Tagged: Loki

Reviews from the 86th Floor: Book Reviews by Barry Reese

Written by Philip Jose Farmer
Bantam Books

This novel has interested me for years. PJF writing the story of a 16-year old Doc Savage, telling how he met the men would become his aides in his war on crime? How could you go wrong? And yet, I’d heard many complaints over the years — that it was “boring,” “out of character” and “plodding.” So I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Doc, as presented here, is a much more human character than Lester Dent portrayed. He has failings and has yet to become the superman he’d destined to be. He has sexual yearnings and briefly falls prey to the femme fatale in the story. He loses his temper. He displays a fear of germs. All of these are modernized additions to his character but none of them changes the essential core of the classic Doc — and so, for me, they work by adding layers to him. I can’t stand people who alter characters without reason — but I don’t feel that’s the case here.

The focus is on Doc, though his aides are presented well. The villains are interesting and the addition of a little sex spices things up: PJF does not go over-the-top as he did in his pastiches of Doc.

I found this book to be a wonderful addition to Doc Savage lore. One of the best reads I’ve had in awhile. The only drawback was an ugly depiction of Doc on the cover.

I give it 5 out of 5!


All Pulp’s Van Allen Plexico interview
AP: Tell us a little about yourself and your pulp interests.
VP: I’m a college professor living in southern Illinois but originally from Alabama. I’ve been writing and editing professionally for about six years, but I’ve been writing stories as far back as before kindergarten. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the old sword & sorcery and planetary romance tales of guys like Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Unlike probably most other pulp lovers, though, I didn’t become a big fan of the 1930s crime-fighter pulps (Doc Savage, the Shadow, the Spider, etc.) until fairly recently, after I became a writer. Their appeal for me came as I was refining my own approach to writing. Most of what I had read growing up was lengthy science fiction in the vein of Frank Herbert and Larry Niven, and so when I tried to write, I would consciously attempt to emulate that rich, complex style—something that’s not easy for a novice writer, and something that is very difficult to pull off under any circumstances. Once I got into pulps, though, I realized there was an entirely different approach that I hadn’t tried—the approach of favoring fast-paced movement and action and vivid scenes over lengthy dissertation.
AP: What does pulp mean to you?
VP: I know there are probably a dozen (or more) different definitions and no one can really agree on it. For me, pulp is a style. It’s an approach to telling a story that, while striving to maintain quality and excellence in every traditional way, strips down the story to its bare essentials and races along at a break-neck pace the entire way. It doesn’t waste words. It’s efficient and it’s brash and bold and vivid. It gets in and gets the job done and kicks your butt and moves on.
AP: Your Sentinels novels are a mix of comic book archetypes and good old-fashioned pulp. What was your inspiration for The Sentinels books and what plans do you have for the future of the series?
VP: The Sentinels books really do represent the ultimate literary expression for me as a writer and creator. They combine the type of characters and stories I’ve always loved best—comic book-style cosmic action and character drama and humor—with the pulp approach of fast-paced action and constant forward momentum.
The characters came about years ago when my old friend, Bobby Politte, and I were brainstorming an interconnected universe of characters in the Marvel or DC style. Several years later, as I began to experiment with the pulp style of writing, I found that modern superheroes and the classic pulp style made a perfect match. I know there are some other original superheroes-in-prose projects out there, but I honestly don’t think anyone else is doing it quite this way. Our inspiration was predominantly the Avengers and X-Men comics of the 1970s and 1980s, which had such strong characterization and so many great moments of interaction among the cast—not to mention over-the-top threats, both from Earth and from outer space, other dimensions, godlike beings, and on and on. There really were almost no limits on what could be done in Marvel comics during those years, and I try to pull out all the stops to replicate that sort of feel with the Sentinels.
There’s not a lot of what I think of as the hokey tropes of so many superhero prose stories. The characters have their powers and mostly take them for granted the way a Star Trek character would have a phaser and a communicator and access to a transporter and take those things for granted in the course of a story. There’s virtually no dwelling on those tropes—they merely serve the story and the action. Readers tend to really like that. If you’re reading a story of this type, you probably already understand those basics and are wanting to get on with the action!
I have one more volume to complete to round out the current story arc, “The Rivals.” It will be called Stellarax and you can look for it next spring or summer, if all goes according to plan. That will bring the total number of books in the series so far to seven, including an anthology volume that came out in between the two trilogies. I have compiled extensive outlines and notes that should carry the overall storyline across at least two more story arcs or trilogies, and eventually I’m hoping it will round out at around twenty volumes. At that point, I can look back and feel I’ve produced at least one very solid body of work that will stand up for readers after I’m gone.
There has been talk recently of some RPG-related supplements based on the Sentinels, and I’m hoping that will move forward soon.
AP: Tell us a bit about your novel, Lucian: Dark God’s Homecoming. Are there any plans to revisit this world?
VP: Yeah, I do write other stuff besides the Sentinels! Lucian is a longer novel that I worked on for several years, pouring a lot of effort and energy and love into it. I tried to channel the sorts of attitudes and sensibilities that I loved so much in books like Nine Princes in Amber (by Roger Zelazny) into it. That includes a shady, not-terribly-sympathetic (at first) main character with godlike powers and a need to be taken down a peg or two.
In short, Lucian is the “god of evil” of a Jack Kirby-esque cosmic pantheon; think Loki or even the devil himself. He tried to take over the Golden City for himself, years ago, and was defeated and exiled to the mortal realm. While he was away, someone or something murdered dozens of the other gods—and of course everyone blames Lucian. So now he’s on the run, trying to prove that (at least in this one instance) he’s innocent!
With the whole thing written in first-person point of view, the reader lives the story from inside Lucian’s head. You experience the action from his perspective and you never know more than he knows, as the mystery unfolds.
When writing it, I tried to challenge myself to make every single scene “go to 11.” I was never satisfied with the first draft of any chapter; I added more and more visual imagery, made the language richer, and pushed myself to make the scenes as vivid and exciting as possible.
I do have three more books set in this universe roughly plotted out—one is sort of a prequel and explains where the gods actually came from; the events of the other two take place much farther in the future. A different “god” is the first-person protagonist of each—which is what Zelazny originally planned to do with his Amber books, before deciding to just go with Corwin the whole way through. If all goes well, the next one will be coming along soon.
AP: You have worked on shorter pulp tales for Airship 27’s Lance Star: Sky Ranger (vol. 2 and upcoming vol. 3), Gideon Cain – Demon Hunter, Mars McCoy – Space Ranger, and Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective vol. 1. What draws you to these shorter stories?
VP: I’m not nearly as big a fan of short stories as I am of big, epic sagas. That being said, though, short stories can be terrific if they’re done right. I like to think of a short story as “performing a trick.” Here’s what I mean: A great long novel can dwell on lots of details and lots of characters and just wallow in all the fun. But a short story, because of its brevity, is restricted to focusing very narrowly on the main point of it all. At the end, too, I think a short story needs to have a kind of kick to it—an “oomph” moment—where it “does a trick,” almost like telling a really good joke, where the end hits you and makes you go, “Wow! Cool!”
In the case of a character like Gideon Cain (the sword-and-sorcery guy I co-created as part of a group that included Kurt Busiek and Keith DeCandido, among others), the short story format really does work best, I think. Cain stumbles into a situation, encounters something weird and probably deadly, battles it, and moves on. I think it would be harder to sustain a single Cain story over the course of an entire novel, but short stories are just right for his kind of character.
AP: What, if any, existing pulp or comic book characters would you like to try your hand at writing?
VP: I always used to think I wanted to write the Avengers, but having written around 400,000 words of the Sentinels (so far), I think I’ve done many of the things with them I would have done with the Avengers—and more. Now, if Marvel suddenly handed the reins over to me, I’d like to think I could come up with a bunch of new ideas, and I’d certainly get the characters “right” after reading them for decades. But the desire doesn’t burn nearly as brightly as it once did.
Working on original characters is much more appealing to me. I can put little pieces and parts of many different existing characters I enjoy into my own creations—and just the best parts! Even working on a jointly-created character like Mars McCoy is appealing in that way, because I had a hand in his creation and I can concentrate on and emphasize the elements of that character and that world that I like the best.
AP: You’ve been referred to as “Mr. Avenger” by various sources. When did your association with The Avengers begin and what is it about this team that resonates with you? Also, tell us about the Assembled books and their charitable origins.
VP: The first Marvel comic I ever owned was a copy of Avengers #162, the Bride of Ultron, in 1977. They instantly became my favorites. The appeal was probably the combination of science fiction imagination, superhero action, and strong characterization; I loved how the members squabbled and fought each other as often as they fought the bad guys. (That’s a big part of what I’ve tried to bring to my Sentinels books.)
In 1995 I had the chance to create my first web site, and naturally I gravitated toward the Avengers, setting up AvengersAssemble.net, the first Avengers site on the Internet. (Hard to believe it’s been around for over fifteen years now, and welcomed millions of visitors!) A mailing list spun out of that site, and over the years we members there all discussed doing some kind of Avengers book.
In 2007 the opportunity finally came around to do just that, and we (the Jarvis Heads) put together Assembled!, a compilation volume of articles looking in-depth at the various “eras” of Avengers history, such as the “Stan and Jack Era,” the “Jim Shooter/George Perez Era,” and so on. We donate the profits to the HERO Initiative charity for retired comics creators. In 2009 we produced a second volume, Assembled! 2, focusing on the “Big Three” Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America) and the major villains. Both books have sold very well, and we’re hoping to publish a third (and final) volume in the months ahead, focusing on the rest of the characters and other villains.
AP: Who are some of your creative influences?
VP: In the realm of prose writing, nobody has been more influential on me than the late Roger Zelazny, the author of the Amber books and Lord of Light, among others. His writing manages to combine old-school pulpiness (and even noir!) with amazingly poetic prose work. I never get tired of studying his sentence structures and the way he incorporates so many diverse elements into a cohesive whole.
As far as superheroes and comics go, I have always loved the stuff produced by Jim Starlin (as both a writer and artist—the supreme master of the cosmic!) and also Jim Shooter’s 1970s Marvel work. While I can’t draw a lick, there’s no doubt that the art of George Perez, Steve Rude, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, and Michael Golden was all very influential on how I imagine scenes and how I try to depict action with words.
Other writers whose work strongly impacts me include Robert E. Howard, Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Philip Jose Farmer, Dan Abnett, Richard Stark, James Clavell, Arthur Conan Doyle…and so many more.
AP: What does Van Plexico do when he’s not writing pulp stories and novels?
VP: Either teaching history and government courses at my college or helping take care of my daughters. I also write a weekly column on college football for an Auburn site. So I have to squeeze in the fiction writing whenever and wherever I can, and it’s not easy!
AP: Where can readers learn more about you and your work?
VP: I would direct them to my web site, Plexico.net, or to my Amazon author page.
The Sentinels have their own page at White Rocket Books, which you can reach here.
AP: Any upcoming projects you would like to mention?
VP: You mentioned the Lance Star story I will have in the next anthology, and that’s proving both challenging and fun to put together. It helps a lot that I have previously worked with the Griffon, another air-ace kind of hero from that era. I’ve been banging away at a big, far-future space opera trilogy for several months now—the first volume, HAWK, should be done sometime next year. Same with the concluding volume of the current Sentinels trilogy, Stellarax. If you like big, Marvel-style cosmic action with Galactus-ish and Celestials-ish characters threatening to destroy planets and battle one another, you will love Stellarax. And I contributed a long novella to the second volume of Airship 27’s upcoming Mars McCoy-Space Ranger anthologies, which I am particularly proud of and which I think readers will very much enjoy. I also co-edited the first volume, which should be along any time now.
AP: Are there any upcoming convention appearances or signings coming up where fans can meet you?
VP: Nothing in the near future. The bad economy right now is proving pretty disastrous to small press writers and publishers, and I’m no exception. I probably won’t even make DragonCon next year—ending a thirteen year run. Hopefully I will be at PulpArk (in Arkansas) and ImagiCon (in Birmingham) in the spring, depending on the financial situation at that time.
AP: You have served as a writer, editor, and publisher (White Rocket Books). Are there any creative areas you’ve not been worked in that you would like to try your hand at doing?
VP: Yeah, I’ve written for maybe six or seven different publishers now, and edited for two or three, in addition to my own White Rocket imprint. It certainly keeps me busy. A few months ago I would have said what I wanted to try next was sports writing, but now I’m getting to do that with the War Eagle Reader. Eventually I’m sure I’ll get around to writing comics scripts; I’ve done a couple in the past, but none have ever been produced or published. It’s just a matter of having the right ideas and finding a reliable artist to work with.
AP: And finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to be a writer?
VP: Read! Read and read and read. Read lots of stuff, including material (way) outside of your comfort zone. Especially stuff outside of your comfort zone.
When writing Lucian, I haunted bookstores and libraries, digging through volumes of Asian and European poetry, looking both for some good and fitting quotes to work into the story (Emily Bronte’s lines make a couple of appearances) and for general flavor to try to incorporate into my own prose.
When working on the Sentinels books, the last thing I want to do is read comics. That would just lead me to rehash stuff that’s already been done to death. Instead I go and read Patrick O’Brian’s “Master and Commander” series (very inspirational in terms of writing groups of characters trapped in hostile and isolated conditions) or James Clavell’s Asian Saga (books like Shogun—studying actual foreign cultures will give you lots of good ideas for writing SF!) or Richard Stark’s “Parker” novels or James Ellroy’s noir (to learn an economy of words and the impact of taut, blunt sentences and crystal-clear characterizations).
So I recommend that any beginning writer try to get as broad an exposure as possible to any and every kind of literature. The more different elements you have bumping around in your head, the more original the work you produce will be.
AP: Thanks, Van.


Win Scott Eckert © 2005-2010
Farmerphile no.2
Christopher Paul Carey and Paul Spiteri, eds., Michael Croteau, publisher, October 2005

“Six Degrees of Philip José Farmer”
By Win Scott Eckert

Last column we discussed the great genealogist Philip José Farmer’s discovery of the “Wold Newton Family,” – highly influential people, many heroic, and some villainous, whose lives are chronicled in the guise of popular literature. While Farmer wrote critical essays and serious biographies in which he revealed his researches, he was also not above divulging more of his findings under the guise of popular fiction.
A full survey of Farmer’s Wold Newton “fiction” is beyond the scope of this column, so I will focus here on a few key pieces which reveal that, beyond the Wold Newton Family (WNF) proper, there is indeed a whole “Wold Newton Universe” (WNU) ripe for exploration. In fact, if one follows the trail of connections through his fiction, one is lead to the most astonishing places.

For instance, after reading Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, one might not be surprised to find in Farmer’s novel The Adventure of the Peerless Peer that Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes, The Shadow (“Colonel Kentov”), and G-8 (“Wentworth”) shared an adventure together. One might not even be surprised that three other WNF members are mentioned: Leftenant John “Korak” Drummond, Lord John Roxton, and Allan Quatermain. But one might be taken aback to also see Dr. Gideon Fell and Henry Merrivale, two renowned detectives whose cases were recounted by John Dickson Carr. Farmer never mentioned them as Family members, but surely their appearance is indicative that sleuths in the larger WNU are not limited to WNF members.

Farmer also wrote two novels of pre-history, Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar. In these, he discovered connections between the lost city of Opar from Burroughs’ Tarzan novels, and the novels of H. Rider Haggard. In a later interview, Farmer revealed that Hadon’s son emigrated south and founded the city of Kôr, from Haggard’s She. He carried with him a huge axe made of meteorite iron, which was eventually passed down to Umslopogass, the great Zulu warrior, who shattered it in the city of Zu-Vendis (Haggard’s Allan Quatermain). In this way, Farmer revealed that the WNU has a rich history beyond the WNF.

In Farmer’s translation of J. H. Rosny’s Ironcastle, he adds references to several WNF members, including Phileas Fogg, Sherlock Holmes (through a reference to the Diogenes Club from the Holmes stories), Joseph Jorkens, Doc Savage (although the reference in Ironcastle is really to Doc’s father, Dr. Clark Savage, Sr.1), and Professor Challenger (through a reference to the South American expedition from Doyle’s The Lost World). Sir George Curtis also appears; he is the nephew of Sir Henry Curtis from H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain novels. Farmer states that Hareton Ironcastle is related to Professor Porter, Jane’s father from the Tarzan books.

An interesting new element that Farmer adds with this crossover is the Baltimore Gun Club. This means that some version of Jules Verne’s novels, From the Earth to the Moon and The Purchase of the North Pole (aka Topsy Turvy), take place in the WNU. Since Verne’s works are also interconnected, this means that other Verne novels such as Hector Servadac, The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, and The School for Robinsons (aka The School for Crusoes) occur within Wold Newton continuity.

Farmer’s novel of young Doc Savage’s first adventure, Escape from Loki, added many other elements to the WNU, as seen from this excerpt from my Wold Newton Universe Crossover Chronology:

Clark “Doc” Savage, Jr., meets his friends and associates Ham Brooks, Monk Mayfair, Renny Renwick, Long Tom Roberts and Johnny Littlejohn in the German prison camp Loki. There is mention of a “worm unknown to science,” which can be demonstrated to be a direct link to the Cthulhu Mythos. Doc’s tutor in mountain climbing, yoga, and self-defense, Dekka Lan Shan, is the grandfather of Peter the Brazen. A character named Benedict Murdstone also appears. Savage & Co. meet Abraham Cohen, who would go on to membership in Jimmie Cordies’ band of mercenaries, and an Allied prisoner named O’Brien, a soldier of Irish extraction. It is also mentioned that Doc Savage was trained by an aborigine, Writjitandel of the Wantella tribe. And Doc’s Persian Sufi tutor is named Hajji Abdu el-Yezdi.

Escape from Loki is a novel by Philip José Farmer, Bantam Books, 1991. The “worm unknown to science” was first referred to in Watson’s / Doyle’s “The Problem of Thor Bridge,” and was followed-up on in Harry “Bunny” Manders’ Raffles tale (edited by Philip José Farmer), “The Problem of the Sore Bridge – Among Others.” Peter the Brazen, aka Peter Moore, was an adventurer in pulp stories written by George Worts. Of Peter the Brazen, Wold Newton scholar Rick Lai adds, “One of Worts’ Gillian Hazeltine stories mentions a ship, The King of Asia, which also appears in the Peter the Brazen stories. Worts’ Singapore Sammy story, “South of Sulu,” mentions that Sammy was friendly with a jewel trader, De Sylva. This may be the same character as the jewel merchant, Dan de Sylva, who appears in a later Peter the Brazen story, “The Octopus of Hongkong.”

Murdstone is related to the family which appears in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. The Jimmie Cordie adventures by William Wirt are a series of twentyone stories about a group of mercenaries in the Far East after the Great War. Rick Lai adds: “O’Brien is probably Jem O’Brien, ex-jockey, exconvict, decorated soldier in the American army during World War I, and special assistant to the Scarlet Fox. Created by Eustace Hale Ball, the Scarlet Fox was a pulp hero who appeared in seven stories in Black Mask during 1923-24. The first six stories were published as a novel, The Scarlet Fox, in 1927.”

In Arthur Upfield’s novel about the Australian detective, Inspector Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte, No Footprints in the Bush (1940), a major character is Writjitandil (Farmer changed an “i” to an “e”) of the Wantella tribe. Rick Lai writes again: “In an introduction to an edition of an Upfield novel which does not feature Bonaparte, The House of Cain (Dennis McMillan, 1983), Philip José Farmer speculated that Bonaparte was the illegitimate son of E. W. Hornung’s A.J. Raffles. In Upfield’s novels, Bonaparte is illegitimate son of an unnamed white man and an aborigine woman. Upfield’s early novels suggest that Bonaparte was born in the late 1880s. Raffles was in Australia about that time according to Hornung’s ‘Le Premier Pas.’”

Chris Carey points out that “Sir Richard Francis Burton (the real-life protagonist of Farmer’s Riverworld series) wrote a curious book entitled The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî. At the time the volume was first published, Burton claimed to be merely the translator of the wise Sufi’s work. However, the truth finally came out that Burton wrote it. While Haji Abdu El-Yezdi may be a fictional character in our world, we may only assume that he existed in flesh and blood in Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe.”

One never knows when additional information from Farmer’s researches will come to light. His tale “After King Kong Fell” clearly takes place in the WNU because WNF members Doc Savage and The Shadow arrive on the scene in the aftermath of the giant ape’s plummet from Doc’s headquarters, the Empire State Building. That King Kong exists in the WNU may be old news to some.

Imagine, then, the glee with which a “Farmerphile,” who thinks that there are no new Wold Newton connections to be revealed in Farmer’s work, learns that he is wrong. The young protagonist who is visiting New York during the 1931 events of “After King Kong Fell” is one Tim Howller of Peoria, Illinois, age thirteen. A newly discovered Farmer short story, “The Face that Launched a Thousand Eggs” (published for the first time in Farmerphile No. 1, July 2005), features nineteen-year-old Tim Howller. The story takes place in 1937. It undoubtedly features the same Tim Howller from “After King Kong Fell,” and what’s more, “The Face that Launched a Thousand Eggs” is semi-autobiographical.
The inescapable conclusion is that Philip José Farmer himself witnessed Kong’s plunge from the Empire State Building. And if that doesn’t enhance our understanding of the inter-tangled history behind the Wold Newton Universe, then I don’t know what does.

Additional Sources:
Carey, Christopher Paul. “Farmer’s Escape from Loki: A Closer Look.” The Official Philip José Farmer Home Page. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/fan/chris1.htm>.

Pringle, David. “Allan and the Ice Gods.” Violet Books: Antiquarian Supernatural, Fantasy, and Mysterious Literatures. <http://www.violetbooks.com/haggard-pringle.html>.

1 To be perfectly accurate, the real name of Doc Savage’s father, as Farmer demonstrated in Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, is Dr. James Clarke Wildman, Sr.


Philip José Farmer’s Pulp Trinity
By Dennis E. Power
Philip José Farmer’s fascination with the characters of Tarzan and Doc Savage are well known. He had after all written biographies of both characters and fulfilled his life long dream of writing both an authorized Doc Savage novel, Escape from Loki, and an authorized Tarzan novel, Dark Heart of Time. Additionally Tarzan and Doc Savage turned up in many of Farmer’s works, although often in disguise. What does not get as much attention however is Farmer’s fascination with another pulp figure, The Shadow, who also appeared in various guises in some of his works.
I believe that Farmer’s first Tarzan pastiche was also his first attempt at a “fictional author” piece. Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod was the story of Tarzan as it had been written by William S. Burroughs rather than Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The most obvious example is his pastiche, A Feast Unknown in which he fulfilled a fan’s dream of not only having Tarzan and Doc Savage meet but fight. Of course the novel was much more than just an extended piece of fan fiction. He used these two archetypes of pulp fiction to examine the connection between sex and violence, not simply because they were pulp conventions because of their pervasiveness
Farmer followed A Feast Unknown with Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin. These were separate adventures of Lord Grandrith, (Farmer’s Tarzan based character) and Doc Caliban, (Farmer’s Doc Savage based character). However these were more along the lines of pure pastiche and while entertaining did not have the visceral impact of A Feast Unknown. 
While A Feast Unknown dealt in part with the reality of the Tarzan character, demonstrating in a few effective passages how literally inhuman and “uncivilized” a man raised by apes in primitive Africa would be, that was not the main focus of the novel. It was however the focus of Lord Tyger which was published in 1970 the same year as Lord of the Tree/Mad Goblin. The novel is the story of Ras Tyger a boy raised by apes in primitive Africa and is told from his point of view although not in first person form. Farmer effectively demonstrates both the emotional and mental processes of a true feral man as Ras Tyger grows to manhood. While Lord Tyger is a tribute to the Tarzan epic of Edgar Rice Burroughs it also dissects Burroughs version of the Tarzan mythos for its plausibility. As is often the case when a myth is so closely examined, it falls apart. In Lord Tyger Philip José Farmer proves that Tarzan as written by Edgar Rice Burroughs could not have existed, and if the correct conditions to raise a feral child were created, the child would not be Tarzan. Ras Tyger has many of the same attributes as Tarzan, but he was not Tarzan.
Having proven that Tarzan could not have existed did not deter Philip José Farmer from writing Tarzan Alive, his biography of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan. Tarzan Alive has been called a hoax biography of Tarzan, since it posited that Tarzan was a living person. Inspired by other fictional biographies such as W.S Baring-Gould’s Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street or C. Northcote Parkinson’s The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower, Farmer wanted to do something along the same lines for Tarzan. He wanted to create a biography that would be realistic enough to convey plausibility. This meant arguing that Burroughs’ Tarzan biographies were not literal truth but exaggerated fiction based on true events. In Lord Tyger Farmer demonstrated why it would be nearly impossible for a feral child like Tarzan to exist. In Tarzan Alive Farmer used the same sort of logic but with the intent to make Burroughs as true as possible yet still seem plausible enough to be believable. Tarzan Alive would also be a vehicle by which he could disseminate the concept of an extended family consisting primarily of fictitious characters.
Concurrent with Tarzan Alive came another novel, Time’s Last Gift, which had a Tarzan like character in it. In this novel a group of scientists travel to 12,000 B.C. in the first time travel expedition.  The team’s medical doctor was named John Gribardsun. It is gradually revealed in the book that this man was Tarzan. When the H. G. Wells returned to the future, Gribardsun, who was immortal, stayed behind to experience the past. Some fans believe that the initials of Times Last Gift, TLG, actually refer to Tarzan, Lord Greystoke. Time’s Last Gift may have been written as a stand alone piece written around the same time as Tarzan Alive. The dates of Gribardsun’s birth and his back-story are different enough from those in of Tarzan in Tarzan Alive so that they may have been meant to two entirely separate works. Or it may have been that Farmer was just being canny enough to make the characters dissimilar enough to avoid of the ire of the Jungle Lord for having revealed his most deeply held secret.
Building on the concepts that he created in Tarzan Alive, Philip José Farmer’s next use of Tarzan was in another fictional author story. The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, wherein Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson met Tarzan. Although this was not an official Tarzan novel, Farmer had gotten permission from the Burroughs estate to use the name of Greystoke. When this permission was withdrawn later he rewrote the story as The Adventure of the Three Madmen and substituted Mowgli for Tarzan.
Also appearing in that 1974 was Hadon of Opar, the first of Philip José  Farmer projected series of Opar books. He planned to tell the history of Opar, the ruined city which plays so prominent a role in Burroughs’ Tarzan novels. Farmer additionally and unofficially planned to also tell the story of the lost African cities from H. Rider Haggard’s Quatermain and She series by creating writing the history of Khokarsa, a lost civilization that existed in Neolithic Africa. Tarzan also makes an appearance in Hadon of Opar, although entirely in the background. He is known as a god to the Khokarsans named Sahhindar. As explained in a previous article, Sahhindar is derived from Zantar, which was Burroughs first version of the Tarzan name. In the chronological appendix to Hadon of Opar specifically stated that the Tarzan like character from Time’s Last Gift was indeed Tarzan which is how Tarzan got to be in Hadon’s epoch. There was one further novel in the Opar series Flight to Opar before a variety of factors led to the series being discontinued.
Farmer wrote one more piece centering on Tarzan that came out in 1974 called Extracts from the Memoirs of “Lord Greystoke” This piece seems to have been an update of information previously discussed in Tarzan Alive but modified to coincide with “new information” posed by Time’s Last Gift and the Hadon series.
This was Tarzan’s last appearance in Farmer’s work until The Dark Heart of Time, which was an actual authorized Tarzan novel.
Philip José Farmer’s second favorite pulp character was Doc Savage. He appeared as Doc Caliban in Farmer’s A Feast Unknown and The Mad Goblin. However Farmer did not use Doc Savage to the same extent as he did Tarzan. Most of Doc’s appearances in Farmer’s work were limited to cameo roles rather than as central characters.
In 1973 Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life was published; this was Farmer’s biography of Doc Savage. While Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life continued with the conceits that Farmer had begun in Tarzan Alive, that Doc was a true living person and was part of a larger family tree of supposedly fictional people, the book was not as detailed in its approach. Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life seems a bit cursory when compared to Tarzan Alive but the fault lies more with the source material than with Philip José  Farmer. The Tarzan saga consists of 26 volumes; Doc Savage’s consists of 181. If Farmer had truly attempted a definitive biography based on all 181 sagas, it would have taken his entire life.
Doc Savage made a cameo in his short story After King Kong Fell which was also published in 1973.
His next appearance in a published work was a parody cameo in “Great Heart Silver in Showdown at Shootout” in Weird Heroes Volume 1. 1975. Doc Savage with his two aides Monk and Ham as very old men were among those who participated in the pulp/adventure hero armageddon that took place in Shootout. Every conceivable character from the pulps and adventure fiction under parodied names fought a giant showdown that left them all dead.
An allusion to Doc Savage was made in Farmer’s translation of J. H. Rosny’s Ironcastle when it was mentioned that Clark Savage senior had designed some guns for Ironcastle.
Doc Savage appeared in two more of Farmer’s published works in disguise. In The Savage Shadow Doc and his cohorts appear as the alcoholic inmates of a sanitarium; what we would call a rehab clinic today. Author Kenneth Robeson is the main character of the story. The story is one of Farmer’s fictional author series, this one purportedly written by Maxwell Grant, the writer of The Shadow series. The story is meant to be Grant’s joking version of how Robeson came up with the idea for Doc Savage and his fabulous five. Other stories were planned by which Robeson and Grant would use version of each others characters in a variety of ways. However this was the only one published.
A disguised version of Doc Savage appeared in Philip José Farmer’s A Barnstormer in Oz in which one of the diminutive inhabitants of Oz named Sharts the Shirtless was a physical look a like of Doc Savage. The same size as Dorothy’s son Hank Stover, Sharts was a physical giant compared to the rest of Oz. Like Doc, Sharts was also a genius although he did not possess Doc Savage’s sense of morality. Sharts earned his name because he could not wear the clothing that would fit most inhabitants of Oz. It was also a tribute to the Bama covers of the Bantam Doc Savage series wherein Doc Savage was shown with a ripped shirt. Sharts’ constant companion was Blogo the Rare Beast, an apish humanoid that seemed to be this Oz’ version of Monk Mayfair.
Why Doc Savage did not make more appearances in Farmer’s work I cannot say for certain. It may be that Farmer was saving Doc for some of his major works which unfortunately remained either unpublished or unfinished. He wrote Doc Savage and the Cult of the Blue God, a screenplay for the second Doc Savage film which never came to fruition since the first one had bombed. He also began Monster On Hold which was to be another Doc Caliban novel. Another Doc Savage inspired property which Farmer unfinished, but which was completed in collaboration with Win Scott Eckert was The Evil of Pemberley House and published in 2009. This novel is about Doc Savage’s daughter, or at least the one postulated in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.
The last member of Philip José Farmer’s pulp trinity was The Shadow. Like Doc Savage the Shadow’s appearances were for the most part actual cameos or disguised appearances. Farmer made the Shadow, or rather Kent Allard a member of the Wold Newton Family that included Tarzan and Doc Savage. However he at first claimed that the Shadow, The Spider and G-8 were all one person with a multiple personality disorder. Farmer altered that theory for Doc Savage His Apocalyptic Life so that these three individuals were brothers rather than the same man.
The first cameo appearance by the Shadow appears to have been in “After King Kong Fell”.

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and Kent Allard are among those who viewed the carcass of King Kong.

He makes a more substantial cameo in The Adventure of the Peerless Peer. As a WW I aviator he encountered and saved the lives of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In the revised version of the novel, The Adventure of the Three Madmen, he is one of the madmen in question.
The Shadow makes a disguised appearance in “Greatheart Silver in Showdown at Shootout” as Phwombly an old detective who teaches Greatheart Silver. He is among those who travel to and perish at Shootout. The character of Phwombly also appears in The New York Review of Bird, a story written by Harlan Ellison which was in the same issue of Weird Heroes as “Greatheart Silver in Showdown at Shootout” This story bears mentioning because as Ellison explains in his after word to the story, Philip José Farmer had a lot of influence on story since Ellison based much of the back story on Farmer’s genealogies in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. Ellison’s version of Phwombly however had different version of the relationship between Margo and Kent Allard.
Although The Savage Shadow does not have a cameo by The Shadow, it was certainly influenced by him. Although it is a story about Kenneth Robeson as written by Maxwell Grant there is also a reference to the Shadow series with the female lead Burke being related to the Shadow’s agent Clyde Burke.
The last actual appearance of the Shadow in Farmer’s works was in a cameo in “The Long Wet Dream of Rip Van Winkle”. Van Winkle wakes up in the 1930’s and encounters

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The Shadow’s influence on Philip José Farmer was also evident by Farmer’s story “Skinburn”.  This introduced the private detective

Kent Lane


Kent Lane

was the son of Kent Allard, the Shadow and

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. Farmer intended to write a novel about

Kent Lane

entitled, Why Everybody Hates Me.  This, and the unwritten biographies of Sir William Clayton, Allan Quatermain and Fu Manchu, are among those works his fans most regret never came to fruition.

The Pulp Trinity Chronology of appearances
1968 “The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod” 1968 (Tarzan)
1969 A Feast Unknown  (Doc Savage, Tarzan)
1970 Lord Tyger  (Tarzan)
1970 Lord of the Trees/Mad Goblin (Tarzan Doc Savage)
1972  Tarzan Alive (Tarzan, Doc Savage, Shadow)
1972 Times Last Gift (Tarzan )
1972 “Skinburn (Shadow)
1973 Doc Savage His Apocalyptic Life (Tarzan, Doc Savage, Shadow)
1973 “After King Kong Fell” (Doc Savage) Shadow and

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1974Adventure of the Peerless Peer (Tarzan, Shadow)
1974 Hadon of Ancient Opar (Tarzan)
1974 “Extracts from the Memoirs of “Lord Greystoke”
1975 Greatheart Silver (Shadow) (Doc Savage sort of)
1975 Ironcastle (Doc Savage, Shadow)
1976 Flight to Opar (Tarzan)
1977 “Savage Shadow” (Doc Savage) (Shadow”
1981 “Long Wet Dream of Rip Van Winkle” (Shadow)
1982 A Barnstormer in Oz  (Doc Savage and Monk)
1984 “Adventure of the Three Madmen”   (Shadow)
1991 Escape From Loki (Doc Savage – Tarzan reference)
1999 Dark Heart of Time (Tarzan)

The Root of the Wold Newton Family Tree:
A Speculative Examination of Philip José Farmer’s Quest
By Dennis E. Power
In the summer of 2009, the author of this piece was part of a team who had the enviable and unenviable honor of helping the heirs of Philip José Farmer gather together his papers. The task for enviable for both the honor bestowed but also for the great delight of sorting through these treasures; it was an unenviable chore mainly for in doing so was one final sign that we were saying good bye to our friend. Yet it was also unenviable because although many of his papers were filed and sorted, many were in disarray and scattered about in various boxes.
As we were bundling together these papers for the family, I saw some scraps of information, which I believe, coupled with various conversations I have had with other acquaintances of Phil Farmer, can shed light one of the mysteries that has puzzled Farmerian scholars. Please be aware what follows is highly speculative.
On December 13, 1795 a meteorite landed in the near Wold Newton, Yorkshire. As it passed over the English countryside two coaches filled with travelers were caught in the ionization trail of the meteorite and unknowingly became the recipients of various beneficial mutations such as increased intelligence and physicality.
Philip José Farmer revealed the existence of the Wold Newton family in Esquire Magazine in April, 1972. This was in an article published under the title of “Tarzan Lives / An Interview with Lord Greystoke”. This article was an introductory preview of his forthcoming biography of Lord Greystoke, Tarzan Alive. It revealed that Tarzan was a member of the Wold Newton Family, which consisted of the descendents of the travelers ionized by the meteorite.

When you read a detailed work such as Tarzan Alive, especially when one closely examines genealogical sections, one can surmise that compiling and analyzing the vast amount of information in it must have taken years. A couple of years prior to publishing Tarzan Alive, Farmer had teased the readers of such magazines such as ERB-Dom, The Baker Street Journal and Erbania with hints of his secret knowledge about Tarzan’s family.

After the publication of the article in Esquire, and Tarzan Alive, within a relatively short time Farmer released another biography and some novels and short stories with information gleaned from his researches into Tarzan’s family tree. The biography was Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, and the novels were The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, and The Lavalite World. Although the latter was part of his World of Tiers, it also revealed that the protagonist of the series was a member of the Wold Newton Family. The short stories were “Extracts from the Memoirs of Lord Greystoke” and “The Problem of Sore Bridge and Others.”
One of most puzzling aspects of the Wold Newton family is how did Philip José Farmer know about such a carefully hidden secret?
Of course he was very familiar with many members of the Wold Newton family having thrilled to the adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sherlock Holmes, Natty Bumppo and others as a child and having read the adventures of Tarzan, Doc Savage and the Shadow as they were published. Yet these none of these works even hint at any sort of familial relation with other literary figures nor were crossover appearances between such characters very common.[1]
Sometime in the 1950’s Philip José Farmer must have seen something that convinced him that Tarzan was a real person. To be more accurate he saw something that convinced him that the man Edgar Rice Burroughs had written about was based on a real person. When and where this occurred we do not know. It may have been when Farmer was living in Syracuse, New York while exploring the Eerie Canal or the rail yard or researching the local Iroquois. Or it may have been when he was living in Scottsdale, Arizona during one of his excursions into the desert.
Between 1956 and 1960 Farmer was working as a technical writer for Motorola. Also during this period Phil Farmer and his wife moved several times from Peoria to Syracuse, New York, to Scottsdale, Arizona to Ann Arbor, Michigan and back again to Scottsdale, Arizona. At this time Farmer’s writing output was also fairly low. While it is true that with a full time job the volume of his writing certainly slacked off but even with a full time job his output had been higher at times. I believe this is probably the period when he was doing his most intensive research into Tarzan,
Farmer revealed in Tarzan Alive one of the presumptions that he used to find Tarzan was that Burroughs, like Watson, had not created the names of his characters out of thin air but that these names were substitutes for real names. Farmer believed that he was on the right track when he discovered a substitution for Clayton, Tarzan’s purported surname. Farmer discovered some English peers with the name of Cloamby.  Cloam meant earth or clay. By was old English name for village or town. Taken together these words equaled Clay-ton.  Having found what he believed was his Rosetta stone; he began to vigorously research the Cloambys of Cumberland, seeking not only their ancestors but also the living members of the family.
Phil Farmer may have also eventually enlisted his brother Gene, a licensed private eye to help him in his investigation, although whether or not Philip told Gene who it was he was truly investigating is debatable.
Farmer brought to bear all of his training in history, linguistics, anthropology and surprisingly enough, ancient literature in his relentless quest to find the real Tarzan. As Gene investigated the current family of Cloamby, Phil Farmer dug deep into various historical records uncovering the Cloamby family’s connection to Britain’s Anglo-Saxton aristocracy, to Saxon Lords and its Viking conquerors. The Cloambys were descended from the Viking King Randgrith. Eventually over time the name had become Grandrith, the name of the peerage’s estate. Grandrith, Farmer believed, was the true name of Burroughs’ Greystoke.
Phil’s research on Tarzan was taking up most of his time and his writing career had suffered because of it. Putting his Tarzan research aside for a time he had a spurt of creativity in late 1959 to 1961, when he wrote and had published his novels Flesh, A Woman A Day and The Lovers. He also wrote several short stories.
Between late 1961 and 1963 once again delved into Tarzan’s ancestry, possibly inspired by research he was also doing for another planned novel.[2] He delved into Tarzan’s Norse roots and found what he must have believed was an extremely significant find.
Bear in mind, however, that the following section is supposition based on a list of names found on a hand written note scrawled on the back of an old utility bill envelope posted in 1963. Farmer researched the Norse ancestors even further and in Eirikskinna, one of the lost king’s sagas, Eirik Randgrith claimed descent from Odin. Furthermore in the saga Eirik Randgrith interacted with Iwaldi the dwarf Smith, whom Farmer recognized from the Prose Edda, and with the goddess Nanna. In this saga rather than being portrayed as a minor goddess she seemed to be equated to the role that Freya, the Queen of Heaven usually took. Odin, Nanna and Iwaldi were referred to as being of the Nine. Since the motif of the number nine is so common in Norse mythology Farmer did not immediately attach any special significance to it. Yet later they were said to being among the Eternal Nine. Farmer did not know the significance of this reference. Towards the end of the saga Eirik and his heirs were charged to a sacred trust. They were to await and guard the Augaspek, which was described as a Stjörnuhrap or a falling down star. Phil Farmer surmised to be a comet or a meteorite.
Intrigued by this reference, Farmer continued to seek for references to Augaspek. Despite intensive searching he did not find anything immediately.

Having once again hit a wall on his Tarzan research he delved back into his writing.  He was delving into Norse once again as he researched material for Maker of Universes, his first World of Tiers.[3] While on one of his excursions in Arizona, he happened upon a small town named Shaada.[4] Farmer had the habit of looking at any libraries or bookstores to see if any treasures could be found. He discovered that this obscure little library owned two Edda translations that he had never read. The librarian said it had been the property of either a Swede or Englishman who had gone prospecting and never returned. The translation was written by a John Fitzjohn and published in 1860. One was in the Scandinavian Edda Hrossástsongr and the other was in Búhlársmál which was part of the Poetic Edda. He spent a few hours reading them and found two references to the Augaspek in these two volumes. He could not believe his luck it was almost as if he had been meant to find them.[5]

According to some Norse myths Odin gained wisdom through two sacrifices. In one sacrifice he pierced his side with his own spear and hung from the world tree for nine days. In the second sacrifice he gave his eye to the giant Mimir in exchange for wisdom. Mimir was a giant who had drank the pool of wisdom swirling about the roots of the world tree. Mimir was later beheaded and Odin used charms to keep the head vita. Odin carried the head around and consulted it for information as a sort of grisly PDA.
Hrossástsongr and Búhlársmál had unique tales that differed from many of the other sagas. In Búhlársmál attempted to prevent Ragnarök by giving mankind his wisdom. He did this by flinging the eye that he had originally given to Mimir to Midgard, the world of mankind, in the form of a Stjörnuhrap. Hrossástsongr had a similar tale but differed in a couple of important details. Instead of his eye Odin flung Mimir’s head to Midgard. He did so not to stave off Ragnarök but to provide mankind with wisdom in the new world.
Since Farmer was living in Arizona at the time, seeing the myth of the falling star in conjunction with the new world, brought to mind the Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona. Although Farmer probably believed there was no connection between that myth and the Meteor Crater he thought it would be an interesting place to visit. He may have been surprised, as a lot of people are, to discover that the Meteor Crater is not a national landmark but is privately owned. It has been owned by the Barringer family since 1903[6]
 Another cryptic scrap of paper in the unsorted Farmer papers simply has the words “1903? Barringer. Anglo Saxon Behringer! Ebelthite?”  Although it may have been only a great coincidence, the name Barringer, or its Anglo-Saxon equivalent appears to have popped up in Farmer’s genealogical researches on the Cloamby family. In the same box as the aforementioned note was a partial letter of inquiry to the Barringer Meteor Company. With the address to the Barringer Meteor Company there is the start of the line “I am interested in” and it suddenly stops. Although the subject of the letter remains unknown, given the other fragment, Farmer may have been inquiring about the family history of the Barringers.
In 1965 the Farmer family suddenly moved from their middle class suburban home in Scottsdale, Arizona to take up residence in an apartment in the slum area of Beverly Hills. Phil worked as a freelance technical writer. It is also interesting to note that between 1964 and 1968, Phil does not seem to have attended any conventions. The Farmer family has never spoken about the events that occurred in 1964-1965, at least not to me. I believe that between his innocent inquiries to the Barringer Meteor Company and his intensive research into the background of the Cloamby/Grandrith family Phil Farmer had inadvertently put himself, and his family, in grave danger.
Once again a cryptic note written on a piece of paper taken from telephone note pad is our only clue as to what possibly happened. A clear legible hand wrote the name “Mr. Ratatowsky”. Next to the name is a blue stained hole, as if a phone number had been so thoroughly scratched out that the paper below it had disintegrated. Below the name and gaping hole and written in Phil Farmer’s barely legible scrawl is “Ratatowsky/ Ratatoskr.”
Ratatoskr is a squirrel which scurries up and down Yggdrasil caring messages between an eagle that sits at the top of the branches of the world tree and Níðhöggr, a serpent that gnaws at the roots of the tree. We know that Farmer was tenacious researching the Cloamby/Grandrith, metaphorically gnawing at the roots of the tree, so in a sense he was Níðhöggr. Although we do not know what Mr. Ratatowsky said to Phil Farmer, we can conjecture Phil got a message from someone so rich and powerful that he considered himself above lesser mortals. The messenger probably told Farmer to forget about his researches and may have been accompanied that message with a demonstration of such force and intent that it caused the Farmer family to leave Scottsdale and seek anonymity in the Los Angeles sprawl.
Although it probably seemed like an eternity to Phil Farmer he and his family soon received a reprieve from the threat that hung over them. Some time in 1966 he received an urgent request from his old friend Vern Coriell to visit him at his Kansas City home.[7] Farmer was shocked and frightened at who met him at Coriell’s home. He met Tarzan, or to be more specific he met John Cloamby, Lord Grandrith.
Cloamby told Farmer that although Farmer and his family had been in true peril, that danger had passed. Farmer’s researches had been deemed a threat by the Nine and had he not desisted, they would have eliminated him. Cloamby claimed that Farmer’s researches into the genealogy and into the Nine’s various business interests had triggered the Nine’s paranoia. Long standing dissensions boiled over which led to the removal of the leader. In the power vacuum two factions vied for control of the organization and used Cloamby and his half brother James Caliban as battling proxies. Initially Cloamby and Caliban had nearly killed each other but upon learning how they had been manipulated into fighting one another, they joined forces to destroy the Nine.
Farmer was regaled with a fascinating tale of a secret organization of immortals among who were the real life incarnations of his heroes, Tarzan and Doc Savage. While he had known that Tarzan was real, it was almost too much to believe that Doc Savage had also been real. He also had trouble believing that it was possible for an organization to have existed from the Stone Age as Cloamby claimed. Also the idea that any substance could extend life for thousands of years was preposterous. Of course it is doubtful that he voiced his disbelief to Cloamby, and when he eventually did write a version of the tale that Cloamby told him as A Feast Unknown he did not change much.[8]
The introduction of A Feast Unknown stated that at the time of his meeting with Grandrith, that both Grandrith and Caliban were deeply involved in their war against the Nine. This however does not seem to be the case, they were already victorious by this time and had all but wiped out the Nine. Cloamby did want his account published however as a warning to the rest of the Nine’s agents. Farmer also claimed to have remained in touch with Cloamby for a while and that he received letters post marked from different locations in the world, which contained manuscripts written by Cloamby and Caliban. Cloamby may have told Farmer about their exploits, but Farmer was the true author of A Feast Unknown and the two books that followed, Lord of Trees and The Mad Goblin. Much of what Cloamby had told him confirmed his own theories on how a feral man would truly act. Also part of the fictionalization of A Feast Unknown may have been an exaggeration of the true effects of the Elixir. Farmer used A Feast Unknown as a medium for exploring the psychological connection between sex and violence and the elixir became the vehicle for that exploration.
Cloamby does seem to have kept in touch with Farmer for a while and fed him bits of information but that he sent manuscripts is an exaggeration. Sadly, Cloamby never finished telling Farmer about Caliban’s fight against an extra-dimensional being.[9]
Although Farmer asked Cloamby about the falling star described in the sagas Cloamby however did not think that his ancestors had been charged to watch for a falling star, but rather to assume their leadership of the Nine.  
At that time John Cloamby, Lord Grandrith truly believed that he was the man whom Edgar Rice Burroughs had based his character Tarzan. Farmer was doubtless also convinced. Both would however soon discover otherwise. Cloamby would discover that this too was one of the Nine’s deceptions. Grandrith had known that the Nine had manipulated his life; he just did not know to what extent they had done so.
As for Phil Farmer he would soon confronted with some astounding evidence that would once again send him searching for the real Tarzan and led him to discover the Wold Newton Family.
In the Esquire article “Tarzan Lives, Farmer claimed that he had a personal meeting with John Clayton, Lord Greystoke at a hotel in Libreville, Gabon. Years later Farmer would state that the meeting had actually taken place in Chicago. Although Farmer was very careful in destroying most of his Tarzan research and any evidence that could lead back to the Tarzan, he overlooked something or else they were too precious to destroy. There was a torn remnant of an airport baggage claim used as a bookmark in Farmer’s copy of Wandering in West Africa by Richard Francis Burton. All that remained of the destination name was Libr… However this is enough to convince me that Farmer actually did have a meeting with Lord Greystoke in Gabon.

However I do not think it was Farmer who tracked down Greystoke but rather something along the lines that Farmer received a message containing plane tickets asking him to come to Libreville. When he arrived at the hotel room in Libreville, he was confronted with a man who very closely resembled John Cloamby. Yet there was something more refined about his demeanor. Whereas Farmer could almost sense Cloamby’s almost feral nature this man who claimed to be Lord Greystoke seemed inhuman in a different way. Although he only seemed to be in his early thirties, his eyes seemed to be incredibly ancient. Farmer would soon discover that his instincts were spot on.

Once again Farmer was regaled with a tale that was, at face value, preposterous. His host told Farmer that although he had been born John Clayton, Lord Greystoke he had not used that name for over a thousand years. It would be better if Farmer called him Gribardsun. Gribardsun claimed to be from the future and also from the past. He told Farmer how he had been part of a time travel expedition that had traveled back in time from the 2070’s to 12,000 BC. He gave a brief description of the expedition’s adventures in the stone age and then capped it off my telling Farmer he had stayed in the past and lived from 12, 000 B.C.

Gribardsun laughed at Farmer’s expression and said he did not expect to be believed. However he promised to answer any question’s Farmer had about Tarzan. As soon as Farmer began however, Gribardsun began finishing Farmer’s sentences. Farmer asked if Gribardsun were a mind reader. Gribardsun laughed at the idea. He told Farmer he was remembering the questions that Farmer would ask him or rather the questions Farmer would ask his younger counterpart when they met a few months hence.

Farmer asked with some amusement why would he be meeting Gribardsun’s younger counterpart if he could get his answers from Gribardsun?

Gribardsun told Farmer that his younger counterpart would be intrigued by Farmer’s research into his family tree and would ask for a meeting. How would it look if Farmer turned down an opportunity to interview Lord Greystoke? Besides it had already happened from Gribardsun’s viewpoint.

Farmer felt a bit disjointed and asked with some disappointment if Gribardsun had come to give him the information about his family tree in order to keep things on the track.

Gribardsun told him no, he was there to give him a couple of vital clues. Farmer had to discover the information on his own. Gribarsun told Farmer that he was on the right track but barking up the wrong tree. Using the Gribardsun name as a starting point would help him immensely. The line between fiction and reality was a lot more blurred than most people realized. Doyle was a good example, as was, he supposed, Austen. Also despite what Cloamby had told him, he should look out for falling rocks. As Gribardsun left he told Farmer that they would meet one more time after his biography about Tarzan had been published.

Phil Farmer must have left that meeting thinking his leg had been yanked so hard it was a wonder he wasn’t one legged.

Upon returning home he combed through the copious notes he had compiled on Tarzan’s genealogy and discovered that there was a relative of Eirik Randgrith named Graegbeardssunu. Graegbeardssunu founded the Grebson baronial line. Following this lineage Farmer was shocked to discover that the family eventually acquired the Clayton name and the Barony of Grebson became the Duchy of Greystoke. His initial premise that Burroughs had entirely created false names was flawed. In reality a good portion Tarzan’s family was hiding in plain sight.[10]

Farmer followed up on the other clues that Gribardsun had given him. Once he discovered Doyle had in fact used coded names for his characters, he found a wealth of material that led to real families, including the Claytons. The codes and connections permeated not only the Sherlock Holmes stories but wove throughout his body of work. However it was Gribardsun’s almost off hand comment about Austen that provided the key. One of Phil’s acquaintances informed him that a collector of literary esoterica, which consisted of spurious and unauthorized sequels of popular books, left their collection to the Mercantile Library in St. Louis, Missouri. Among these books was a purported diary by Elizabeth Bennett Darcy. Even though his friend was a member of the library that was part of their non-circulating section so Phil drove to St. Louis to examine the book. As he sat in the quiet, comfortable reading room and read Elizabeth’s diary entry of December 14, 1795, he must have felt as though his heart was going to explode.

Here is was. Lady Darcy detailed how her coach had nearly been hit by a falling star or a fireball from heaven, as they passed near Wold Newton. Farmer realized that the passage of Hrossástsongr about the falling star setting down in the new world was referring to the Wold Newton meteorite. Most like the original Norse words had been new town or new village or Newton. Yet he wondered how XauXaz had known of the meteorite.

As with any good diarist Lady Darcy gave copious details as to who were the passengers of the coaches. She also named the coachmen and some of the other passersby. Either she realized this was a historical event or she was more egalitarian than most of her contemporaries The names of the passengers sent shivers down his spine, Clayton, Holmes, Blakeney, Drummond, Raffles and Rutherford. In his elation he overlooked that Lady Darcy was strangely silent about why this group of English aristocrats was traipsing about the English countryside in late fall.

He copied down the information in the diary since he was unable to photocopy or even photograph the pages.[11] Lady Darcy’s diary proved to be his true Rosetta stone and he was able to quickly ascertain the familial connections between these families before and after the Wold Newton Event. Phil Farmer must have felt a strange wave of euphoria upon learning that Pemberley House was currently owed and occupied by the Clayton family[12]. However they never replied to his letters but he was able to compile a wealth of material about their family without their help.

In 1970, the Phil Farmer became a full time writer and his family moved back to Peoria. Shortly after moving back to Peoria, he received a telegram asking him for a meeting in Chicago. He instantly agreed to the meeting. The man he met on that September 1was a dead ringer for Gribardsun, although Farmer instantly knew it was not Gribardsun. Although Gribardsun and John Clayton, Lord Greystoke may have been physically identical, the passage of time had made Gribardsun into a very different person. Farmer had an odd sense of dislocation at having finally met the “real” Tarzan. He also had an unnerving sense of déjà vu as he asked Lord Greystoke many of the same questions he had asked Gribardsun. This time however he was equipped with more in-depth and valid information about his host.

Farmer’s published interview of course was only a portion of their conversation. Since a word for word transcript no longer exists we can only conjecture as to what some of the topics left out of the published version might have been. I suspect that one was an agreement between Farmer and Tarzan about the materials that Farmer had accumulated during the course of his Tarzan investigations. Once Tarzan had gotten all the use he could from this material, he was to destroy it.[13] Although Tarzan was supposedly planning on faking his own death, he did not want some overly zealous investigator using Farmer’s materials to track him down. To soften this blow, Tarzan may have also given him a hint that looking more closely at his relatives Holmes, Quatermain, Fogg and Wildman could provide a writer of his caliber with material that would keep him busy for years.

Although Farmer knew that might be threatening the very existence of the future, he probably could not help but ask if Tarzan believed in time travel. He was a bit startled by Tarzan’s answer which had nothing to do with a time travel device but rather with a strange crystalline tree that had grown in Africa. Tarzan gave him a brief, yet detailed account of this previously unknown adventure.

With the hints provided to him Farmer was able to finish his biography of Tarzan and write one about Tarzan’s cousin, Doc Savage. On a visit to England a few months after his meeting with Lord Greystoke he was instrumental in helping to uncover a lost manuscript by John H. Watson, which he edited. It was on this visit he was also introduced to Sir Beowulf Clayton, who told him about the curious document found hidden in Phileas Fogg’s Saville Row home. It was either written in a code created by Fogg or in a previously unknown language. Fogg had left what amounted to a primer or a cipher key. Clayton had nearly deciphered the entire document. Beowulf Clayton believed that Phileas Fogg had either gone mad or he had an imagination to rival his chronicler Verne. Clayton promised to send Farmer a transcript.  As it turns out this was not the only unknown language which Farmer was exposed to on this trip.

Beowulf Clayton introduced him to the heirs of Allan Quatermain’s estate. Farmer told them about the biographies he was writing of Tarzan and Doc Savage and expressed an interest in writing a biography about Allan Quatermain. They allowed him access to the Quatermain papers for two full days. He took copious notes and many photos of the papers and also of some rubbings that Quatermain had taken of pillars, frescos and writing tablets from Kor and Zu Vendis.

Farmer finished his Tarzan biography and turned his conversation with Gribardsun into a novel. These were published in 1972 as Tarzan Alive and Time’s Last Gift. Farmer quickly launched into many other Wold Newton Family related projects using all of the research he had accumulated. In 1973 Farmer’s biography of Doc Savage, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life was published. He had also turned Beowulf Clayton’s translation of the Fogg manuscript into a novel entitled The Other Log of Phileas Fogg.

 He had intended to follow up the biography of Doc Savage with biographies of Allan Quatermain and Tarzan’s great uncle William Clayton.[14] Yet when he had reviewed the notes he had taken and the photostats of Quatermain’s manuscripts he became side tracked with another project Farmer discovered that Quatermain had some documents that were labeled as being legends from Kor, which Ayesha had related to him.[15]. He also noted that in addition to art work the rubbings contained quite a bit of script.

One of the manuscript sheets Farmer had copied was a partial syllabary, possibly a reading primer designed to teach the priest-scholars. Intrigued he brought to bear all of his linguistic knowledge and began to transcribe the various photo sets into blocks of text. By using Quatermain’s word list of some of the language of Kor and its English equivalents Farmer was able to translate bits and pieces of the text he had transcribed.[16] He found many correspondences between his translations and the oral legends that Ayesha had told Quatermain. The tale that emerged was not simply the history of Kor but much information about Khokarsa the lost civilization that had preceded it. To Farmer’s delight and shock this was also the lost civilization from which birthed Burroughs’ Opar[17]. These lost writings were about the ancestors of La.

As Farmer translated the chronology of Khokarsa he noted with some disbelief that over the centuries there were many references to a grey eyed archer god named Sahhindar. In addition to having taught agriculture to the Khokarsans he was also supposed to be the god of time. There was no direct English translation of Sahhindar. Farmer realized that however it could be translated to anglicized Mangani as Zantar. Lord Greystoke had confirmed that this was indeed the correct format for his Mangani name; however he had come to accept the name Tarzan.

In 1974 The Adventure of the Peerless Peer and the Hadon of Ancient Opar were published. The former was an edited version of the lost Watson manuscript Farmer had helped locate, the latter was a novel based on his translations of the writings from Kor. Also published was the short piece “Extracts from the Memoirs of Lord Greystoke”  As the title suggests this purported to be part of an actual Memoir written by Lord Greystoke, however it actually seems to be have been written entirely by Farmer, although compiled from his Libreville interview with Gribardsun and his Chicago interview with Lord Greystoke. Another related piece was called “A Language for Opar” which was a fictionalized account of his transcribing the documents from Kor.

In 1975 and 1976 there were a few more items that had some connections to the Wold Newton Family but were not directly related to his genealogical research. Flight to Opar completed what he had translated of Kor’s Hadon myth.[18] Venus on the Half Shell was part of his fictional author phase and a tribute of Vonnegut. Although Kilgore Trout does appear to have been a real author and related to the Wold Newton Family, he let Farmer borrow his name for this novel.[19] The novel also had many other references to Jonathan Swift Sommers III, another Wold Newton family member who was the favorite author of the protagonist of Venus on the Half Shell.

The short story “The Problem of Sore Bridge and Others” was also a fictional author piece and was also about a Wold Newton family member, A. J. Raffles. During the course of the tale Raffles successfully solves three cases that had baffled Sherlock Holmes and successfully thwarts an alien invasion.  Although I may be castigated by Wold Newton Family scholars, I think that this tale may be entirely Farmer’s invention.

Also published in this time period was Farmer’s translation of J. H. Rosny’s Ironcastle, which contained some extra material about which Rosny was apparently unaware.

In 1977 The Lavalite World was published. This was Farmer’s long awaited fifth book in his World of Tiers series. Although it is almost entirely an exciting science fictional adventure on a very bizarre planet, it does have one section that gives the background of the series protagonist, Paul Janus Finnegan. It explicitly links him to the Wold Newton Family through the Foggs.

The Lavalite World was Phil Farmer’s last piece which had explicit Wold Newton Family ties for several years. He concentrated on finishing his Riverworld and World of Tiers series and wrote several stand alone science fiction novels and stories.

In 1977 Phil Farmer attended Fabula, a convention in Copenhagen, Denmark. While he was looking through a bookstall he suddenly became aware of a man standing next to him. It looked like Lord Greystoke but by the eyes Farmer knew it was Gribardsun. Gribardsun asked how he had been. Phil was a bit surprised to see that Gribardsun had not aged, yet realized he should not have been surprised.

After some small talk Phil told Gribardsun he was curious about one thing. If Gribardsun truly was John Clayton, then he was born in November, 1888 yet Gribardsun had told Farmer he had been born in 1872.

Gribardsun smiled and told Farmer that perhaps he had chosen that date because that would have made the publication of Tarzan Alive a centaury event. However the truth is that that is the year when he found and recovered the test modules that had been sent back in time. He knew then that his living from the past into the future had not altered anything. Up until that point he had been Tarzan living from the past but since Tarzan was about to be born he had to wholeheartedly adopt a new persona as it were, so in that year Gribardsun was born.

Farmer remarked that during the course of his researches of Opar’s ancient history he had spotted Gribardsun, that Gribardsun was Sahhindar.

Gribardsun said that Farmer had undoubtedly spotted him elsewhere as well. He was in a sense his own ancestor.

Farmer said with a laugh that Gribardsun was in a sense the ancestor of everyone presently living.

Gribardsun said that might be true but he had paid particular attention to his own family line. He had married into it several times in order to fill in some needed gaps in the family tree. He had also tried to ensure that certain key events transpired as they were supposed, and had given them a nudge when necessary.

Farmer realized ruefully that it wasn’t simply Tarzan’s family that Gribardsun had nudged along. Although he should have put it together sooner, Farmer knew why had had such miraculous luck at finding rare and unusual source material.

Farmer said that in Tarzan Alive he had made a whimsical claim that the Wild Huntsman had caused the meteorite to fall from the sky and so he could be considered the father of the Wold Newton Family. That may not be too far off the mark.

Gribardsun told Farmer that old XauXaz might have claimed to be Odin or to have to set things in motion but on that fateful day in 1795 Gribardsun was the one who made certain that the right people were at the right place at the right time.

Farmer realized that Tarzan was the alpha and omega of the Wold Newton family tree. He was the root of this tree that spread across time and space. Not only was Tarzan the utmost culmination of its beneficial mutations, he was also in a bizarre way, the primary source of those mutations. Tarzan had begun seeding his family with those superior genes long before the Wold Newton meteor ever fell. The meteor’s ionization had simply enhanced what had already been there.

As Gribardsun turned away Farmer asked if he had any advice on his future. Gribardsun told him that he would achieve two of his greatest dreams. He already had the material for the second, but that the information for the first would come from a very dangerous source and to be wary of him[20].

As Farmer pondered this, Gribardsun faded into the crowd and back into the mists of time.

[1] There had been a few such as in John Kendrick Bang’s Pursuit on the House Boat or R. Holmes & Co. but you had to do a lot of digging to find them.
[2] I believe this was Two Hawks From Earth, which was first published as The Gate of Time. The English language on the parallel world depicted in this novel still retained strong Norse elements.
[3] Although later named the Thoans, Farmer first named the immortal creators of the pocket universes, The Vaernirn, a name that seems derived from Norse
[4] This seems to be taken from the Navaho word for South.
[5] Unfortunately the town library and most of the superstructure of Shaada were destroyed in a massive riot by geriatric tourists in October of 1974.
[6] It is probably only a coincidence that Farmer later stated that Doc Caliban was born in 1903. Or that in Tarzan Alive Farmer stated that the 1st Viscount Barrington inherited the considerable estate of John Wildman.
[7] Coriell was the editor and publisher of the Burroughs Bulletin.
[8] In his column “Further Sketches from the Ruins of My Mind!” Farmerphile 11, January 2008, Robert R. Barrett correctly surmised that the mutual friend in Kansas City was Vern Coriell.  He also speculated that the date of the meeting took place on September 1, 1968. Farmer said that this was not the correct date since he was at Baycon in San Francisco at that time. Barrett’s also speculates in that article that Lord Grandrith was truly Burroughs’ Tarzan and that James Caliban was truly Doc Savage, which I find unlikely.
[9] As described in the fragment Monster on Hold. In this fragment Farmer seemed to indicate that Doc Caliban and the Nine lived in an alternate universe from Doc Savage. While Shrassk, the eponymous monster, was most likely extra-dimensional Doc Caliban of course was not. Although he may have become trapped in other-dimensional space by the machinations of the Nine.  I think that Farmer may have made the assertion that Doc Caliban, Grandrith etc resided in a different universe for a few reasons. First of all was the safety of his family. Having learned that the Nine were not entirely wiped out he wanted to demonstrate to them that he was not a threat to them. By placing them in another universe it is as if he saying that not only were they fictional, no true life counterparts ever existed in the real world. Also he may have been trying to forever end the controversial theory that Grandrith and Caliban were Tarzan and Doc Savage. This theory still raises the hackles today among casual readers of Farmer’s works who have only read A Feast Unknown, Lord of the Trees or The Mad Goblin and not his biographies or authorized novels about the real Tarzan and Doc.
[10] After Tarzan Alive was published Farmer continually asserted that of course Clayton and Greystoke were not Tarzan’s real names. Yet the genealogy that is presented as an appendix of course hinges on these names. I find it very unlikely that someone would go to great lengths to create a detailed biography and then add spurious genealogy at the end of it. Farmers’ assertion was part of his agreement with Tarzan so that the family could continue to hide in plain sight.
[11] The Mercantile Library moved from its long time location in downtown St. Louis in 1998. Portions of the collections are still “unavailable”
[12] This information came into great use when he researched his biographical novel, The Evil in Pemberley House. Although Farmer did not finish the novel it was finished in collaboration with Win Scott Eckert and published by Subterranean Press in 2009.
[13] And it appears that he had kept to his promise. By 2002, the time that Mike Croteau and Paul Spiteri were looking for material to be published in Pearls From Peoria, the Tarzan Alive folder consisted of information readily found in the biography, the William Clayton folder was all but empty and the Allan Quatermain folder was filled with bits of information culled from H. Rider Haggard’s books.
[14] Sir William Clayton lived a long and adventurous life. If Farmer is correct, over the course of his century of life, Sir William was personally responsible for bringing Professor Moriarty, Fu Manchu, Colonel Clay, Carl Peterson, Doctor Caber, Phileas Fogg, and the parents of James Bond and Richard Benson into the world.
[15] Quatermain states as much in his introduction to She and Allan “Also, whenever any of Ayesha’s sayings or stories which are not preserved in these pages came back to me, as happened from time to time, I jotted them down and put them away with this manuscript.”
[16] Farmer would discover that this language bore a strong relationship to Indo-Hittite but also, strangely enough, had elements of the Algonquin language to it. Possibly a tribe of proto-Algonquin had migrated to Ancient Africa, or been directed there, and became one of the peoples that comprised the ancestors of the Khokarsans.
[17] Burroughs had speculated that Opar had been part of ancient Atlantis. This was due to legends of the Oparians being the remnants of a civilization that had suffered a cataclysm. Khokarsa shared this fate with the legendary Atlantis; however it sank in the ancient inland sea that had once covered most of ancient Africa.
[18] Phil had finished translating another Kor fragment which focused on Hadon’s cousin, Kwasin. He had created a novel outline and had begun the novelization but did not finish it due to becoming involved in other projects. Prior to his death however the novel was completed in collaboration Christoper Paul Carey. We hope to see it in print soon.
[19] Borrow may be slightly incorrect. It is more likely Farmer was able to rent the name for a couple hundred bucks.
[20] Gribardsun was no doubt referring to Farmer’s great desire to write an authorized Doc Savage novel and an authorized Tarzan novel. We know that the information for Dark Heart of Time the Tarzan novel, which was the second to be published came from Farmer’s Chicago based interview of Lord Greystoke. However we are not entirely certain, or may just be reluctant to say, as to whom was the source for Escape From Loki, or why Gribardsun felt compelled to warn him.

Interview with Sun Koh Author and Book Cave Co Host, ART SIPPO!!!

ART SIPPO, Writer/Podcaster

AP: Art, thanks for stopping by ALL PULP to visit with us about you and your adventures as a pulp fan, writer, and podcaster. First, though, give us some insight into who Art Sippo is.

AS: I am 15 years old with 42 years experience.

I started reading comics in 1958 shortly after I learned to read. By the time I was 10 years old, I found the plots in comics too fantastic and longed for something more realistic. My Aunt Helen introduced me to Doc Savage in the Bantam reprints on a bus trip to Florida in 1965 and I was hooked. I later went to Xavier Military Institute in Manhattan for High School in the late 1960s. It was there where I developed my love for books and for the pulp genre of literature. I attended St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, NJ and graduated Magna cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of science in Chemistry in 1974. On Military scholarship, I went to Vanderbilt University Medical School and after graduation in 1978, I was an Intern at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. I spent three years as a Flight Surgeon with the 101st Airborne division before entering an Aerospace Medicine residency. I received a Masters in Public Health form Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1982 and completed training at the School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio Texas. I got Board Certified in Aerospace Medicine in 1984. For three years, I was a medical researcher at the US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory and eventually became the Director of the Biodynamics Research Division there. I next spent three years as an exchange officer in England at the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine in Farnborough, Hampshire. I married my lovely wife Katherine in 1987 and we took off to England to start our family.

In 1990, I returned to civilian life but remained in the National Guard. I was a partner in the Occupational Care Consultants of Toledo and was Board Certified in Occupational Medicine in 1994. In the Guard I eventually commanded the 145th MASH Hospital at Camp Perry, OH. In 1995, I was appointed the Assistant State Surgeon.

For 36 years I wore the uniform of the US Army until I retired in 2000 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I currently work full time in the Emergency Room at the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis Missouri.

I have had a lot of adventures along the way. I had been on assignment in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. I even was one of the physicians trained for rescue and egress for the Space Shuttle program and worked 2 launches in 1985.

All during that time I was an avid reader of adventure fiction and more serious topics in science, religion, and philosophy. I think all of these experiences developed a deep regard for the concept of the hero.

The single defining moment in recent times occurred in September of 2003 when a lumbar disc in my spine ruptured and crushed my spinal cord leading to paralysis and numbness below the waist. I had an emergency decompression done, but I still have lost function and sensation in my legs. It took me three months to learn to walk again, but at the end of that time, I went back to work in the ER. During my down time I began writing stories and they helped to keep me sane during a very frightening time.
Kathy and I have been married for 24 wonderful years. We have two girls and one boy all of college age and we are currently raising Kathy’s teenaged granddaughter.

AP: You’re a pulp writer. What have you written and published that falls within the pulp field?

AS: I have published several stories in the last 7 years that would count as pulp stories.

I have written 3 stories in what I call my “Loki Companions” series which has been published in the Zine of Bronze #3, #4, & #5. These are about a group of six men (who may be familiar to pulp fans) during their service in World War I. His Last Hand is about a poker game at the Moulin Rouge in Paris as the six companions prepared to return to the United States after the Armistice. It is really a character study with a twist at the end based on a little known fact. Long Tom Robber relates the true story what really happened when a certain electrical genius used an antique cannon to thwart a German advance during that same war. Andy and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is about the friendship that developed between two very different American soldiers serving with the French Foreign Legion and how the practical jokes they played on each other changed their friendship.

I also wrote a short story for the collection Two Fisted Tales of LaPlata, Missouri that was entitled The Supreme Adventurer. It is a fantasy about a young Lester Dent growing up in LaPlata that shows how his experiences there may have contributed to the creation of Doc Savage.

I also have written 5 short stories about the German pulp character, Sun Koh who was the Aryan equivalent of Doc Savage. Three of these were originally published in Professor Stone Magazine # 1 and #2, and Thrilling Adventures #140. These have all been collected in a single volume Sun Koh: Heir of Atlantis, Vol. 1.

I had another short story in the Glimmerglass Writer’s Annual entitled Destiny or Choice: Shall Any Valiant Act Gainsay Extinction. It is about a child genius who confronts a great evil during a Archaeology convention in St. Louis in 1908.

My latest pulp story is The Perils of Patricia which in the Zine of Bronze #7 & #8. It is an adventure of a certain bronze-haired spa owner whose famous cousin is a well known world-wide troubleshooter.

All of my stories have homages to other action characters and some pulp crossovers. Some even have references to some of my own characters I haven’t yet written about.

AP: A project you undertook and have completed one volume on and are working
on the second for concerns a character of some controversy. Before we discuss that, share with our audience who the character Sun Koh is historically.
AS: Sun Koh; Heir of Atlantis! Sun Koh was a character created by Paul Mueller for Germany’s pulp magazines who was based on Doc Savage. He was intended to be the Nietzschean Übermensch. He was an Aryan prince from ancient Atlantis who came to the future and descended out of the sky to land in London. He had come to prepare for the coming of the next Ice Age when Atlantis would rise gain from the ocean. He would save all those who were fit to survive and use them to repopulate the lost continent. Of course, those he considered to be most fit were of Aryan/German extraction according to the theories of the Theosophists whose mythology had been taken over by the Nazis.

Sun Koh went to Germany and collected around him a colorful group of aides that included science detective Jan Mayen, buckskin wearing Alaska Jim Hoover, WWI veteran Sturmvögel, and an Afro-American Boxer James “Nimba” Holigan. Sun Kho became to Germans what Doc Savage was to Americans.

Between 1933 and 1938 there were 150 Sun Koh stories published. Sun Koh epitomized the Aryan ideal and fought all sorts of villains and super-science threats very similar to those from the Doc Savage stories.

Strangely enough, the Nazis found these stories frivolous and in some cases subversive. Nazi censors made Mueller kill off Nimba because it was unseemly for an Aryan hero to have a black associate.
Eventually they forced the series to end and Mueller had Sun Koh discover and conquer the newly risen Atlantis inside the Hollow Earth in 1938. That brought an end to the series.

The Sun Koh stories were full of adventure imagination and racial slurs. Expurgated versions were republished after WWII at least 3 times. Currently the original versions with annotations are being printed in Germany.

Sun Koh was the most successful of all the Doc Savage clones (if we exclude the comic characters like Superman and Batman). I was fascinated by the idea of such a character having so many adventures in a language that I could not read. I became frustrated and decided to write my own stories about Sun Koh preserving as much of the original adventure ideas as possible and excluding all the Nazi nonsense.

AP: Now, to the controversy. Have you had anyone complain or attack your direction with the character, that being your decision to write about a character who many identify with a Germany many would like to forget?

AS: Well, Jess Nevins who is a world-wide pulp expert was appalled that I was resurrecting the Sun Koh character whom he considered to be a poster child for Nazi ideology. My publisher for the Sun Koh series is Wayne Judge from Age of Adventure. He has had problems finding artists to do illustrations and covers for the Sun Koh stories because of the character’s roots.

I find it kind of funny to have such an edgy character. I am a very conventional person and I have no love for the Nazis and their dysfunction system of hatred. I like the noir ambience that you can get with this setting. It gives you a truly heroic character seen from a different perspective which raises ambivalence in the reader. It is the same experience you get while watching movies like The Usual Suspects, LA Confidential, and Payback.

It also gives me a chance to do a dark kind of Doc Savage-like character and explore what it would have been like to be a real superman in a culture that allegedly revered such beings. As my Sun Koh has been finding out, the dreams of the German leadership were delusory and did not match up to his own standards.

AP: What are your plans for Sun Koh? Will you redeem him and if you do, what then?

AS: Sun Koh was never part of the Nazi war effort. He was long gone before the invasion of Poland. I am intending to show how a true superman would not remain deceived by Hitler and his cronies for very long. It would soon become apparent to him that the Nazi were degenerates. I envision Sun Koh being part of the conspiracy in the Wehrmacht before Neville Chamberlain signed the pact with Hitler allowing the occupation of the Sudetenland. Had Chamberlain stood up to Hitler, the planned coup would have toppled the Nazis and Word War II might have been avoided. It will have been Sun Koh’s involvement in this conspiracy that leads him to disappear from Germany in 1938. Where he went at that point is still not know at this time.

AP: You’re also quickly becoming a podcasting legend. You are one half of the hosting team for THE BOOK CAVE (ALL PULP’S official Podcast, by the by). This is your chance, Art-How did you come to team up with your partner Ric Croxton and why do you think the relationship you two have works so well for a pulp podcast (It actually works very well, ALL PULP just wants to know why you think it works).
AS: Ric and I met at the 2006 LaPlata DocCon. The folks at that Con formed a bond and we have kept in touch over the years. When Ric launched The Book Cave podcasts, he had me on as a guest to talk about Sun Koh and some other topics. We worked well together and we got positive feedback from the audience and so Ric made me his permanent co-host.

The Book Cave is a show by fans for fans. We cover mostly pulp fiction but we also talk about Sci-Fi, Wold Newton, Lovecraft, comics, movies, TV-shows, and other things that adventure fiction fans really enjoy. I have been kicking around for a long time and I have had an interest in these things for almost 50 years… Let’s be honest. It has been OVER 50 years. I have taken these things very seriously and I love to talk about them.

This also gives us an opportunity to talk to the authors, producers, and creators of these entertainments and get to know them. I have always been interested in the creative process and how these stories came to be written. The fan base seems to enjoy this as well. And one thing about writers is that they LOVE to talk about themselves.

Ric and I have been privileged to meet and get to know folks like Will Murray, Ron Fortier, Andrew Salmon, Barry Reese, Paul Malmont, Derrick Ferguson, Josh Reynolds, William Preston, Jeff Deishcer, Win Eckert, Tommy Hancock, Jean Marc L’Officier, Tom and Ginger Johnson, Jim Campanella, Wayne Reinagel, Chris and Laura Carey, Paul Spitieri, Mike Croteaeu, James Sutton, and so many others who are creative forces in this field. These folks are great people and it is fascinating to talk with them. I learn so much and it gives me greater insight into the work they do.

I think the formula works because we come to the interviews with respect for the people and their work and I think our enthusiasm shows. We also remind our guests that we advocate them to give “shameless plugs” for any things they want to let the fan base know about. We also make it clear that we are a friendly show that is upbeat and pro fun. That is why we are all here.

AP: Ric often picks on your ‘special ability’ to know major details about your guests. Seriously, what sort of prep work do you put into getting ready to interview a guest in The Book Cave?
AS: It is amazing what you can find out from Googling someone’s name. Even before the internet, I was very good at ferreting out information. I also have a relatively good memory (not as good as it used to be, I’m afraid) and I tend to link together all sorts of disparate facts.

Ric and I always read the material we are going to discuss and we try to do some other background checking as well.

AP: Do you think podcasting in general and your podcast in specific is having any positive impact on pulp? If so, what? How can that impact be increased or improved upon?

AS: Podcasting allows us to do some things we never could before. It is now possible to do interviews with folks anywhere in the world record them, edit them, and put them on the world-wide web for anyone anywhere to listen to at their leisure. This means that pulp aficionados can hear their favorite authors talk about themselves and their work and send them feedback. Plus we can bring information about future projects to the pulp audience and help to spread the word about good books and how to get them. We have links on the podcast website that fans can follow for more information.
Back in the 1960s I was the only Doc Savage fan that I knew. Today, I know dozens of Doc fans and pulps fans and we converse regularly. And information moves quickly through the pulp community. Our podcasts are routinely mentioned at Bill Thom’s Coming Attractions web site which is a gold mine of information for pulp and adventure fiction fans.

In the future, we may add video links to the show. I am not too keen about this since I don’t look all that good in real life and I do not dress smartly for the shows.

Another possibility is to have live call-in shows where fans can call in and talk to our guests. This would be a chancy thing and would require some kind of time delay so that we could weed out the disruptive calls.

AP: Another area of interest you have that falls squarely in the pulp field is the work of Philip Jose Farmer. Would you share how you came to be a fan and devotee of Farmer and his work?

AS: I first ran across Phil Farmer in the late 1960s as I began reading science fiction. The themes of his books seemed to be very controversial and I was put off by them. Then in the old Bookmaster’s store at Times Square in 1969, I saw a paperback by Mr. Farmer with two naked men on the cover who looked suspiciously like Doc Savage and Tarzan. It was entitled A Feast Unknown and it purported to be the memoirs of Lord Grandrith and his epic battle with Doc Caliban. The book is not tame fare. There was plenty of gratuitous sex and violence, but also a fascinating story. I was hooked. I began to read more of Farmer’s work. That was also the beginning of his Pulp Period where he was writing pastiches on pulp characters and themes. This period would last for over a decade and Phil became my favorite SciFi author.

AP: On the Book Cave, you often speak of how you became a fan of pulp, initially with the Doc Savage books and such. How has pulp helped shape you as a person, if its had any impact at all?

AS: For 36 years I wore a uniform and thought of myself as a soldier. My understanding of what that meant was shaped very much by the heroes I read about in books and comics. Doc Savage was in many ways my ideal and I tried to emulate him especially in academics. He was my inspiration for going into medicine. I attended Johns Hopkins for my masters because that was where Doc Savage had gone for his medical degree. (In fact I have a story in mind about Doc as a medical student in Baltimore in the 1920s.) Above all, Doc Savage and the pulps in general were ‘good guys’ who consciously sought moral uprightness. They did not always play by the conventional rules but in the end, their actions benefited more than themselves.

AP: You’re a doctor. Has your career contributed in any way to your ability as a pulp writer?

AS: You learn a lot in medicine about human nature and human limitations. You also learn a lot about science and math along the way. I have tried to make the fantastic elements in my stories at least plausible. I have also travelled the world and practiced medicine in some unusual circumstances. It all has contributed to the background in many of my stories.

AP: So, what does the future hold for Art Sippo? Any writing projects in the works you want to talk about? What about Book Cave plans?

AS: I have a Sun Koh novel currently under way. I eventually want to write the story of how Sun Koh is ultimately saved from Nazism and what becomes of him. I also plan to do some more Loki Companion Stories for Renny and Johnny and at least one more Pat story. And there is the story of Doc Savage at Johns Hopkins and the girl that ALMOST stole his heart. When I have enough of them, I’d like to publish them in a single volume along with some essays from my Speculations in Bronze website.

Ric and I plan to continue doing the Book Cave as long people enjoy it. We are always seeking new authors to interview and new material to pass on to the fans.

Ric and I both plan to be at the PulpArk con in the Spring of 2011 and to do shows from there.

AP: Dr. Sippo, it’s been a wonderful time talking to you. Thanks for the opportunity!

AS: It has been my pleasure as well. Folks should drop by the Book Cave site and drop us a line. We love to hear from the fans. Keep reading!

‘The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ has an October 20 Debut

‘The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ has an October 20 Debut

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!, an all-new animated series featuring the best of the best in the Marvel Universe, premieres Wednesday, October 20 (8:30 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD. Produced by Marvel Animation, the series stars the world’s greatest heroes — Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Ant-Man/Giant Man and Wasp — who form the Avengers, a team assembled when the powers of a single hero are not enough to save the world. Thsi essentially mirrors the line up as seen in the first 15 issues of the comic, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby and Don Heck.

Beginning Wednesday, Disney XD, DisneyXD.com/Avengers, Marvel.com, MarvelKids.com and Disney XD Mobile will roll out 20 micro-episodes introducing the team’s core members. Each five-and-half-minute episode focuses on the back story, allies and nemeses of the heroes before the Avengers were formed.

In the two-part series premiere, “The Breakout,” Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man and Wasp have defeated some of the most dangerous super-villains on the planet. But when the super-villain prison system mysteriously shuts down, chaos is unleashed on the world. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes must now band together as the Avengers to protect the planet from the threats that no single super-hero could face alone. Their first task is to try and stop Graviton, a being whose power dwarfs anything ever seen. He’s after Nick Fury, but will destroy the world to get to him. Individually the heroes have no chance, but together they can make a difference.

The complete multiplatform rollout is:

Wednesday, September 22

Disney XD will air a special sneak peek of the first micro-series episode, “Iron Man is Born!,” at 8:30 p.m., ET/PT directly following premiere of the network’s newest series, “Pair of Kings.”

DisneyXD.com/Avengers, Marvel.com, MarvelKids.com and Disney XD Mobile will unveil a new micro-episode every day, for 20 days, leading up to the micro-episodes’ premiere on Disney XD. DisneyXD.com/Avengers will also feature a gallery of each of the Avengers and offer inside information about Kang, Loki and the rest of the “most wanted” Marvel Super Villains.

Tuesday, October 5  

Select micro-episodes will be made available as a free preview on iTunes.

Monday, October 11

Disney XD will roll out all 20 micro-episodes during “Avengers Week” from Monday, October 11 to Friday, October 15, with four micro-episodes stacked each night at 8:30 p.m., ET/PT.

The complete micro-series becomes available on Disney XD on Demand on AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Cox.

Wednesday, October 20

The highly anticipated series premiere of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! airs with two back-to-back episodes from 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., ET/PT. The series also launches on DisneyXD.com/Avengers, Marvel.com and Marvelkids.com.

Thursday, October 21

Full episodes launch on iTunes, Xbox Live, Sony Playstation and Disney XD Mobile VOD.

Monday, October 25

The series becomes available on Disney XD on Demand on AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Cox.

First Look: ‘Thor’

First Look: ‘Thor’

As promised, Paramount Pictures released more images from Thor, opening May 6, 2011. Director Kenneth Branagh has clearly cleaned up Jack Kirby’s vision of Asgard, making things nice and shiny.

In case you missed it, here’s a rundown of the cast for the film which recently completed principal photography. The screenplay is written by Ashley Miller (Fringe) and Don Payne (The Simpsons). Miller has since gone on to write X-Men: First Class for 20th Century-Fox while Payne previously wrote My Super Ex-Girlfriend and was one of the writers on Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Dr. Donald Blake/Thor is portrayed by Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) with Natalie Portman as Dr. Jane Foster (promoted from her original nurse role). Anthony Hopkins is the one-eyed Odin, Rene Russo as Frigga, his wife; and Tom Hiddleston (Wallander) as the sibling Loki. Portraying the delightful Warriors Three are Ray Stevenson (The Book of Eli) as Volstagg, Tadanobu Asano (Snow Prince) as Hogun the Grim, and Joshua Dallas (Doctor Who) as Fandral the Dashing. Sorry, Balder the Brave apparently didn’t make it into the movie — maybe next time.

Rounding out the cast will be Jaimie Alexander as Thor’s Norse love interest Sif, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and Kat Dennings as a new character, Darcy. Clark Gregg continues his tour through the Marvel Movie Universe, reprising his SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson role.

According to a release from Marvel Studios, “At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant
warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast
down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here,
Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous
villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.”


Rene Russo returns to comic book adaptations, from ‘Sable’ to ‘Thor’

Rene Russo returns to comic book adaptations, from ‘Sable’ to ‘Thor’

After twenty-two years, Rene Russo is coming back to properties based on comics.

She’s joining the cast of Marvel Entertainment’s film Thor, taking on the role of Thor and Loki’s mom, Frigga, the Queen of Asgard (Odin’s wife). Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the movie also stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster.

Wait a minute– back to comics?

Yes, Rene Russo’s first acting job was in the 1987 ABC series, Sable, based on Jon Sable Freelance by Mike Grell, playing the role of Eden Kendall, complete with 80s hair. If you’ve never seen it before, well– why should we suffer alone? Take a look for yourself. First, here’s the credits:

Second, we have part one of the pilot.

After that, I’m amazed she came back, I wouldn’t think twenty-two years would be enough time away.

The comic series is much much better. But don’t take our word for it, you can read the latest series, Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes Of Eden, either online here or on sale now from IDW, or you can order the trades of the original series. They make wonderful Christmas presents.

Review: ‘Robot Chicken Season 4’ on DVD

Review: ‘Robot Chicken Season 4’ on DVD

I don’t know how I missed [[[Robot Chicken]]] when it debuted several years back. I heard the buzz, I saw the ads in the comics and still, I somehow never got around to watching. When the Cartoon Network sent over their second [[[Star Wars Special]]] for review, I finally indulged and was delighted.

Now, they sent over the two-disc set collecting the complete fourth season, which goes on sale Tuesday, and watched with great delight. The season, which ran from December 7, 2008 through December 6 (last week!), has 20 episodes and the set also includes [[[The Robot Chicken Full-Assed Christmas Special]]].

The show is a riotous tour through the pop culture zeitgeist, presuming the viewers know the players from Tila Tequila to the torturous relationship between Thor and Loki. Many of the episodes are loosely connected vignettes while others feel entirely like a collection of whatever was finished in time got included. When handling a single theme, such as Christmas or [[[[Star Wars]]], they manage to make that work as well, with a broad array of talents coming together to keep things loose and very, very funny.

To me, many of the funniest bits shows the before or after events from favorite scenes such as the natives building the temple deathtraps we saw Indiana Jones avoid in [[[Raiders of the Lost Ark]]] or the day in the life of Jason Voorhees.

Seth Green and Matthew Senreich have certainly developed an eclectic following which has allowed them to bring onboard writers and performers to work with them. In fact, one of the best Video Blogs included in the Extras shows the range of actors who come in and let loose. I can’t decide who was having more fun, Billy Dee Williams or Katee Sackhoff. Among the writers to contribute, beyond the usual suspects from previous seasons is comic book darling Geoff Johns.

Back during [[[Star Trek]]]’s 20th Anniversary, there was talk of an Opera which was partially written before wiser heads canceled the project. But, thanks to one bit, we have a good idea of what it would have sounded like. The hysterical [[[Star Trek II: The Opera]]] is one of the highlights.

No, not every bit works and some episodes feel wildly uneven, but in
each episode I find myself laughing out loud at the absurd
juxtaposition of elements or seeing revered icons poke fun at

No one and nothing is sacred to these creators so[[[ Babar]]], [[[Hannah Montana]]], [[[James Bond]]] and just about everyone else you’ve grown up with is fair game. The DVD presents the episodes without censorship so there’s additional graphic violence, nudity and many instances of foul language.

In addition to the 21 episodes, there are Chicken Nuggets (the creators offer commentary), appearances at 2008’s Comic-Con International and 2009’s New York Comic-Con plus when the team promoted the show across Australia. There are way-too-brief Day in the Life glimpses at the many talented technicians who take the wacky scripts and bring them to life. There are a handful of deleted scenes with introductory material to explain how anything manages to get cut plus deleted animatics, early tests showing how a script might look. If you like, the show, these Extras continue the entertainment and are commended to your attention.