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Posted October 25, 2005
Not Just for Farmer Fans
The contributors for this book provide a wonderful look into the world of Philip Jose Farmer. I had only read one Farmer book (The Tongues of the Moon) before delving into Myths. The excitement and intelligent discussion of Farmer's works in this volume prompted me to order several other titles. I especially enjoyed the essay by Christopher Paul Carey 'The Green Eyes Have It-Or Are They Blue?'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 23, 2005
The Secret Lives of Pulp Heroes
Science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer introduced us to the Wold Newton Family concept back in 1972 with Tarzan Alive, a biography of the man Edgar Rice Burroughs called John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, and Tarzan of the Apes. In Tarzan Alive Farmer asserts that Greystoke was a real person, and that Burroughs greatly exaggerated Greystoke's exploits for the pulp adventure audience. In Tarzan Alive Farmer did three things that really set the tone for the Wold Newton articles that followed. First, as noted, he followed the lead of Baring-Gould's Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street and claimed that many fictional characters were in fact real people. Second, he analyzed the 'fictionalized' texts and attempted to reconcile any conflicting information, much as the Holmesian canon has been scrutinized for lapses in continuity by Baring-Gould and many others. Finally, and what leads us to this superb book edited by Win Eckert, is the concept of the Wold Newton Family - a grouping of fictional characters that Farmer claims are blood related. He also accounts for the prodigious talents of Holmes, Tarzan, and many more by revealing that they are descended from a group of people traveling by coach in Wold Newton, Yorkshire, England in 1795 when a meteor struck a nearby cottage. The passengers of those coaches were exposed to radiation from the meteor, and this accounts for the benevolent mutations of their offspring. Of course, their offspring all intermarried, and things became very complex. Farmer continued to explore these ideas in a 'biography' of the Man of Bronze called Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. Not only does he further the conceit of the hero being a real person, but he adds many branches to his Wold Newton family tree. By the end of DS:HAL, we see a huge family of extraordinary folk emerging, from the Shadow, James Bond, and Fu Manchu, to Leopold Bloom from Ulysses. Farmer adds more outre texts than in his previous work and doesn't claim they are fictionalized to the degree asserted in TA. Now, many years later, comes this fabulous volume edited and including work by Win Eckert, who has maintained the premiere site for Wold Newton speculation on the Web. Eckert has coined the term 'Wold Newton Universe' to denote that many more fictional characters than dreamed of by Farmer inhabit the same shared universe. Eckert has added many characters by documenting crossovers between fictitious characters from all media, in all genres, though the pulp theme remains strong. Eckert explains how the WNU 'works' and his own methodology in Myths for the Modern Age. Dr. Peter Coogan contributes an amazing essay, 'Woldnewtonry', which describes the way various writers 'wold', that is bring in more characters and reconcile more contradictory texts. There are many essays here by 'post-Farmerian' writers, such as Chuck Loridans, who reveals what adventure characters are the 'Daughters of Greystoke' Brad Mengel, who explores the tangled family tree of Sherlock Holmes and Dennis Power, who discusses 'Asian Detectives in the Wold Newton Universe', brings Kipling's Mowgli into the Wold Newton Family in an interesting way and provides, with co-writer Coogan, a definitive look at the long and storied life of Burroughs' John Carter of Mars (timely with a feature film on John Carter in pre-production). I cannot recommend this book highly enough to any and all fans of pulp heroes, Tarzan, Holmes, or crossover fiction such as the League of Extraordinary Gentleman (for which MFTMA contributor Jess Nevins has penned two exhaustive companion volumes). You may not agree with all of the theories about your favorite genre characters and the connections between them, but you will have an incredible read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2009
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