Though it sometimes seems to fall in the realm of science fiction more than pure science, aviation-technology journalist Nick Cook's intriguing tale involves the long quest to develop antigravity vehicles and the sometimes eccentric characters who have played a part in it: Nazi rocket engineers, backyard inventors, NASA scientists, conspiracy theorists, and UFO watchers among them. The last group figures, Cook explains, because the ideal craft for "electrogravitic reaction" would take the form of a disc, a design consideration seen in the shape of current stealth aircraft. It could just be, the author suggests, that what witnesses have taken to be flying saucers might instead be antigravity-aircraft prototypes, though he cautions that "the subject is too complex ... to conform to a single explanation."
And therein hangs a good part of this always interesting, if admittedly speculative, story, which, regardless of the truth of the matter (or, perhaps, antimatter), will appeal to techies and Trekkies alike. -- Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
For the last 15 years, Cook has been an aviation reporter and editor at Jane's Defence Weekly, a defense industry trade journal that one would expect to find Cheney and Rumsfeld discussing on the way to the briefing room. A full-length project from a high-ranking Jane's editor creates a certain confidence in the contents, yet, as Cook makes clear, most of what's in this book won't be found in Jane's, as the evidence for "zero point energy" is less concrete, even if just as scrupulously sourced here. The book begins when Cook jokingly calls the possibility of antigravity drives "the ultimate quantum leap in aircraft design" in one of his Jane's pieces more than 10 years ago. A few years later, someone anonymously slips him an article, dating to the 1950s, that shows officials at Lockheed Martin and other big contractors claiming they were close to exactly that. Intrigued, Cook takes the bait and follows the trail to the wildest territory imaginable: destroyed or pulled reports; disappearing battleships; silent, glowing flying discs; time distortion; Nazi slave labor. To simplify in the extreme: Cook has found evidence that Nazi scientists had tapped into zero point energy the quantum energy that possibly exists within vacuums in amounts that make nuclear energy look like a joke (enough energy in the space of a coffee cup, Cook explains, to boil the world's oceans six times over). When WWII ended, Nazi secrets were plundered by the U.S. Army, which spirited them, along with many of the German scientists themselves, into "black" programs not acknowledged by the government and which may have produced working aerospace technology based on zero point. Through his cover as a Jane's reporter, Cook seeks out the stealthy wonks of this top-secret world, but readers will have to wade through some opaque thumbnail descriptions of the science and arcane WWII history to understand what he and others are getting at. It is well worth it.