Fortean Forerunners


Steve Moore (Ed.) Fortean Studies, Volume 1. John Brown Publishing, 1994
Patrick Huyge and Dennis Stacy (Eds.) The Anomalist, 1. 1994.

These volumes present an important development in Fortean publishing. Semi-annual compilations of long, well researched, well written essays on a wide variety of topics. Fortean Studies is probably the more scholarly work even if purely for the sheer volume and comprehensiveness of its documentation.

Mike Dash's survey of the mysterious 'Devil's Footprints' of 1855 in Devon is as complete as it is imaginable. Every source is outlined and reviewed, every explanation comprehensively investigated. Naturally, at this distance in time no-one is going to be able to come up with an ‘explanation', but neither is anyone going se to be able to come up with a more comprehensive exposition of the fuets as we have them. Such detailed research is not in the least boring or long-winded, and one's fascination in the case is rekindled.

Of considerable importance are several articles on what might be considered the 'history of Forteanism', or pre-Fort Forteanism including Joan Petri Klint looking at a Swiss collector of the bizarre in the 16th century, and Mick Goss reviewing Fortean phenomena in 17th century broadsides. I have heard some criticism (O.K.. I have probably expressed some criticism, too) that association with John Brown may have led to a more tabloid. populist magazine. Without that professional and financial input this volume would probably not have been possible, and we would have been worse off without it.

The articles in The Anomalist are briefer, and are not intended to carry the depth of documentation of Fortean Studies: Nonetheless, there is much valuable material here: Martin Cannon on a remarkable telephonic mystery, Martin Kottmeyer takes a typically detailed (and entertaining) look at something you might have thought was be blindingly obvious, but proves not to be so - exactly who first worked out that the sun was round - Patrick Huyghe on a spectacular one-off natural phenomenon, Loren Coleman on spontaneous combustion. and much else.

Both are essential reading for anyone calling themselves a Fortean. and I look forward to future editions of both magazines - support them. – John Rimmer, from Magonia 54, November 1995.

No comments: