Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Philip Jose Farmer

Long before Alan Moore gathered his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or recast the Charleton Heroes as Watchmen, Philip Jose Farmer was mining the rich vein of the deceased and the public domain and forging weird tales from the foaming broth produced..

The first PJF book I ever read was The Other Log of Phineas Fogg, which posited the Verne hero of Around the World in 80 Days as an alien agent fighting for an ancient artifact against another alien agent, who was Captain Nemo AND Moriarty, and ending up on the deck of the Mary Celeste. High weirdness indeed.

And the epic strangeness continued with the discovery of Tarzan Alive! and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, which tied bevies of Pulp and Victorian characters together under a single continuity (and a single group of families). And of course Riverworld, in which the dead of thousands of earth years (with a few interesting exceptions) were all recreated on an alien planet consisting of one great river valley. Mark Twain and Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor) and Alice (the one who inspired Wonderland) were the heroes.

Weird stuff indeed, even for the early 70s, and it made for one of the not-sucky SciFi Channel movies from back in the day when they made movies based on real ideas as opposed to a title and a bit of monster animation.

Oh, and he was Kilgore Trout, too, Kurt Vonnegut's fictional SF author that sounded suspiciously like Theodore Sturgeon.

He passed on at age 91, peacefully, in his sleep.

Good luck on the Big River, sir.

More later,