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    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/evaluate functions solely)

    It has been some time since I final reviewed
    any notable cryptozoological publications on ShukerNature, so listed below are my
    ideas regarding one which I obtained just lately.

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

    Till final November, nonetheless, there had
    by no means been a ebook devoted totally to opinions of cryptozoological books and
    associated 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 recognized for 2 earlier non-fiction
    books dedicated to present and former cryptids alike in addition to his longstanding
    curiosity in such creatures, Bille has supplied a most dear service in
    compiling this third providing, which for probably the most half consists of
    cryptozoological ebook opinions penned by him that initially appeared on his Matt’s Sci/Tech
    , plus quite a lot of extra
    ones specifically written for this ebook so as to render his protection of the
    literature extra complete.

    This 311-page ebook is split into 4
    sections: Cryptozoology Books; Associated Sciences; Crypto-Fiction; and A Marvelous
    Miscellany. There’s 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 aren’t any illustrations, however these should not actually
    obligatory in a ebook of this nature.

    The Cryptozoology Books part, which by
    definition is the crux of this complete publication, follows on from the ebook’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 opinions 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 – principally – terrestrial cryptids, together with
    thriller cats, thylacine, and putative mammoths, but additionally 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 (opinions of basic cryptozoology
    books surveying a variety of cryptids relatively than concentrating upon sure
    particular sorts).

    The Associated Sciences part, spanning
    pp. 124-220, accommodates opinions of books that, though not devoted wholly to
    cryptozoology, usually embody some crypto-content and/or take care of mainstream
    zoological topics of appreciable background relevance to thriller beasts. It’s
    divided into three subsections, whose respective titles readily reveal the
    material of the books reviewed inside them. Specifically: 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 by which Bille presents one subsection devoted
    totally to his private High Three favorite cryptozoologically-themed novels,
    and a second subsection containing opinions of a variety and sizeable quantity
    of different crypto-novels. A few of these are traditional works, others are much less
    acquainted, and there are a number of that had been totally new to me however which I totally
    intend to acquaint myself with sooner or later.

    Final however in no way least of the 4
    sections is A Marvelous Miscellany, spanning pp. 255-272, which undoubtedly
    lives as much as its title, containing opinions 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
    presents some transient ideas concerning sure cryptids that in his view might
    certainly exist, and paperwork his earlier cryptozoological publications. The
    the rest of the ebook consists of an acknowlegements part and an intensive
    index (which additionally incorporates a bibliography).

    All through this ebook, the opinions by
    Bille differ 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
    remedy of them (in contrast to the belligerent, dogmatic perspective of sure different
    figures who’ve inputted inside this discipline of research at one time or one other
    down by way of the a long time). Certainly, Bille’s goal take is what makes his
    opinions so fascinating and entertaining, as a result of one is rarely struggling to
    uncover the actual ebook obscured behind an opaque veil of prejudice and bias,
    which is a most welcome, heartening change from so many opinions of
    cryptozoological works that I’ve learn  
    or endured – through the years.

    Equally, it’s evident from the content material
    of his opinions that Bille has really learn the entire books in query (in
    flip reliably demonstrating simply how prolific a reader of cryptozoological
    writings he’s, and due to this fact a really perfect individual 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, now and again – that in all too many cases, a
    so-called reviewer both has by no means really learn the ebook 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 additionally their publishers, locations of publication, and dates of
    publication) so as to present newcomers and longstanding crypto-researchers
    alike with a complete itemizing of revealed books on the topic – a
    topic whose literature till then had by no means been offered 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 wonderful 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 can I really feel be of immense worth to the identical
    viewers of readers as my checklist is aimed toward. There’s nothing else like this
    ebook on the market, so I’m very comfortable 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 evaluate copy arrived within the put up,
    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 desirous to be taught concerning the huge
    range of books these days on the market that take care of thriller beasts.

    Lastly: or as Lieutenant Columbo would
    say at this level within the proceedings, only one thing more… (okay, two, on this explicit
    occasion – a few minor quibbles). Firstly: I am considerably bemused by
    Bille’s arranging of his ebook opinions inside every subsection or part. For the
    most half, it appears to be chronological (though see a bit later in my
    current evaluate), from earliest to most up-to-date publication date, however this isn’t
    totally adhered to. As an example: within the Others subsection of Part 1
    (Cryptozoology Books), the primary ebook to be reviewed is Maurice Burton’s Animal Legends, revealed 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 ebook Cryptid Creatures: A Area Information. However then, for no obvious motive,
    the subsequent ebook reviewed on this similar subsection is Michael Newton’s 2007 ebook Florida’s Sudden Wildlife, after
    which one other ten reviewed books observe, organized chronologically from 2007 to
    2020. Why had been these not integrated into the earlier 35-book chronological itemizing,
    as a substitute of being separated into their very own 11-book chronological itemizing instantly
    following it?

    No motive is given, so I’m questioning if
    these remaining eleven had been last-minute opinions by Bille, probably written to fill
    some perceived gaps in his protection however submitted too late to be labored into
    the principle physique of opinions? In that case, a really quick word explaining this inconsistent
    ordering of opinions 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 likewise all through the part A Marvelous Menagerie, the books
    reviewed should not organized chronologically in any respect, however are as a substitute organized alphabetically,
    by writer surname. Why not stick with a chronological ordering? Unusual.

    Secondly: by its very nature, the content material
    of this ebook is a private, subjective one, inevitably guided by Bille’s personal
    explicit pursuits and influences. In different phrases, no two compilers of such a
    ebook would have included the identical entries, and divided them up into sections of
    the identical proportions or topics. Having stated that, I do really feel that extra space
    ought to have been dedicated to cryptozoology books per se, and fewer to (in
    explicit) the Associated Sciences part. This ebook’s distinctive side, and no
    doubt its best single promoting level, is that it’s the first one to proffer an intensive sequence of opinions of cryptozoology books, so in my
    view the Associated Sciences part may have been vastly decreased, with no
    severe loss to the ebook’s value, and changed by much more cryptozoology-themed
    ebook opinions. As it’s, I can consider a good variety of crypto-books for which
    one would possibly anticipate finding opinions included right here, however which aren’t represented.
    As an example, though there are a number of opinions of books dedicated to sure
    particular sorts or geographical groupings of feline cryptids, neither version of
    probably the most complete ebook ever revealed on such creatures globally is
    represented by a evaluate, which is clearly a significant omission. I could also be mistaken, however
    wasn’t the ebook in query entitled Thriller
    Cats of the World

    “On the lookout for a concise however dependable survey of probably 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.