Originally published in 1967, Mysterious Fires and Lights is Gaddis’ follow-up to the bestselling Invisible Horizons (1965).
Originally published in France in 1960 as Le Matin des Magiciens, the first English edition (UK) appeared in 1963 as The Dawn of Magic. The first US edition, titled The Morning of the Magicians, was published by Stein and Day in 1964. This is the first U.S. paperback edition, released the same year (1968) as Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? Although Däniken’s book loosed the ancient alien hypothesis upon popular culture, the idea is broached by Pauwels and Bergier and had been circulating in the literature of the unexplained for many years. Here’s Charles Fort in The Book of the Damned (1919):
I think we’re property. I should say we belong to something: That once upon a time, this earth was No-man’s Land, that other worlds explored and colonized here, and fought among themselves for possession, but that now it’s owned by something: That something owns this earth—all others warned off.
In fact, The Morning of the Magicians is a book of Forteana: both authors were great admirers and self-described heirs of the author’s specific brand of anti-rationalism. The book was a sensation in France upon publication, and Pauwels and Bergier started the magazine Planète in 1961 to further explore their brand of “Fantastic Realism.”
The cover art of the Avon edition is by Mati Klarwein, best known for his psychedelic, anti-Eurocentric album covers (Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Santana’s Abraxas, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Last Days and Time).