I found out late this morning that Philip Jose Farmer passed away. I had heard he was not in good health so it was no surprise. Still another of the writers who always seemed to be there is now gone.
Farmer had the ability to write swashbuckling fiction. I am quite a fan of the two Opar books that he wrote. I thought it was great, going back to the glory days of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Opar thousands of years back in time. Tarzan is a character under a different name and Farmer even tied in H. Rider Haggard’s Allan and the Ice Gods. Farmer is remembered for being the guy who brought sex out in the open in science fiction. I think he was a pretty good action writer.
If you ever read much in the way of Farmer, it became apparent that he loved Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially Tarzan. He wrote a great fictional biography called Tarzan Alive.
His book on DocSavage was probably better than any Doc Savage book I ever read. I never warmed up to Doc Savage. Come to think of it, I can’t say there is a book by Farmer that I hadn’t enjoyed. He had the ability to surpass the original material that he was pastiching. His fake Tarzan novel, Lord of the Trees and the Doc Savage meets Tarzan novel, A Feast Unknown may upset some readers with some liberties taken. I thought they were exciting, funny, and adventurous.
Farmer was familiar with Robert E. Howard as he tied in Solomon Kane with his Wold Netwon Universe in which just about every great fictional hero is related to each other.
Farmer never quite wrote sword and sorcery fiction though the Opar books and the World of Tiers come close. I also enjoyed his alternate history novel Two Hawks From Earth.
Goodbye Philip Jose Farmer– thanks for all the great stories.