Most books and theories receive average, or middle-of-the-road reviews. Pellegrino's reviewers are never middle-of-the-road. The bell curve isn't even in it. People either love him, or they hate him.
However, a WIKIPEDIA caution is necessary: Section 230 of the Congressional Communications Decency Act holds Wikipedia legally unaccountable for the content of its volunteer editors. What this means is that your worst enemy can write a false biography about you and Wikipedia is sue-proof. Pellegrino's Wikipedia biography was hijacked in 2010 by members of the "9/11 Truther" movement's most radicalized faction - a minority faction that has accused Pellegrino of covering up the "controlled demolition" of the World Trade Center in order to frame Bin Laden and in at least one case has condoned - ostensibly as a victory for "free speech" - the giving of nazi salutes to Pellegrino and other 9/11 family members (learn more by searching Charles Pellegrino, Discussion Forum, and go to the locked discussion on "9/11 Conspiracies"). From time to time, paragraphs have apppeared on Wikipedia, framed to look as if they were quotes from the N.Y. Times, backed by "press releases" - which turned out to include a small handful of bloggers impersonating Pellegrino, James Cameron, and others (some of these faked statements actually ended up being quoted by the Associated Press, evidently with no one at A.P. digging deeper). Wikipedia, John Seigenthaler has observed (in USA Today, Nov. 29, 2005), "is populated by volunteer vandals with poison pen intellects. Congress has enabled them and protects them." Seigenthaler knows what he is talking about - having found himself described in his own false Wikipedia biography as believed "to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven."
Some of Pellegrino's reviews:
Anyone who can cast his view in any random direction and tell you precisely how many miles it is to the nearest nuclear research facility just has to be dangerous. Anyone who can ask our civilization just how far it wants to go with nuclear insanity and then show everyone how to build a single bomb that will destroy everything - anyone who can scare even the Russians with this, and do it all before breakfast - should never be argued with. This guy really scares me.
- Stephen King.
In Time Gate, Pellegrino moves backward in increasing steps - first one year, then two years, then four - doubling each time. We begin by watching the works of humanity slowly peel away, then more rapidly, and then, faster and faster, the Earth begins to change, and the very stars in the sky begin to drift and then to race.
At every step, Pellegrino pauses to discuss the nature of the changes and the latest findings with reference to them. In so doing, he gives us a charming overview of human history, of evolutionary development, of biology, of geology, of astronomy and of everything else he has chosen to touch.
I have myself written well over three hundred books now, on all sorts of subjects, so I have small cause to envy any other writer, but I envy Pellegrino this book.I wish I had written it.
My consolation is the knowledge that, had I written it, I would not have done anywhere near the beautiful job he has done, and that, in any case, reading it has been for me almost as much fun as writing it would have been.
- Isaac Asimov, 1983
The lab is full of amber, meteorites, and fossil crabs. He's written a paper about sending robot submarines under Jupiter's moons, given a lecture at the National Observatory about cloning dinosaurs - and now. . . Punctuated equilibria? What the hell is this? I suspect Pellegrino is making up words. . . He is challenging Darwin, Malthius, Glaesner, Mayr and God knows who. . . and he is too young to be pretending to be an authority. . . Who does he think he is, to be questioning Darwin?
-R.G. Wear, May 1982 (in defense of demands that Pellegrino withdraw "Time Gate" and "Darwin's Universe" from publication).
Even suggesting to a young scientist that it is somehow inappropriate to "question Darwin" is the antithesis of what a young scientist is supposed to learn - to question virtually everything.
- Niles Eldredge, American Museum of Natural History, 1982.
I attended a lecture at the National Observatory two nights ago, in which a handsome and cunning young man, with the sweetness of the Devil on his tongue, spoke of a future in which science will bring dinosaurs back to life. He actually used the phrase "resurrecting the extinct." The entire audience was under his control, hinging on his every word. Did [Saint] John not warn us that the Enemy would resurrect the dead?Pellegrino. . He is the number of the beast.
- A popular radio evangelist, Wellington, New Zealand, Spring 1982. (Shortly before the break-in and total destruction of Pellegrino's two New Zealand laboratories).
Pellegrino's theories are a sorry attempt at attention-grabbing that are already attracting the wrong kind of attention. He thinks in funny ways. He is shooting off in all directions like a rocket and I just don't know how to bang it out of him. Before we know it he'll be writing science fiction and then he'll really embarrass us all.
- R.G. Wear, May 1982.
Pellegrino is turning into a literary slut.
- J.B.J. Wells
Pellegrino's science is an assault on human decency. He has managed to alienate both the scientific community and the religious community. How efficient of him. Arrogance and stupidity in one package.
-Jonathan Wells, Richard Bliss, Institute of Scientific Creationism, 1982.
If you live in human society and you twitch or stand out from the crowd, or show signs of intelligence - watch out.They're going to get you. And if we cannot treat our own species with decency, why should we expect any better treatment from total strangers, up there? You young astronomer types who are so hopeful about discovering new civilizations - you dream a dangerous farce.
- The Christchurch Wizard, commenting on attacks against Pellegrino's book, Darwin's Universe," Spring 1982.
The way I read the New Zealand record, the Darwinists, offended by Pellegrino's support of Gould and Eldredge's punctuated equilibrium theory, threw Pellegrino to the wolves - I mean, to the creationists, to religious extremists.
- Edward I. Coher, Long Island University.
A translation of the New Zealand record freeze-dries to simply this: New Zealand said to Pellegrino: "You think different. And if we get the chance, we are going to work on you until you think exactly like everyone else."
- Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard University.
Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
- Steve Jobs, a fan of Stephen Jay Gould and Isaac Asimov
Those who criticize or attack polymathic thinking only parade their ignorance. Seeing connections in what to so many others seem to be unconnected fields of study is not an aberration to be stamped out. A bit of polymathy is often exactly what is required for scientific advance.
- Sir Charles Fleming, famed polymathic New Zealand scientist who helped to create the field of paleobiology, and who along with Alan Beu and members of the N.Z. Geological Survey, tried to defend Pellegrino and other polymaths from ad hoc "witch hunts" of the early-mid 1980s
Note: Under an "ad hoc" justice system in which a book like "Darwin's Universe" or "Time Gate" could be judged a threat to the reputation of the university, and an author's credentials could thus be frozen in "restricted status" indefinitely, certain rights of "natural justice" (what in America is known as "due process") were amended in the following ways:
1) Right to appeal: Suspended.
2) Right to legal council: Suspended.
3) Right to second party representation (by Sir Fleming and other experts): Suspended.
4) Right to represent self and refute claims in person: Suspended.
5) Right to refute claims in writing: Suspended.
6) Right to know the nature of the claims: suspended.
7) Right to argue the academic merits of works under trial: Suspended. (As in Dearden decree, 1985 Atkinson docs. 22B, 23A,B, 24, 25: "The academic merits of [the work] are ruled irrelevant").
With regard to the books at the center of the 1984-1985 conflict, "Darwin's Universe" and "Time Gate," as of March 2010, "Darwin's Universe" was in the V.U.W. library and the theory of sub-surface seas in certain moons of Jupiter and Saturn (the theory at the core of "Darwin's Universe") was actually being taught at Victoria University. At the time, in Barnes and Noble's, "Victoria University Alumni," Pellegrino was listed as #17 among "distinguished alumni," ironically right beside actor Sam Neil ("Jurassic Park"). Still...
"I guess Pellegrino is very good at bull[*]... He played by his own set of rules. I couldn't keep him on track - he used to go off on all these weird tangents. He talked a lot, about anything and everything..." - R.G. Wear to the New Zealand Herald, March 7, 2010, while denying his "witch hunt" mentality against polymathic thinking yet simultaneously defining polymathic thinking and reiterating his hatred of it.
It took [these people] all of two weeks to destroy Pellegrino's laboratory and run him out of the country as a heretic. And New Zealand will not see another like him for a century.
- Frank Andrews, astronomer, New Zealand National Observatory
You should not be publishing Pellegrino's work because he is a madman who thinks that dinosaurs can be cloned from insects in amber.
- Professor George Poinar to the Smithsonian Institution (1981), copied to Pellegrino's detractors in New Zealand, 1983 (specifically with reference to theories presented in "Time Gate" and "Darwin's Universe").
An actual reading of Pellegrino's work was not a prerequisite for reviewing it. . . we knew it was rubbish. Competent people told us it was rubbish.
- C. Dearden, 1985
The idea of dinosaur cloning? Well, of course - I thought of it first. Pellegrino's articles were only popularizations of my ideas.
-George Poinar to Michael Crichton, and then to the New York Times, June 1991.
Dr. Poinar, I was just reading in the New York Times . . about this "Jurassic Park" movie Mr. Spielberg is making based on "your" recipe for cloning dinosaurs from amberized DNA. Wherever did you get such as brilliant idea?
-Charles Pellegrino to George Poinar at Berkeley University (with tape recorder running), July 1991.
Charles, that's in your book, "Time Gate." I have "Time Gate."The idea of cloning dinosaurs . . . of course, Charles, it's not my idea. That's an error [in the New York Times]. That is not original with me. . .Charlie, that's your idea. I did not say that that's my idea, I just talked to them about it. No, I didn't even want credit for that. I'm sorry that happened because that was not my - I don't get credit or glory for something that I haven't come up with . . . a correction should go somewhere, giving you credit [as] the first one having the idea of cloning dinosaurs from amber. Sorry about that. That's the trouble. I hate to talk to these reporters. Because you talk about things and before you know it you're misquoted and taken out of context. And I certainly didn't mean that to happen and I'm sorry. . . [Later] So, how are you? I heard you were dead.
-George Poinar to Charles Pellegrino, transcript, July 1991.
Dinosaur cloning. . . Pellegrino and Crichton were actually the popularizers of my theory. The "Jurassic Park Recipe," it really did originate with me, undeniably.
- George Poinar, through Random House/Berkeley/Addison-Wesley legal council, 1993.
On a plea to send Federal Marshals to Pellegrino's office and safe deposit boxes unless he turns over and destroys all copies of George O. Poinar Jr's. "alleged taped confession. . ." Possession of documentation . . . is not illegal in New York state or in the State of California, so long as [tapes] do not involve illegal wiretaps or recording of third party conversation. Furthermore, tape will be admissible in court at Judge's dicression . . . remind Poinar's attorneys [of a similar attempt to suppress documentation during the ] Rodney King taped beating trial, in [Poinar's home state] California, and to which the court responded: "The suggestion that a defendant might not have exhibited reprehensible behavior had he known he was being taped is no defense against the exhibition of reprehensible behavior."
- New York State Supreme Court documents, March 1996.
Without admitting any wrongdoing . . . With regard to "The Jurassic Park Recipe" - I admit that I knew it was Pellegrino's work all along . . .
I, Dr. George O. Poinar, Jr., hereby represent that I am not the originator of the Jurassic Park Recipe.
- George Poinar to the New York State Supreme Court, April 1996.
I find, having followed the activities of the insufferable "Dr. Poison." that I must add a fourth stage to my now famous law about the Three stages in the reception of a new or revolutionary idea:
(1) You're crazy!
(2) You may be right, so what?
(3) We knew it was a good idea all along.
*(4) I thought of it first!
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
They're calling it "being Poinared." That's what they're calling it, on campus. Poinar probably thought the "Jurassic Park Recipe" would make his name live on in the halls of science. Thanks to Arthur, it will - maybe forever - but not in a way that Poinar could have anticipated.
- University of California physicist, Gregory Benford.
Pellegrino is one of the most brilliant - perhaps the most brilliant [paleontologist] - of our age; but he is also a Class A-1 f---ing pain in the ass.
A reader of Pellegrino's works would be impressed with the accuracy and depth of information, as well as the style of description, making it entertaining to the average citizen.
- Fred Haise, astronaut, Apollo 13, on "Darwin's Universe"
I love everything Pellegrino writes.
- Isaac Asmiov, 1986, on "Darwin's Universe."
Rarely have a man's books been so fit for burning.
- Rev. Jerry Falwell, 1983, on "Darwin's Universe."
I wish every human on Earth could read this book and understand it. Then we might finally have a common language, and some hope. If that sounds like overstating the case, consider that this book successfully takes on the task of illuminating life's greatest - and, at this juncture in history, most pressing - mysteries.
- a reviewer from Falwell Country, on "Return to Sodom and Gomorrah," 1995
On this relativistic bombing and the U.S./Soviet Space Cooperation Initiative, I think they should lock Pellegrino and Powell in a room and throw away to the room.
Pellegrino is an national treasure. And an all round nice guy.
- Isaac Asimov (USA)
Pellegrino is a national disgrace.
- Professor Robert G. Wear (New Zealand)
If the cause-and- effect relationship of relativistic bombs and the absence of alien contact [the absence of extraterrestrial radio signals] seems obscure, "Flying to Valhalla" clarifies it to the point of terror. . . Pellegrino himself is a paleontologist who got into difficulty with his colleagues at Victoria University in New Zealand for his theories on punctuated equilibrium in evolution contained in his first book, "Darwin's Universe," and picked up his career in the U.S. with the same kind of unorthodox combinations of paleontology, archaeology, space research, and writing of science popularizations. Now an independent scientific consultant and freelance adventurer in the world of ideas, he has the intellect to bring together his wide-ranging interests into a new and fascinating blend of fact, speculation, and fiction. In "Flying to Valhalla," he has produced what his New Zealand faculty committee feared most, SCIENCE FICTION. And science fiction, SF readers will be happy to know, of the first order.
- Professor James Gunn, on "Flying to Valhalla."
There's more scary stuff in [this novel] than Horatio ever dreamed of. And the S.O.B. killed me in this one, didn't he? There's something really smelly down in Long Beach.
- Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, writing as William Shakespeare, reviewing "Dust"
At last, a novel even scarier that "Jaws."
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke, on "Dust."
You might expect archaeology to be as dry as- well, dust. But Pellegrino's enthusiasm is infectious. Far from being boring and inaccessible, this book is an unexpected delight. Impeccably researched, yet written with extraordinary clarity of language and as riveting as a good thriller, it'll probably make you go out and start digging in your own backyard.
- An Amazon reviewer, on "Return to Sodom and Gomorrah."
A story of adventure and discovery worthy of Indiana Jones.
- Larry King, CNN, on "Unearthing Atlantis: An Archaeological Odyssey."
First quality writing about one of the past two centuries most important archaeological discoveries. . . a look at what is almost certainly the real Atlantis.
- The Houston Post, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
- The Boston Globe, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
A convincing case [for the Thera Theory]. Agree or disagree as you will, hours spent with this exceedingly well-written book are like a visit with a brilliant conversationalist in whose company you may be provoked, but never bored.
- Los Angeles Times Book Review, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
The best book ever about the greatest mystery of Antiquity.
- Dr. Gregory Benford, author of "Cosm" and "Timescape," on "Unearthing Atlantis."
The worst book ever about the legend of Atlantis . . . We find no mention of Edgar Cayce, [and] Ignatius Donnelly - unquestionably the most famous and influential Atlantologist since Plato - is reduced to a single footnote [and, in the Foreword, Donnelly is further reduced to "the patron saint to peddlers of . . . mind rot."] . . . Come to think of it, this is the worst book ever written on any subject.
- Richard Ellis "explorer/scientist" American Museum of Natural History, on "Unearthing Atlantis,"
Ellis may be right about Donnelly being "the most famous and influential Atlantologist since Plato." Donnelly was indeed the father of Thulism and Hitler's Master Race Theory. I was in Europe, then.I saw it. Influential, yes. Unquestionably, Donnelly was a most influential man.
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Ignatius Donnelly?The less said about him, the better. You'll find his book in the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Si Unger, Auschwitz survivor
For storytelling skill, a sense of humor, and a marvelous ability to relate scientific findings in one field to those of another, Pellegrino deserves high praise. But for providing lay readers with information and entertainment at the same time, he deserves the gratitude of the reading public.
-Des Moines Register, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
Pellegrino has crafted a story which appeals to historians, archaeology buffs, biblical scholars, and laypeople alike. The author seems to have amassed enough compelling evidence to put the legend of the lost island continent of Atlantis finally to rest. . . The strength of the book is in it's vivid re-creation of the circumstances leading up to the event, the event itself, and the conditions after the blast. The reader can almost smell the noxious gases, feel the blistering heat and cough on the ash which blanketed the atmosphere during and after the terrible explosion.
- Bangor Daily News, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
Pellegrino's "Return to Sodom and Gomorrah" is a masterpiece, in which the scientist/author proves the reality of the Bible's miracles, and proves once and for all time the existence of God.
- review from a Mormon web site.
Pellegrino, in "Return to Sodom and Gomorrah," with a sober scientific scrutiny, has finally proven the non-existence of God, beyond al reasonable dispute.
- review from an atheist web site.
This guy just never stops riding the shockwave - and with such elegant prose, too. He never tells you what is, as fact, but instead lays out all the evidence with arguments for and against his own interpretations, then encourages you to think for yourself. . . Pellegrino's evidence suggests that Plato and the Egyptians were either writing about the Minoans, or Atlantis did not exist at all. Pellegrino's voyages into the Earth and back through time are so eye-opening and even mind-boggling, that you will never look at your world, or even at your own back yard, the same way again. I know I won't.Like his other archaeology books, you simply cannot put this one down. They read better than any novel - and especially better than Pellegrino's own science fiction novels. The realities he finds down here on Earth are so amazing that I don't understand why he has to fly around making things up in, of all places, the Star Trek Universe. I guess everyone is entitled to do something a little kooky now and then, as long as they don't hurt anyone (avoid "Dyson Sphere" and "Dust" like the plague). Someone with his talent for observation and communication should not be wasting it in the literary ghetto of science fiction - or on chaos theory. With Pellegrino, everything eventually gets down to chaos, like that Malcolm character in "Jurassic Park", who just happens to be based on him (even down to the point of getting a little too high on himself). The sister book, "Return to Sodom and Gomorrah", is just as great, if you skip the chaos theory chapter. His books on the archaeology of the Titanic are great, too, but "Unearthing Atlantis", is his masterpiece.
- A reviewer from New York, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
For someone who writes science fiction so well that he literally brings the impossible alive in the imagination, it is a pity that he wastes so much of his time writing about "dead things in the ground."
- A reviewer from San Francisco, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
As Pellegrino ranges. . . through cosmology, geology, vulcanology, history and prehistory, we can catch his enthusiasm for the process of discovery, and we grasp, too, his awe at the precariousness of human achievement.
- The New Yorker, on "Unearthing Atlantis."
Any Pellegrino book is worth reading. All of them are thought provoking and insightful.This book will scare the hell out of you. You'll never look at the sky the same way again. And you'll never again say, "I wonder if we're alone in the Universe." You'll say, "God, I hope we're alone in the Universe!"
- Frank Cone, on "The Killing Star."
I read this book in one sitting, I could not put it down. It is gripping hard science fiction that takes a hard look at the Fermi Paradox.
- Jim Batka, on "The Killing Star."
This book chilled me to the bone. The plot was hard to follow but after a while, you stop trying to figure it out, and go with it. It all comes together in the end. The plot is so involved, so beautiful, so great, I broke into a cold sweat while reading. I was shaking when I finished: A realistic picture of what the future may hold.
- Carl Saiyed, on "The Killing Star."
A novel of conceptual ferocity and scientific plausibility.
- The New York Times Book Review, on "The Killing Star."
Relentless . . . The ultimate disaster novel. A thought experiment and a warning.
- The Denver Post, on "The Killing Star."
Full of action and danger. A whirlwind of ideas. . . Anywhere Arthur C. Clarke is popular, this book should be, too.
- Booklist, on "The Killing Star."
"Her Name, Titanic" : I came to this book through a rather round-about path, first introduced to the author through some papers he had written on advanced nuclear propulsion systems for rockets. Then some of my colleagues at the Air and Space Museum told me that the guy wrote mind-bending techno-thrillers on the side (and he does!), and finally I came to his non-fiction [books]. I happen to be a hard-core engineer/test pilot and have always considered myself about as hard-boiled as they come. But when I read about Thomas Andrews and his men in the engine room - and about Rosa Abott and her two boys, I was really overcome and I just had to put the book down and leave the room before my wife and the kids saw that my eyes were full of tears.
- A reviewer from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
- Parade Magazine, on "Her Name, Titanic"
A captivating work.
- The Los Angeles Times, on "Her Name, Titanic"
The knowledge of Charles Pellegrino
Is a grandiose matter as we know
In matters Titanic
And Time Gate volcanic
A shortage of wisdom, there'll be No.
- Isaac Asimov, on "Her Name, Titanic"
"Her Name, Titanic" is the closest thing to time travel: This is the first book since "A Night to Remember" that actually carries you back through time to the decks of the sinking Titanic until you actually feel it yourself. You feel the emotions of the people that night - and then you are yanked forward in time to the expeditions that first discovered and explored the Titanic, and then Pellegrino moves you back and forth in time again, and again, from the night of the sinking to the expeditions until at last you become, like James Cameron's Rose, unstuck in time. It is easy to see how Cameron was so moved by Pellegrino's morphing through time. A reading of the scientist's other books reveals that he seems to be unable to tell a tale in linear fashion. In both, "Unearthing Atlantis" and "Ghosts of the Titanic", he unfolds archaeological investigations by telling the whole history backwards! It is difficult to imagine what he will do with time next. But I'l be there for the ride. You can bet on it.
- A reviewer from New York.
Pellegrino's fresh re-creation of the Titanic's final hours provides an eerie and astonishing adventure, a time capsule gracefully wrapped in elegant prose, deserving a place alongside Walter Lords classic "A Night to Remember."
- Publishers Weekly (*starred review*), "Ghosts of the Titanic"
Genuinely powerful . . . "Ghosts of the Titanic" conveys as vivid a sense of the mighty and terrific forces at work that dark night as anything I have read.
- Washington Post.
Pellegrino is a spellbinding storyteller.
- Los Angeles Times Book Review
How to know if you ideas have magic: If someone tries to steal them, you're on the right track.
- George Zebrowski
How is it that a pygmy like Pellegrino manages to cast such a large shadow?
- Professor George Poinar, Jr.
"Ghosts of the Titanic"
New York Times, Book Review, August 27, 2001:
If Charles Pellegrino weren't so shamelessly self-promoting, it might be O.K. to let this book drift into oblivion past the icebergs it ought to hit. But. . . he invents friendships with famous people and claims scientific authority for work that flouts most principles of scientific scholarship. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. . . To give the book authority, Pellegrino claims to be a scientific friend and colleague of Robert Ballard, who lead the team that discovered the wreck in 1985. But the close association the book implies is largely imaginary. . . All this is done so smoothly that unless you know otherwise you soon visualize Pellegrino and Ballard standing together on the ship's bridge planning the next dive.
When I checked with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and with Bob Ballard, they confirmed that Pellegrino was [not] on the 1985 expedition when the Titanic was discovered. . . The bottom line is that Pellegrino is not Ballard's colleague in exploration, and, with the exception of the single [two month] Pacific trip in 1985, Pellegrino has not worked with Ballard at all.
This doesn't exactly help the credibility of the book, but Pellegrino undermines it in other ways, too. . . Pellegrino says that among the "dominant conditions" of the abyssal plains is the presence of life. In fact, these depths are noted for the relative scarcity of living things. . . "Ghosts of the Titanic" should sink to the abyssal plains.
- Michael Parfit.
Whatever did you do to Michael Parfit to cause this? Did you kill his pet turtle?
- Jennifer Brehl, editor, "Ghosts of the Titanic"
In his review of "Ghosts of the Titanic" by Charles Pellegrino, Michael Parfit, among a multitude of accusations, puts forth the claim that Pellegrino gave readers the false impression that he had worked side by side with Robert Ballard during the 1985 and 1986 Titanic expeditions. To test Parfit's claim, I read the first five pages of "Ghosts" to my six-year old son. Then I asked him a simple question: "Was Charlie on the expedition that discovered the Titanic?" "No Dad," he replied, "Charlie was sick at home." Parfit also accuses Pellegrino of fabricating friendships with famous people. Those of us who know Charlie understand that he is many things: talkative, exasperating, diversely talented and incredibly creative. We also know that he is almost obsessively honest. In all likelihood, Mr. Parfit won't have to take my word for this. He'll probably be hearing from some of Charlie's "imaginary" friends - people like Walter Lord, James Cameron, and Sir. Arthur C. Clarke.
- Bill Schutt, vertebrate zoologist (and friend to vampire bats), L.I.U., American Museum of Natural History.
Name dropping is such a vulgar business, Charles as I was telling the Queen last week!
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke on Michael Parfit's complaints.
"Ghosts of the Titanic"
To the New York Times:
Michael Parfit's belief that the abyssal plains are biological deserts would be correct if based on textbooks dating back 20 years. All the textbooks have been rewritten, of course. Life down there is just not as obvious at first glance, because the vast majority of the organisms are smaller than an aspirin.
Parfit writes that I "actually give. . . an impression of being there with Robert Ballard from the beginning, planning for the search for the Titanic"
. . . I never stated that I was present for the 1985 discovery of the Titanic or the [ first] dives in 1986. I did, however, participate with Ballard directly in the Melville expedition to the Galapagos Islands, which immediately followed the September 1985 discovery of the Titanic, during which we analyzed Ballard's photographic reconnaissance of the ship. Parfit claims that I falsely paint myself as a colleague of Ballard's yet readers of Ballard's "Discovery of the Titanic" will note that he cites me for my "downblast theory."
It is true that Ballard and I went in separate directions after the artifact discovery expeditions [in which I became involved] commenced in 1987.
- Charles Pellegrino.
The New York Times replies:
Charles Pellegrino wrote in"Ghosts of the Titanic" that life is one of the "dominant conditions" of the abyssal plains. I disagreed with that description. Now he argues that he was referring to life smaller than an aspirin. However, microbial life is present almost everywhere, including many deserts. In those places, as on the abyssal plains, life is not a dominant condition.
The quotations I cite in my review amply illustrate the way Pellegrino engineers an inaccurate impression that he is Robert Ballard's scientific colleague. Ballard's brief citation of the downblast theory - the only mention of Pellegrino in the main text of "Discovery of the Titanic" - does not contradict that. In the mention, Ballard describes Pellegrino as a writer, not a fellow scientist.
- Michael Parfit, September 24, 2000.
Fascinating. We now have it on the scientific authority of the New York Times Book Review that NASA scientists ought to save their time and money and simply stop designing probes to look for life on Mars - in the form of bacteria - because if they do find bacteria there, they will not have found life. Mud from the abyssal plains, handful for handful, has more microorganisms than mud from the Amazon rainforest. The Times have completely misread biology, as they misunderstood basic physics when they castigated Robert Hutchings Goddard for being too ignorant to know that rockets could never fly in space.
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Now, let's see if I've got this surrounded: Parfit says that Ballard sites Pellegrino's scientific theories in his book, but this does not mean that Pellegrino is one of Ballard's scientific colleagues. Ballard, the writer, describes Pellegrino as a fellow writer, but, again, they are not colleagues. The logic escapes me. For too many people the truth, whether in science or in social life, is just too dramatic too believe.
- George Zebrowski
What Charlie Pellegrino has managed to do once again is to create connections and reveal patterns which have eluded other eyes . . . A true forensic study of the final hours of the Titanic has been needed for some time, as theories have abounded and many have been accepted as fact throughout the years. Recent evidence and observations, carefully cross-referenced with a new look at old testimony and correspondence, is yielding some surprising insights into what really happened and in exactly what sequence. With the precision of an archaeological dig, the onion on Titanic's mystery can be peeled back carefully to reveal the truth, or at least, a better and more complete approximation of truth than has ever existed before.
- James Cameron, on "Ghosts of the Titanic"
Charles Pellegrino has always been a breath of fresh air on the subject of theTitanic - and on every other subject! I admire the lightning way Pellegrino has of moving from one thing to another. He has a knack for combining the outlandish with the mundane and giving it magical qualities.
- Walter Lord, author of "A Night to Remember."
Because Pellegrino has such an agile mind, and writes so convincingly he can convince fools who know even less about scientific subjects than he himself knows. His elegant prose makes him all the more dangerous. . . I have seen the future of civilization's decay, and its name is Charles Pellegrino.
- Richard Ellis, New York Times Book Reviewer, Random House Author.
Pellegrino .. . Boiling oil is too good for him.
- A reader from Brooklyn
Charles, on this question of heavy element accumulation rates in the galaxy - you do indeed raise a valid point : How long after the Big Bang could planetary systems be formed that were not too dissimilar from Earth? Obviously this depends at least in part, on the composition of interstellar dust. . . I now realize that [this] should be looked into more closely. The argument you give rather implies that the density of appropriate elements rose [as a function of] time, "that there was a specific "instant" during which life could begin in the Universe," and therefore [there] may not have been enough time to reach these critical concentrations 9 billion years ago, or even 6 billion.
- Sir Francis Crick, Nobel laureate, on the origin of the Genesis and Galactic Blight Theory
Charles Pellegrino spends a day in the dark with his imaginary friends.
- A note on a "good luck" cup sent down with the submersible MIR-2, to Titanic, September 10, 2001.
Dear Mary, I'm sending Charlie down to the stern tomorrow because he's finally reached the stage where he can be more annoying up here than down there.
- James Cameron (written on a Styrofoam cup shrunk outside MIR-2, on the abyssal plain.
A pity that Pellegrino's Titanic books sell so well. What a terrible waste of trees.
- A reviewer from Berkeley University.
Splendid. Absolutely splendid.
- William MacQuitty, Producer of "A Night to Remember," on "Ghosts of the Titanic"
Charles Pellegrino has raised the Titanic - at least in my imagination.
- Stephen King
After observing that a 1988 design by James Powell and Charles Pellegrino, aimed at raising large objects with "nematocysts" and undersea robotic blimps filled with diesel fuel might actually work for Titanic, a famous explorer had this to say: PELLEGRINO! I SHOULD HAVE DROWNED THAT BASTARD WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE. That explorer was:
Robert D. Ballard.
This book was so bad that I tore the pages out and used them as liner for the bottom of my bird's cage. The bird died.
- A reviewer from Chicago, on "Ghosts of the Titanic"
Pellegrino writes with real authority . . . The answers that Pellegrino proposes are in some cases ingenious and in other cases interesting.
- Chicago Sun Times, on "Ghosts of the Titanic"
Titanic Bomb: Never have I been so disgusted by a book described as non-fiction. I suggest the readers challenge Pellegrino's findings by reading the real accounts of the people he mentions. You'll find them more interesting.
- A reviewer from Rhode Island, on "Ghosts of the Titanic"
On "Ghosts of the Titanic": Let's be frank. I am the publisher of another excellent Titanic book, "1912 Facts About the Titanic," by Lee Meredith, and I have read everything that is readily available on the subject. So I know a little about it. Pellegrino has penned what is in my opinion the most compelling, fresh and thought provoking account of the great liner I have ever read. His gleaning of the various Inquiry records and other first-hand accounts that have surfaced recently, when [combined] with archaeological and scientific discoveries, damn near definitely solves many of the mysteries that have lingered since 1912. Pellegrino's treatment of the role played by the Californian and Captain [Stanley] Lord is the best I have ever seen in print. His use of eyewitness accounts of the ship's lights, the curvature of the Earth, and other factors resolves conclusively that Lord's command was within a seven-mile radius when Titanic sank. There is also evidence that a handful of survivors might have been sighted on an ice floe by officers of the Californian [Charles Victor Groves for one] and left there by Lord.
The author has also raised enough significant doubt to revitalize (perhaps "rehabilitate" is not too strong a description) Captain Smith's reputation. Like the fiasco of the movie "Gettysburg" which depicted Martin Sheen as a General Lee on Valium, previous authors and movie directors have portrayed Captain Smith as a confused and benumbed fool once the ship's designer, Thomas Andrews, told him the Titanic was doomed. In fact, every one of Smith's critical decisions - including sending out half-empty lifeboats - were the correct ones. (My hat is off to you, Captain, and I apologize for the unkind words I have spread about you.)
Other compelling issues include learned speculation that the Grand Staircase broke loose and shot to the surface (the evidence for this is very strong); Officer Murdoch did indeed shoot himself (there were several witness who did not know each other who wrote the same thing); and Bruce Ismay and his company worked overtime to slander any survivor who did not tow the company line (the Duff Gordons were among this select group). Even more interesting is the fact that the "rusticles" adorning the deteriorating ship are actually ALIVE. Yes, they are bacterial colonies in a life form previously unknown. And they are being utilized for medical research that may, ultimately, save more people than the Titanic took to the bottom . . . Ignore the silly hatchet job that was penned in the New York Times. Buy "Ghosts of the Titanic," enjoy it, and then share it with another Titanic buff.
- Ted Savas
A Titanic Undertaking: This is one of the most chilling true stories I have ever read. Pellegrino's synthesis of the Titanic's "first and last voyage" feels so fresh and is so vivid that one is tempted to believe he must actually have been there, no just on the expeditions to the titanic as archaeological ruin, but actually there on the slanting decks in a past life. He illustrates the ship's evolution (or devolution) from something strong and beautiful to mounds of twisted steel with such loving detail that for the first time, we can understand the strange sights and sounds reported by Colonel Gracie, Jack Thayer, Charles Joughin, and Alfred White - even though [most of] the witnesses themselves eventually grew old and died without ever knowing what happened to them, or why.
One more strange thing: In "Her Name, Titanic," Pellegrino morphed back and forth in time from the Ballard expedition to the night of the sinking, to the expedition again . . .and again . . . and not always effectively. (Unless the intended effect was to make the reader dizzy. But James Cameron did pick up on this, and run with it, and he managed to transcend Pellegrino's flaws). This time out, in keeping with the realities of an archaeological dig, wherein one begins by peeling away the most recent events buried in the topmost layer, Pellegrino plays an even stranger game with time. But this time he is much more effective. This book is so engrossing that you can get all the way to the last chapter without noticing that he has been telling the story backwards!
- An Amazon reviewer from New York, on "Ghosts of the Titanic"
Ghosts and Reality: Before you are through with chapter 1, you are hit with uncomfortable details, facts that other authors (and film makers) politely left out, realisms of human existence, examples of human frailty in action - and it is continued throughout. Although the bulk of Pellegrino's experience is with the technology of the "the final frontier," his complete honesty serves this subject no less. Never having heard of him before, I am - as of now - an avid fan.
This author is unflinchingly honest, too honest for comfort, but authentic. This version of what happened is not for kids, but this book is like no other, and well worth the price. This is the best book on the Titanic, ever, for anyone who can deal with humanity on its own level.
- An Amazon reviewer, from Mesa, Arizona
Years from now people are going to be studying Pellegrino's works the way they study Nostradamus today. In another time, they's have burned him at the stake. Come to think of it, they may still burn him at the stake. I may burn the dirty dog myself, if he bones another one of my shots!
- James Cameron (during Expedition Titanic XIII, 2001)
On September 11, 2001, James Cameron's Titanic expedition ended up "indefinitely extended" at sea. In New York City, the police began registering dust-covered, unattended cars as belonging to the potentially missing. Pellegrino's unattended car got him added to the list, and further confusion arose from the fact that Pellegrino lost a family member in Tower 1.
And hence the origin of this review, from Auckland, New Zealand:
"I'm really not glad that Pellegrino is dead. I'm just glad that he isn't writing books anymore, because he really did manage to pen some of the worst yarns in the entire history of the English language.
And hence this reply (sent from the middle of the Atlantic ocean)
Charles Pellegrino is not dead yet. I know this to be true because I happen to be wearing his underpants.
It seems that some New Zealanders are dumber than the sheep - which outnumber them!
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke, in reply to comments above.
Pellegrino isn't worth the carbon the universe has wasted on him.
- Former Vice Chancellor Axford, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
The only use I might be able to find for Pellegrino is to glue him to the outside of the space shuttle, with a few other gadflies, and let them be shuttle tiles.
- Graham Collins, physicist/author, New Zealand Embassy
Dr. Collins ought to know better. One cannot use people as tiles for space shuttle heat shields. High drag coefficients. Too much mass, relative to ceramic foam. Too much negative impact on fuel efficiency.
- C. Pellegrino.
Back to the Titanic: Mystery and majesty . . . Provocative . . . Spectacular . . . The most through account yet of the whole Titanic story.
- Krikus Reviews, on "Her Name, Titanic."
A splendid book, it often moved me to tears.
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke, on "Her Name, Titanic"
Impressionistic. Surrealistic, like walking through a Stanley Kubrick film. But it is impossible to pull off this sort of thing without knowing the facts, and Charlie Pellegrino knows his Titanic inside and out.
- Walter Lord, on "Her Name, Titanic"
A factless piece of crap.Arthur C. Clarke said this book moved him to tears. Yeah, it moved me to tears too because I wasted my money on it.
- An Amazon reviewer from San Jose, California
I've read many books on the Titanic, and this has to be the worst.
- Reviewer Scott Robinson on "Her Name, Titanic"
Titanic Historical Society member ,"Taking it Back": Because many of the stories Pellegrino told [in "Her Name, Titanic"] appeared in no other books, including the British and American Inquires into the sinking, I and other Titanic Historical Society members bought into the widely-voiced notion that Pellegrino's facts were "all made up." As it turns out, he and Walter Lord have over the years assembled an entire library of unpublished expedition logs and survivors accounts, the full contents of which were recently reproduced for THS and Earthship.tv. Referring to the accounts as a real eye-opener, "THS historian Don Lynch, who recently sailed with Pellegrino on James Cameron's 3-D IMAX filming expedition to the Titanic , found the author to be a true seeker, blessed with hyper-energy and an undying sense of wonder that makes him seem at times like an overgrown child, if not occasionally like a class 1-A pain in the neck . . . but a loveable pain in the neck." As for the availability of the library, Pellegrino has begun to put it on his web site, fully annotated and downloadable by an "honor system" by which readers will hopefully send donations [in honor of Walter Lord] to the Michael J. Fox organization for Parkinson's disease research (where Fox makes sure that every dime goes directly to research). This tells me everything I need to know about Pellegrino and the Titanic.
- A THS member's Amazon review of "Her Name, Titanic", January 14, 2002
1989: I love Pellegrino, Clarke's and Fernando's theory of quantum spirituality - by which all faiths, even lack of faith, may be simultaneously correct in a universe that sees every photon at light simultaneously as self-contradictory wave and particle. [But] I hate Pellegrino and Sagan's Valhalla theory (1981: an infinitely oscillating, identically repeating universe, with our current existence just the most recent cusp in an infinite series of Big Bangs and Cosmic Crunches). The theory is brilliant, evocative, and not without a certain amount of wished-for poetic order. It merely happens to be perfectly wrong.
- Stephen Hawking, Cambridge University "Data's chair," during the "God, the Universe and Everything Else" session, as complied in "Return to Sodom and Gomorrah."
Been There, Done That: Last fall, cosmologist Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University and Neil Turok of the University of Cambridge, building on earlier work with Steinhardt's graduate student Justin Khoury and other string theorists. . . proposed that the Big Bang is not a one-of-a-kind event but part of a recurring cycle. "What we're motivated by string theory to believe is that the Big Bang is not what we'll always thought - a beginning of space and time, where temperature and energy diverge," Steinhardt says. "Rather it is a transition between the current expanding phase and the preexisting contracting phase." Thanks partly to the work of Turok, Steinhardt and colleagues, our community is much more ready to accept that the Big Bang was the outcome of something rather than the cause of everything.
- Scientific American, March 2002.
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is impossible, Charles - well, never mind. Hawking did call it poetic. At least he liked its poetry. What we all like about the Valhalla theory is that it permits time travel (at least for sub-atomic particles) without the grandfather paradox, because they reach the past by going into the future through the next cosmic Crunch and Bang. Much as Niles Bohr once said to a friend, we all know that your theory is crazy; you leave us a question that refuses to go away: Is it sufficiently crazy to be right?
- Sir Arthur C. Clark, 1991
Charles, if that machine will do what you say it can, stop designing it. Throw the plan away. Destroy it, Charles. Destroy it before it destroy's you.
- Tom Vaccina, on Valhalla physics, quoting his good friend Alan Young (from George Pal's "The Time Machine")
Tom, I'm afraid I'm late already.
- C. Pellegrino to his friend Tom Vaccinia ( at the Titanic's stern, September 11, 2001)
Stop it Charles, You're making my brain hurt.
- THE Don Peterson, after hearing of Pellegrino's reply to Tom Vaccinia
Stop him before he writes again. I get a shooting pain right behind my eye every time I see the name Pellegrino. That is how bad [Pellegrino's books are]. I couldn't wait to finish ["Dust"] - not because it was an exciting page-turner, no, but because I just wanted it to be over. Just to say I survived it. I endured. I took the worst that Charles Pellegrino had to offer, and I lived to tell the tale. But at what cost? It's shaken my faith in the inherent goodness of man, and I will probably never be able to express physical love again in any meaningful way.That's what "Dust" did to me. I only hope that in spreading the word, I can save just one person from ever picking up this book.
- A reviewer from Kansas City.
I guess you don't drink Pellegrino water?
- C. Pellegrino, replying to Kansas City.
"Look at it this way Charlie, he's not going to reproduce. The overall IQ of the world has just gone up."
Computer engineer - one of Charlies imaginary friends - during a discussion of www.charlespellegrino.com web site development, 2001.
Charles has the world's record for the longest time line of any novel. The many incarnations of the universe presented in "Valhalla" span eons the way most books span hours. This book goes beyond the bible in time scale.
Master Web gimp and Jedi Smooze Master
"There are people who have probably killed themselves doing massive quantities of brain-searing drugs, trying to get for just a few minutes, into the state of mind Pellegrino normally walks around in."
- Jesse A. Stoff, Pellegrino's physician
Good or Bad, I think Charles just plain likes his reviews. Weird, ain't it.
Web site typist