Whitley Strieber

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Whitley Strieber
Author Whitley Strieber and Ann Strieber, lecturing to MUFON
Born Louis Whitley Strieber
(1945-06-13) June 13, 1945 (age 73)
San Antonio, Texas, United States
Occupation Writer/novelist
Nationality American
Period 1978–present
Genre Social science fiction, Ufology, Horror novels
Notable works The Wolfen (1978)
The Hunger (1981)
Communion (1987)
Spouse Anne Strieber

Louis Whitley Strieber (/ˈstrbər/; born June 13, 1945) is an American writer best known for his horror novels The Wolfen and The Hunger and for Communion, a non-fiction account of his alleged experiences with non-human entities. He has maintained a dual career of author of fiction and advocate of alternative concepts through his best-selling non-fiction books, his Unknown Country website, and his internet podcast, Dreamland.[1][2]

Early life

Strieber was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Kathleen Mary (Drought) and Karl Strieber, a lawyer.[3] He attended Central Catholic Marianist High School in San Antonio, Texas. He was educated at the University of Texas at Austin and the London School of Film Technique, graduating from each in 1968. He then worked for several advertising firms in New York City, rising to the level of vice president before leaving in 1977 to pursue a writing career.

Early fiction

Strieber began his career as a novelist with the horror novels The Wolfen (1978) and The Hunger (1981), each of which was later made into a movie, followed by the less successful horror novels Black Magic (1982)[4] and The Night Church (1983).[5]

Strieber then turned to speculative fiction with social conscience. Collaborating with James Kunetka, he wrote Warday (1984), about the dangers of limited nuclear warfare, and Nature's End (1986),[6] a novel about environmental apocalypse. He independently authored Wolf of Shadows (1985),[7] a young adult novel set in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

In 1986, Strieber's fantasy novel Catmagic was published with co-authorship credited to Jonathan Barry, who was billed as an aerospace industry consultant and a practicing witch.[8] In the 1987 paperback edition, Strieber states that Jonathan Barry is fictitious and that he is the sole author of Catmagic. Strieber's personal publishing company, Walker & Collier, is named after two characters in Catmagic.

Later, less successful thrillers by Strieber include Billy (1990), The Wild (1991), Unholy Fire (1992)[9] and The Forbidden Zone (1993).

Short stories

The author's short stories were collected in the 1997 limited edition volume Evenings with Demons.[10] More recent short stories include "The Good Neighbor", published in Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary, and "The Christmas Spirits" (2012),[11] a modern retelling of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, published in the US as an eBook and in the UK as a hardcover from Coronet, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton.

Communion and "the visitors"

Strieber asserts that he was abducted from his cabin in upstate New York on the evening of December 26, 1985 by non-human beings. He wrote about this experience and related experiences in Communion (1987), his first non-fiction book. Although the book is perceived generally as an account of alien abduction, Strieber draws no conclusions about the identity of alleged abductors. He refers to the beings as "the visitors," a name chosen to be as neutral as possible to entertain the possibility that they are not extraterrestrials and may instead exist in his mind.

Both the hardcover and paperback edition of Communion reached the number one position on the New York Times Best Seller list (non-fiction), with more than 2 million copies collectively sold. With Communion, an esoteric subject had reached the cultural mainstream, and Strieber found himself, perhaps unexpectedly, as its representative.

Following the popularity of the book, the author's account was subject to intense scrutiny and even derision. Some disparagement came from within the publishing world itself: Although published as non-fiction, the book editor of the Los Angeles Times pronounced the follow-up title, Transformation (1988),[12] to be fiction and removed it from the non-fiction best-seller list (it nonetheless made the top 10 on the fiction side of the chart). “It's a reprehensible thing,” Strieber responded. “My book is a true story ... Placing this book on the fiction list is an ugly example of exactly the kind of blind prejudice that has hurt human progress for many generations.” [13] Criticism noting the similarity between the non-human beings in Strieber's autobiographical accounts and the non-human beings in his initial horror novels were typically acknowledged by the author as a fair observation, but not indicative of his autobiographical works being fictional: "The mysterious small beings that figure prominently in Catmagic seem to be an unconscious rendering of [the visitors], created before I was aware that they may be real."[14]

Over the next 24 years (since the 1987 publication of Communion), Strieber wrote four additional autobiographies detailing his experiences with the visitors: Transformation (1988), a direct follow-up; Breakthrough: The Next Step (1995),[15] a reflection on the original events and accounts of the sporadic contact he'd subsequently experienced; The Secret School (1996),[16] in which he examines strange memories from his childhood; and lastly, Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is to Come (2011).[17]

In Solving the Communion Enigma, Strieber reflects on how advances in scientific understanding since his 1987 publication may shed light on what he perceived, noting, "Among other things, since I wrote Communion, science has determined that parallel universes may be physically real and that time travel may in some way be possible". The book is a consolidation of UFO sightings and related phenomena, including crop circles, alien abductions, mutilations and deaths in an attempt to discern any kind of meaningful overall pattern. Strieber concludes that the human species is being shepherded to a higher level of understanding and beingness within an endless "multiverse" of matter, energy, space and time. He also writes more candidly about the deleterious effects his initial experiences had upon him while staying at his upstate New York cabin in the 1980s, noting "I was regularly drinking myself to sleep when we were there. I would listen to the radio until late hours, drinking vodka..."[18]

Other visitor-themed books of Strieber's include Majestic (1989),[19] a novel about the Roswell UFO incident; The Communion Letters (1997, reissued in 2003),[20] a collection of letters from readers reporting experiences similar to Strieber's; Confirmation (1998),[21] in which Strieber reviews a variety of evidence that is suggestive of alien contact, and considers what more would be required to provide 'confirmation'; The Grays (2006)[22] a novel in which his impressions of alien contact are presented through a fictional thriller/espionage narrative, and; Hybrids (2011)[23] a fictional narrative that imagines human/alien hybrids being born into the modern world.

Additional visitor-themed writings include a screenplay for the 1989 film Communion, directed by Philippe Mora and starring Christopher Walken as Strieber. The movie covers material from the novel Communion and Transformation. Strieber has stated that he was dissatisfied with the film, which utilized scenes of improvised dialogue and includes themes not present in his books. Strieber also wrote a screenplay for his novel Majestic, which has not been filmed as of 2015.[24]

Whitley Strieber has repeatedly expressed frustration that his experiences have been taken as "alien contact" when he does not actually know what they were. Strieber has reported anomalous childhood experiences and suggested that he may have suffered some sort of early interference by intelligence or military agencies.[25]

He was extensively tested for temporal lobe epilepsy and other brain abnormalities at his own request, but his brain was found to be functioning normally. The results of these tests were reported in his book Transformation.

The Master of the Key

In the predawn hours of June 6, 1998, Strieber was allegedly visited in his Toronto hotel room by a mysterious but very ordinary-looking elderly Caucasian man, who delivered an unsolicited lecture covering various subjects from spirituality to the environment. When queried, the man airily suggested that he might be called "Michael," but Whitley has taken to referring to him as the "Master of the Key." Strieber first reported the visit in his online journal in 1998 and later gave a more complete account in his self-published book The Key (2001). Skeptics have pointed out that The Key and the 1998 journal entries give different (not contradictory but non-overlapping) accounts of what the man said. Strieber's mention of his personally devised system of shorthand or abbreviated note-taking in an interview with George Knapp on June 19, 2011, might at least partially account for this apparent discrepancy as the author had to reconstruct the entire 45-minute conversation with his visitor from a series of barely legible squiggles he discovered by his hotel bedside upon reawakening from deep sleep much later that same morning. He also chose to emphasize different subjects or aspects of the exchange according to how he surmised they could best be assimilated by his readers. Strieber claims that the stranger in his room informed him that humans have an electron floating in front of their foreheads, and that that may indeed be their soul. He also claimed the stranger handed him a vial of unknown white liquid, instructed him to drink it, and he did.[26]

Before publishing The Key, Strieber coauthored, with Art Bell, The Coming Global Superstorm (1999), a book about the possibility of rapid and destructive climate change. He has said that it was based largely on things the Master of the Key had told him about the environment. The book served as the inspiration for the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow (2004)[27] and Strieber later wrote a novelization of that movie.

Another book Strieber says was inspired by the teachings of the Master of the Key is the self-published The Path (2002),[28] which deals with the symbolism of the Tarot of Marseilles.[29]

Current works

Whitley Strieber is currently the host of the paranormal and fringe science-themed internet podcast, Dreamland, available on a weekly basis from his website, Unknown Country.[30] The program was a former companion show to Coast to Coast AM, with both shows founded by broadcaster Art Bell, before being taken on by Strieber in 1999.

Strieber has also returned to writing novels in recent years, including The Last Vampire (2001), and Lilith's Dream (2003), both being sequels to his 1981 vampire novel The Hunger. As well, he has authored 2012: The War For Souls (2007), a horror novel about an interdimensional invasion, and Critical Mass (2009), a thriller about nuclear terrorism. Strieber also co-authored the graphic novel The Nye Incidents (2008), along with co-authors Craig Spector and Guss Floor.

His novel, The Omega Point, is a novel "based on a hidden connection between 2012 and the Book of Revelation".[31] This title released in 2010 is Strieber's second novel dealing with the subject of 2012, the first being his novel 2012: The War for Souls. The Omega Point details the then-coming events surrounding 2012. Strieber outlines three ways in which humanity may evolve, each of which are equally disturbing.

An entry in the popular teen-lit genre, Melody Burning, was published in late 2011. The story centers on a feral teenager who lives within a skyrise building unnoticed, and a new tenant, a pop-star named Melody, with whom he falls in love.

In 2012, Strieber began an alien-themed thriller series called 'Alien Hunter,' the first volume of which was published in August 2013. A movie based on the book will be released by SyFy in 2016 called Hunters.[32] The second volume in the series, Alien Hunter: Underworld, was published in August 2014.

In March 2014, Strieber and his wife Anne published an account of her illness called Miraculous Journey. Mrs. Strieber experienced a cerebral hemorrhage in 2004, and in 2013 went under treatment for a brain tumor.

Media appearances

Strieber wrote an essay in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders nude portrait book, XXX: 30 Porn Star Photographs and appears in interviews in Thinking XXX, a 2004 HBO documentary about the making of that book.

Strieber and his wife Anne made a cameo appearance in the 2009 movie Race to Witch Mountain.

Television appearances during the publication of Communion were numerous and included The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He has made appearances (including a 2006 interview on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson) in support of his newer novels.

He has been featured many times on the overnight radio show Coast to Coast AM, both as guest and guest-host. On 6 April 2013 he did a two-hour interview with John B. Wells.[33]

Cultural influences

In the TV series Babylon 5, there is an alien race that is similar to the Greys in Communion. This race is named the Streibs after Whitley Strieber.[34]

In an episode of The X-Files, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", the cover of the book From Outer Space is a parody of the cover of Communion (the difference being that the alien on the cover is depicted smoking a cigarette).[citation needed]

In the 120th book in The Hardy Boys series, The Case of the Cosmic Kidnapping (1993), the character of "Hodding Wheatley", a Connecticut-based writer who had undergone UFO experiences, is inspired by Strieber, as indicated by the surname of the character "Wheatley".[citation needed]

In Search of Truth, a 2001 concept album by Swedish progressive metal band Evergrey, was inspired by the ideas presented in Communion.

The Post-Punk Dance Music group The Mekano Set cite Whitley Strieber's non-fiction work as an influence on their work. They wrote a tribute to Strieber for their 2013 album The Three Thieves (a reference to characters from Strieber's novel The Grays) entitled What is it Whit?[35]

Personal life

Whitley Strieber is currently a practicing Catholic. He is also associated with the Gurdjieff Foundation.[36] He left regular work in the Foundation shortly before the experiences reported in Communion but remains involved in the mystical teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky and makes frequent references to them in his non-fiction writings.

Strieber is the widower of Anne Strieber. He lives in California.


  • Wolfen (1978)
  • The Hunger (1981)
  • Black Magic (1982)
  • The Night Church (1983)
  • Warday (1984)
  • Nature's End (1986)
  • Wolf of Shadows (1985)
  • Catmagic (1986)
  • Communion (1987)
  • Transformation (1988)
  • Majestic (1989)
  • Billy (1990)
  • The Wild (1991)
  • Unholy Fire (1992)
  • The Forbidden Zone (1993)
  • Breakthrough (1995)
  • The Secret School (1996)
  • The Communion Letters (1997), with Anne Strieber (editors)
  • Confirmation (1998)
  • Superstorm (1999)
  • The Key (2001)
  • The Last Vampire (2001)
  • Lilith's Dream (2002)
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2006)
  • The Grays (2006)
  • 2012 (2007)
  • Critical Mass (2009)
  • The Omega Point (2010)
  • Hybrids (2011)
  • Christmas Spirits (2012)
  • Solving the Communion Enigma (2012)
  • Orenda (2013)
  • Alien Hunter (2013)
  • Miraculous Journey (2014)
  • Alien Hunter: Underworld (2014)

Film adaptations

See also


  1. "alternative news, science, culture, religion, ufos, alien encounters | unknowncountry | the edge of the world". unknowncountry.com. Retrieved 2015-07-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "science, UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, prophecy, reincarnation, environment | dreamland radio | unknowncountry". unknowncountry.com. Retrieved 2015-07-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Morris, Whit (1950-01-01). The First Tunstalls in Virginia: And Some of Their Descendants. Press of the Clegg Company.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Strieber, Whitley (1984-01-01). Black Magic. Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671460846.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Strieber, Whitley (1983-01-01). The Night Church. Severn House. ISBN 9780727813022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Strieber, Whitley; Kunetka, James W. (1987-01-01). Nature's End. Warner Books. ISBN 9780446343558.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Strieber, Whitley (1988-01-01). Wolf of Shadows. Knight Books. ISBN 9780340426111.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Strieber, Whitley (1987-01-01). Cat Magic. Tom Doherty Associates. ISBN 9780812515503.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Strieber, Whitley (1992-01-01). Unholy Fire. Warner. ISBN 9780751501858.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Strieber, Whitley (2008-09-01). Evenings with Demons. Diamond Comic Distributors. ISBN 9781880325827.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Strieber, Whitley (2011-11-21). The Christmas Spirits: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens retold for modern times. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 9781444732627.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Strieber, Whitley (1997-01-01). Transformation: The Breakthrough. Avon Books. ISBN 9780380705351.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "This Transformation Makes Author Blue". Newsday, Inside NY. 10 October 1988. p. 11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Strieber, Whitley (1987). Cat Magic. New York City: Tor Books. p. Foreword. ISBN 9780812515503. I wrote Catmagic in 1984, well before I was consciously aware of the visitors who figure in Communion. Communion is a story of how it felt to have personal contact with the visitors. The mysterious small beings that figure prominently in Catmagic seem to be an unconscious rendering of them, created before I was aware that they may be real.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Strieber, Whitley (1996-06-01). Breakthrough: The Next Step. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780061009587.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Strieber, Whitley (1997-01-01). The Secret School: Preparation for Contact. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060187316.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Strieber, Whitley (2012-01-05). Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is To Come. Penguin. ISBN 9781101554234.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Strieber, Whitley (2011). Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is to Come. New York City: Penguin. ISBN 978-1-58542-917-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Page 9: "As I have said, it is not at all clear the final resolution of the mystery will involve creatures from another planet. Among other things, since I wrote Communion, science has determined that parallel universes may be physically real and that time travel may in some way be possible."; Page 157: "I was regularly drinking myself to sleep..."
  19. Strieber, Whitley (2011-08-02). Majestic. Macmillan. ISBN 9781429970327.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Strieber, Whitley; Strieber, Anne (1998-01-01). The Communion Letters. Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671017866.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Strieber, Whitley (1999-02-15). Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us?. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312967048.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Strieber, Whitley (2007-04-01). The Grays. Macmillan. ISBN 9781429914857.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Strieber, Whitley (2012-02-28). Hybrids. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9780765363503.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Beyond Communion - Unproduced Screenplays". beyondcommunion.com. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "The Boy in the Box," Whitley's Journal, Friday, March 14, 2003
  26. Extraterrestrial Life: A Possibility: A Comprehensive Guide on UFOs, and Aliens. Terrain. 2015-03-01. p. 229.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Emmerich, Roland; Gordon, Mark. "The Day After Tomorrow Q&A with Roland Emmerich and Mark Gordon" (Interview).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Strieber, Whitley (2002-01-01). The Path. Walker & Collier, Incorporated. ISBN 9780974286594.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Extraterrestrial Life: A Possibility: A Comprehensive Guide on UFOs, and Aliens. Terrain. 2015-03-01. p. 230.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "alternative news, science, culture, religion, ufos, alien encounters - unknowncountry - the edge of the world". unknowncountry.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "Why is the Middle East Exploding?" Whitley's Journal, Wednesday, February 2, 2011
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Syfy - Watch Full Episodes - Imagine Greater - Hunters". Syfy.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "'The Visitors'". coasttocoastam.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. IMDb 'trivia' for B5 season 2, episode 11, "All Alone in the Night" (1995).[unreliable source?]
  35. "The Mekano Set - Three Thieves". mekanoset.net.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "iagf.org". iagf.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Bell, Art; Whitley Strieber (December 28, 1999). "'The Coming Global Superstorm'". CNN. Retrieved 2007-04-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Graham, Mark (August 18, 2006). "Brief reviews, August 18". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-04-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links