Bookazines are increasingly popular and prevalent in bookstores and on news stands nowadays, constituting a handy publication format that, as its name suggests, is midway between a magazine and a book. They sell well too, which is why I am currently involved in what, if all ultimately transpires according to plan, will be a series of bookazines featuring various of my animal anomaly writings from down through the years – but more about that some other time.
Instead, this present ShukerNature blog article focuses upon what is to my knowledge the first UK bookazine concentrating specifically upon cryptozoological subjects, and with which I am extremely happy to be associated via my varied contributions to it.
Published by the UK's veteran strange phenomena periodical Fortean Times, its full title is Fortean Time Presents Monster Hunters: In Search of Unknown Animals, and contains 12 classic cryptozoology-themed articles published by FT down through the years. Some of these are the result of field expeditions, others the product of bibliographical researches.
Moreover, as its in-house cryptozoologist for over 30 years now, I was very kindly invited by FT to prepare not only a general introduction to this bookazine but also a concise summary/update for each of its articles, thereby fulfilling much the same role as performed by the late Arthur C. Clarke for each episode in his famous 1980s TV show Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.
The authors and co-authors of the articles are: Neil Arnold, Loren Coleman, Edward Crabtree, Adam Davies (two articles), Richard Freeman, Martin Gately, Sharon Hill, Ruby Lang, Stu Neville, Todd Prescott, Benjamin Radford, Richard Svensson, Michael Williams, and yours truly (two articles).
To avoid spoiling the many surprises in store when you read Monster Hunters, I don't want to give too much away here, so I'll leave you to pair up the articles' authors with their subjects, but the subjects are: bigfoot, British mystery cats, Loch Ness monster, mokele-mbembe, Mongolian death worm, Nandi bear, Russian yeti, Scape Ore Lizard Man, Swedish lindorms, Tajikistan ghul, Trunko, and yowie.
All of the articles are reproduced here in all of their original full-colour glory, which together with my introduction yields an 80-page bookazine that surveys a vast, global range of cryptids in what is unquestionably one of the most engrossing crypto-compendia that I have read for a very long time. Consequently, I unquestionably recommend anyone who has an interest in mystery beasts, or knows someone else who does, to buy (at just £6.99 in shops, or online here at £8.25 including p&p directly from FT) this masterfully-compiled (and bargain-priced!) anthology of very notable crypto-creatures. I guarantee that you won't regret it!
To give you some additional ideas of what to expect, here is FT's own publicity blurb for Monster Hunters:
From the archives of FORTEAN TIMES, the world’s foremost journal of strange phenomena, comes a new collection exploring the world of cryptozoology – the search for unknown animals.
Join us on expeditions to far-flung Mongolia to find the dreaded DEATH WORM of the Gobi Desert, to the Congo in search of a LIVING DINOSAUR and to Tajikistan on the trail of TERRIFYING APE MEN. Explore the wilds of the USA on the track of BIGFOOT and the South Carolina LIZARD MAN, or venture to the marshes of Sweden to investigate sightings of GIANT SERPENTS. And sign up for closer-to-home hunts for NESSIE and BRITAIN’S MYSTERY BIG CATS, including the infamous ‘Essex Lion’. MONSTER HUNTERS takes readers on an exciting round-the-world quest to track the most amazing, elusive and sometimes unbelievable crypto-creatures. Plus, the collection includes an introduction and updates and commentary on each article by renowned cryptozoologist DR KARL SHUKER.
See also its own dedicated page here on my official website.
Finally: I mentioned above that I've written a summary/update for all 12 of this bookazine's articles, but due to reasons of space one of them had to be omitted – my piece for the Nessie article. So now, as a ShukerNature exclusive, I am including it here, together with the illustration (as seen in the bookazine) that it refers to:
Perusing this article, I noted two very different aspects that resonate with my own Nessie associations. First and foremost is his statement that "people can see the monster in anything". This is extremely pertinent, because just as I've documented elsewhere in this bookazine [regarding another cryptid], eyewitness descriptions of what they claim to have been the LNM are so immensely varied that it should be instantly apparent that no single type of creature is being reported. Instead, a diverse range of different animal species, plus all manner of non-living entities (boats, waves, atmospheric mirages, etc), have been sighted on the loch down through the decades but have been erroneously combined by media reports and others to yield a single impossibly-varied and therefore non-existent composite beast known to us all as Nessie. Having said that, some of the separate, component creatures that have been mistakenly united to yield Nessie may themselves be novel beasts – extra-large eels, for instance, much longer than officially-recognised specimens, and/or covertly-introduced specimens of the European giant catfish (wels). But what of the alleged LNM land sightings, where unfamiliar-looking beasts have supposedly been seen in their entirety? If genuine, these cannot be explained via a composite-identity theory, which is why they intrigue me so much, and deserve far more attention than they generally receive. This article's second aspect of personal relevance to me is its illustration of three people looking across the loch at a classic 'head, neck, and hump' Nessie swimming by. That very same illustration was contained in a book chapter that as a child first made me aware of the LNM – but that's not all. The book, Stranger Than People, published in 1968, also opened my eyes to many other mysteries, lighting within me the flame of fascination for all things Fortean that has burned unabatedly ever since [click here to read more by me re Stranger Than People]. So I have a lot to thank it for!