. Goshdarnit, though, there's tons of piles of paper and Joe is not sure where The Alien material is, but promises to hunt it out before Paul's next visit. Paul leaves, heading back to Phoenix and the waiting Margie.

After some fulfilling howsyerfather, Paul asks Margie to give up the oldest profession and become his regular girlfriend. She has been saving for a rainy day and can afford to take up this offer, him being a real catch and all. She persuades him to let her come with him on his next visit to Sedona, and on the way he explains what has been going on:

Margie's mouth slowly opened but no words came out, then slowly she responded, "You mean they have a living, in the flesh Alien? But it's been over a year now, is it still around," she asked?

"Yes, we still have him at the facility, but he's not in too good a condition. I'm afraid he is slowly dying," Paul said.

As he looked at Margie he worried about her reaction. She was white as a sheet and looked to be almost in shock. In hopes of making her feel better he offered to pull off at the next road side cafe for some breakfast.

Worried about dying aliens? Cup of tea and a slice of toast and you'll be right as rain, babe.

So, Margie and Joe meet and Joe, who has located the papers mentioned earlier, begins photographing them for Paul. Later, while discussing when The Alien was first captured, Joe mentions that the air tank used by The Alien had "a much higher oxygen level than we would have suspected for a humanoid". Curiously, although there were also other indications that The Alien needs more oxygen than Earth Folks, the Air Force has ignored them, and so The Alien has been breathing the same air as the rest of us.


All will be revealed, so let us proceed. Finally remembering what his job is, Paul returns to his base where the brass seem not to care he's been AWOL for several days. Not once they learn he's been shut in a motel with the new love of his life, anyway. It's just SO romantic and who would want to spoil that with rules and regulations, eh? Those US Air Force guys, they look tough but they are just big softies really.

In pursuit of the answer to the oxygen question, Paul enlists the help of Mike, a medical officer. Together they begin to administer oxygen to The Alien, with beneficial effects.

[...} the Alien nodded and extended his hand. Paul took it in his and was washed over by feelings that could only be explained as pure gratitude. Mike stood back and watched as the Alien and Paul shared a moment of what appeared to Mike as friendship.

The the Alien motioned to Mike to come over and as he did he received his first mental image from the Alien. It was of a phoenix raising from a great fire. Mike's mouth dropped open and he turned an ashen gray.

It's all right Mike," said Paul, "he just wants to thank you for saving his life."

"I . . . I got the message," Mike stammered, "I just don't believe it."

Mike may be a bit of a wuss, but he knows this other doctor named Richard, "who does a lot of research into the paranormal" and is "half Apache Indian", which means of course that he is a bonafide psychic himself. Given that Paul - whose very job it is to keep government secrets secret - has so far shared confidential information with Joe, Margie and Mike, what's one more to the party?

Richard is able to travel on the Astral Plane and communicate telepathically with The Alien. What's more he, can teach Paul how to do it. Mike chickens out of the business though. What is wrong with him? If we could talk to the aliens, learn their languages, think of all the things we could discuss. If we could walk with the aliens, talk with the aliens, bleep and squeak and squonk with the aliens, and they could talk to ussss .... !

While he is off base astral travelling and such, Paul manages to squeeze in marrying Margie. He is planning to leave the military to become a regular family man, assuming he doesn't get court-martialled first for his many crimes.

Back at the base again, Paul tells the head of the base, one General Friedman, that he's got married and wants to resign. Friedman understandably orders that Paul be given a full security check, including a medical and psychological assessment. Oh no, will Paul be found out?

Paul by now is having regular chats to The Alien, who repeatedly drops dark hints of things he could tell if only Paul was ready, but then changes the subject to how Margie is, or how Paul should conduct himself to get through his medical exam without revealing anything about what he's been up to. (Answer: "use the force").

Thus mentally prepared, Paul sails through the security check and is passed clean. Comes the day when he is to say goodbye:

As Paul and the Alien shared their last physical moments in that underground Hole Paul knew that his life would never be the same. Somehow he knew that although this would be the last time he would touch the Alien in the Hole it would not be the last time he was touched by any Alien. 

Oh, nicely put.

Joe and Paul and Margie become regular telepathic correspondents with The Alien, who explains that Aliens have been messing with human evolution since ancient times but something must have gone wrong with the recipe because human beings have turned our a right bunch of arseholes (I paraphrase) armed with nuclear weapons and neglectful of the well-being of their planet.

If humans don't start behaving themselves, the Aliens are going to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. What exactly that is, is left a bit vague at this point. Whatever it is, though, is going to be very bad. The Alien previously revealed it to the Secretary of Defense and he went off his head and jumped out of a window, so it must be a bit upsetting.

Never mind such depressing thoughts, though, because here comes The Most Ridiculous Plot Development Ever Written.

Joe. as you may recall, is paranoid about the "watchful eye of the government", but he is going to be given an unexpected get-out. Out of the blue he is contacted by a lawyer who has news for him: Joe's brother George has died, but before he passed away he made a most unusual bequest which he set out in a letter to Joe. In the letter he explains how he learned from doctors that he had a short time to live. One of the doctors is Richard, who, being like most of Gierak's characters unable to keep a secret, had made George aware of Joe's circumstances. Knowing Joe's plight, George decided he would help him in the only way he could - by leaving him his body.

Yes, in George's cunning plan, Joe will take George's body and place it in his house. Then he'll set fire to the place, travel to George's house and live out his days as his brother. They look alike, they both have beards, no one will be any the wiser. Brilliant, eh?

It is a measure of Gierak's singular wit that the plan simply works as intended. No last minute hitches or dramatic turns of event spoil With one bound, Joe is free. Or rather, Joe is George. But, what about Joe's poor dogs, I hear you ask? Their fate is not disclosed and I fear the worst.

Meanwhile in the desert, The Alien's pals have come to rescue him, bringing their spacecraft in under the radar then descending on foot to the base via a tunnel that conveniently leads to his quarters:

Making their way down the tunnel they projected a group hypnosis thought, bringing the active and live center to a complete standstill. Each and every person within The Hole was suddenly in a sort of sleep state. [...]

Being directed to his quarters through mental images they had no difficulty finding the correct corridor and the correct door. Having secured a set of keys from the head security man's office they proceeded to unlock the doors and escort their comrade to the surface without incident.

"Without incident." Gierak does not believe in over-exciting the reader and risking waking them up.

Reunited with his confederates, The Alien arranges with them to pick up Paul, Margie and Joe so they can see the inside of his ship and finally learn the fate of the people of Earth, which turns out to be that, unless humanity mends its ways, there will be a Great Plague that will wipe out everyone who hasn't been immunised. Of course Paul and co. will be among the lucky few to escape.

The novel closes some years later, with millions dying and billions due to join them because no one has listened to the "kook's" who believe in UFOs and The Alien's message. Crop circles have been appearing in increasing numbers as a warning sign but they have failed to change minds; probably because phenomena that can equally well be created by two blokes with wooden boards and lengths of string are hardly compelling evidence of anything. It's a ufologist version of The Rapture, with the same underlying unpleasant attitude: believe what we say, or be damned.

This book was intended as the first of a trilogy but only this and the next in the series, Inside Circle's, seem to have been published. Sales may have been disappointing.

Cherie Gierak, judging by her Facebook page, is nowadays a Trump supporter. Aliens from space? Let them come! Aliens from Mexico or Muslimland? Nah, build a wall.

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Submitted by Paul Barnett (not verified) on 09 Oct 2016 - 05:30 Permalink

You say you had difficulty learning more about Insight Publishing. Could this be the relevant company: ?

Submitted by James Dogsharps (not verified) on 09 Oct 2016 - 02:01 Permalink

Cherie Gierak's Facebook page is really fascinating. Some of the "X happened so we must share this, everyone must share this!!" are really straight up bizarre. "A heroic boy risks his life to save a fawn from drowning in floodwaters... how many people with 'share' this?" or "firefighters save two terrified horses from drowning in a frozen lake near St. Louis, Missouri ... how many people will 'share' this?"

Apparently there are not enough stories about saving drowning animals being shared on Facebook. I like drowning animals as much as the next man but... well maybe this is the kind of message the aliens want us to focus on?