sexta-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2014

Philip José Farmer — Cover Gallery & Biography

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Philip José Farmer (26 de janeiro de 1918, Terre Haute, Indiana — 25 de fevereiro de 2009, Peoria, Illinois) foi um escritor estadunidense de ficção científica e fantasia. Passou boa parte da vida em Peoria, Illinois, onde veio a falecer.

Farmer tornou-se conhecido pelas séries Riverworld e World of Tiers. Suas obras são marcadas pelo uso de temática religiosa e sexual, de heróis ligados ao universo dos pulps e por obras apócrifas, pretensamente escritas por personagens fictícios. Farmer muitas vezes mistura personagens fictícios e reais clássico e mundos e os autores verdadeiros e falsos, como sintetizado pelo seu conceito chamado de Wold Newton Family. Farmer une todos os personagens fictícios clássicos juntos como pessoas reais e parentes de sangue resultantes de uma conspiração alienígena. Obras como The Other Log de Phileas Fogg (1973) e Doc Savage: His Life Apocalyptic (1973) são os primeiros exemplos desse mashup literário.


Vejamos o que diz a Enciclopédia of Science Fiction de DON D’AMMASSA:

Sexual themes were almost completely absent from science fiction in the early 1950s, even by implication, so when Philip José Farmer's "The Lovers" appeared (expanded into a novel in 1961), it was appropriate that it was published in a magazine called Startling Stories. The novelette quite explicitly discussed the complexity of sexual contact between humans and aliens, a theme to which Farmer would return on more than one occasion.


Several of Farmer's other early stories were surprisingly polished for such a new writer, including "Sail On! Sail On!" and much of it continued to be controversial, often involving sexual themes. Several of these latter were collected in the aptly titled Strange Relations (1960).


Farmer's first novel was The Green Odyssey (1957), a conventional and colorful otherworlds adventure set on a planet that consisted essentially of one gigantic plain traversed by wheeled vehicles powered by sails. The Lovers and another short novel, A Woman a Day (1960, also published as Timestop!, and The Day of Timestop), were expanded from shorter magazine versions and appeared as books shortly thereafter, along with a second collection, The Alley God (1960). Farmer had not been particularly prolific over the course of a decade of writing, but he had already acquired a reputation as a daring, surprising, and skilled writer. He had also won a Hugo Award as most promising newcomer, although none of his fiction had been similarly honored.



Farmer's novels during the 1960s were lively adventures, almost always enlivened by his genuine gift for creating imaginary worlds-often worlds whose natural laws did not work the same way as in our own world. This was most dramatically demonstrated in the World of Tiers series, particularly the first two titles, The Maker of Universes (1965) and The Gates of Creation (1966), and to a lesser extent in the remaining volumes. A group of entities whose technology is so advanced that they are effectively gods engage in the creation of pocket universes, each with its own characteristics, and a host of characters-led by Kickaha, an Earthman-travel through these varying realities, solving the puzzles of each world on one quest or another. A somewhat similar device was used in Inside Outside (1964), a quieter but still engaging story. Dare (1965) was actually a much earlier novel previously unpublished; the protagonist finds himself attracted to the humanoid inhabitants of a colony world, arousing the wrath of the sexually repressed government.


Farmer's short fiction grew less frequent but even more impressive as the 1960s progressed, and stories like "Some Fabulous Yonder" and "The Day of the Great Shout" were considered award-worthy. He would eventually win his first Hugo Award for "Riders of the Purple Wage," an intricate, sexually explicit, and darkly humorous satire set in a distorted utopia. The linked Father Carmody stories were particularly good, and include one of his better early novels, Night of Light (1966). The frank sexual content of his earliest fiction had by now become more acceptable to the SF community. The Image of the Beast (1968) was to appear from a publisher of erotica, however; it is a disturbing spoof of the traditional tough detective novel involving secret aliens living among us, and featuring some decidedly kinky interspecies sex. A sequel, Blown (1969), was a slightly better novel, but neither book was widely known to genre readers because of limited distribution, although both would later be reprinted several times by mainstream publishers.

Long interested in pulp writers like Edgar Rice BURROUGHS and Lester Dent, Farmer began writing novels that loosely linked together various heroic parodies and pastiches. One of these, A Feast Unknown (1969), incorporated the supposed prototypes for Tarzan and Doc Savage into an adventure with considerable homoerotic content. Farmer's other efforts along these lines were less controversial, more varied, but never as interesting as his first. Among these were Tarzan Alive (1972), Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973), The Adventure of the Peerless Peer (1974), and the two short novels collected as The Empire of the Nine (1988). Lord Tyger (1970) is a Tarzan pastiche, as are Hadon of Ancient Opar (1974) and Flight to Opar (1976).

Farmer's fondness for dabbling in the worlds of other writers is also reflected in A Barnstormer in Oz (1982), based on the works of L. Frank Baum, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973), a sequel to Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, and The Wind Whales of Ishmael (1971), a science fiction sequel to Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.


During the latter part of the 1960s Farmer wrote several short stories set against the common setting of the RIVERWORLD. Enigmatic aliens have resurrected every human being who ever lived and placed them on an enormous, probably artificial world through which winds an endless river. Towers lining the river provide food and supplies, but there is -initially at least- no social structure, no buildings other than the towers. Famous historical characters, primarily Mark Twain and explorer Richard Burton, have adventures as they travel through this world. The stories were eventually incorporated into a novel, To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), followed quickly by a second, The Fabulous Riverboat (1971). The first title won the Hugo Award, and the series as a whole became the high point of Farmer's career. Three more novels followed -The Dark Design (1977), The Magic Labyrinth (1980, and The Gods of Riverworld (1983)- along with volumes of short stories also set in that world.


Farmer's stand-alone novels from that same period are less interesting, but some deserve mention. Jesus on Mars (1979) is an exceptional planetary romance involving a religious mystery: Why do the natives of Mars, who have had no contact with Earth, worship a supernatural entity they call Jesus? Dark Is the Sun (1979) is set so far in the future that the sun is dying and Earth is unrecognizable, populated with bizarre creatures that have no obvious link to our own time except for the humans -and their culture is almost equally alien. The Unreasoning Mask (1982) is also an above-average space opera with metaphysical overtones.

Farmer's 1971 short story "The Sliced-Crossways, Only-on-Tuesday World" had postulated an interesting solution to the population problem: Each day has its own society and population, with those assigned to other days residing in suspended animation. However, when a man and woman from two different days fall in love, they threaten to undermine the entire system. It was an excellent short story, which Farmer expanded into three novels: Dayworld (1985), Dayworld Rebel (1987), and Dayworld Breakup (1990). Although cast in the form of the usual dystopia, complete with its ultimate downfall, the series was distinguished by the novelty of the setting and by Farmer's gift for making even this very implausible social structure seem real.

Very little new fiction by Farmer appeared during the 1990s, apart from a new Tarzan novel, The Dark Heart of Time (1999), and a conventional tough detective novel. Farmer's reputation rests primarily on the Riverworld series, which he augmented with an updated version of an early manuscript, lost since the 1960s, retitled River of Eternity (1983). As impressive as that work is, one should not lose sight of the fact that for most of his career, Farmer was far ahead of his contemporaries in his themes and in his willingness to write fiction that appealed to more than just wide-eyed adolescents.

His earlier novels are just as fresh and entertaining today as they were when they first appeared, and a surprisingly small proportion of his output has failed to age well. It would not be surprising if his work was valued even higher in the future than it has been in the past.

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