APn 04/16 0337 Bizarre Tales Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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APn 04/16 0337 Bizarre Tales Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. By STEVE KATZ Associated Press Writer LONDON (AP) -- In a world fascinated by computers and semiconductors, there's still a place for the serious consideration of abominable snowmen, frog showers and reincarnation. It can be found in a little-known magazine named for an American journalist who researched the inexplicable "just to knock holes in the smug orthodoxy of the scientists of his age," said Paul Seiveking, a co-editor. Fortean Times, published in London, caters to readers who think there just might be something to the hollow Earth theory, crying statues and close encounters of any kind. The odd, little periodical keeps its subscribers up to date with the latest on human horns, winged cats, giant squids and, of course, UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster. Fortean Times is "a bulletin about what is peculiar in the world," Seiveking says. Its name and philosophy come from Charles Fort, an iconoclastic American journalist who died in 1932. He spent his later years at the British Museum Library in London and the New York Public Library, researching the inexplicable. Being a Fortean means believing "there's a continuum between subjective and objective experience, between dream and hard fact," Seiveking said. More importantly, however, it means "conditional acceptance" of things that "orthodox explanation can't account for" -- at least until further evidence comes along. Seiveking and co-editor Bob Rickard, who founded Fortean Times 15 years ago, put the magazine together at home in their spare time, and try their best to publish it quarterly. Their material comes from a dedicated Fortean cadre of about 60 correspondents, mostly unpaid, who scour the world's newspapers and other media for weird and wonderful tales to fill the magazine's 80 or so pages. Every month, the editors meet to classify the material their correspondents have gathered into about 35 main categories, "like phantom smells, strange sounds, lights, stuff falling from the sky," Seiveking said. "There's a lot of laughter in what we do," he admitted during a break from his regular job as an editor for a London reference book publisher. But he said the job also has a serious side. "We're trying to broaden people's horizons. We see ourselves as chroniclers, as sort of scientists as well as being entertainers." A recent issue featured purportedly new photographs of the Yeti, the mysterious abominable snowman of the Himalayas, as well as items about giant whirlpools in the seas off Norway and fireballs in Jerusalem, and a "reincarnation round-up." Finding a Fortean Times subscriber may be only a little easier than tracking down the Yeti. Just 2,500 of them are scattered in 36 countries, including 500 in the United States. At $3 a copy, the magazine just about breaks even. Regular readers, said Seiveking, include "little old ladies who are spiritualists, people in the United Nations, professors, science fiction writers, journalists in obscure little countries who like to keep up with this kind of thing." They're a small, but faithful band who don't let a few facts get in the way of a good time. "While the real nature of the `Cottingly Fairy' photographs is now apparent," one Australian reader recently wrote in a letter to the editor, "surely the Fortean reaction will be that they are only relative fakes. For, in the spectrum of bogus-genuine, there must somewhere (in this or another world) exist photographs of real fairies." Not quite believing while not quite disbelieving always gives Forteans an out. It allowed the author of a recent piece on the luminous magnetic cloud supposedly encountered by a British steamship in 1904 to conclude: "Although I remain disturbed by the suspicious aspects of the story, I am slightly inclined to think that the story is true." As long as there are mysterious lights in the sky and things that go bump in the night, Seiveking and Rickard hope to keep publishing their "journal of strange phenomena."


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