Of Books and Beasts: A
Cryptozoologist’s Library
by Matt Bille
(Hangar 1 Publishing: no place of publication or publication date included
[November 2021]) (© Matt Bille/Hangar 1 Publishing – reproduced right here on a
strictly non-commercial Truthful Use foundation for instructional/overview functions solely)

It has been some time since I final reviewed
any notable cryptozoological publications on ShukerNature, so listed here are my
ideas regarding one which I acquired not too long ago.

Again within the Nineteen Nineties and initially assisted
by fellow bibliophile Steven Shipp, I ready a bibliography of cryptozoology
books that was printed in points 6, 7, and eight of the Centre for Fortean
Zoology’s periodical Animals and Males.
It proved so well-liked amongst readers and crypto-researchers alike that, since
then, I’ve periodically up to date and expanded it, in order that it at present
incorporates many lots of of entries divided into a number of sections, and it may well these days
be instantly accessed on-line right here, inside
my official web site.

Till final November, nevertheless, there had
by no means been a e-book devoted totally to evaluations of cryptozoological books and
associated subject material, which thereby constituted a notable hole within the
literature appertaining to thriller beasts. However all of that modified when Matt
Bille’s Of Books and Beasts: A
Cryptozoologist’s Library
was introduced out in each hard-copy and e-book
format by Hangar 1 Publishing.

Already identified for 2 earlier non-fiction
books dedicated to present and former cryptids alike in addition to his longstanding
curiosity in such creatures, Bille has offered a most dear service in
compiling this third providing, which for essentially the most half consists of
cryptozoological e-book evaluations penned by him that initially appeared on his Matt’s Sci/Tech
, plus a variety of further
ones specifically written for this e-book in an effort to render his protection of the
literature extra complete.

This 311-page e-book is split into 4
sections: Cryptozoology Books; Associated Sciences; Crypto-Fiction; and A Marvelous
Miscellany. There may be additionally an explanatory introduction, plus a few
afterwords, acknowledgements, and an index/bibliography. Other than the great
front-cover image (cowl design by Doug Hajicek), there are not any illustrations, however these should not actually
vital in a e-book of this nature.

The Cryptozoology Books part, which by
definition is the crux of this whole publication, follows on from the e-book’s
detailed introduction, spans pp. 1-123 (roughly one third of the full
content material), and is split into 5 subsections. These are: A Fundamental Library of
Cryptozoology (which incorporates evaluations of books that Bille deems important,
seminal works of cryptozoology); Primates (reviewed books dedicated to the likes
of the yeti, bigfoot/sasquatch, and different man-beasts or ape-men); Land Animals (contains reviewed
books documenting all method of – largely – terrestrial cryptids, together with
thriller cats, thylacine, and putative mammoths, but in addition mothman and varied
amphibious Congolese monsters just like the mokele-mbembe and emela-ntouka); Lake
and Sea Creatures (reviewed books researching freshwater monsters, sea serpents,
different marine thriller beasts); and Others (evaluations of common cryptozoology
books surveying a variety of cryptids moderately than concentrating upon sure
particular varieties).

The Associated Sciences part, spanning
pp. 124-220, incorporates evaluations of books that, though not devoted wholly to
cryptozoology, typically embrace some crypto-content and/or cope with mainstream
zoological topics of appreciable background relevance to thriller beasts. It’s
divided into three subsections, whose respective titles readily reveal the
subject material of the books reviewed inside them. Particularly: Paleontology and
Evolution; Surroundings and Exploration; and Zoology of Land, Sea, and Air.

Crypto-Fiction, spanning pp. 221-254, is
a much less severe, enjoyable part during which Bille presents one subsection devoted
totally to his private High Three favorite cryptozoologically-themed novels,
and a second subsection containing evaluations of a variety and sizeable quantity
of different crypto-novels. A few of these are basic works, others are much less
acquainted, and there are a number of that have been totally new to me however which I absolutely
intend to acquaint myself with in some unspecified time in the future.

Final however under no circumstances least of the 4
sections is A Marvelous Miscellany, spanning pp. 255-272, which undoubtedly
lives as much as its title, containing evaluations of books dedicated to the far fringes
of cryptozoology and past, together with beasts of mythology and folklore,
ostensibly supernatural and paranormal entities, speculative future evolution
of wildlife, and a few wholly unclassifiable however no much less fascinating topics.

In two afterwords, respectively entitled
Cryptids and Me and A Few Contributions of My Personal, spanning pp. 272-279, Bille
provides some transient ideas relating to sure cryptids that in his view could
certainly exist, and paperwork his earlier cryptozoological publications. The
the rest of the e-book consists of an acknowlegements part and an in depth
index (which additionally incorporates a bibliography).

All through this e-book, the evaluations by
Bille fluctuate significantly in size, however they’re at all times balanced, informative,
and knowledgeable. Furthermore, whereas he isn’t afraid to focus on areas or protection
that he doesn’t personally agree with, he’s by no means impolite or hostile in his
therapy of them (not like the belligerent, dogmatic perspective of sure different
figures who’ve inputted inside this area of research at one time or one other
down via the many years). Certainly, Bille’s goal take is what makes his
evaluations so attention-grabbing and entertaining, as a result of one isn’t struggling to
uncover the true e-book obscured behind an opaque veil of prejudice and bias,
which is a most welcome, heartening change from so many evaluations of
cryptozoological works that I’ve learn  
or endured – through the years.

Equally, it’s evident from the content material
of his evaluations that Bille has truly learn all the books in query (in
flip reliably demonstrating simply how prolific a reader of cryptozoological
writings he’s, and subsequently a really perfect particular person to organize a piece like this one).
That will appear a wierd assertion to make, however as an writer myself I’m solely
too conscious – painfully so, once in a while – that in all too many situations, a
so-called reviewer both has by no means truly learn the e-book in query or has
merely paraphrased the blurb on its again cowl or entrance flyleaf!

Over 20 years in the past, I ready my
bibliography of cryptozoology books (which incorporates not solely their titles and
authors but in addition their publishers, locations of publication, and dates of
publication) in an effort to present newcomers and longstanding crypto-researchers
alike with a complete itemizing of printed books on the topic – a
topic whose literature till then had by no means been introduced in such a readily
accessible method, enabling would-be readers of such books to find
immediately what was on the market and containing ample supplementary
data to help them in monitoring down such works.

Now, with Of Books and Beasts, Bille has ably augmented my efforts by
offering a superb companion work, a veritable pocket library, the truth is,
that gives very helpful, fair-minded synopses and private opinions regarding
round 500 such books, and which is able to I really feel be of immense worth to the identical
viewers of readers as my record is geared toward. There may be nothing else like this
e-book on the market, so I’m very completely satisfied that it additionally occurs to be a really worthy
contribution in its personal proper to the cryptozoological literature – one which I
spent a lot of the day dipping into after its overview copy arrived within the submit,
as a result of it was merely far too engrossing to place down as soon as opened! So I heartily
and unhesitatingly suggest it to anybody wanting to be taught concerning the huge
range of books these days on the market that cope with thriller beasts.

Lastly: or as Lieutenant Columbo would
say at this level within the proceedings, only one other thing… (okay, two, on this specific
occasion – a few minor quibbles). Firstly: I am considerably bemused by
Bille’s arranging of his e-book evaluations inside every subsection or part. For the
most half, it appears to be chronological (though see just a little later in my
current overview), from earliest to most up-to-date publication date, however this isn’t
totally adhered to. As an illustration: within the Others subsection of Part 1
(Cryptozoology Books), the primary e-book to be reviewed is Maurice Burton’s Animal Legends, printed in 1957, which
is adopted in strict chronological order by an extra 34 titles (I am counting
the 4 Quammen books as a single entry as this was how Bille reviewed them),
the final of which is Kelly Milner Halls’s 2019 e-book Cryptid Creatures: A Subject Information. However then, for no obvious motive,
the following e-book reviewed on this identical subsection is Michael Newton’s 2007 e-book Florida’s Sudden Wildlife, after
which one other ten reviewed books observe, organized chronologically from 2007 to
2020. Why have been these not integrated into the earlier 35-book chronological itemizing,
as an alternative of being separated into their very own 11-book chronological itemizing instantly
following it?

No motive is given, so I’m questioning if
these last eleven have been last-minute evaluations by Bille, presumably written to fill
some perceived gaps in his protection however submitted too late to be labored into
the primary physique of evaluations? In that case, a really quick notice explaining this inconsistent
ordering of evaluations would have been most helpful (even only a two-word subtitle –
Cease Press, or Late Additions – would have sufficed). Furthermore, for causes
once more unexplained, within the Different Crypto-Novels subsection of the Crypto-Fiction
part, and in addition all through the part A Marvelous Menagerie, the books
reviewed should not organized chronologically in any respect, however are as an alternative organized alphabetically,
by writer surname. Why not stick with a chronological ordering? Unusual.

Secondly: by its very nature, the content material
of this e-book is a private, subjective one, inevitably guided by Bille’s personal
specific pursuits and influences. In different phrases, no two compilers of such a
e-book would have included the identical entries, and divided them up into sections of
the identical proportions or topics. Having mentioned that, I do really feel that more room
ought to have been dedicated to cryptozoology books per se, and fewer to (in
specific) the Associated Sciences part. This e-book’s distinctive side, and no
doubt its biggest single promoting level, is that it’s the first one to proffer an in depth sequence of evaluations of cryptozoology books, so in my
view the Associated Sciences part might have been tremendously diminished, with no
severe loss to the e-book’s price, and changed by way more cryptozoology-themed
e-book evaluations. As it’s, I can consider a good variety of crypto-books for which
one may look forward to finding evaluations included right here, however which aren’t represented.
As an illustration, though there are a number of evaluations of books dedicated to sure
particular varieties or geographical groupings of feline cryptids, neither version of
essentially the most complete e-book ever printed on such creatures globally is
represented by a overview, which is clearly a significant omission. I could also be unsuitable, however
wasn’t the e-book in query entitled Thriller
Cats of the World

“Searching for a concise however dependable survey of essentially the most noteworthy cryptozoological books previous and current? Look no additional – right here it’s!”

Dr Karl Shuker, quoted on the again cowl to Of Books and Beasts.


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