Catalog # SKU1698
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Charles Fort



Large Print Edition

Charles Fort

Charles Fort was a crank in the best sense of the word. Lovecraft and the X-files can't begin to compete with the spooky stuff he uncovered. In the early twentieth century he put together great quantities of exhaustively documented 'puzzling evidence' (in the words of David Byrne), data which science is unable or unwilling to explain. Forts' books gave me nightmares when I read them when I was seven. Strange items drop from the sky, bizarre artifacts turn up in unexpected places, stars violate the laws of astronomy, giant clouds blot out the moon and the sun trembles in the sky. Is the world inside out? Is it flat? Or maybe shaped like a giant spindle?

What does it all mean? He drops cryptic, breathless hints such as "I think we're property." and "I think that we're fished for. It may be that we're highly esteemed by super-epicures somewhere." Whatever you think about this information, you will at some point while reading Forts' books feel like the foundations of your reality are slipping slightly to the south...

Consider yourself warned!


A NAKED man in a city street -- the track of a horse in volcanic mud -- the mystery of the reindeer's ears -- a huge, black form, like a whale, in the sky, and it drips red drops as if attacked by celestial swordfishes -- an appalling cherub appears in the sea -


Showers of frogs and blizzards of snails -- gushes of periwinkles down from the sky - The preposterous, the grotesque, the incredible -- and why, if I am going to tell of hundreds of these, is the quite ordinary so regarded?

An unclothed man shocks a crowd -- a moment later, if nobody is generous with an overcoat, somebody is collecting handkerchiefs to knot around him.

A naked fact startles a meeting of a scientific society -- and whatever it has for loins is soon diapered with conventional explanations.

Chaos and muck and filth -- the indeterminable and the unrecordable and the unknowable -- and all men are liars -- and yet -

Wigwams on an island -- sparks in their columns of smoke.

Centuries later -- the uncertain columns are towers. What once were fluttering sparks are the motionless lights of windows. According to critics of Tammany Hall, there has been monstrous corruption upon this island: nevertheless, in the midst of it, this regularization has occurred. A woodland sprawl has sprung to stony attention.

The Princess Cariboo tells, of herself, a story, in an unknown language, and persons who were themselves liars, have said that she lied, though nobody has ever known what she told. The story of Dorothy Arnold has been told thousands of times, but the story of Dorothy Arnold and the swan has not been told before. A city turns to a crater, and casts out eruptions, as lurid as fire, of living things -- and where Cagliostro came from, and where he went, are so mysterious that only historians say they know -- venomous snakes crawl on the sidewalks of London -- and a star twinkles - But the underlying oneness in all confusions.

An onion and a lump of ice -- and what have they in common?

Traceries of ice, millions of years ago, forming on the surface of a pond -- later, with different materials, these same forms will express botanically. If something had examined primordial frost, it could have predicted jungles. Times when there was not a living thing on the face of this earth -- and, upon pyrolusite, there were etchings of forms that, after the appearance of cellulose, would be trees. Dendritic sketches, in silver and copper, prefigured ferns and vines.

Mineral specimens now in museums -- calcites that are piles of petals -- or that long ago were the rough notes of a rose. Scales, horns, quills, thorns, teeth, arrows, spears, bayonets -- long before they were the implements and weapons of living things they were mineral forms. I know of an ancient sketch that is today a specimen in a museum -- a colorful, little massacre that was composed of calcites ages before religion was dramatized -- pink forms impaled upon mauve spears, sprinkled with drops of magenta. I know of a composition of barytes that appeared ages before the Israelites made what is said to be history -- blue waves heaped high on each side of a drab streak of forms like the horns of cattle, heads of asses, humps of camels, turbans, and upheld hands.

Underlying oneness -

A new star appears -- and just how remote is it from drops of water, of unknown origin, falling on a cotton-wood tree, in Oklahoma? Just what have the tree and the star to do with the girl of Swanton Novers, upon whom gushed streams of oils? And why was a clergyman equally greasy? Earthquakes and droughts and the sky turns black with spiders, and, near Trenton, New Jersey, something pegged stones at farmers. If lights that have been seen in the sky were upon vessels of explorers from other worlds -- then living in New York City, perhaps, or in Washington, D.C., perhaps, there are inhabitants of Mars, who are secretly sending reports upon the ways of this world, to their Governments?

About the Author: Charles Hoy Fort

Charles Fort (1874-1932) fancied himself a true skeptic, one who opposes all forms of dogmatism, believes nothing, and does not take a position on anything. He claimed to be an "intermediatist," one who believes nothing is real and nothing is unreal, that "all phenomena are approximations one way or the other between realness and unrealness." Actually, he was an anti-dogmatist who collected weird and bizarre stories.

Fort spent a good part of his adult life in the New York City public library examining newspapers, magazines, and scientific journals. He was looking for accounts of anything weird or mysterious which didn't fit with current scientific theories.

He collected accounts of frogs and other strange objects raining from the sky, UFOs, ghosts, spontaneous human combustion, the stigmata, psychic abilities, etc. He published four collections of weird tales and anomalies during his lifetime: Book of the Damned (1919), New Lands (1923), Lo! (1931), and Wild Talents (1932). In these works, he does not seem interested in questioning the reliability of his sources, which is odd, given that he had worked as a news reporter for a number of years before embarking on his quest to collect stories of the weird and bizarre. He does reject one story about a talking dog who disappeared into a puff of green smoke. He expresses his doubt that the dog really went up in green smoke, though he doesn't question its ability to speak.

Fort did not seem particularly interested in making any sense out of his collection of weird stories. He seemed particularly uninterested in scientific testing, yet some of his devotees consider him to be the founding father of modern paranormal studies. His main interest in scientific hypotheses was to criticize and ridicule the very process of theorizing. His real purpose seems to have been to embarrass scientists by collecting stories on "the borderland between fact and fantasy" which science could not explain or explain away. Since he did not generally concern himself with the reliability or accuracy of his data, this borderland also blurs the distinction between open-mindedness and gullibility.

Fort was skeptical about scientific explanations because scientists sometimes argue "according to their own beliefs rather than the rules of evidence" and they suppress or ignore inconvenient data. He seems to have understood that scientific theories are models, not pictures, of reality, but he considered them to be little more than superstitions and myths. He seems to have had a profound misunderstanding of the nature of scientific theories. For, he criticized them for not being able to accommodate anomalies and for requiring data to fit. He took particular delight when scientists made incorrect predictions and he attacked what he called the "priestcraft" of science. Fort seems to have been opposed to science as it really is: fallible, human and tentative, after probabilities rather than absolute certainties. He seems to have thought that since science is not infallible, any theory is as good as any other. This is the same kind of misunderstanding of science that we find with so-called "scientific creationists" and many other pseudoscientists.

Apparently, Fort was a prolific writer. He is said to have written ten novels, but only one was published: The Outcast Manufacturers (1906). One of Fort's amusements as an adult seems to have been to speculate about such things as frogs falling from the sky.

He postulated that there is a Super-Sargasso Sea above the Earth (which he called Genesistrine) where living things originate and periodically are dumped on Earth by intelligent beings who communicate with secret societies down below, perhaps using teleportation.

Fort had very few friends, but one of them, Tiffany Thayer, created the Fortean Society to promote and encourage Fort-like attacks on science and scientists.Ê When Fort died in 1937, he left over 30 boxes of notes, which the Fortean Society began publishing in the Fortean Society Magazine. In 1959 Thayer died and the Fortean Society came to an end. Others, however, took up the torch. There are many Fortean groups, but it is worth noting that Fort opposed the idea of a Fortean Society. He thought that such a group would attract spiritualists and crackpots.

... And sure enough...

Softcover, 8¼" x 10¾", 270+ pages