Monday, 25 July 2016

Charles Hoy Fort - Weird War 1 collector of odd phenomena

Charles Hoy Fort was born in 1874 in Albany, New York, of Dutch ancestry. His grocer father was an authoritarian, and in Many Parts, Fort's unpublished autobiography, he describes his father's physical abuse. Fort's biographer, Damon Knight, suggested that Fort's distrust of authority had its roots in his treatment as a child. Fort did develop his strong sense of independence in his early years.

As a young adult, Fort wanted to be a naturalist, collecting sea shells, minerals, and birds. Although he was described as curious and intelligent, Fort was not a good student. He was considered quite knowledgeable about the world, but this only came from his extensive reading.

At age 18, Fort left New York on a world tour to "put some capital in the bank of experience". He travelled through the western United States, Scotland, and England, until falling ill in Southern Africa. Returning home, he was nursed by Anna Filing, a girl he had known from his childhood. They were married on October 26, 1896. Anna was four years older than Fort and was non-literary, a lover of films and of parakeets. She moved with her husband to London for two years where they would go to the cinema when Fort wasn't busy with his research. His success as a short story writer was intermittent between periods of terrible poverty and depression.

Examples of the odd phenomena in Fort's books include many of what are variously referred to as occult, supernatural, and paranormal. Reported events include teleportation (a term Fort is generally credited with coining); falls of frogs, fishes, inorganic materials of an amazing range; spontaneous fires; ball lightning (a term explicitly used by Fort); poltergeist events; unaccountable noises and explosions; levitation; unidentified flying objects; unexplained disappearances; giant wheels of light in the oceans; and animals found outside their normal ranges (see phantom cat). He offered many reports of out-of-place artefacts (OOPArts), strange items found in unlikely locations. He also is perhaps the first person to explain strange human appearances and disappearances by the hypothesis of alien abduction and was an early proponent of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, specifically suggesting that strange lights or objects sighted in the skies might be alien spacecraft. Fort also wrote about the interconnectedness of nature and synchronicity.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6

Skills:  Investigation d10, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Knowledge (Fortean phenomena) d8, Notice d10, Persuasion d8

Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 2; Sanity: 6; Toughness: 5

Hindrances: Curious, Bad eyes

Edges: Alertness, Investigator

Gear: Notebook, copious amounts of notes.

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