Weighing in at 542 pages plus endnotes, Dark Mission is a formidable and tedious read, but it can quickly be reduced to a central theme: Any time someone disagrees with Richard Hoagland's assertions about civilizations on Mars and the Moon, it's because of an utterly titanic conspiracy involving the SS, the Freemasons, and "the magicians". NASA, the Jet Propulsion Lab, private scientists, it doesn't matter - they're all either part of the conspiracy or have been sucked into its myriad twists and turns. What exactly is the conspiracy? It's honestly hard to tell. For one thing, Hoagland likes to bombard his reader with tons of weird minutiae that one is to assume is supposed to hold some meaning, such as this bit trying to illustrate weird Freemason sorcery guiding NASA launches:
As [Ranger 7, an early lunar mission] launched, the Moon itself was 33° below the horizon of the launch site, almost due West, in the realm of Osiris. At that same moment, at the impact site of Ranger 7 in three days, Orion's belt star Alnitak was exactly 19.5° above the impact site in the Mare Cognitum. Given what we know about the NASA ritual pattern and the agency's capabilities with mission planning, this hardly seems to be a coincidental series of alignments.There's 541.5 more pages of that in this book. It should also be noted that any time anything is positioned even close to 19.5° from anything else, Hoagland harps on it as if it's the greatest thing since toast. This is because 19.5° is one of the special numbers he gleaned from decoding the "hyperdimensional tetrahedral physics" of one of the cities on Mars that no one else can see. The city is located near the site called Cydonia, and according to Hoagland it contains such features as pyramids and vast temple complexes. I'm not seeing it myself, despite Hoagland's numerous blow-ups of various sites adorned with notes pointing out "girders", "leaning buildings" and "collapsed structures." He has helpfully coupled these pictures with photographs of earthly building rubble for comparison. He also includes a picture overlayed with with the "geometric message" of the city, which resembles nothing so much as a jumble of lines connecting random features of the landscape.
We chose to exclude the constellation Taurus, which is associated with the evil god Set, brother of Osiris, because it have not shown up in any of the alignment checks done to that point.
This "city" is not coincidentally located near the infamous face on Mars, which gets the blame for catching Hoagland's attention in the first place and starting this whole mess. It's the "Martian artifact" he constantly goes back to when all else fails. The thing is, we have better pictures of the "face" than we did back when Viking 1 took the now-infamous image that Hoagland is so in love with. With modern equipment, the "face" looks like this.
The point of Dark Mission, in fact, boils down to an elaborate explanation by Hoagland as to why he still sees the face, and the cities, and a Terminator skull (complete with a photograph of C-3Po for comparison) but other people don't. To Hoagland, the answer isn't just that he's fallen victim to pareidolia and wishful thinking.* Instead, everyone else in the world is wrong, some of them going so far as to actively spread lies to conceal the myriad ways in which Hoagland imagines himself to be right. That, to all appearances, is the conspiracy. And what a vast and far-reaching conspiracy it is. On page 81 he even accuses JPL scientist Dr. Michael Malin (The Bad Guy of the book) of using his secretary as a shill to secretly "become expert in the techniques necessary to spot artifacts in the images set to be received by the Mars Observer" in order to snub Hoagland. Diabolical.
Dark Mission is among the most garbled bundles of weirdness that I've read in recent memory, and that means something since I hang out at Above Top Secret a lot. In his attempts to respond to legitimate criticisms of his "work", Hoagland has fallen down his own rabbit hole and created for himself a world of ever more complex conspiracies and relationships that I'm not convinced even he can even explain lucidly. Dark Mission is a sad testament to this. If you don't mind throwing away $25 and several irreplaceable hours of your life, then by all means check it out. Just don't expect to learn anything.
*He claims on page 4 that the face can't be pareidolia because it is "a direct, overhead view" rather than "a profile view", then goes on to marvel at its symmetry. Then, on page 334, he says that he's always expected the face to be asymmetrical, with a "feline aspect" on the eastern half "specifically intended to represent a lion". Hoagland's current claims include Mars as a prototype of Egyptian mythology, and he apparently thinks that the Egyptian god Horus was associated with lions. Thus the asymmetry of the "face" of Mars is clearly, according to Hoagland, meant to represent some kind of magic man-lion. On his website he even points to that Disney movie The Lion King as a evidence of a historical "lion/human duality". Somehow though he fails to mention this.