Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book cover:
"The Book of the Damned"

The book that launched Fortean studies...

  • Title: The Book of the Damned
  • Author: Charles Fort (1874-1932)
  • Original publication year: 1919, by Boni & Liveright, making this year the 100th anniversary of the book's publication
  • Publisher: Ace Books (an Ace Star book)
  • Publication date of this edition: 1967, per the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, which gives that year for Ace's H-24 edition. Ace also published K-156, which had essentially the same cover, in 1962.
  • Cover price: 60 cents
  • Pages: 287
  • Format: Paperback
  • Cover blurbs:
    • "One of the greatest books ever written." — Tiffany Thayer
    • The original and greatest compilation of 1,001 attested phenomena that science cannot answer and deliberately ignores. Taylor Caldwell says that no other book has "so filled me with wonder, speculation and excitement."
  • Preface writer: Donald A. Wollheim
  • Introduction writer: Tiffany Thayer
  • First lines: "A procession of the damned.
    By the damned, I mean the excluded.
    We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded."
  • Last two words: "...supernatural influences."
  • Random sentence from middle #1: "But at least temporarily we shall have an impression of a historic fiasco, such as, in our acceptance, could only occur in a quasi-existence."
  • Random sentence from middle #2: "Sooner or later we shall have to take up an expression that fragments of steel have fallen from the sky."
  • Goodreads rating: 3.65 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads positive review excerpt: In 2015, Kaiser Penderschlo├č wrote: "Neither a crank nor some sort of prophet of Truth, Charles Fort brought wry humor to the usually dreadfully humorless process of questioning our most basic assumptions about reality and dealing with data that just doesn't 'fit'."
  • Goodreads negative review excerpt: In 2013, Mandy wrote: "What a slog this is — I may not finish. Fort builds his arguments slowly and the narrative thread is thin; his method is to convince the reader by overwhelming with similar data points — it is tiresome at best."
  • Amazon rating: 3.9 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon positive review: Earlier this year, Ralph E. Vaughan wrote: "The original compendium of the mysterious and unexplained, and it's still as relevant now as it was to Fort's first readers. I suppose what's kept it fresh is the fact that Fortean events (as they are now known) continue to this day. Though his literary descendants have the advantage of instantaneous communication and worldwide news sources, none of them write with Fort's verve and excitement."
  • Amazon somewhat negative review excerpt: In 2002, John Landry wrote: "Criticizing science is one thing but by coming up with equally as silly theories, Fort has painted himself into a corner. He believes that there is a 'Super Sargasso Sea' in our upper atmosphere that harbors fish, frogs and gelatinous substances."
  • One last thing: In 2008, Jim Steinmeyer published a biography titled Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural. In reviewing the book for The Independent that year, David V. Barrett wrote:
    "There's no doubt that Fort crossed the line between an enthusiast and an obsessive. His life, as graphically portrayed in this book, was often frustrated and unfulfilled. But the legacy he left makes the world a brighter place: paradoxically, both saner and sillier."

The colorful back cover

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