Sci-Fi Pioneer Returns from the Afterlife
by David Haith
This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, issue 36.
Throughout his long life Forrest J Ackerman was certain that life after death was utter bunk.
But soon after his own death at the age of 92, began a series of weird happenings to friends and colleagues in the US.
Some events are so inexplicable that many say it is certain that former famous science fiction writer Forrest – he actually invented the term ‘sci-fi’ – is communicating from the other side.
Many of the happenings over four years have been filmed by his lifelong friend Paul Davids who has turned them into a feature documentary, The Life After Death Project, now being hailed as a milestone in paranormal studies.
Since his death the film relates how Forrest:
* ‘Wrote’ the name ‘Ackerman 000’ on a computer screen – manipulating anti-spam software.
* Blotted out a line of text on a document in black ink which two forensic scientists say is ‘impossible’ and they can’t replicate.
* Scattered documents across the floor at the home of one of the scientists and started an unwound clock chiming while he was being filmed.
* ‘Haunted’ a wooden African mask at Paul Davids’ home so that it registered ‘off the scale’ in electro magnetic frequencies. All this was recorded on film.
* Dematerialised a whole carousel of slides showing the same mask being worn in a tribal dance.
* Moved a plastic mask of Forrest ten feet at Paul’s home the day he heard his film was to be broadcast on TV.
* ‘Haunted’ the house where he once lived by creating a shadow figure and scattering musical scores around a room.
* Created confusion at a magazine when, despite being proof read by four staff, an article about Forrest’s death was published with the inkblot phenomena paragraph repeated twice.
* ‘Returned’ via three mediums with startling evidence of his survival beyond death.
And these incidents are just a few of the weird occurrences and synchronicities which Paul is now certain are his pal’s method of letting the world know that life is continuous.
Paul told me: ‘These strange things kept happening to people I involved in the case including scientists at three universities. I welcome all this. I seem to have had extensive and continuing help from a ‘personality unseen’ to enable me to build the very best case that there really is survival of consciousness and personality after a person dies.’
He added: ‘What I have personally concluded, because no other explanation fits the data, is that I heard from ‘Forry’ loud and clear, multiple times, after he had departed this world.’
Perhaps the strangest event witnessed by Paul was the mysterious ‘ink-blot’ mentioned above.
It appeared on a document of events he had printed and casually tossed on his bed while he was away for five minutes.
But when he returned he noticed there was moist black ink blacking out four words on one line ‘Spoke to Joe Amodei’ with the name completely obliterated. (The name was later to have meaning in relation to Forrest and his love of puns).
Paul knew he was alone in the house so he determined to use hard science to get to the bottom of the mystery.
He called in the services of two scientists at top laboratories who devoted hundreds of hours to their quest. But they couldn’t explain how the obliteration happened. Although the ink was similar to that in Paul’s printer – it contained a mystery silver additive. And try as they might they couldn’t identify any solvent that would black out the words as Forrest’s ‘ghost’ had done.
The blot phenomena was strangely appropriate because it was almost like a fulfilled prophecy.
Paul explained: ‘When Forry denied the possibility of an afterlife to me and other friends we’d say: ‘What if you’re wrong?’ Forry would reply: ‘If I’m wrong, I’ll be too busy for a while talking to Boris Karloff. But when the talking dies down, I can drop you a line. I’ll let you know there’s more – there’s another side’. We took it as his humour but thinking about it – it seems he really did drop us a line.’
When Forrest was alive and famous for editing around 200 editions of his influential Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, he dwelt in a literary land of fantasy.
But it seems that our sci-fi hero is, in his afterlife state, rapidly turning fiction and fantasy into fact.
Paul’s own science-fact trail led to Professor Gary Schwartz who at the University of Arizona does research into the nature of consciousness.
With complex equipment measuring single light photons and also radiation sensors, he claims to have made contact with Forrest’s spirit.
Said Professor Schwartz: “When I look at the totality of the evidence, the best hypothesis is life after death. I began with doubts and despite all the evidence I still have doubts. But my doubts are not based on evidence – they are based on my upbringing and sceptical mind-set.”
As well as exploring this latest cutting edge research Paul’s film also delves into the past with unique footage of psychic pioneer and Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Although most religions accept some form of life after death, Paul asserts that a belief in a deity is not necessary for an acceptance of survival of consciousness.
‘I think the issue of life after death can be dealt with in a non-theological way, which is what I have tried to do thus far” he explained. “The question I am asking is whether there is empirical evidence that there are ‘discarnate beings’ that can communicate with us and signal their presence in any number of ways. This can be discussed, researched and analysed without ever speculating as to whether an affirmative answer implies a Supreme Being and First Cause.’
He added: ‘The fact that a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis into a butterfly is part of the physical nature of reality one can study independently of whether there was a supreme designer of the caterpillar or butterfly.’
Which isn’t a million miles from the views of arch sceptic Michael Shermer who appears in the film and states:
‘I would say, for example, that if it turns out there is a soul, it’s a pattern of information, it’s stored quantum mechanically through some kind of quantum physics effect, and that that pattern continues on beyond the physical body. Well that wouldn’t be paranormal any more or the supernatural, right? It would just be part of quantum physics and it turns out we get to live forever and our patterns are stored in the energy field and that’s just like chapter 18 in your physics book. It’s just part of science.’
Well said Michael – I’m sure atheist Forrest in the great beyond, agrees wholeheartedly.
Meet the Author: Paul Davids is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films include The Sci-Fi Boys and Jesus in India. He is also known for executive producing and co-writing Showtime’s original TV movie, Roswell, which was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Motion Picture for Television. www.lifeafterdeathproject.com.
Check the film trailer.
The Life After Death Project
film by Paul Davids
Yellow Hat Productions
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