Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 17th, 2006
The Top Cryptofiction Books of 2006
by Loren Coleman, Author of Mysterious America.
In 1998, Craig Heinselman of New Hampshire and editor of Crypto coined the word "cryptofiction." The term refers to any literary work that has cryptozoology or a cryptid or groups of cryptids as the major theme or central focus.
What are the most noteworthy new works of cryptofiction published in the last twelve months?
Five completely different kinds of novels and one graphic novel – all cryptofiction contributions – gain recognition here for the Year of 2006. These selections are so diverse that they occupy their own niches. Here’s my list:
The Flock by James Robert Smith
According to Publishers Weekly: Stealth, cunning and killer instinct have ensured the survival of the flock of this gonzo eco-thriller’s title, a population of prehistoric, predatory, highly intelligent giant proto-birds who’ve roamed for thousands of years in the trackless savanna of what’s now a government military reservation in central Florida. Smith’s entertaining debut kicks into high gear when the birds get caught between conflicting environmental and business interests. Vance Holcomb, a billionaire rogue environmentalist, is trying to protect the lurking creatures, while the Berg Brothers, a Disney-style entertainment conglomerate, crave the land as residential real estate. When a right-wing militia is hired to destroy the flock, a naïve young Fish and Wildlife officer and his girlfriend find themselves caught in the resulting melee. Smith maps out a complex living environment that makes the flock’s continued existence almost believable and depicts human characters who match the killer birds in adaptability….
No Return by Pete Travers
Book description: The story of a man who takes his son camping, only to have a nightmarish encounter with a creature that no one thought really existed. To prove his innocence, he must travel through miles of untouched wilderness, and chase a terrifying legend known as Sasquatch.
Bestiary by Robert Masello.
From Publishers Weekly: In his latest, Masello lets loose a stable of thriller stereotypes and drives them hastily, but not unskillfully, through a sprawling adventure story complete with shady foreigners, ancient codes and terrible monsters. Sinister Iraqi zillionaire Mohammad Al-Kalli hires Beth Cox, a medieval manuscript expert, to translate and restore his family’s thousand-year-old bestiary, a medieval compendium of mythical animals painstakingly copied out by monks, replete with Da Vinci Code–style hidden messages couched in dead languages. As it turns out, the creatures catalogued there—a mix of Jurassic Park–like prehistoric monsters—are all too real and held in Al-Kalli’s secret menagerie, which Beth’s paleontologist husband has been hired, also by Al-Kalli, to study.. .
Natural Selection: A Novel by Dave Freedman
From Publishers Weekly: The sea monster "Demonray," who makes landfall in Freedman’s far-fetched but entertaining debut, possesses all the predatory features to provide maximum chills. It’s got a big brain, big wings, big teeth and a big purpose: to devour anything in its path, including humans. Harry Ackerman, a jaded millionaire whose Manta World (think Jurassic Park) failed when all his captive manta rays died, learns about the sighting of a mysterious flying ray and dispatches a staff of young scientists led by ichthyologist Jason Aldridge, "the next Jacques Cousteau," to investigate. What they find is no ordinary airborne ray, but an amphibious "new order" that has the potential to wipe out mankind. The exciting, science-packed hunt moves quickly but slows down once the crew encounters the Demonray in Northern California’s Redwood National Park….
Creature From The Black Lagoon: Time’s Black Lagoon by Paul Di Filippo.
Book Description: In 1954, an expedition found what seemed to be a missing link in the evolutionary chain: an ancient, immensely powerful amphibian creature. Scientists tried to tame it, break its will, and even change its very being with surgery and torture, but the beast rebelled, killing nearly all in its way. But was the creature truly a throwback, a freak survivor of some prehistoric era — or was it something more? Six decades later, one scientist attempts to find out, using a time machine to journey into the past. What he finds not only shatters his vision of what the Creature might be, but could change the history of the human race forever. Paul Di Filippo reinvents the Creature with a tale of time travel, horror, and mystery that blends Cold War science fiction with today’s cutting edge cyberpunk.
Cryptozoo Crew: Call of the Thunderbirdby Allan Gross and Jerry Carr.
This year saw Volume 2 published. The plot has a Thunderbird (actually a flying reptile) attacking the hero when he was a lad in Alaska. Entertaining, colorful, funny, and, although dedicated to cryptozoological material, doesn’t take itself so seriously that it feels held back by too much factual content.
Children’s Book Choice
Sasquatch Returns: A Story of an American Indian Legend by Frank S. LaFountaine
This 60 page self-published book takes on the traditions about Bigfoot in its fictional plot. Craig Heinselman notes this book, attuned to the young reader, makes good use of First Peoples’ legends.
© Loren Coleman 2006
Although I have often picked a fictional book to go in my top books’ lists, I began to make a separate list in the recent past to make certain cryptofiction is recognized on a separate footing. The choices are for the most noteworthy works, which are fully published as books (not online or as e-books).
Books have to be received to be noted at Cryptomundo, and to be read to be placed on the Top Cryptozoology or Cryptofiction Books for 2007. Please send your review copies to Loren Coleman, P. O. Box 360, Portland, ME 04112 USA, for future consi
deration. Thank you.
Thanks to Craig Heinselman, D. L. Tanner, Lee Murphy, Matt Bille, Chad Arment, and Craig Woolheater for their assistance with ideas for this list.
To find the master list of all links to every 2006 lists created at Cryptomundo about the top cryptozoology stories, the top Bigfoot stories, top mystery photographs, best cryptozoology books, best cryptofiction books, top creepy fossil discoveries, gifts, passings, top cryptids, and more, please click here.