Purple Book

Philip José Farmer

Philip José Farmer (born January 26 1918) is an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, but spent much of his life in Peoria, Illinois, where he currently lives.


Farmer is best known for his Riverworld series and the earlier World of Tiers series. He is noted for his use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for and reworking of the lore of legendary pulp heroes, and occasional tongue-in-cheek pseudonymous works written as if by fictional characters.

Riverworld series

The Riverworld series follows the adventures of such diverse characters as Richard Burton, Hermann Göring, and Samuel Clemens through a bizarre afterlife in which every human ever to have lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire planet. The series consists of To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), The Fabulous Riverboat (1971), The Dark Design (1977), The Magic Labyrinth (1980) and Gods of Riverworld (1983). Riverworld and Other Stories (1979) is not part of the series as such but a collection that includes the second-published Riverworld story, which is free-standing rather than integrated into one of the novels. (The first two books were originally published as two novellas, "The Day of the Great Shout" and "The Suicide Express," and a two-part serial, "The Felled Star," in the science fiction magazines Worlds of Tomorrow and If between 1965 and 1967. The separate novelette "Riverworld" ran in Worlds of Tomorrow in January 1966.) A final pair of linked novelettes appeared in the 1990s: "Crossing the Dark River" (in Tales of Riverworld, 1992) and "Up the Bright River" (in Quest to Riverworld, 1993).

The Riverworld series originated in a novel, Owe for the Flesh, written in one month in 1952 as a contest entry. It won the contest, but the book was left unpublished and orphaned when the prize money was misappropriated, and Farmer nearly gave up writing altogether. The original manuscript of the novel was lost, but years later Farmer reworked the material into the Riverworld magazine stories mentioned above. Eventually, a copy of a revised version of the original novel surfaced in a box in a garage and was published as River of Eternity by Phantasia Press in 1983. Farmer's Introduction to this edition gives the details of how it all happened.

World of Tiers series

The World of Tiers series is regarded by many fans as equal to or better than the Riverworld series, though it is less well known. The series is set within a number of artificially constructed parallel universes, created tens of thousands of years ago by a race of human beings who had achieved an advanced level of technology which gave them almost godlike power and immortality. The principal universe in which these stories take place, and from which the series derives its name, consists of an enormous tiered planet, shaped like a stack of disks or squat cylinders, of diminishing radius, one atop the other. The series follows the adventures of a few humans from Earth who accidentally travel to these artificial universes, and consists of The Maker of Universes (1965), The Gates of Creation (1966), A Private Cosmos (1968), Behind the Walls of Terra (1970), The Lavalite World (1977) and More Than Fire (1993). Roger Zelazny has mentioned that The World of Tiers was something he had in his mind when he created his Amber series. A related novel is Red Orc's Rage (1991), which does not involve the principal characters of the other books directly, but does provide background information to certain events and characters portrayed in the other novels. This is the most "psychological" of Farmer's novels. He wrote it in consultation with a Yale University psychiatrist, Dr. A. James Giannini, who provided the "Afterword".

Common Themes

Sexual themes

Farmer's works often handles sexual themes; some early works were notable for their ground-breaking introduction of such to science fiction literature. His first published science fiction story, "The Lovers," won him the Hugo Award for "most promising new writer" in 1953, and is critically recognized as the story that broke the taboo on sex in science fiction. It instantly put Farmer on the literary map. The short story collection, Strange Relations (1960) was a notable event in the history of sex in science fiction. He was one of three persons to whom Robert A. Heinlein dedicated Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), a novel which explored sexual freedom as one of its primary themes. Moreover, Fire and the Night (1962) is a mainstream novel about a love affair between a white man and a black woman; it features interesting sociological and psychosexual twists. In the World of Tiers series he explores Oedipal themes. He also uses Jungian archetypes to further the plot development of attraction and of power relationships.

Religious themes

His work also sometimes contains religious themes. Jesus shows up as a character in both the Riverworld series (in the novelette "Riverworld" but not in the novels) and Jesus on Mars. Night of Light (1966) takes the rather un-holy Father John Carmody on an odyssey on an alien world where spiritual forces are made manifest in the material world.

Use of pulp heroes

Many of Farmer's works rework existing characters from fiction and history, as in The Wind Whales of Ishmael (1971), an otherworldly sequel to Herman Melville's Moby-Dick; The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973), which fills in the missing time periods from Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days; and A Barnstormer in Oz (1982), in which Dorothy's adult son, a pilot, flies there by accident.

He has often worked with the pulp heroes Tarzan and Doc Savage, or pastiches thereof: In his novel The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes team up. Farmer's Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban series portrays analogues of Tarzan and Doc Savage. It consists of A Feast Unknown (1969), Lord of the Trees (1970) and The Mad Goblin (1970). Farmer has also written two mock biographies of both characters—Tarzan Alive (1972) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973), which adopt the premise that the two were based on real people fictionalized by their original chroniclers, and connect them genealogically with a large number of other well-known fictional characters. Further, Farmer wrote both an authorized Doc Savage novel, Escape from Loki (1991) and an authorized Tarzan novel, The Dark Heart of Time (1999). He uses pulp heroes as tangential manifestations of basic needs within the human psyche. While not always attaining the status of archetypes they do represent vicarious fulfillment of unrequited ambitions and passions. Farmer is able to become more than a pulp-writer because he creates these heroes on many levels, some directly and some tangentially expressing a semiotic purpose.

In his Khokarsa cycle—Hadon of Ancient Opar (1974) and Flight to Opar (1976)—Farmer portrayed the "lost city" of Opar, which plays an important part in the Tarzan saga, in the time of its glory as a colony city of the empire of Khokarsa.

Pseudonymous works

Farmer wrote Venus on the Half-Shell (1975) under the name Kilgore Trout, a fictional author who appears in the works of Kurt Vonnegut. He had planned to write more of Trout's fictional books (notably Son of Jimmy Valentine), but a disagreement with Vonnegut put an end to those plans. Thereafter Farmer wrote a number of pseudonymous "fictional author" stories, mostly for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. These were stories whose "authors" are characters in other stories. The first such story was "by" Jonathan Swift Somers III (invented by Farmer himself in Venus on the Half-Shell but inspired by one of the dead voices of Spoon River Anthology), and later Farmer used the "Cordwainer Bird" byline, a pseudonym invented by Harlan Ellison for film and television projects from which he wished to disassociate himself.

Awards and nominations





Short stories

  • "O'Brien and Obrenov" (1946)
  • "The Lovers" (1952)
  • "Sail On! Sail On!" (1952)
  • "The Biological Revolt" (1953)
  • "Mother" (1953)
  • "Moth and Rust" (1953)
  • "Attitudes" (1953)
  • "Strange Compulsion" (1953)
  • "They Twinkled Like Jewels" (1954)
  • "Daughter" (1954)
  • "Queen of the Deep" (1954)
  • "The God Business" (1954)
  • "Rastignac the Devil" (1954)
  • "The Celestial Blueprint" (1954)
  • "The Wounded" (1954)
  • "Totem and Taboo" (1954)
  • "Father" (1955)
  • "The Night of Light" (1955)
  • "The Alley Man" (1959)
  • "Heel" (1960)
  • "My Sister's Brother" or "Open to Me, My Sister" (1960)
  • "A Few Miles" (1960)
  • "Prometheus" (1961)
  • "Tongues of the Moon" (1961)
  • "Uproar in Acheron" (1962)
  • "How Deep the Grooves" (1963)
  • "Some Fabulous Yonder" (1963)
  • "The Blasphemers" (1964)
  • "The King of the Beasts" (1964)
  • "Day of the Great Shout" (1965)
  • "Riverworld" (1966)
  • "The Suicide Express" (1966)
  • "The Blind Rowers" (1967)
  • "A Bowl Bigger than Earth" (1967)
  • "The Felled Star (part 1)" (1967)
  • "The Felled Star (part 2)" (1967)
  • "The Shadow of Space" (1967)
  • "Riders of the Purple Wage" (1967)
  • "Don't Wash the Carats" (1968)
  • "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod" (1968)
  • "Down in the Black Gang" (1969)
  • "The Oogenesis of Bird City" (1970)
  • "The Voice of the Sonar in my Vermiform Appendix" (1971)
  • "Brass and Gold" (1971)
  • "The Fabulous Riverboat (part 1)" (1971)
  • "The Fabulous Riverboat (part 2)" (1971)
  • "Only Who Can Make a Tree?" (1971)
  • "The Sliced-Crosswise Only-On-Tuesday World" (1971)
  • "Seventy Years of Decpop" (1972)
  • "Skinburn" (1972)
  • "The Sumerian Oath" (1972)
  • "Father's in the Basement" (1972)
  • "Toward the Beloved City" (1972)
  • "Mother Earth Wants You" (1972)
  • "Sketches Among the Ruins of My Mind" (1973)
  • "Monolog" (1973)
  • "After King Kong Fell" (1973)
  • "Opening the Door" (1973)
  • "The Two-Edged Gift" (1974)
  • "The Startouched" (1974)
  • "The Evolution of Paul Eyre" (1974)
  • "The Adventure of the Three Madmen" (1974)
  • "Passing On" (1975)
  • "A Scarletin Study, as Jonathan Swift Somers III" (1975)
  • "The Problem of the Sore Bridge - Among Others, as Harry Manders" (1975)
  • "Greatheart Silver" (1975)
  • "The Return of Greatheart Silver" (1975)
  • "Osiris on Crutches, as Leo Queequeg Tincrowder" (1976)
  • "The Volcano, as Paul Chapin" (1976)
  • "The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight, as Jonathan Swift Somers III" (1976)
  • "Fundamental Issue" (1976)
  • "The Henry Miller Dawn Patrol" (1977)
  • "Greatheart Silver in the First Command" (1977)
  • "Savage Shadow as Maxwell Grant" (1977)
  • "The Impotency of Bad Karma as Cordwainer Bird" (1977)
  • "It's the Queen of Darkness, Pal, as Rod Keen" (1978)
  • "Freshman" (1979)
  • "The Leaser of Two Evils" (1979)
  • "J.C. on the Dude Ranch" (1979)
  • "Spiders of the Purple Mage" (1980)
  • "The Making of Revelation, Part I" (1980)
  • "The Long Wet Dream of Rip Van Winkle" (1981)
  • "The Adventure of the Three Madmen" (1984)
  • "UFO vs IRS" (1985)
  • "St. Francis Kisses His Ass Goodbye" (1989)
  • "One Down, One to Go" (1990)
  • "Evil, Be My Good" (1990)
  • "Nobody's Perfect" (1991)
  • "Wolf, Iron and Moth" (1991)
  • "Crossing the Dark River" (1992)
  • "A Hole in Hell as Dane Helstrom" (1992)
  • "Up the Bright River" (1993)
  • "Coda" (1993)
  • "The Good of the Land" (2002)
  • "The Face that Launched a Thousand Eggs" (2005)
  • "The Unnaturals" (2005)
  • "Who Stole Stonhenge?" (2005)
  • "That Great Spanish Author, Ernesto" (2006)
  • "The Essence of the Poison" (2006)
  • "The Doll Game" (2006)
  • "Keep Your Mouth Shut" (2006)
  • "The Frames" (2007)
  • "A Spy in the U.S. of Gonococcia" (2007)
  • "A Peoria Night" (2007)
  • "The First Robot" (2008)
  • "Duo Miaule" (2008)

Articles, essays, public talks, fragments, and miscellanea

  • "Bradley Brave Sees New York With Observing Injun Eyes—And with Knocking Knees" (1940)
  • "Lovers and Otherwise" (1953)
  • "The Tin Woodman Slams the Door" (1954)
  • "White Whales Raintrees Flying Saucers" (1954)
  • "The Golden Age and the Brass" (1956)
  • "On a Mountain Upside Down" (1960)
  • "Blueprint for Free Beer" (1967)
  • "Reap" (1968)
  • "Oft Have I Travelled" (1969)
  • "Report" (1969) - republished as "The Josés from Rio" (2006)
  • "The Affair of the Logical Lunatics" (1971)
  • "The Arms of Tarzan" (1971)
  • "Tarzan's Coat of Arms" (1971)
  • "The Two Lord Ruftons" (1971)
  • "The Obscure Life and Hard Times of Kilgore Trout" (1971)
  • "A Reply to "The Red Herring"" (1971)
  • "Tarzan Lives" (1972) - republished as "An Exclusive Interview with Lord Greystoke" (1973)
  • "The Great Korak-Time Discrepancy" (1972)
  • "The Lord Mountford Mystery" (1972)
  • "Writing the Biography of Doc Savage" (1973) - republished as "Writing Doc's Biography" (1974)
  • "From Erb to Ygg" (1973)
  • "To the Wizard of Sci-Fi" (1974)
  • "Extracts from the Memoirs of "Lord Greystoke"" (1974)
  • "The Feral Human in Mythology and Fiction" (1974)
  • "Charles L. Tanner" (1974)
  • "A Language for Opar" (1974)
  • "Some Comments" (1975) - republished as "The Source of the River" (2006)
  • "How Dinosaurs Did It" (1976)
  • "Phonemics" (1976)
  • "Philip Jose Farmer Sez..." (1976) - republished as "A Fimbulwinter Introduction" (2006)
  • "Religion and Myths" (1977)
  • "Jonathan Swift Somers III: Cosmic Traveller in a Wheelchair" (1977)
  • "The Remarkable Adventure" with Beverly Friend (1978)
  • "Creating Artificial Worlds" (1979)
  • "Riverworld War" (1980)
  • "Maps and Spasms" (1981)
  • "The Monster on Hold" (1983)
  • "L. Frank Baum" (1985)
  • "Edgar Rice Burroughs" (1985)
  • "Memoir" (1986) - republished as "IF R.I.P" (2006)
  • "Remembering VERN" (1987)
  • "The Journey" (1988)
  • "Hayy ibn Yaqzam: An Arabic Mowgli" (1994)
  • "Robert Bloch: An Appreciation" (1994)
  • "Dede Weil: An Appreciation" (2000)
  • "I Still Live!" (2006)
  • "Why Do I Write?" (2006)
  • "The Trout Letters" (2006)
  • "The Light-Hog Incident" (2007)
  • "The Rebels Unthawed" (2007)
  • "A Modest Proposal" (2007)
  • "Sherlock Holmes & Sufism—& Related Subjects" (2008)
  • "Jongor in the Wold Newton Family" (2008)
  • "Three Metafictional Proposals" (2008)
  • "Uncle Sam's Mad Tea Party" (2008)
  • "Down to Earth's Centre" (2008)

See also



External links

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