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Tuesday, November 15, 2022


Stunning artwork from 'Klumpok' in Stranger Than People, and the deadly globe-encapsulated yellow monster of Sundra Strait as once again depicted in spectacular artwork from Stranger Than People (both images © YWP – reproduced here on a strictly non-commercial, educational Fair Use basis for review purposes only)

We've all read novels or short stories that we've felt sure would make marvelous movies, but which for one reason or another have never been selected by any film-maker to do so. This present Shuker In MovieLand blog article focuses upon two such works – a couple of short stories that I have long felt certain would transfer very effectively indeed from the typewritten page to the cinematic big screen but which, tragically, will almost certainly never do so, as their source is a nowadays exceedingly obscure, long-forgotten book from the 1960s. Yet it is one that made a huge impact upon me as a youngster. Its title? Stranger Than People – and indeed it was!

This fascinating  book is a compendium of famous true-life and fictitious mysteries – and here is what I wrote about it in the introduction to one of my own compendia of mysteries, Dr Shuker’s Casebook (2008):

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.

Tragically, however, this superb book did not appear to have had a very large original print run, was never reprinted, and as noted earlier it is nowadays long-forgotten and very scarce. Indeed, due to this book’s great rarity today, it occurred to me that few people will have been fortunate enough to have ever read those marvellous, original short science-fiction stories from it that I mentioned above, yet which remain among my own personal favourites within that genre and which, equally, I remain convinced would form the basis of excellent sci fi movie treatments.

My much-treasured second copy of Stranger Than People (© YWP/Dr Karl Shuker – reproduced here on a strictly non-commercial, educational Fair Use basis for educational/review purposes only)

Consequently, after almost 50 years and for the very first time anywhere on the internet, utilising the Fair Dealing/Fair Use convention I was delighted to be able to rectify this sad situation a while ago by presenting two of them on one of Shuker In MovieLand's sister blogs, The Eclectarium of Doctor Shuker, in the strict context of non-commercial educational/review purposes.

So for any of you reading this article of mine here at Shuker In MovieLand but for some inexplicable reason have never visited my Eclectarium before (shame on you, shame, I say!), just click here to access scans in the form of readily-readable enlargements of the original story and picture pages for 'Klumpok' from Stranger Than People, and here for those for 'The Yellow Monster of Sundra Strait' (and yes, it is spelled 'Sundra', not 'Sunda', in the story, although whether by accident or design I cannot say).

I hope that you enjoy encountering the giant ant gods of Klumpok and the Sundra Strait's globe-encapsulated spider monster just as much as I did – and still do – and afterwards perhaps you will also share my own continuing conviction that if any film-maker seeking original, never-previously-filmed sci fi stories should chance upon these two, they would surely repay both financially and critically however much time and effort were duly spent in achieving their greatly-deserved, long-overdue movie metamorphoses.

To view a complete chronological listing of all of my Shuker In MovieLand blog's other film reviews and articles (each one instantly accessible via a direct clickable link), please click HERE, and please click HERE to view a complete fully-clickable alphabetical listing of them.


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