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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

KLUMPOK - IT REALLY WAS STRANGER THAN PEOPLE!!

Stunning artwork from 'Klumpok' in Stranger Than People (1968)

I owe a great deal to a wonderful but sadly long-since-forgotten compendium of famous true-life and fictitious mysteries entitled Stranger Than People – as I explained in the introduction to one of my own volumes, Dr Shuker’s Casebook (2008):

Here I am with the two books that sparked my lifelong interest in cryptozoology and other subjects of mystery (Dr Karl Shuker)


“It is well known that my passion for cryptozoology was ignited by the 1972 Paladin paperback reprint of Dr Bernard Heuvelmans’s classic tome On the Track of Unknown Animals, bought for me as a birthday present by my mother when I was around 13 years old. However, my interest in mysterious phenomena as a whole stemmed from an even earlier present – a copy of Stranger Than People, an enthralling compendium of mysteries from fact and fiction, published in 1968 by YWP, and aimed at older children and teenagers, which I saw one day in the Walsall branch of W.H. Smith when I was 8 or 9 years old, and was duly purchased for me as usual by my mother.

“Within its informative, beautifully-illustrated pages I read with fascination – and fear – about Nessie and the kraken, vampires and werewolves, the Colossus of Rhodes and Von Kempelen’s mechanical chess player, dinosaurs and the minotaur, witches and zombies, yetis and mermaids, leprechauns and trolls, Herne the Hunter and Moby Dick, giants and the cyclops, feral children, the psychic powers of Edgar Cayce, and lots more. It even included two original – and quite superb - sci-fi short stories: ‘Klumpok’, about giant ant-like statues found on Mars and what happened when one of them was brought back to Earth; and ‘The Yellow Monster of Sundra Strait’, in which a giant transparent globe containing an enormous spider-like entity rises up out of the ocean; plus a thrilling (and chilling) fantasy tale, ‘Devil Tiger’, featuring a royal but malevolent weretiger that could only be killed with a golden bullet.

“Needless to say, I re-read the poor book so many times that it quite literally fell apart, and was eventually discarded by my parents. After I discovered its loss, I spent many years scouring every bookshop for another copy, but none could be found. Not even Hay-on-Wye – world-famous as ‘The Town of Books’ with over 40 secondhand bookshops – could oblige. A few years ago, however, the Library Angel was clearly at work, because one Tuesday, walking into the bric-a-brac market held on that day each week in my home town of Wednesbury, on the very first stall that I approached I saw a near-pristine copy of Stranger Than People! Needless to say, I bought it, and to this day it remains the only copy that I have ever seen since my original one.”


Indeed, due to this book’s great scarcity today, it recently occurred to me that few people will have been fortunate enough to have ever read any of those marvellous short stories from it that I mentioned above.




Consequently, after more than 40 years, utilising the Fair Dealing/Fair Use convention I am delighted to be able to rectify this sad situation by presenting here in The Eclectarium of Doctor Shuker, in the context of review, and on an entirely non-commercial basis, my own personal favourite – Klumpok.

Just click on the following scans for readily readable enlargements of the original pages (pp. 86-92) from Stranger Than People, which also reveal the stunning artwork that accompanied this story. (Unfortunately, I am unable to name-check either the author or the artist responsible for Klumpok, because no credits of any kind were given in Stranger Than People for this particular story.)

I hope that you enjoy Klumpok just as much as I did – and still do:


 

And click here to read the second gripping original sci-fi short story that appeared in Stranger Than People - 'The Yellow Monster of Sundra Strait'.




10 comments:

  1. Fantastic! More, please! Or in fact, all, please!
    Any chance of cycling through the rest of this fabulous book?

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  2. 'The Yellow Monster of Sundra Strait' is a second sci-fi story from this same book that I have also uploaded here in my Eclectarium, so check that out too. I may upload some other exerpts in the future, but there would probably be copyright issues if I uploaded the whole book, wonderful though it is.

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  3. Cue theme from The Twilight Zone.

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  4. Hello! and thanks, Doctor!
    I too had a copy of Stranger Than People when I was about 8 or 9. I must have been a much more sensitive ie lily-livered child than yourself, because the pictures freaked me out so badly that I gave the book away. Boy, do I regret that now!
    I remember the illustrations to the Yellow Monster... oh, yeah. But the one that got right under my skin was the four-step change from man to werewolf.

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  5. I had Stranger Than People as a child in Australia, and literally loved it to bits. Have looked all my adult life for this book, but mistakenly remembered the title as Stranger Than Fiction (years of frustration at not being able to find it !) Found Dr Karl's website yesterday and recognised the pictures on this page instantly. Yippee, now I have the title I may have luck finding a copy of the book ! Many thanks to Dr Karl.

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  6. I'm very glad that this post of mine has been of such interest to all of you, and I was delighted to learn that it has helped Anonymous discover the identity of the book that they had owned as a child in Australia - I hope that now you know its title, you'll be able to track down a copy, perhaps on ebay or abebooks or Amazon?

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  7. I posted as ‘Anonymous’ on 18/11/2013. Three years on, I now have one perfect copy of “Stranger Than People”, a 2nd copy of “STP” in satisfactory condition, just missing the spine (but still all held together) and a copy of Bernard Heuvelmans’ classic tome, “On the Track of Unknown Animals”, which I had never heard of before you mentioned it, Karl. You may be interested in the books of John Pinkney, an Australian author who collects strange and mysterious stories. His main focus is the supernatural, but he also writes on many different subjects, including dipping his toe into cryptozoology, with stories on Australia’s version of the Yeti/Sasquatch, known here as “Big Foot”, and also sightings of what appear to be relatives of the Loch Ness monster, living in the Hawkesbury River, a region of New South Wales. His books are readily available for sale on the internet.

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    1. Very glad to hear that you have now refound some copies of Stranger Than People, excellent! And thanks also for the info re John Pinkney - I knew of the Hawkesbury River monster, but there are so many other fascinating yet little-known monsters and mystery beasts of Australia that I've probably only read about and written about a small fraction of them.

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  8. It's a brilliant book - I was given it as a Christmas present when it came out - I could slightly criticize it for mixing articles about dinosaurs and cavemen with equally-valid giant alien spiders and vampires, thus confusing TRUTH and FICTION in my mind forever... hooray!

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    1. Yes indeed, that confused me too initially as a child, until I finally realised that some were just stories, like Klumpok, etc. How innocent and trusting we all were as children back then, lol, not like today's streetwise kids.

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