- The Pyramids of Egypt
- The Nazca Lines in Peru
- The Moai of Easter Island
Chariots of the Gods? seems patently absurd nowadays and, yet, back in the late 60s and early 70s, the book became an international bestseller, being translated into 32 languages and selling tens of millions of copies. It also inspired a "documentary" film in 1970 and countless imitators. Von Däniken's central premise was widely adopted by science fiction writers. who continue to use it or variations on it down to the present day. And it's not hard to see why they do. The notion that aliens intervened in Earth's past to produce the world we have today may be pseudoscience, but it's very compelling pseudoscience with a long pedigree, with authors like H.P. Lovecraft employing it to create some of their most memorable stories.
In reflecting on Chariots of the Gods?, I was struck by how weird the popular culture of the early to mid-1970s was. Growing up, this kind of stuff was just "in the air" and I ate it up, even though I was then, as I am now, very skeptical of it. I read lots of books on this topic and saw innumerable TV shows and movies that made use of it. It's even a theme that comes up in roleplaying games, with settings as venerable as Blackmoor and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy including alien visitors as important parts of their background. That probably goes some way toward explaining the appearance of similar ideas in my Dwimmermount campaign, with the extraterrestrial Eld, space-traveling Iron God, and dimension-hopping scientists from Earth. It's the stuff of good fantasy in my opinion, so pick up a copy of Chariots of the Gods? in a used bookstore -- they're bound to have a copy -- and enjoy it for what it is rather than what it purports to be. You might be surprised how many good ideas it sparks in your imagination.