Just listened to the Whitley Strieber 'Coast' interview with one of my fave mainstream journalists, George Knapp. Discussed was 'The Key,' which I got when it first came out. It bothered my quite a bit at the time, and I haven't read it since.
Knapp had what is the best theory of who 'The Master Of The Key' really was (beyond simply being a Canadian who doesn't pay taxes): a future iteration of Strieber himself, visiting from the future.
This makes some sense; critics of 'The Key' have noticed how internally inconsistent it is, logically and philosophically. This mirrors Strieber's unique dialectic, which attempts to arrive at truths by allowing diametrically opposed arguments (many of which are demonstrably "wrong") to achieve some sort of synthesis.
I should probably re-read "The Key," particularly because I bought the mangled first edition, which may have been altered and censored. But while it may be better than other esoteric books out there, I'm not convinced that it's the profound revelation that Whitley thinks it is (though I'm open to being convinced).
One thing he said, however, makes me want to go back and re-read 'The Key': the 'Master' says that our 'souls' have a physical composition, and there are spiritual predators that 'harvest' the physical product of these souls, and use this physical product to construct intelligent machines.
This is, of course, the same conclusion that Nick Redfern's 'Collin's Elite' came to after studying the UFO phenomenon. And, despite the Christian fundamentalist bent of the Collins Elite, I actually think that they are observing something real--but what it 'is,' and what it means, I don't know.
Whitley goes on to suggest that souls that are 'evil' are more likely to be 'harvested.' I'm reminded of Michael Newton, who makes a number of pointed references in his books to souls that are refurbished, or rebuilt, when their 'energy' has become too contaminated with destructive tendencies.
I think that there is something there. But what these different observers are seeing, and what the thing that they are seeing means, is not yet clear.