Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What have you read by Philip José Farmer?

Oddly enough, I wasn't even aware of this author until these past two weeks. The reason it's odd is that he is a sci-fi author who has been one of the more famous (infamous?) writers since the 60s, and is to all accounts is partially responsible (if not largely) for science fiction reaching a level of maturity.

To whit, he is renowned for breaking some sci-fi taboos and conventions, or at least testing their flexibility. Thereby giving the entire genre a shove. He is particularly noted for adult themes of sexuality, romance, reproduction, but also religion.

Another reason my oversight is odd is that this author and I share many common interests. Tarzan, ERB, Opar, and even Willy Ley. And his themes of absurdity and confused unreality appeal to me greatly. His stories reek of the preposterous, and I love it. He also has a sense of simple fun, exuberance, revels in freedom. I have noted this factor among other authors. Some are fun, even when on a tragic subject, and others are grim even when on a fun subject.

I learned of him through a mention in another book, and at first I confused him with Philip K. Dick (who is in fact a similar author), and I knew for a fact I wanted to avoid any more Philip K. Dick (but my revulsion with him is another blog). I ordered some Farmer books from the library out of curiosity, intending only to look over them. Well, you know what they say about curiosity...

I'm on Tarzan Alive right now, just a fun romp in that world, and I've read a handful of short stories, and I have more waiting to be read.

Oh, I found this:

Farmer has got me interested in "Heritage of the Flaming God"
by Frank J. Brueckel and John Harwood, an essay examining the potentialities of an admittedly fictional Tarzan/Atlantis subject, Opar. World-building is fun, innit?


  1. I'm a big fan of his Riverworld series (though perhaps mostly the first book, To Your Scattered Bodies Go). It's a fascinating idea, and he uses his interest in historical biography to good effect.

    Similar to Tarzan Alive, I have his Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, which is also good reading.

    I have a great big pile of used SF paperbacks, and I know there's more Farmer in there, some read some not.

  2. I just finished Doc Savage last week or so. I thought it was a really fun romp. I was pleased. I now consider it a sort of Guide to a Making a Secure Facility, being tickled by all the clever and endlessly redundant protective and/or escape ideas. Also, I found the first chapter (or was it the introduction?) an excellent non-fictional and semi-scholarly analysis of the pulp magazine genre. I have a friend who is really into that cloak and dagger stuff, just more technological (ShadowRun, specifically) and I thought how it'd bowl him over.