_Goldfinger said, 'Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time is enemy action."'_
_Wild Talents_ (1932) is the fourth of Charles Fort's stranger-than-science books. It was published a few months after his death, and it might give the reader the impression that it is an odd stew, with chunks of meat and vegetables floating about in it at random. But there is a theme that holds the concoction together-- the theme of coincidence. Fort seems to be fascinated with the "relations of things" and with "the alleged pseudo-relations that are called coincidences" (chapter two). And Fort being Fort, he is full of specific examples. Here is one:
In England, during the Pytchley hunt, Gen. Mayow fell dead from his saddle... about the same time, in Gloucestershire, the daughter of the bishop of Gloucestershire, while hunting, was seriously injured; and... upon the same day, in the north of England, a Miss Cavendish, while hunting, was killed. Not long afterward, a clergyman was killed, while hunting in Lincolnshire. About the same time, two hunters, near Sanders' Gorse, were thrown, and were seriously injured. (chapter four)
And here is another:
In Hyde Park, London, an orator shouts: "What we want is no king and no law! How we'll get it will be, not with ballots, but with bullets!"
Far away, in Gloucestershire, a house that dates back to Elizabethan times unaccountably bursts into flame. (chapter four)
Fort continues with other examples: The disappearance of Ambrose Bierce in Mexico and Ambrose Small in Canada that led him to speculate as to whether somebody was collecting Ambroses. The case of three workers in a vineyard who dropped dead from a heart attack, one right after another. The dog that said "Good morning!" and then vanished in a puff of green smoke. And there are still other cases: serial hair-cutters, slipper stealers, stabbers, and serial killers; several series of mysterious arsons; a cat burglar who piled up jewelery but stole nothing from mansions; and alleged cases of vampirism, ghoulism, and poltergeist pranks.
But wait, you may say. Aren't some of these coincidences a bit forced? Aren't there likely to be a lot of horseback accidents at the beginning of the fox hunting season? And isn't it a bit far-fetched to assume that a speech in Hyde Park _caused_ a fire many miles away? And even Fort somewhat reluctantly dismisses the story about the dog.
And yet, you know, we make these connections all the time. Lady Diana and Mother Teresa die on the same day. C.S. Lewis dies on the same day that Jack Kennedy is shot. We notice that. A relative dies on a national holiday. We make a connection. We notice on the news that there have been several similar automobile accidents or several similar natural disasters in a short span of time. But these coincidences are just that-- coincidences. We probably should not be preparing for enemy action against Mysterious Forces Beyond the Pale. That way lies paranoia.
Fort makes allusions to his cosmology of a pancake shaped Earth with a crystal sky and a Super Sarasso Sea up above. But he doesn't treat these things in great detail. By focussing his attention on strange crimes, disasters, and paranormal mental powers he manages to make _Wild Talents_ the most credible of his books. As always, the reader should remember that Fort constantly wrote with his tongue in his cheek. At one point in this book he comments that people cannot decide whether he is more of a scientist or a humorist. That may have been true in his time, but it is no longer true today. Fort was not a scientist.