A STATEMENT ABOUT
THE WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE: A SECRET HISTORY
AND HOW ITS AUTHOR VIEWS THE UNIVERSES

The Wold Newton Universe: A Secret History is a work of fiction which uses as a foundation the works of Philip Jose Farmer, mainly from his books, Tarzan Alive, Doc Savage: An Apocalyptic Life, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, The World of Tiers series and to a lesser degree the Riverworld series and sundry other of Mr. Farmer's  books.

    I have attempted to take the various differing sources of material available on Win Scott Eckert's magnificent and seminal work An Expansion of Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe and give it a cohesive backstory, using the opportunity to infuse more of Mr. Farmer's works into the Wold Newton Universe. Although many may consider my site to be an alternative universe to Mr. Eckert's site, I actually considered it to be the hidden history of his universe, the actions that happen in the shadows, the material left out of history texts. I leave it up the individual readers to decide whether I have succeeded or failed in my hubris.

     As I began my efforts, I quickly realized that canonicity would have to fall by the wayside which could offend some purists. But actually that did not bother me all that much, since we are after all dealing with fiction and in my opinion all pastiche is deutero-canonical. Unless the original writer or writers actually mentioned or had their characters interact with historical  characters or characters   from other works of fiction, then any later adventures in which the protagonist meets or mentions such characters are non-canonical.

    What we and what Mr. Farmer have done is certainly non-canonical. That does not mean however I do not try to use the original material as written, but when a conflict I arises, I try to work around it. If the conflict is seemingly without resolution and I really want to use my connection, I do so anyway, deeming as Mr. Farmer did when something conflicted with his vision  that part of the source material as fictional. Some may consider this a cheat, so be it, I make no apologies for it,  fiction in my opinion can have many variations of TRUTH. As long as my changes  seem logical to me in the context of the work I am creating, I certainly will not change them to fit someone else's vision or version of the Wold Newton Universe.

      Regarding articles submitted to this site by authors other than myself, my only guideline is that that they have some Wold Newtonian content, are coherent and ready for publication. They will be posted, pretty much as they arrive, spelling and grammatical mistakes included unless I can find the time to clean them up. Since I view such articles as stand-alone works, they do not have to adhere to any of thematic elements or chronological development as depicted on the site. They can even be refutations of my work, so long as they are logically and dispassionately presented.

    This brings me to another point which concerns the Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe and other sites related to them, that being criticism. Now I personally do not mind criticism, even some of the hateful, name calling criticism I have received in the past but some of the contributors to this site and to others do mind negative criticism. I have seen two types of criticism as regards to articles written by me and others, and I would like to take this opportunity to address the issue for a moment. There are negative criticism and constructive criticism. Most people generally view negative criticism as being on the level of name calling or total disparagement of someone's work or ideals. It is that and more.

    I believe that most people want constructive criticism, that is, to have readers view their works and offer them advice or commentary that will strengthen their work but by being flexible enough to try and understand what the author is attempting to do and help them bolster his or her theories. It appears to me that all too often, those offering criticism tend to project their own biases and visions onto a piece, in order to make if fit more into their line of thinking rather than viewing the author's work for its own merits. That being said, here at the Secret History all forms of negative criticism, while they will be read and thought about, will be in all likelihood, ignored. For this I again make no apologies nor should anyone feel snubbed that I did not take their suggestions. I say this with all respect for their opinions and commentaries but this is after all, my work, not theirs and they are quite welcome to create an article or a website which will project their versions and visions of the WNU out into the world.

    Among the most recent forms of these bias I have seen of late is that someone's ideas or an author's work is summarily dismissed or rebuked because after all it cannot happen in the "real" world.

    This is not posted in the hopes or intention of changing anyone else's opinion but rather to state my opinion and how the Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe deals with the question.

    I personally feel that it is patently ridiculous to make the WNU into the *real* world, unless you work strictly in literature or historical fiction without fantastical elements, that is to say anything of the character of Pride and Prejudice to canonical Holmes to Flashman or Sharpe series. Once you start to use elements of fantasy, ieLovecraft, Burroughs and Doyle, then you are no longer dealing with the real world. As amazing as this world and this Universe is I am reasonably certain that there are not any Lost Continents, Ape-Men, costume vigilantes, super-heroes or supervillains, just as there are not any ghosts, goblins, demons or gods.

    Even if you go the route of attributing the presence and powers of Lovecraftian aliens, superheroes, magic, psychic phenomena, etc. to Unknown Science or Hidden History you are either dealing in another form of fantasy or buying into a vast conspiracy  that makes the X-Files Consortium seem like small potatoes. You are in essence saying that not only has the presence of all these vast powers and activities been hidden from the public, even though many have taken place well within the public eye, but all scientific knowledge has been tailored to hide the fact of these anomalies of physics and biology. Perhaps every scientist in the world is in on the conspiracy?

    Now, while Mr. Farmer's intention may have been to take his favorite literature and have it relate to the world in which we live, I think that when you try to force the fantastic into the real world, it undergoes a transformation from gold into base matter. In doing so, the original material suffers for it. In Tarzan Alive for example, several Tarzan stories were rendered to be "fictional" primarily because they could not have happened in the real world, Tarzan and the Ant Men and Tarzan At the Earth's Core are prime examples of this. Also to fit into the real world, several of the lost civilizations that Tarzan visits are said to be mostly fictionalized by Burroughs and that they were never quite as large or grand as depicted.

    Yet Farmer did not use this tactic to a great extent in Doc Savage: An Apocalyptic Life. Most of the stories he deemed fictional were because of scheduling conflicts with his particular chronology. He did not however analyze the Lost Cities or Super Villains to make them fit better into the real world as he had done in Tarzan Alive but rather reported adventures as they happened. In his genealogy for Doc he also added fantasy elements through Manuel of Poictesme and Horror elements through Lovecraft's Robert Blake, He also did not bother to make these fit into the real world either. Perhaps he would have done so eventually, I do not know. To me it seems as though he was modifying his views, others may simply state he did not have time or space to make those arguments.

    Everyone is free to make their interpretations of the WNU material as they see fit. However, in my view, which I freely admit is an adaptation of Farmer's, I prefer to use the genealogies he established and modified in Tarzan Alive, Doc Savage an Apocalyptic Life, The Other Log of Phileas Farmer and The Lavalite World but I do not agree with the concept of shoehorning Tarzan and the others into the real world. Rather I would prefer to work with the genealogies and still allow Tarzan and Doc to have all the adventures ascribed to them by their creators and by later writers as well. Agreeably it is not a perfect match but does it really have to be?

    The Wold Newton Universe: A Secret History is in an alternate universe where the history is oddly parallel but often different to that of the real world. It is a place where the laws of physics as stated in our universe do not necessarily apply, so the laws of thermodynamics and the cube square law are sometimes suspended, perhaps by an Act of Congress. Magic works, the undead "live",   New York and Tokyo are just not fun places to live, there are lots of immortals, time travel is possible, etc.

    The Wold Newton Universe: A Secret History is also a place where costumed vigilantes are often seen but not so many superheroes. I have taken Win Eckert's lead and kept down the number of superheroes on my site, this is not because I do not like superheroes (the JSA is one of my favorite groups) or that I do not believe that they could not exist given the less restrictive physics of the Wold Newton Universe but rather for the purposes of the back story Win created and that I have expanded upon, the emphasis is on pulp type heroes. The presence of  many superpowered beings tends to overshadow the exploits of  the pulp base of the Secret History. For example why have James Bond go after Blofeld if Green Lantern could just make all of the atomic bombs inert? This is not to say that superheroes do not exist but not many and the highest threshold of their power is as exhibited in the Golden Age Superman, who could not fly and was not invulnerable. Any comic book characters such as Lex Luthor, Ultra-Humanite and Brainiac that I have written about I have tried to make fit into the Wold Newtonian mold.

    Now these comments only apply to the Wold Newton Universe: A Secret History website and should not be construed as being applicable to any other Wold Newtonian site, nor should it be seen as a criticism or antipathy of any site which does not adhere these particular views.
 

2000 Dennis Power
 
 

CONTINUE

Table of Contents