09 February 2013
Review: Father Ernetti's Chronovisor: The Creation and Disappearance of the World's First Time Machine
Father Ernetti's Chronovisor: The Creation and Disappearance of the World's First Time Machine by Peter Krassa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Probably closer to a 3.5
I first heard of the Chronovisor in Matthew W. Rossi's Bottled Demon, and thought the concept was so weird and ridiculous that I needed to learn more. The only full-length English book I could find was this one, a translation and expansion of the original Italian text.
The Chronovisor stuff? Mostly good. The translation is a little rough at times, but in terms of the basic claims and information about the Chronovisor and what was allegedly observed by Father Ernetti, the book does a good job presenting it. Ernetti is also interesting in and of himself, as we learn a bit as to why such an outlandish claim was so well-accepted, given his life as the Vatican's best exorcist. It's an interesting story that can really get some traction as a story on Vatican scientific ignorance, or of basic confirmation bias.
The chief problem with the book, however, is that the interesting story that exists is largely ignored because the book is steeped in a pseudoscientific history lesson that weakens the entirety of Ernetti's story as a result. This is not to say that the Chronovisor story is not, in itself, what we'd call truthful, but the loose ties to Edgar Cayce, to Whitley Strieber (really?), are hardly worth the time in context.
I think there's a worthwhile pseudoscience text out there that can cover a lot of this. I hate to even slog the book on that level, but the sleight of hand of presenting an interesting quirk as a launching pad for your favorite pseudoscientific adventures just comes across as dishonest.
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