The Anomalist



The Anomalist Awards

for the Best Books of 1996

  Among our favorites of the past few years are Forbidden Archeology by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson, Ablaze by Larry Arnold, An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks, Alternative Science by Richard Milton, and Hidden Histories of Science by Robert Silvers.  

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And the winners are...

Behind the Crystal Ball: Magic, Science, and the Occult from Antiquity Through the New Age
by Anthony Aveni
Times Books
A professor of astronomy and anthropology argues that magic has more in common with science than most people tend to think. He surveys the history of magical and supernatural beliefs from ancient Greece and Rome all the way through to the New Age. He contends that we cannot separate a culture's perception of reality from its times, that magic is in the eyes of the beholder.


Darwin's Black Box : The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
by Michael J. Behe
Free Press

A biochemist points to the limits of evolutionary theory. He finds that natural selection falls short of explaining the complexity and interdependence of biochemical systems. Behe argues that life is "irreducibly complex" and must be the product of "intelligent design." Coming from an establishment scientist, this position is clearly heretical.


American Folklore: An Encyclopedia
by Jan Harold Brunvand, ed.

More than 500 entries from over 250 authors on everything from quilt making to blues music. So what? Well, this meaty one-volume overview of folklore also includes many extensive entries on contemporary legend, including ghost stories, conspiracy theories, Ouija, UFO lore, vampires, witchcraft, and more. With so many popular anomalies rooted in anecdote, rumor, and personal experience, researchers would do well to check out the essays from top-notch folklorists on these topics.


Biological Anomalies, Mammals II : A Catalog of Biological Anomalies*
by William R. Corliss
The Sourcebook Project
This latest volume in the opus known as The Sourcebook Project is another indispensable collection of anomalies drawn from the scientific literature. Topics include unrecognized animals, the anomalous distribution of mammals in space and time, anomalies in the fossil record of mammals, unexpected bodily functions, and much more. (*Must be ordered directly from The Sourcebook Project, PO Box 107, Glen Arm, MD 21057)


High Strangeness : UFOs from 1960 Through 1979 (Vol 3)
by Jerome Clark

The third volume of this awesome encyclopedia from a UFO proponent, yes, but a true expert. Clark has arguably read and written more words about UFOs than anyone, dead or alive. This is the essential, albeit expensive, reference work on UFOs. The other two volumes are also highly recommended: UFOs in the 1980s (Vol. 1) and Emergence of a Phenomenon: UFOs from the Beginning through 1959 (Vol. 2).


Reincarnation : A Critical Examination
by Paul Edwards
Prometheus Books

Never mind the conclusion. This is perhaps the first systematic evaluation of all facets of reincarnation by a philosopher with a good sense of humor. For believers, this is criticism to be reckoned with.

Deep Atlantic: Life, Death, and Exploration in the Abyss
by Richard Ellis

This volume just came to our attention and it's fabulous. Plunge five miles below the surface of the sea into a bizarre realm inhabited by creatures who strain the bounds of credibility, superbly illustrated with drawings by Ellis himself. We hardly know anything about the creatures of the deep ocean. We especially liked "Anomalopidae," for obvious reasons. These well-known "flashlight fish" have an organ below the eye that contains luminous bacteria that can be exposed when the fish lowers a special opaque flap. Ellis mentions this to segue into a description of the positively astonishing sighting of a fish that uses a "searchlight." Plenty of weirdness here.

The Night is Large; Collected Essays 1938-1995
by Martin Gardner
St. Martin's Press

The best single collection of Gardner's essays, many of which deal with his critiques of the paranormal. Gardner is head and shoulders above most other debunkers, and must be taken seriously as a major voice from the orthodox science community. Gardner (not Randi) is the real "hit man" for the orthodox community.

Fortean Studies, Volume 3*
Steve Moore, Editor
John Brown Publishing
So it's not strictly a book. This enormous annual volume has more real meat on its bones that most standard books. Topics include screaming skulls, the New England UFO flap of 1908, giant birds, the god who drank urine, giant footprints in Carson City, a critique of Bernard Heuvelmans' sea-serpent classification system, and a collection (with commentary) of virtually every contemporary document extant pertaining to the mysterious Springhill Jack. The latter, by Fortean Times publisher Mike Dash, is a small book in itself. There's also a complete index of the 1995 issues of Fortean Times. *Order directly from Fortean Times.


Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla: Biography of a Genius
by Marc J. Seifer
Birch Lane Press

A major new biography of Tesla who left behind many claims of inventions that produced anomalous results and whose work is the foundation for much that is published in Extraordinary Science and by the Tesla Society.


The Unexplained: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Natural and Paranormal Mysteries
by Karl Shuker
JG Press

Nothing new here really, but a balanced, beautifully illustrated overview of the great variety of fortean mysteries by one smart zoologist. Shuker's other books are also recommended, especially In Search of Prehistoric Survivors.


The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal
by Gordon Stein
Prometheus Books

A remarkably good book despite a few poor entries by the usual CSICOP debunkers and an exorbitant pricetag. The late Gordon Stein tried to do a well-informed book and had excellent people contribute: Truzzi's piece on pseudoscience even manages to criticize the CSICOP approach. Far from perfect, but far better than other general encyclopedias of the paranormal.


Origins of the Olmec Civilization*
by H. Mike Xu
University of Central Oklahoma Press
A Shanghai-born professor of foreign languages and philosophy suggests that the Olmec civilization of Central America may have Chinese origins. His discovery of Shang-dynasty Chinese characters on Olmec artifacts provides the best evidence yet for the presence of Chinese in America 3000 years ago. (*Must be ordered directly from: UCO Press, University of Central Oklahoma, Box 198, Edmond, Oklahoma 73034.)

The 1996 Anomalist Awards were chosen by Patrick Huyghe with recommendations from Dennis Stacy, Marcello Truzzi, and William Corliss.

The Anomalist, PO Box 6807, Charlottesville, VA 22906

Book Awards 1997

Book Awards 1998

Book Awards 1999