Thanks to Tom Biscardi and all the members of the Searching for Bigfoot team, for an introduction to Bigfoot hunting in the wilds of Texas; to Craig Woolheater, for an enlightening conversation about Bigfoot; to Smokey Crabtree, for opening the box; to Dewayne Agin and the members of the Little Rock Grotto, for leading me safely to the center of the earth and out again; to the members of the Shaver Mystery chat group, for freely sharing their information and expertise; to my editor, Alex Wright, for patience and confidence; to Sandy, Cheryl, and Michael, for the flask and other things; to Sam and Olivia, for believing; and to Kristen, my one true love, for everything.


It is 1977 and I am 10 years old and a reader of fantastic fiction, a reader of Wells, Verne, Burroughs, and Howard. I live by the exploits of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, Professor Challenger and Phileas Fogg. I believe in the undersea kingdom of Atlantis and in Pellucidar, that strange land at the earth's core. Monsters walk the earth and soar through the heavens: the Wendigo, the banth, and the orluk prowl the earth for their prey; the pterodactyl, the malagor, and the sith hunt from the clouds.

My cousin Barry and I are playing in an abandoned corn crib. The air is dusty and hot. As we leave the building, the weathered gray boards of the door slam shut behind us. Looking up we see a terror - a roc, a malagor, an eagle the size of an airplane, sailing overhead, approaching lower and lower, as if intent on carrying one of us away to its mountain-top nest on the other side of the world.

We run for our lives and huddle together in the shelter of a tree. The creature passes on, its hunger unabated.

This is not a dream. It is real.

It is as real as the wasps that nest in corners and sting our hands and faces; as real as the redbud and mimosa trees that we climb in like squirrels; as real as the red dirt, black coal, and white limestone that is ever under our feet.

It is as real as the Bigfoot that haunts the Big Creek bottoms; as real as the root cellar that leads to secret underground kingdoms; as real as time travel and anti-gravity belts and laser beams.

It is as real as Jesus, as real as the Lord God Almighty.

I live in a world where time travel is as likely as air travel for a boy who has done neither; where werewolves are as likely as elephants for a boy who has seen neither; where Shangri La, or heaven itself, is as likely as New York or London for a boy who has traveled nowhere and seen nothing.

I am ten years old and mysterious creatures, lost worlds, and amazing inventions have not yet been removed from my world, harvested like trees from a pine forest. That will come later, as logic and science crowd out fantasy and faith and as philosophy replaces theology. Adam and Eve will, ironically, go the way of the dinosaurs. Fact and fiction will no longer play together, side by side, like friends during the long summer vacation. The summer of childhood will come to its end. It will be time to go back to school (and to university and to graduate school). The malagor will be only a distant memory, clouded by time, overshadowed by more important things. It will come to seem like no more than a dream.

But it was real.

Encounters with creatures as mysterious as the malagor are hardly rare. Accounts of giant birds of prey, large North American primates, and aquatic dinosaurs dwelling in the depths of Scottish lochs are almost a dime a dozen. Ask around. Everyone has a story or knows someone who has a story. Everyone has read a book or watched a television program about the Mothman of Virginia or the Manwolf of Wisconsin. The Six Million Dollar Man battled Bigfoot (a robot Bigfoot from outer space, no less) way back in the 1970s, a decade that also saw the creature team up for Saturday morning adventures with a young human protégé on Bigfoot and Wildboy. Mulder and Scully tracked Chupacabras through the 1990s. The Water Horse, Hollywood's version of the Loch Ness Monster, swam into theaters in the winter of 2007.

Of course this is to mix fiction and reality a bit. The space robot Bigfoot that battled Steve Austin is one thing, a fictional creation not much different from a Wookie. But there are people who actually claim to have seen Bigfoot, people who argue passionately that creatures such as this are real inhabitants of the American woodlands, people who say that there really is a plesiosaur dwelling in the waters of Loch Ness. There are people who go into the woods to hunt for Bigfoot equipped with guns and nets. There are people who seek scientific evidence for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. What for many people are merely creatures of the imagination are, for others, creatures that really lurk in the darkness and the depths.


This blurring of fact and fantasy is not limited to the world of mysterious creatures. Everyone knows the story of Atlantis, the great civilization lost at sea. Captain Nemo and the crew of the Nautilus explored its undersea ruins. It is the home of Aquaman in DC Comics, and the home of his angrier cousin Namor, the Sub-Mariner in the Marvel Comics universe. Before Patrick Duffy played Bobby Ewing in that great 1970s soap opera Dallas, he was the Man from Atlantis for one brief season, donning fake gills and webbed hands to make the illusion complete. In the same decade, bell-bottomed adventurers explored Atlantium, the last city of Atlantis, while trying to escape the Bermuda Triangle in The Fantastic Journey. In Stargate Atlantis, the technology of the ancient Atlanteans is used to explore the wonders of the Pegasus galaxy.

We also know about the lost civilizations that are said to dwell beneath the surface of the earth. Its inhabitants have attacked Superman and the Fantastic Four. In the film version of Edgar Rice Burrough's At the Earth's Core, Doug McClure and Peter Cushing piloted a huge boring machine, the Iron Mole, deep underground and freed the primitive people of Pellucidar from the evil flying reptiles known as the mahars. They also saved the scantily clad Dian the Beautiful along the way. These are basic elements of science fiction and fantasy, of comic books and low-budget movies and television shows. But for some they are real. For some, Atlantis was a real place that continues to influence the development of our world. For some, the earth is hollow and the home of either an advanced race of enlightened beings or dangerously depraved creatures filled with wickedness and evil.

Likewise with the amazing inventions that make science fiction so interesting. You know, the time machines, ray guns, and anti-gravity devices that make the universes of Star Trek or Star Wars so much more exciting than our own. Luke Skywalker glided over the surface of Tatooine in a land-speeder. Michael J. Fox traveled backward and forward through time in a customized DeLorean. David Bowie, as real-life genius Nikola Tesla, invented a teleportation device in the film version of Christopher Priest's novel, The Prestige. Every sci-fi hero carries a ray gun, or phaser, or blaster. When science and technology are already doing so much for us, it is easy to imagine that they can also provide us with these things as well: a rocket ship to explore the universe, a time machine to travel into both the future and the past, and a laser gun to protect ourselves along the way. But, once again, what for most people are only dreams of the future are, for others, the facts of yesterday and today. The civilization of ancient India flew aircraft and controlled nuclear power. Time travel is possible today.

This book recounts stories of the mysterious creatures that prowl the hinterland of our inhabited spaces or that pop up unexpectedly in our suburban backyards. It recounts stories of the mysterious creatures that lumber out of the woods and into the headlights of our cars on dark deserted highways. It recounts stories of Bigfoot, the tall stinky man-ape; Bigfoot, the wild man of the woods; Bigfoot, star traveler and psychic guide. It recounts stories of Abominable Snowmen; of Puerto Rican goat-sucking Chupacabras; Wolfmen and Skinwalkers; Mothmen and Ropen; sea monsters from the depths. It is about horrors and dream creatures.

This book is about the lost worlds that call to us from the distant past, from the depths of the ocean, from the unfathomable dark of caverns and caves. It tells of Atlantis, mother of us all; Atlantis, city lost at sea; Atlantis, land of spirit and invention. It tells of Lemuria and Mu, Shambala and Shangri La. It tells of the world of the hollow earth; of Nazis, giants, mastodons, and stim rays. It tells of nightmare worlds and promised lands.

This book is about the amazing inventions and life-changing wonders that are produced, not in the R&D departments of multinational corporations, but by precocious civilizations of the ancient past or by mad scientists ignored by Silicon Valley and Wall Street. It is about the technological wonders that promise to change our world. It is about the power of pyramids; about ancient calendars and the end of days; about flying chariots and nuclear bombs. It is about free energy and anti-gravity machines; about time travel and ray guns. It is about the wonders of the past and the marvels of the future.

This book is about mysterious creatures, lost worlds, and amazing inventions, and about the people for whom they are real.

In Part One we join a group of Bigfoot hunters and venture into the forests of north Texas in search of the mysterious creatures whose existence is known only through eyewitness testimony and muddy footprints, neither of which can stand long against time and the elements, slipping away into the far less convincing media of folklore and plaster casts. In Chapter One we examine the most famous of these creatures - Bigfoot. In Chapter Two we widen the scope to take in a whole world of creatures that lie just beyond the borders of accepted reality - creatures that won't be seen in any zoo. Chapter Three returns once again to the big guy, Bigfoot, though with an eye toward his more sensitive side. While there are plenty of people who view Bigfoot as nothing more than an as-yet-unrecognized animal, there are plenty of others who see the creature as something more, as a human-like being capable of language and art, or as a spiritual guide from another dimension or from beyond the stars.

In Part Two we follow wild stories, stories about blue-skinned people and Bigfoot armed with death rays, stories that lead us deep into underground caverns in search of lost worlds. Chapter Four takes us in search of the submerged societies of Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu. In Chapter Five we tunnel even deeper into underground beliefs and borderland sciences and examine the tradition of subterranean civilizations and kingdoms, battling mystic Nazis and giant lizards along the way.

Part Three introduces consciousness-raising psychic brainwaves from outer space, first by looking to the forgotten technology of the past and then by looking around us to the inventions that hide on the margins of today's world. In Chapter Six we become entranced by the wonders of ancient India, Egypt, and America. We ride in the ancient Indian airships known as vimaanas, feel the power of the Egyptian pyramids, and tremble at the prediction of the end of the world found in the numerology of ancient Mayan calendars. In Chapter Seven we are exposed to today's fringe technology, mad scientists, and amazing inventions. We travel through time and space. We overcome the bonds of gravity. We draw power from the universe itself.

It is a challenge not to let my skepticism get the better of me, as an investigator of such weird and bizarre matters. It is too easy to laugh or to point out errors in logic when we confront beliefs that are remarkably different from what is taught in university classrooms. In this book I will do my best to avoid the easy path. This is not a book about critical thinking, nor is it a book about logical fallacies or bad science. It is a book about the diversity of human thought and about the plurality of beliefs that flourish whenever people are allowed to think freely. This book is not a skeptical look at Bigfoot, Atlantis, and pyramid power. It is, rather, an appreciative look.

This is not to imply that I believe any or all of the ideas presented here. My own worldview tends toward the tame and mundane. My science is rather pedestrian, my beliefs rather conventional. I do have a wild fascination with the ideas of other people, however, especially ideas that lead my brain through twists and turns it is not accustomed to taking. I like the people who, whether they know it or not, dare to be different, dare to think in an unapproved fashion about things that we are not supposed to think about once we are all grown up. I may be a rather boring person intellectually, but I get my kicks from those who take risks and are not afraid to make fools of themselves. In other words, I did not write this book as part of a strategy to try and stamp out weird science and bizarre beliefs. I wrote this book to celebrate weird science and bizarre beliefs. I believe that, in the long run, the world is better served by intellectual pluralism than by staid orthodoxy. (I will confess that I sometimes do offer critical appraisals of what I find out there in the borderlands. This happens, more often than not, at the times when I myself struggle with understanding. Some beliefs are so outlandish that my only response is to scratch my head. This puzzlement may sometimes come across as a predisposition to critique, which I hope it is not.)

I am also something of a pluralist when it comes to ontology, that is, the question of what is real and what is not. Traditional philosophical approaches usually divide up into the monistic and the dualistic sorts. Monists believe that there is only one kind of real thing, usually the material world but sometimes the world of spirit or mind. Dualists believe that there are two kinds of real things - the material and the spiritual. Modern science tends to be materialistically monistic, and traditional Christianity tends to be dualistic. I am a bit more unfettered when it comes to questions of what is real and what is not. I believe that there are all sorts of real things and that it gets us nowhere when we try to force things into one or the other of the aforementioned categories. Things can be real in different ways. We can only see that if we take the time to enjoy the diversity, if we bother to save our judgments until we have come to understand what people are saying and why. In this book I have tried to allow the reality of some of the weird scientific claims and bizarre beliefs to show through. Not that I am trying to convince the reader to believe in them. I am only trying to help the reader to appreciate them for what they are.

There are truly wonderful ideas out there in the world, a lot of truly wonderful people. There are people who believe that dinosaurs still roam the earth, people who believe that the earth is hollow, people who believe that the solution to our energy problems lies in the cosmic power that pervades the universe around us. I, for one, am glad they are there.


Bigfoot in Paris


I drive into Paris, Texas wondering if this Paris has its own Eiffel Tower and if cowboy hats, atop heads bronzed by the Texas sun, are here worn at jaunty angles, like berets with brims. Is there a Texas Louvre with its own Venus de Milo? Does this Paris, too, boast la Grande Cuisine?


A replica of the Eiffel Tower stands next door to the town's Civic Center, its 65-foot frame looking like an oil rig built by a particularly artistic oilman, a sensitive cowboy who dreamed of life on the River Seine rather than the Rio Grande. At its zenith, at just the jaunty angle I had imagined, is a giant red cowboy hat. Everything is not bigger in Texas, this Eiffel Tower is quite a bit smaller than the real one, but the hat makes up for any deficiencies in size. (I don't suppose Texans would want to make too much of that.) Paris, Texas, alas, has no Louvre, though it does boast a cemetery monument depicting Jesus in cowboy boots, the Texas answer to armless pagan goddesses. The cuisine? La Grande it is - especially the chicken-fried steak.

It is none of these things that has brought me two hours north of Dallas, however. Paris is only providing a motel room and a few quick meals. It is but the jumping-off point for what promises to be a wild adventure. France may have once been the home of Neanderthals and Paleolithic cave artists, but the wilds of Texas offer the promise of living, breathing specimens of hairy, bipedal hominids, wild men of the woods, throwbacks, and missing links. I am here to join an expedition intent on capturing one. I am here to hunt Bigfoot.

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