01/12/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Deep Books Ltd. 1125 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-58542-641-6.
check out website: www.deep-books.co.uk
Everyone must have heard of Charles Fort here as the man who began to catalogue the odd things that happened at the turn of the last century. This resulted in four books, 'The Book Of The Damned', 'New Lands', 'Lo!' and '"Wild Talents'. There was nearly a twenty year back between the first pair and last pair of books, with the last completed a couple years before he died. Reading them all together did draw an interesting thought.
With the first two books, Fort was more content with recording the unusual. With the second two and much older in life, he was trying to make sense of it all and started bringing in his own theories becoming a believer in teleportation and although the term didn't exist back then, synergy - similar things happening at the same time. Nothing unusual in that, just a demonstration of any of us when given a lot of information and trying to look for patterns and similarities or is that just me?
Despite the massive size of this book, I found it a relatively easy absorbing read. Fort didn't just belt out information but put it down in journalistic English. If anything, I stopped between each book to have a read of something else just in case I was reading it too fast.
Something that has always struck me about a lot of these recorded oddities is even allowing for hoaxes, if they happened back then with regularity why hasn't it continued today? Back in the late 18th to turn of the last century, not everyone could read and imagination wasn't so widespread that people would necessarily lie or deceive about things or live animals dropping from the sky to get much in the way of copycat repeats. Much of the first two books, I think even Fort was a bit sceptical, believing something was going on but not necessarily how or why. With objects falling from the skies, he at least considered whirlwinds as being the main contributor.
Another thing that definitely raised my interest was the number of unidentified flying objects cited long before proper manned flight and I doubt if dirigibles were the culprit as there was far too many moving fast against the wind. I should point out, many of these UFOs were cigar-shaped, a frequent shape attributed to UFOs even today which oddly I can't ever recall anyone actually photographing. If nothing else, it shows that UFOs aren't a modern phenomenon and even Fort didn't think they were alien.
From an historical point of view, this book collection should give you some insight into things that happened around our forebears. The newspapers recorded many things that made no sense other than they were unusual. Fort catalogued and brought them all together. There was no pandemic going on and if anything, a considerable gap between sightings.
Although I doubt if there was much in the way of connecting everything together in perspective it does indicate the unusual happens a lot more than we think. Fort records from across the world and even my end of the UK came up a few times which I thought was odd in itself. Whether you would believe in everything that was shown, it makes for a fascinating observation of what might be out there.
If Charles Fort hadn't done this research then someone else would have. At the time he did, no one else such research so making these books an interesting observation of the times. As I means to look at the source that modern authors must refer to on these subjects then this book is a must and at a good price.
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