Philip Jose Farmer: 1918-2009
Philip José Farmer’s website reports the author has passed.
“Philip José Farmer passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning.
“He will be missed greatly by his wife Bette, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends and countless fans around the world.
“January 26, 1918 – February 25, 2008. R.I.P.
“We love you Phil.”
Best known for creating Riverworld, Farmer has written science fiction, fantasy and dabbled in other genres. His concept of metafiction, bringing in characters from other authors’ worlds in many ways led to birth of the fan fiction universe. His Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life blended elements from across fiction and reality, leading to the introduction of the final publication of Riverworld concept: everyone who ever lived wound up resurrected in an afterlife located on a river that circled an entire world. The concept was developed for a series on the Sci FI Channel but never went beyond the pilot. Farmer first conceived the notion for a story he wrote in 1952 for a contest, which he won.
Farmer first gained attention for his World of Tiers series of stories which crossed multiple artificially constructed parallel universes. The first was published in 1966 and ended with a final volume in 1993.
Among his peers, he was bold in his use of sexuality and religion beginning with his first published effort.
The author was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, but relocated to Peoria, Illinois and lived there for much of his life. His first story was “The Lovers” which won him immediate attention and the Hugo Award as "most promising new writer" in 1953.
Through the years he wrote original works and played with other franchises including authorized Tarzan and Doc Savage stories in the wake of his “biographical” work with both pulp heroes. He has written novels, short stories, essays, reviews and articles with several projects still scheduled for publication.
But what he may be best remembered for is his work in creating the Wold Newton family; a group of heroic and villainous literary figures that Farmer postulated belonged to the same genetic family. Some of these characters are adventurers, some are detectives, some explorers and scientists, some espionage agents, and some are evil geniuses. The Wold Newton family originated when a radioactive meteor landed in Wold Newton, England, in the year 1795. The radiation caused a genetic mutation in those present, which endowed many of their descendants with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds.
Popular characters that Farmer concluded were members of the Wold Newton mutant family include: Solomon Kane; Captain Blood; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Harry Flashman; Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis Professor Moriarty (aka Captain Nemo); Phileas Fogg; The Time Traveler; Allan Quatermain; Tarzan and his son Korak; A.J. Raffles; Professor Challenger; Richard Hannay; Bulldog Drummond; Fu Manchu and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8; The Shadow; Sam Spade; Doc Savage, his cousin Pat Savage, and one of his five assistants, Monk Mayfair; The Spider; Nero Wolfe; Mr. Moto; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe; James Bond; Lew Archer; and Travis McGee. Others took it even farther, proposing that the family reached as far into the past as Conan, and as far into the future as Mr. Spock. Farmer’s work was a direct inspiration for Warren Ellis’s Planetary.
He was nominated six times for the Hugo Award, winning four times while collecting two Nebula nominations. Farmer received the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, lifetime achievement, awarded at the 2000 Nebula Awards Ceremony in addition to the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and Forry Award for Lifetime Achievement.