Review of "Fortean Times"
Life is so boring and predictable isn’t it? From cradle to grave life is just mundane event after mundane event. Childhood curiosity and imagination is seen crushed under sexual/hormone awakenings, money becomes our god. Science has the answers for everything and everything is under control. The News reports another conflict, another disaster a celebrity marriage (quickly followed by a messy divorce) Life just drags on with it’s daily grind. Is there no room for the out of place, the unexplainable, the bizarre and the outlandish? My answer of course there is.That’s why I say thanks to the writers and creators of the wonderful Fortean Times. A magazine that labels itself ‘The Journal of Strange Phenomena’. A magazine that proves that life is more than a string of predictable events tied together by the rope of society’s expectations. A magazine willing to examine, dissect and debate issues that the mainstream press normally rejects and trivialises as the ideas of crackpots and the insane. A magazine that acts as a monthly catalogue for all the strange events that prove that prove that life can be magical, poetically tragic, full of unbelievable luck and coincidence and more bizarre than Neris Hughes.
A little bit of background for y’all. Fortean Times takes its name from the Charles Fort, an author famous for his writings on strange phenomena of all kinds. His books included ‘The Book of the Damned’ and ‘ Lo!’ which have both been recently reprinted by John Brown Publishing. Fort spent a great deal trawling through newspaper clippings looking for stories of the weird and wonderful and Fortean Times continues this obsession using new fangeled technologies such as the internet (I’ve heard it something to do with webs and is wide). Fort was also responsible for introducing new terms into the English language including the sci-fi spod’s favourite means of transport teleportation. Fortean Times itself was founded in the year 1973 (a fine year) and continued the work started by Fort. Led by his dictum “One measures a circle beginning anywhere” and his sceptical belief about mainstream science summed up by the following statement. “Scientific explanations, observing how scientists argued according to their own beliefs rather than the rules of evidence and that inconvenient data was ignored, suppressed, discredited or explained away “.Since its humble beginnings as a Quarterly low quality fanzine, Fortean Times has moved from being a bi-monthly release to its current monthly full colour glossy incarnation. So what do you get for you money then? Well for starters you get a high standard of journalism and production which is wonderful to see in these days of typos (a crime I’m never guilty of : -P) and intelligent insulting reporting. You also get a magazine that is packed to the rafts with true stories and thought provoking articles.
The format of Fortean Times is also nicely constant, with small changes only being made to the font and graphics design. Following a small editorial it’s straight into the world weird of Forteana. The first half of the magazine is filled with stories collected from the Internet and the world’s press. This includes breaking stories of UFO sites, ABC (Alien Big Cats to the uninitiated), visions of the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary), lucky escapes and stranger deaths, weird science (sadly not about sightings of Kelly Le Brock), Karl Shucker’s Cryptozoology (study of rare, new, legendary and supposedly extinct animals). Add to this a topping of sideline reports on all kinds of bizarre events and humorous occurrences and your strange news pudding is finished.This is then followed by a series of longer articles that follow up from previous stories from the breaking news or deal with the re-examination of historical events and characters. Recent articles have dealt with the Pokemon Incident (how the broadcasting of an episode of everyone’s favourite cartoon supposedly caused mass fits and hysteria amongst Japanese children). A philosophical discussion about the beliefs of believers and sceptics. As well as examinations of the work and life of outsiders figures such as Albert Spears and Jack Parsons. The majority of these longer opinions deal with their subject matter with an open mind that is willing to question the issue without being bias to either side of the argument or excepting incredulous and unsupported opinions or evidence.
Fortean Times then closes with reviews of all the latest books, games and films with a Fortean slant as well as a letters page. The review section is again excellently executed and the demolition job that New Age books receive is a joy to observe. The letters page acts as a forum for people to talk about their strange experiences, debate hotly contested topics and ask questions of others. It’s this input from the readers of Fortean Times that makes it such a joy to read. Not only is an example of a true democratic action, but it also nicely fits the Fortean approach that sees the truth as subjective and open to debate.Personally I can’t recommend Fortean Times highly enough. Sure it’s not going to be everyone’s kettle of fish or should that be rain of frogs. However if your at all interested in the weird and wonderful that happens on our planet then Fortean Times will be right up your street. Just approach with an open mind and your realise that the world is more than the mundane reality it sometimes seems to be stuck in
Product Information : Fortean Times
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Listed on Ciao since: 06/08/2001