The Long Island tavern Callahan's Place, as those who have followed the stories writtenby its former regular Spider Robinson are aware, was a nexus for all sorts of odd visitors, including several friends and members of the WoldNewtonfamilies. For example, Ralph von Wau Wau, a talking dog, once visitedCallahan’s. Von Wau Wau, of course, was the companion of the very short adventurer and sceince fiction writer, who has been called Cordwainer Bird by Harlan Ellison and Darius Just by Isaac Asimov, two of his principal biographers.
However, the most
night, happened during one Tall Tale Night in
when a con man from the far future named Al Phee was stopped
from swindling the regular out of their pennies by a regular named
Josie Bauer, who revealed herself to be an officer of a time patrol.
Bauer supposedly returned Phee to his future, and then returned
for the end of Tall Tale night. Bauer also revealed that herfather
was the author of the Riverworld series. Apparently, he
with the time corps, and her father had used his pull withthem
to allow her to become an agent.
This story, which was recounted by Mr. Robinson in his short story "Did You Hear The One…" was probably dismissed by most of its readers as an amusing inside joke for science fiction fans. However, for a serious WNU researcher, it opens a rather large can of worm.
Philip Jose Farmer, of course, is the author of the Riverworld Series. In addition to being a fiction writer, he has made a large contribution to our knowledge of literary history by revealing the extent to which many of the characters in popular culture were based upon actual people. Consider, if you will, that before Farmer, mostpeople thought that Tarzan was a fictional character and that that the city of Opar was a myth. He was also the first person to reveal the existence of pocket universes, and of the race called the Thoans, as well as the agent who arranged for the publication of "The Other Log of Phileas Fogg.
Still, with this
of Mr. Farmer's connection with the time
the possibility that many of the novels that he has set in the future,
which have previously been thought to be fiction, also have a basis in
fact, gleaned from the inside knowledge that Farmer gained through his
association with the Time Patrol.
WNU researcher Dennis Power, working from sources of information that are best left unexplained, has already greatly increased our understanding a number of Farmer’s works with his article "Ozdyssey" which has revealed the conncetions among a number oif Farmer’s works, such as "The Kickaha Series," "Barnstormer of Oz" and "the Riverworld Series." I take Dr. Power’s discover of the connetions to be correct, but I differ with him in terms of the interpretation. Power contends that a group of Thoans discovered a wathan generator from a Earth parallel to the WNU universe which had been destroyed by nuclear war in 1983. It is my contention that the inhabitants of Riverworld were actually the inhabitants of the WNU Earth, and that the Wathan generator simply broke down, and that the reincarnated people of the WNU were tricked into thinking a nuclear war had happened by false memory implants. (It would, of course, not have suited Thoan purposes for the people of Riverworld to discover that the Riverworld was an abondoned pocket universe, and that the human race still existed.
Dr. Mark Brown’s observation that the Riverworld’s population contained an ancestor of Tarzan’s strengthens the hypothesis that the Riverworld was drawn from the WNU. Of course, it should also be noted that many of the major heroes of the WNU, such as Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, the Shadow and Doc Savage lived well past 1983 and thus were not reincarnated.
New ground, of course, is also opened up by Mr. Robinson’s story. Many of Farmer’s other works which had been viewed as a series of unconnected fictional works, can now be seen as factual accounts of a loosely connected future history. In this future history, which is one of several possible futures for the WNU, (but which, arguably, may be viewed as the most likely, we can see the Earth becoming overly stagnant and regimented (Riders of the Purple Wage) but then reviving as space travel rejuvenates the human race and the exploration and colonization of other planets begins (Time’s Last Gift, Green Odyssey, the Father Carmody stories, An Unreasoning Mask.) Interestingly, at some point, the rest of the human race loses contact with the Earth, which seems to have experienced a sort of a disaster (the Cache, Timestop) and the Earth spends millions of years in a primitive tribal state ( Wind Whales of Ishmael, Stone God Awakens, the Sun Grows Cold.)
At one point, it seems that the human race has nearly become extinct on Earth (Stone God) but, like the American Buffalo, the race revives and thrives in future periods.
It is my contention that, while this happens, the rest of the human race is busy in the stars, but chooses to leave the Earth alone. It also seems likely that, at some point, the human race "goes on" to its next stage of evolution.
It is also of interest, however, that Ms Bauer's opponent, Al Phee, also may have written several works of science fiction. Phee, as one cannot help but notice, bears a striking resemblance, in appearance, speech patterns, and general behavior, to the noted sciencefiction writer Alfed Bester. Not coincidentally, Bester wrote a shortstory called "The Star Comber" that featured an exiled "remittanceman"from another time and place, in mid twentieth century New York. It is entirely possible that Bester encountered Phee after Phee was tried and exiled for his crimes. In fact, the possibility exists that Phee may even have impersonated Bester on occasion, playing Allard to Bester’s Cranston. And, of course, it is also possible that Phee gave Bester information about the future, which Bester then used as the basis for his science fiction.
Another interesting problem raised by Mr. Robinson’s story is the precise nature of the organization that Ms. Bauer worked for. One obvious candidate organization is the Time Patrol described by Poul Anderson, which has already been shown to have been active in the WNU, and to have encountered Sherlock Holmes. However, other possibilities include the Circle of Ouroboros, which has Her Wisdom, the Empress Star (consort of WNU family member ‘Scar’ Gordon’ and the Snakes and Spiders whose existence was revealed by Fritz Lieber in his Change War series.
This revelation, of course, leaves a great deal of work to be done. A few puzzles that need to be worked on include: 1.Working out any inconsistencies in Farmer’s picture of the future. 2. Determining if Farmer’s future can be reconciled with the Start Trek future (probably not, but it may be worth a try. 3. Determining of other works of SF are compatible with Farmer’s future. 4. Determining the factual content of Alfred Bester’s work and 5. Determining what organization Josie Bauer actually worked for.
Ó 2000 Art Bollmann
Please also visit
Jose Farmer Timeline
Return to the Table of Contents