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                         Review: The Hidden Truth
                             By:  Jason Compton 
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They say that "alien fever" is at an all-time high in the US and around the
world, due in large part to the 50th anniversary of the Roswell "UFO
Sighting."  (When you're talking about something like the Hidden Truth and
the contents on it, it's hard to avoid lots of quotation marks, because the
whole point is that nobody quite knows what's REALLY going on.)  This
surprises me to some degree since, after all, with the exception of Babylon
5 there's not much good science fiction on TV, and film's offerings have
been poor as well.

But that's the fact, so we're hearing, alien fever has gripped the world.
Conspiracy theorists are at their wildest.  And what better way to spend an
afternoon than picking through the archives of the paranormal?

The Hidden Truth is a multiplatform compilation from Sadeness Software, who
put themselves on the map with the very well received AGA Experience CD
series.  Sadeness has done the very obvious and intelligent thing in
assembling this CD: they've done it in HTML.  It makes it very easily
cross-platform (all they need to do is give everyone a browser: for Amiga
users, a demo version of AWeb is included.  PC and Mac users get IE), and
allows for an attractive layout if you know what you're doing--and enough
work has gone into the CD to make it attractively laid out if nothing else.
(One minor complaint is that Sadeness self-consciously used animated GIFs
and tell Amiga users they'll need to use their own browser if they want to
see them.)

The HTML layout uses what I can only call the "non-frame approach to
frames".  If you've been on the Amiga Web Directory lately, you know what I
mean.  You can typically go to any major section of the CD (UFOs,
Paranormal, Science Fiction, Government Coverups, Human Curiosities, and
Space) from any other major section.

Discussion of UFOs is the headline feature on the disc, and there's loads
of it.  From long-winded "proofs" of their existence to galleries of photos
and video clips (unfortunately, these are mostly in the poor quality AVI
format), there's enough to give you the chills--or set you to laughing,
depending on your disposition to the topic.  The quality varies
wildly--some pages are put together by Sadeness from existing material,
others are merely snapshots of WWW pages run by other people.  

The Science Fiction page is far more dedicated to the "Science Horror"
subgenre than to general SF.  "Alien" is of course heavily featured, as are
other H.R. Giger disturb-out pictures.  X-Files fans are catered to as
well, but the bottom line is that if you're looking for a catalogue of the
aliens in Star Trek or Babylon 5, you've got the wrong CD.  I guess those
shows aren't as interesting to the hard-core conspiracy theorists...

The Paranormal section is the freakier side of the CD, with some
information on spontaneous human combustion, voodoo, and witchcraft.
I noticed a bit of sloppiness on Sadeness' part here--they included an HTML
page from a site which was simply a "We've moved, update your bookmark or
wait 10 seconds" page--and the kicker is that the auto-load doesn't
reference the page properly!

Crop circles, ghosts, the pyramids, and Nostradamus get their day as well.
Of some interest is the "Skeptic's Dictionary", which if you've made it
this far through the CD and are shaking your head in disbelief is a
must-see.

Some of the web sites pulled for this CD seem to have been done so in a
very casual manner.  Others, like the VJ Enterprises page, even have a
special Hidden Truth introduction specifically for the CD.  (VJ is a sort
of UFO/paranormal clearinghouse with a new age/spiritual slant).

If you're one of the few people who thinks Noam Chomsky has anything
interesting to say, the page which covers his "Secret History of the United
States" is of particular interest.  While some of the things border on the
fantastic-but-probably-true (governments and militaries do terrible things,
even in peacetime, and I have no illusions about that), others are simply
repetitions of things which are clearly true and happen all around us,
every day.  It's hardly a "conspiracy" when Ford won't recall the Pinto
because it's cheaper to pay lawsuits than fix the cars.  Actuaries are all
around us.  (Hey, now THERE'S an idea for a conspiracy page!)

Britain gets the once-over as well.  MI5, MI6, and other quasi-official
organizations of the UK are explained on a companion page.  But for
whatever reason, by and large the CD deals with loads of USA coverups.  (I
guess Doctor Who WAS wrong--alien invasions don't start in London after
all.)

The Space pages are by and large unchallengably legitimate, with resources
and data most sane people accept as factual (data on the nine planets and
their moons, footage from official space agencies like NASA, etc.)  Too bad
Hidden Truth missed the Mars Pathfinder boat...maybe if there's a release
2.

Sadeness has done a very good job putting everything together.  The
original graphical work they did is excellent, and the .WAV files that play
on the major pages are very appropriate and atmospheric.  The CD isn't real
cheap (UKP 30 recommended price), so I couldn't recommend it as a casual
purchase over a new Aminet CD or even Sadeness' AGA Experience 3, but if
this sort of thing intrigues you at all and you want a one-stop resource,
The Hidden Truth is a good buy.

Sadeness Software
13 Russel Terrace
Mundesley
Norfolk
NR11 8LJ England/UK

+44 1263 722169 voice/fax
http://www.sadeness.demon.co.uk
rich@sadeness.demon.co.uk