Friday, 26 April 2013

More Fortean stuff...

As a follow-on to my previous Fortean timelines (here and here), I thought I'd list my sources and provide some links to other useful Fortean bits and bobs that can be found on-line. I'll also include some more eccentric stuff.


The Fortean timeline in Players Handbook for the Call of Cthulhu RPG was the main inspiration for the creation of my timelines. I have a fair few books that cover various aspects of the Forteana from different angles, but those listed below fed directly into my research:

'Modern Mysteries of the World' by Janet & Colin Bord - this gives  a good overview of various subjects (UFOs, sea monsters, Bigfoot, etc). The most useful thing about it is the 'Gazeteer of Strange Events' that sits at the back of the book. Countries are listed alphabetically and then a variety of events are listed and given an outline description on a place-by-place basis. Some countries (i.e. the US) are divided up into states and the events listed within that structure. This results in an interesting chunk of Forteana. Here's an example, picked at random:

Venezuela - near Chico - Four small hair-covered entities from landed UFO attacked two young men in a kidnap attempt; they were very strong and broke a rifle; 10 December 1954.

'A Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies - Primary access to observations of UFOs, ghosts and other mysterious phenomena' by George M. Eberhart - this 1114-page book is probably only for completist Fortean nerds like myself. It's also pretty rare, and therefore expensive (my copy set me back 80 bucks). The aim of the book is to provide a reference source for Forteana based within the North American continent between 1880 and 1980, and so it doesn't read like a standard book. Instead, it can be used to find information for a specific location and then give details about where the report was originally published. This means that overall details are scanty - for more information you'd then have to then find the original source material. Eberhart uses a wide variety of sources, and the amount of work involved with this is staggering. Here's a few examples picked at random:

Kentucky - Louisville - flying humanoid. 1880, July 28/C.A. Youngman. Louisville Courier-Journal, 29 July 1880

Manitoba - Winnipeg - fall of metallic object. 1947, April 24. 'At the same time' Doubt, no. 19 (1947): 290, 291

'Science Frontiers - some anomalies and curiosities of Nature' and 'Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena', both by William R. Corliss. Corliss died a few years ago and was a modern-day Fort. Like Eberhart, he engaged in a wide and far-ranging trawl through various sources in order to find and catalogue various Fortean events. Like Fort, he found the majority of such reports within scientific journals. This tends to refute the idea (from certain wings of Forteana) that the scientific community either ignores or suppresses data that could be anomalous as far as our current understanding of things is concerned. 'Science Frontiers' is part of the 'Sourcebook Project', a huge catalogue of various anomalies that has been created and published over many years. These two books by Corliss read more like conventional pieces, especially the Handbook. Science Frontiers contains a variety of short excerpts from various sources, which gives more information than the Bord's Gazeteer and Eberhart's Geo-bibliography.

'Weird America' by Jim Mallon. Another rare book (mine was a second-hand find and is very dog-eared), this is a travel guide for anyone wishing to visit places of Fortean interest within the US. As with the other books described above, it deals with these on a state-by-state, place-by-place basis and has small description of the events that took place, along with Mallon's take on it. It also contains some interesting black and white photos.

You should be able, if interested, to track down copies of the above via places such as Amazon, Bibliofind, etc.

On-line sources

Fortean Times - the magazine has been around since the 70s but blossomed from the early 1990s. The website itself contains a variety of interesting articles, and it's forums include discussion of a wide variety of subject areas (yours truly has been involved in lots of interesting 'debates' there over the years).

The Anomalist - this is your one-stop shop for various other on-line bits and bobs about Forteana. Different reports, discussions and articles appear on-line all of the time, and the Anomalist is a good place to get an overview of things.

Magonia - Magonia has been around even longer than Fortean Times, and it's on-line presence is a source of some great articles. It takes a healthy sceptical psychological approach to the subject.

The Sourcebook Project - you can access a great deal of Corliss' work here, and buy any of his books that are still in print. The 'Science Frontiers On-line' section is particularly interesting.

Bad Archaeology - it's not hard to guess what this is about. Archaeology - or what some try to pass off as such - is used by various wings of book and web-based Forteana to shore up their arguments. This site tries to address and dissect some of them. That said, such arguments could serve as plot seeds for scenarios.

Humanoid Sighting Reports - this is a huge database of reports dealing mostly with UFO-related entities.

The Paranormal Database - should you ever wish to set an adventure in the UK, this would be a great place to start. It's helped me to add more colour to my Call of the Cthulhu adventures and created adventure seeds for some future projects. It covers various areas, such as ghosts, folklore, UFOs, etc.

A Blast From the Past - although not so much about Forteana in a direct sense, this site has many interesting articles on a variety of odd or though-provoking events, people and places.

The Fringe

It could be said that Forteana is a fringe subject. If so, that fringe has it's own fringe. Forteana has permeated the internet in various different ways. Before the internet came along or became widespread there were always a certain amount of books being published from a variety of fringe areas of the subject, but the internet has amplified this to the nth degree. In short, this means that all sorts of ideas can be found out there and as a whole the subject has been absorbed, adapted and bastardised by various different parties and interests. What also tends to happen is that one site copies another site in terms of the information it uses, so things can get samey. This is actually less useful to someone digging into any areas of Forteana as very few websites state their sources. Because various odd or incorrect assumptions have percolated from various books into on-line sources, there are many people out there that hold such assumptions to be truths - or worse still, absolute truths.

Not that this is entirely the fault of the web - for example, the 'ancient astronaut' theories that have been around for decades are guilty of the same lack of care and attention to detail. Various authors simply copy other authors from book to book - the same thing now happens on-line. Errors reported in books have simply been copied wholesale onto the web.  In the 1960s and '70s, those writing about such subjects tended to have a rather dodgy view of ancient cultures - along the lines of 'They were primitive, so therefore couldn't have built X' and then jump to the idea that 'Aliens from outer space did it'. As with conpiracy theories, these sorts of views tend to work along somewhat misanthropic lines - the general view being that people are stupid. In this case, they were even more stupid in the past. Similarly, they make various errors because they make very large assumptions from the perspective of thinking that 'if something looks a bit like X from the modern world, then it must be X but made in the ancient world'. This is why some people still believe that the Nazca lines are runways for ancient spaceships. Another problem is that those positing certain assumptions aren't usually qualified in the subject they're objecting to, which tends to fuzz the issue. Objections to their line of reasoning and offered proofs has been around for quite some time - take, for example, this programme from 1977. This has not stopped such ideas in their tracks, despite the authors being caught for being somewhat 'flexible' with the truth. Daniken and others are still making a living out of such stuff, and are amply supported by various websites.

Anyway, here's a taster...

Ancient American - I have various books which chase this theme, but the debate over such things is still on-going- at least, in some quarters. The date for when humans first came to the Americas has been pushed back in recent times, but others think that more modern humans came from China, Rome, Phoenicia and other places. This is, of course, not the standard model of American history.

There Were Giants In Those Days and Forbidden Archaeology - one wing of alternative archaeology takes it cues from the religious outlook of various proponents. Some are Christians, others have other beliefs. This means that some think that modern humans have only been around for thousands of years (without any ancient ancestor species), whilst others think that modern humans have been around for millions of years.

The Montauk Project - some offshoots of the UFO phenomenon have created their own offshoots, and this is a good example.

Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of ETs visiting Earth in the distant past. After all, the Cthulhu Mythos rests on this premise. I love the idea of armoured giants or ancient cultures living in the US well before Columbus arrived. Nazi time machines and Nazi UFOs are wacky and interesting at the same time. It's just that the reasoning of the various proponents of such ideas strike me as being particularly iffy. If anomalies are thrown up by scientific literature, then to my mind that's more convincing than one that simply crops up in the mind of someone who may not actually understand what they're looking at or reading about. At the end of the day, the reason I enjoy reading about such things (despite not being a true believer) is the because of the imagery they conjure up. They're a great source of ideas for RPG stuff, if nothing else.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Friday, 5 April 2013

A Timeline of Forteana - Part Two

Further to my previous edition of the timeline (1900-1925), here's 1926 to 1950:

1926 – child sees ‘upside-down saucer’ with lights off the north coast (Cornwall, UK).

1927 – boys saw disc-shaped domed object fly along valley and land nearby. Circle of scorched grass found at site the next day (nr. Fernvale, New South Wales, Australia); ‘round globules of fire’ seen at night during gale (Upstreet, Kent, UK).

1928 – trapper abducted by ‘Sasquatch’ (Conuma River, British Columbia, Canada); toad found entombed in rock (Eastland,Texas, USA).

1929 – haunting at Borley Rectory first reaches public notice via newspaper reports and investigation by Harry Price (Borley, Essex, UK); pillar found in limstone rock (Menominie, Wisconsin, USA).

1930 – 80-foot long sea monster with long neck seen (Scarborough, New South Wales, Australia); small, glistening, hairless, human-like creature entered house and terrified family (Madura, Western Australia); man saw and shot at ‘thick-set black figure’ which he thought was a ‘Mapinguary’ (Wild Man) (Urúbu River, Brazil); partly fused metal bar fell from sky during violent thunderstorm (Hunchstanton, Norfolk, UK); aerial object like a ‘massive sheet of shining metal’ seen. It was revolving and after 40 minutes it shot upward at speed (Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa); sighting of phantom elephant (Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA).

1931 – giant reptile seen by opal prospector (South Australia); large, low, slow-moving cloud emitted continuous rumbling sound, without lightning, rain, hail, etc. (Cache Lake, Ontario, Canada).

1932 – boy saw 12-inch disc object which hovered nearby and made humming noise, with white mist around it (nr. Nambour, Queensland, Australia); zoologist saw giant bat or pterodactyl-like creature (Assumbo Mountains, Cameroon).

1933 – ball lightning fell with purple streak and struck barn with loud noise and flash (Stouffville, Ontario, Canada); ball of fire seen bouncing along hedgetops at night (Vale, Guernsey, UK); body of Saint Catherine Labouré found undecayed, 56 years after her death (Paris, France); water monster seen in marshy area linked to sea (nr. Perugia, Italy); 11-foot reptile seen and killed, carcass later burnt (nr. Syracuse, Sicily); water monster seen at river mouth (River Ticino, Italy); 90-foot creature seen in water – later, a similar creature seen ashore (St. Lucia Lake, Natal, South Africa); man saw landed craft and opened door to see room full of instruments lit by violet light, but with no occupants (nr. Chrysville, Pennsylvania, USA).

1934 – sea monster with 3 humps covered with scales and barnacles seen by fishermen off of coast (Townsville, Queensland, Australia); long-necked creature with blue back and yellow stomach seen in water (River Doubs, Switzerland); shrieks, wails and other weird noises heard near small lake and wooded area. Sounds moved around whilst being investigated (Langhorne, Pennsylvania, USA); farmer saw dragon-like creature, tracks also found in mud (Campbell Lake, South Dakota, USA); huge sea creature with horse-like head seen in Black Sea by fishermen (Yevpatoria, Crimea); sea monster, 60-80 feet long with 6 humps seen by passengers on ocean liner (St.Thomas, Virgin Islands).

1935 – 8-foot long carcass of unidentified animal with horse-like head found (Boyd Town Beach, New South Wales, Australia); witness saw landed craft and small silver-suited entities. Square imprints and burnt area photographed on following day (Nipawin, Quebec, Canada); fishing boat crew saw ‘merman’-like creature, which had shiny eyes, broad smooth forehead, with dark hair on head and around chin (nr. Shasta, California, USA); 48-foot long sea monster shot and killed by lighthouse keeper (Mutton Island, County Galway, N. Ireland); 8-foot long green and yellow reptile seen (Monterose, Italy).

1936 – Bigfoot threw rocks at men travelling in canoe (Morris Creek, British Columbia, Canada); 200-foot sea monster with 60-foot long neck seen (Port-Au-Port, Newfoundland, Canada); showers of stones and unusual lights seen by prospector (Howells, Arizona, USA); woman saw flying man, clad in black, wearing helmet and ‘backpack’, accompanied by rumbling noise (Pavlodar Region, Kazakhstan).

1937 – reconnaissance unit shot dead 2 man-sized ape-like creatures that were covered with reddish hair (Mongolia/USSR border); mine workers saw lights underground and saw faceless ghost (Bankfield and Little Long Lac gold mines, Ontario, Canada).

1938 – ‘fireballs’ fell from overcast sky, killing one person and badly burning others, and some houses were destroyed or damaged (Parajaeva, Lappland, Sweden); 3 foot long greenish-grey object seen in sky and then suddenly vanished (Juminda, Estonia); huge black cloud caused daytime darkness lasting several hours, over a wide area (Gulf of Ob, Siberia).

1939 – sighting of giant lizard, several yards long (Ossum, France).

1940 – ‘fiery cartwheels’, accompanied by rumbling sound, seen rolling along hilltops (Bata, Hungary); lake monster seen, black with 4 short legs (Lackagh Lake, County Kerry, N. Ireland).

1941 – tall, hair-covered ‘wildman’ captured. It did not speak, eat or drink, and was later executed as a ‘spy’ by partisan firing squad (Caucasus Mountains).

1942 – ‘Phantom Barber’ removes hair from several female victims over the course of several nights (Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA).

1943 – domed object seen which flew 15 to 20 feet above ground and gave off bright white light (Qing Xian, Hubei Province, China); 6-foot long snake, yellow-brown in colour seen in water, and attacked witness (River Gudenaa, Jutland, Denmark).

1944 – RAAF bomber crew flying at 4500 feet saw ‘dark shadow’ flying alongside, which had flames coming from one end. Plane’s radio and direction-finding equipment did not function until the object accelerated away (Bass Strait, Victoria, Australia); hair-covered humanoid shot and killed (Tashkurgan); sighting of giant bird (Possum Kingdom Dam, Texas, USA).

1945 – various white objects (clothes, walls) burst into flame, with 400 separate incidents (Almeria, Spain)

1946 – ‘Ghost rockets’ seen in sky on many occasions over Sweden, some seen crashing into lakes (i.e. Lake Kölmjarv); fall of lignite (Racine, Wisconsin, USA).

1947 – survey worker saw craft 150-foot wide, from which emerged several 7-foot tall entities. He hid after they tried to take him on board, and watched as they leapt about and threw large stones (Barú, Brazil); 5 ‘birds’ with leathery bodies seen (Manuos, Brazil); fossil hunter saw landed craft and 2 small entities with green skin, large round eyes and slit mouths. He shouted to them and was knocked to the ground by smoke that issued from the belt of one entity (nr. Villa Santena, Italy); ‘pygmy’ covered in reddish hair seen (Adiopodumé, Ivory Coast); passengers of ship ‘Llandovery Castle’ saw huge metallic cylinder, c.1000 feet long, hovering over sea, onto which it shone searchlight (Straits of Madagascar); sea monster seen on several occasions, which had ‘eyes like red searchlights’ and made loud braying noise (Tiger Rocks, Natal, South Africa); airline pilots saw aerial object like metallic cylinder with ‘cockpit’, ‘windows’ and exhaust, which carried out several controlled manoeuvres (Montgomery, Alabama, USA); sea monster seen ‘looping through the water’. Another sighting of this creature described it as having a cow-like head and a fin on its’ back (Security Lake, Alaska, USA); 2 Bigfoot-like creatures seen crossing road by couple in car, and one creature looked through car window (nr. Shasta, California, USA); 3 witnesses saw object like inverted pie plate, with flames issuing from it’s sides and making a swishing sound as it flew through canyon (Snake River Canyon, Idaho, USA); Captain Mantell killed after his F-51 fighter plane crashed following pursuit of silvery object at high altitude (Goodman Air Force Base, Kentucky, USA); small ‘flying wing’ shaped object seen in sky (nr. Cave Creek, Arizona, USA); object looking like shiny aircraft propeller, with 10-12 cups protruding beneath each blade, seen by two witnesses as it crossed road in front of their vehicle (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA); ship ‘Santa Clara’ collided with sea monster and water was stained with blood (nr. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA); pilot Kenneth Arnold saw group of shiny unidentified craft at some distance from his aircraft (Mount Ranier, Washington, USA); archaeological find - site dated to c.7000BCE (Plainview, Texas, USA).

1948 – fall of hundreds of fish, from cloudless sky (Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, UK); 3 witnesses saw 40-foot long sea monster, with head and neck 8 feet above water. Body was greyish-green in colour, with pinkish neck, and green glassy spines on its’ back (Carmel River, California, USA); ghost of headless man seen at night near railway tracks (Maringouin, Louisiana, USA); flying man seen, who had long silvery wings fastened over his shoulders and controls on his chest. Sighting accompanied by sizzling or whistling noise (Chehalis, Washington, USA); 3 flying men seen, without wings but wearing helmets, accompanied by engine-like sound (Longview, Washington, USA); green fireballs seen in sky (Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA).

1949 – creature seen in water which had long shaggy ‘ears’, with which it propelled itself along (Laurisoir Reservoir, Keynton, Victoria, Australia); pilot saw 7 delta-shaped objects which flew in formation and made co-ordinated manoeuvres. The engine of his aircraft ran rough during sighting, and upon landing it was found that spark plugs had been burnt out (Mountain Home, Idaho, USA); object like silver dollar with fin seen by 5 witnesses (Rouge River, Oregon, USA).

1950 – man walking along coast saw oval object rise from sea and fly into the air (bt. San Sebastian and Rio Grande, Argentina); ‘ghost light’ seen in forest (nr. Woodbridge, Manitoba, Canada); two aerial objects seen to hit water and sink (Inchon, South Korea); object seen in air and on radar, travelling at 1800mph (Kodiak, Alabama, USA); 6 to 12 objects shaped like aircraft bombs seen in sky, making noise like wind blowing through trees (Marrowbore Lake, Tennessee, USA); DC-4 aircraft destroyed when flying on stormy night, preceded by sighting of ball of fire by witnesses on ground (Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA); policemen saw jelly-like mass fall from sky into field. It gave of purple glow and evaporated (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA).