The Fortean Influence on Science Fiction

Charles Fort and the Evolution of the Genre


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About the Book

Charles Fort was an American researcher from the early twentieth century who cataloged reports of unexplained phenomena he found in newspapers and science journals. A minor bestseller with a cult appeal, Fort’s work was posthumously republished in the pulp science fiction magazine Astounding Stories in 1934. His idiosyncratic books fascinated, scared, and entertained readers, many of them authors and editors of science fiction. Fort’s work prophesied the paranormal mainstays of SF literature to come: UFOs, poltergeists, strange disappearances, cryptids, ancient mysteries, unexplained natural phenomena, and everything in between. Science fiction authors latched on to Fort’s topics and hypotheses as perfect fodder for SF stories. Writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein, H.P. Lovecraft, and others are examined in this exploration of Fortean science fiction—a genre that borrows from the reports and ideas of Fort and others who saw the possible science-fictional nature of our reality.

About the Author(s)

Tanner F. Boyle is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania whose areas of research include science fiction, anomalistic literature, folklore, and religious literature.

Donald E. Palumbo is a professor of English at East Carolina University. He lives in Greenville, North Carolina.

C.W. Sullivan III is Distinguished Professor of arts and sciences at East Carolina University and a full member of the Welsh Academy. He is the author of numerous books and the on-line journal Celtic Cultural Studies.

Bibliographic Details

Tanner F. Boyle. Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 188
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7740-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4190-4
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Key Abbreviations vii
Preface 1
Introduction: The Damned Facts 5
1. A Fortean Emergence: The Early SF/Forteana Relationship 9
2. Defining ­­Maybe-fiction 18
3. Lo! Forteana! Early Fortean SF Authors 59
4. Fort’s Further Pulpy History: The Editors and the Historians 78
5. Continuation of Cosmic Dread: A Fortean Analysis of Arthur C. Clarke 97
6. Forteana and Religious Experience: A Fortean Analysis of Philip K. Dick 111
7. A Hard-Headed, Commonsensical Fortean: A Fortean Analysis of Robert A. Heinlein 120
8. Conspiracy and Forteana: A Fortean Analysis of Robert Anton Wilson 131
9. A Procession of the Damned: Fortean Footnotes 139
10. Afterthoughts 147
Chapter Notes 155
Bibliography 171
Index 179

Book Reviews & Awards

“an engrossing and eye-opening book”—Fortean Times