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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

ALAN FRISWELL: THE CFZ - THE LAST FORTEAN PUBLISHING HOUSE?




The FT UnCon always promises to be a weekend of unusual events, and so it was. Over the two-day period, I finally met Rebecca Lang, amused a small child with the deft and dextrous use of a hot dog and a pigeon, fed a homeless person, drank a reasonably substantial quantity of alcohol and saw a ghost--as you do.

The various stalls and tables were of special interest, returning me to those wonderful days of childhood when I would haunt the bookshelves of W.H. Smith, which in those informative times were stacked with titles describing every sort of paranormal and Fortean phenomena, many of which found their way home with me, or at least as many as I could twist the arm of my mum and dad to buy for me.

Sadly--'tragically' is more like it--the popularisation and public accessibility to this material seems to have diminished somewhat in the latter years, whether due to lack of interest or publishers losing faith in a field that perhaps appears to be increasingly esoteric.

Now maybe I’m biased--I probably am--but the CFZ, through their independent publishing of Fortean material, is quite possibly the last outlet--or one of the very few--for this kind of literature.

There have been accusations from some quarters that the CFZ are guilty of ‘vanity publishing.’ Oh yeah--well what the hell is that? If it means the publication of a work without consultation or recourse to an established publisher, then personally, I think that’s a good thing, especially in the current climate.

I’m sure we all know the story of how Harry Potter was turned down by fifteen publishing houses before someone finally saw the light. So what chance for black dogs, albino eels, out-of-place pine-martens and Wells catfish? Not much, I would think, in a ‘reading’ environment that seems to actively promote illiteracy among the young and impressionable, through the deification of half-baked ‘celebrities’ who, seemingly unable to write for themselves, have their vacuous and tedious ‘autobiographies’ ghost-written by some anonymous scribe; and the downright obscene proliferation of drivel like OK magazine, that now occupy the very shelves where once were the Fortean books of my youth.

I’ve put up some of the titles that meant so much to me a kid, and it would be nice if the CFZ publications became just as special to some youngster today. And why not?

So well done to Jon and the CFZ team for keeping the diversity and interest of true Fortean publications alive.

1 comment:

CFZ Australia said...

Here here Alan! And nice to finally meet you too :-)