Cover image for Apocalypse pretty soon : travels in end-time America
Apocalypse pretty soon : travels in end-time America
Heard, Alex.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [1999]

Physical Description:
360 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Introduction: an eerie tingling -- Welcome, Space Brothers -- The sunny side of the end -- Earth is a mother (and she's sending you to your room -- Dressed in fire, shrill of screams -- Somebody up there likes me -- Let freedominium ring! -- Death, be not in my face -- Take me home, Mr. Wiggles -- Afterword: m
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR526 .H335 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Introduces readers to Americans whose far-from-the-mainstream religious or political beliefs lead them to expect an apocalypse.

Author Notes

Alex Heard is an editor at Wired magazine. He has also edited and written far the New York Times Magazine, Outside, The New Republic, Slate, and many other publications

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The impending arrival of the new millennium highlights a long-held interest for Heard, editor and writer for the New York Times Magazine. Heard's fascination with the vast subject area of "weird people" led him on a 10-year journey across the U.S., getting to know some unusual people with unusual and sometimes frightening convictions and behaviors, many of them millennialists. More than just reportage, these stories are rich in humor and reflect Heard's considerable empathy. Included in the rich and varied mix are a cult of past-lives believers who are awaiting the arrival of the Angelic Space Brothers; the violent and many-factioned antigovernment Republic of Texas militia; Christian and Jewish religious zealots working together in surprising ways to orchestrate and hasten the coming of the Messiah (the first or second coming, depending); and an amazing array of groups with widely divergent beliefs and practices, such as the extension of physical life, out-of-body experiences, intentional contact with extraterrestrials, gearing up for surviving anticipated global catastrophes, and the founding of a utopian nation. --Grace Fill

Library Journal Review

Heard, an editor for the New York Times Magazine, has been traveling across the United States for the last ten years, seeking out people who believe the end of time is near. Here he reports on his odyssey, bringing into focus a varied assortment of millennialists, doom-and-gloom New Agers, UFO enthusiasts, "life forever"- ists, and militant right-wing survivalists. No major theme unites the book, except that there are a lot of folks with some very weird beliefs. A cynic could portray these people as pathetic, disillusioned losers or crazies on the fringes of America, but Heard sees them as humans who believe deeply in alternatives, whether salvation by UFOs or rebirth via a bloody war. Some are harmless and happy; others have the potential to do great damage. This is a reporter's first-person account, and it's funny, opinionated, boldly subjective, fascinating, and entertaining.‘Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Welcome, Space Brothers What would happen in a world, when upon impacted soil, an angel touches down to stay a while? --from Forty Years of Love and Light, a video eulogy for Ernest and Ruth Norman, co-founders of the Unarius Academy of Science On December 27, 1974, in a moment that must have cheered somebody up at the Los Angeles offices of the Internal Revenue Service, a completed IRS form 1023 arrived by mail from a California-based outfit called Unarius--Science of Life. Form 1023 is mandatory paperwork for groups seeking tax-exempt status, and one requirement is "a narrative description of the activities presently carried on by the organization." Most people keep that answer short and straight. (Why brag when you're asking for a favor?) The Unarians did too--by their standards--but their unique mission demanded a splash of Technicolor: Planned and masterminded by millions of super-intelligent beings from higher worlds, Unariun [sic] Mission formally began in 1954. . . . [Its teachings] could most accuratly [sic] be described as containing more information, knowledge, and wisdom than would be contained in any known pricepts [sic] of human knowledge. This Interdimensional Science exist [sic] now in 30 bound volumes and was delivered to the earth world by Dr. Ernest L. Norman and his wife, Ruth E. Norman. . . . Here . . . can be attained the science of the future. . . . The IRS doesn't require nonprofits to demonstrate that their work will benefit the United States government. Unarius tossed that in anyway, giddily bragging that it could help the country win the cold war. "The Unariun Science could factually . . . place the United States far ahead of [the] U. S. S. R. in all scientific findings," the application said. Since the previous August, Ruth Norman had received "mental transmissions" from "over 159" departed luminaries, including "Albert Einstein . . . Iwan Petrovich Pawlow [sic] . . . Robert Oppenheimer, President John F. Kennedy, Eisenhower, T. Roosevelt, etc., etc." In the process she had recovered the lost secrets of the Tesla Tower, a 2,000-foot-tall wireless energy-transmission machine--attempted and abandoned on Wardenclyffe, Long Island, in the early 1900s by Nikola Tesla, the late, great engineering genius--that the Normans planned to build using "crystalline substance and gold." "There are no limitation [sic]," the statement concluded, "to the great aid we can extend to the suffering humanity." Unarius won its tax exemption, listing both Ernest and Ruth on its initial board of directors. This was rather a stretch in Ernest's case--he had died in 1971--but Ruth definitely made a mark. In 1975 she purchased a building in El Cajon, California, east of San Diego. There she nurtured a remarkably durable utopian group that has worked tirelessly ever since to spread her bizarre but joyous message about mankind's future, which she saw as one of imminent millennial salvation at the hands of "space brothers." Over the years, she attracted dozens of devoted students who helped Unarius find its place in a world that has tended (almost unanimously) to ignore or mock her prophecies, particularly her most famous one. In the mid-seventies she announced that sometime soon, thirty-three spaceships (representing thirty-two other worlds and Earth) would touch down in an interlocking stack near El Cajon. Each would contain infinitely wise extraterrestrials who were coming to launch a New Age university that would usher in perpetual peace, wisdom, and harmony. To prepare the way, Ruth bought sixty-seven acres of land outside of town and put up a sign that clearly stated the parcel's function: welcome space brothers. At one point, so confident that she placed a substantial bet with a London bookie, she announced that the landing would happen in 1976, but when that prophecy fai Excerpted from Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America by Alex Heard All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introduction: An Eerie Tinglingp. 13
Welcome, Space Brothersp. 25
The Sunny Side of the Endp. 63
Earth Is a Mother (and She's Sending You to Your Room)p. 105
Dressed in Fire, Shrill of Screamsp. 143
Somebody Up There Likes Mep. 183
Let Freedominium Ring!p. 221
Death, Be Not in My Facep. 257
Take Me Home, Mr. Wigglesp. 295
Afterword: My Thousand-Year Deep Thoughtp. 335
Notesp. 341