Yesterday I mentioned a book I'd read as a child called Strangely Enough, by C.B. Colby. It got me thinking about a similar book that I enjoyed as an 11-year-old called Stranger Than Science, by Frank Edwards. It was first published in 1960. I remembered that I still had a copy and found it in my bookcase.
The cover copy says "Astounding stories of strange events! All authentic – all absolutely true!" Inside the book it says, "Best selling author Frank Edwards has sifted through the overwhelming evidence [and] has chosen only those amazing and dramatic stories that are incontestably true."Stranger than Science has about 60 stories in it, and each of them are between one-and-a-half and three pages long. I read a few of the stories to my nine-year-old daughter Jane last night. We both loved the stories. The first story is called "The Mystery of David Lang." It's about a man who, in 1880, was standing in his front yard and suddenly vanished into thin air in front of his wife, two children, and a visiting judge.
The grown-ups searched the field around and around, and found nothing. Mrs. Lang became hysterical and had to be led screaming into the house. Meanwhile, neighbors had been alerted by the frantic ringing a huge bell that stood in the side yard, and they spread the alarm. By nightfall scores of people were on the scene, many of them with lanterns. They search every foot of the field in which Lang had last been seen a few hours before. They stamped their feet on the dry hard sod in hope of detecting some hole into which he might have fallen – but they found none.
Next there was a story about abominable snowmen, followed by stories about a man who was swallowed by a fish and lived to tell story, a grotesque monster carcass that washed up on the shore of a British island, and an abandoned Arctic village from which all of its inhabitants had mysteriously disappeared without a trace. The village was called Anjikuni and I looked it up. Some accounts claim that the story is true, and others dismiss it as an urban legend. I think it is probably an urban legend, but I'm not entirely convinced one way or the other. I'm looking forward to reading more of these stories with my daughter, and checking them out online.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.