Magazine: Fortean Times

A whole World of Weirdness between the covers

The Fortean Times can trace its roots back to a 1960's-1970's Fanzine called The News "A Miscellany of Fortean Curiosities. This was self-produced by creator Bob Rickard, and from its earliest beginnings drew in people who would become famous for other works, such as Steve Moore and Colin Wilson. Like so many other print media these days it can be found online.

Dedicated to the works and philosophy of Charles Hoy Fort, an eccentric American who meticulously collected and catalogued anomalous phenomena inexplicable or thought impossible by orthodox science, the magazine soon took on a more professional footing and was professionally produced on a bimonthly basis. Paul Sieveking joined the production team in 1978, and he and Rickard have been at the heart of the publication ever since. As revenue increased, the magazine went from monochrome to full colour to a larger A4 format, published monthly, in the early 1990's.

Areas covered by FT include:

The magazine takes a careful non-judgemental middle line, avoiding the worst excesses of either New Age credulity or James Randi-style skepticism.

Tropes currently anomalous and incapable of being explained by science include:

  • Aliens Steal Cattle; a perennial favourite.
  • Aura Vision: the whole field of auras, from mysticism, psychic claims, through Kirlian photography and medical conditions such as HSD migraines.
  • Cargo Ship: the strange cases of people who prefer to fuck pavements, cars, bikes, bridges, letterboxes....
  • Chupacabra: the magazine has a fascination with this example of cryptozoology.
  • Flying Seafood Special: the rare, but well-attested, occasions where the skies rain with fish, sometimes Flying French Food Specials of frogs and toads.
  • Flying Saucer: A regular forum for UFO theorists and investigators, principally British, who tend to be more pragmatic than American theorists.
  • Just Before the End; Doomsday cults and eschatology in general.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Being a British mag, a lot of space is given over to cryptozoology in the British Isles. But it neglects nothing of interest regardless of source.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: No two tales of haunting and apparitions are completely alike, and theories abound. FT collects and catalogues.
  • Phony Psychic: Many have been covered, both historic and contemporary. The issue of why people beleive in psychic powers is as interesting as the methods used to deceive and debunk and of course wiggle-room is allowed for in those truly perplexing cases that indicate just now and again, something truly weird is going on.
  • Science Is Wrong: Not necessarily. But FT might take the view that science as we have it is incomplete and anamolous phenomena are a clear sign of things going on that we haven't even begun to properly investigate yet.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax: Paranormal investigators and parapsychics are, after long experience, open to the possibility that in some cases they might be manipulated for financial ends.One British ghost-hunter, called to investigate an alleged haunting at a country hotel, spent a month looking and mounting vigil, on and off over the course of a year. When he finally said to the owner that he was almost absolutely certain nothing was there, the hotel owner begged him to make something up and fabricate a ghost, as it would be so good for business to be able to advertise his business as a haunted hotel. The same ghost hunter noted, some time later, the hotel was advertising itself as "having repeatedly been investigated by psychic detectives and ghost-hunters".... The Scooby-Doo Hoax is a whole interesting Fortean area on its own and regularly covered for what it has to tell concerning greed and gullibility.
  • Scully Syndrome: frequently lampshaded and questioned.
  • The Shangri-La: FT likes to visit this land for what it can tell us about human credulity and desire to believe.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: the lurid and sensationalist imitator Bizarre, that focused on the sexual, violent or generally sensationalist aspects of Forteana with lots of pictures and less words. Embarrasingly, it was released by the same publisher.
  • Signs of the End Times: panics and concerns about the end of the world from evangelical religion through Martian scares to global warming.
  • Species Lost and Found: FT likes this aspect of cryptozology. It has covered the possibility that the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacine) might not be as extinct as people think it is.
  • There Are No Coincidences: either via "normal" synchronicity or because some people are messing with our minds
  • Conspiracy Theories: The magazine drily catalogues the latest instances of Wild Mass Guessing;
  • Walking Techbane: people who can fritz electrics just by being in the same room. FT broke the story of Jaqueline Priestman, who says she's gone through dozens of various appliances, and causes TV sets to change channels just by passing near. She was found to have ten times the usual amount of electricity in her body. The magazine also speculated on how some people can cause street lights to blow just by walking underneath them.
  • Weirdness Magnet: some people and places are naturally strange. Like the one corner of the north of England that has seen as many UFO sightings as the rest of the country put together.
  • World of Weirdness: we live on one.