One of my favorites authors, Philip Jose Farmer, passed away this past February, at age 91. I still remember back to the 1960s sitting in the car after going out shopping with my parents in Jenkintown, PA, reading the first chapter of the first World of Tiers books, The Maker of Universes, in a green-covered Ace paperback. After exploring that magical universe through that book and its sequels, I experienced similar enjoyment with the wonderful Riverworld series which entertained me through my medical internship and residency in Rhode Island. Somewhere in between, at a long-defunct Doubleday bookstore back in Jenkintown I picked up Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life in hardcover.Previously I had purchased Tarzan Alive!, the “biography” of Lord Greystoke. With the Tarzan biography he almost had me convinced at the impressionable age of twenty-something when apparently I could still almost believe the impossible (sadly I’ve lost that ability since) that there really was an English lord in Burke’s Peerage who had a one-to-one correspondence with Burroughs’ Lord Greystoke. And yes, I did do my own search through that book, but, frustratingly, Farmer chose not to leave enough clues to allow me to identify the exact peer… Well, with the publication of the Doc Savage “biography” even gullible I realized that this was all in fun — but what fun it was! This book introduced me to Doc and led me to read all 181 or so published adventures published by Bantam books, starting when I was in Junior High and ending around 1990. And then Farmer capped it off with his own Doc Savage adventure Escape from Loki. So I have Farmer to thank for my getting to know Doc and Pat Savage, Monk, Ham, Renny, Johnny, and Long Tom. Farmer’s enthusiasm for the pulps of the 30s led me to the same enthusiasm, and I too grew fond of G8, Operator 5, The Spider, and others. I loved his pastisches of Tarzan, Oz, Vonnegut (Venus on A Half-Shell by “Kilgore Trout”), Verne, and others. I liked the racy adult sci-fi stuff too, such as The Image of the Beast and Blown, as well as the adult Tarzan/Doc Savage treatments such as A Feast Unknown. I do think I have every book he has written, including an autographed copy of one of the books (they are back in Denver, I forget which one).
I hope he is finally reunited with all the wonderful characters, real and otherwise that he so clearly loved, along the banks of The River.