William Corliss. Photo from the Cryptomundo site.A deep sadness overtook me yesterday when I learned of the passing of William Corliss a month ago, on July 8th, 2011. William Corliss was the great Fortean man who I have always have called the reincarnation of Charles Hoy Fort himself, for his decades of ceaseless, tireless compilation of anomalous reports from around the world and the publication of same.

We have lost a real treasure. Forteana has lost a heck of a lot. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

While Fort was not averse to sometimes using reportage from non-scientific sources, (although most were), Bill Corliss never did that and was very pure and in a way even “truer to the cause” in his gathering of goodies than Charlie was.

I once had the great privilege of hearing Mr. Corliss speak at a meeting of the crumbling INFO group from Maryland.

Corliss' Incredible LifeHe filled his allotted time with a lot of information, delivered in a deliberate and methodical way, much like his myriad books. Some thought him boring as he regaled us with obscure cryptozoological strangeness… yes, it was true that his speaking (and writing) and were not grand and glorious in a flamboyant sense or a cynically humorous sense a la Fort, but what he said and what he wrote were worth so much that it really just didn’t matter. To me anyway.

Regretfully I only have one of Corliss’ Sourcebooks, this awful inventory due only to interminable personal circumstance. It is wonderful. And – by hook or by crook – before too long I will have them all. If you can do it I heartily recommend them. You will love every word and every picture. Seriously.

In his recent obituary piece, noted chronicler of those who have passed, Loren Coleman of Cryptomundo, famous cryptozoologist from Maine, had this to say, in part…

He was an American physicist and writer who became known for his interest in collecting data regarding anomalous phenomena, some of which included cryptozoological topics. William R. Corliss was presented with the Tim Dinsdale Award (named after the famed seeker of the Loch Ness Monsters) on June 10, 1994, at the 13th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration in Austin, Texas. It was presented to Corliss for his unique and comprehensive cataloguing of scientific anomalies. Corliss then gave the Dinsdale Lecture entitled, “The Classified Residuum.”

Arthur C. Clarke described him as “Fort’s latter-day – and much more scientific – successor.”

Since 1974, Corliss published a number of works in the “Sourcebook Project.” Each volume was devoted to a scientific field (archeology, astronomy, geology, and other topics) and featured articles culled almost exclusively from scientific journals. Corliss was inspired by Charles Fort, who decades earlier also collected reports of unusual phenomena. Unlike Fort, Corliss offered little in the way of his own opinions or editorial comments, preferring to let the articles speak for themselves. Corliss quoted all relevant parts of articles (often reprinting entire articles or stories, including illustrations). Many of the articles in Corliss’s works were earlier mentioned by Fort works.

You can read the rest of Loren’s very informative piece and others here:

Mr. Corliss’ website, Science Frontiers, has a wealth of information for anomalists of all stripes and in any scientific discipline they might be interested in… dozens are covered.

Soar through the stars, William Corliss, may you discover things endlessly and may you know the answers to them all…

Peace.

 

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