Strieber is best known for his horror novels and Communion (1987), a nonfiction account of his perceived experiences with non-human entities.
On December 26, 1985, Strieber was reportedly abducted from his cabin in upstate New York by non-human beings. Although his book Communion recounting his experiences is generally perceived as an account of alien abduction, Strieber draws no conclusions about the identity of his alleged abductors. Instead, he refers to them as “the visitors”, a name chosen to be as neutral as possible and entertain the possibility they are not extraterrestrials and may only exist in his mind.
Following the popularity of the book, Strieber’s account was subject to intense scrutiny and derision. Some came from within the publishing world itself: Although published as non-fiction, the book editor of the Los Angeles Times pronounced the follow-up title, Transformation (1988), to be fiction and removed it from the non-fiction best-seller list (it nonetheless made the top 10 on the fiction side of the chart). “It’s a reprehensible thing,” Strieber responded. “My book is a true story … Placing this book on the fiction list is an ugly example of exactly the kind of blind prejudice that has hurt human progress for many generations.”
Criticism noting the similarity between the non-human beings in Strieber’s autobiographical accounts and the non-human beings in his earlier horror novels were also acknowledged by the author as a fair observation, but not indicative of his autobiographical works being fictional: “The mysterious small beings that figure prominently in Catmagic seem to be an unconscious rendering of [the visitors], created before I was aware that they may be real.”
Strieber wrote four additional autobiographies detailing his experiences with the visitors, Transformation (1988), Breakthrough (1995), The Secret School (1996), and Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is to Come (2011). Strieber wrote the screenplay for the film Communion (1989), directed by Philippe Mora and starring Christopher Walken as Strieber. Strieber also co-authored The Coming Global Superstorm with Art Bell, which inspired the film about sudden climate change, The Day After Tomorrow.
In his 1995 book Breakthrough, Strieber offered a new theory regarding his experiences and claimed to have recovered repressed memories of early childhood encounters with his Visitors. They came, he concluded, to teach him how to time-travel, and in his books he is using imagination to prompt readers to overcome their fears of the unknown.
In Solving the Communion Enigma, Strieber reflects on how advances in scientific understanding since his initial book may shed light on what he perceived, noting, “Among other things, since I wrote Communion, science has determined that parallel universes may be physically real and that time travel may in some way be possible”. The book is a consolidation of UFO sightings and related phenomena, including crop circles, alien abductions, mutilations and deaths and attempt to discern some form of meaningful overall pattern. Strieber concludes the human species is being shepherded to a higher level of understanding and existence within an endless “multiverse” of matter, energy, space and time. He also writes candidly about the deleterious effects his initial experiences had upon him while staying at his upstate New York cabin in the 1980s, noting “I was regularly drinking myself to sleep when we were there. I would listen to the radio until late hours, drinking vodka.”
Strieber is currently the host of the paranormal and fringe science-themed internet podcast, Dreamland, available from his website, Unknown Country. The program was a former companion show to Coast to Coast AM, before being taken on by Strieber in 1999.