Letters, Part 3


Dear Leland:

Thanks very much for the last 2 RQ. On reading the first part of Dr. Mullen's article on Haggard/ERB, I wrote a long critique of his critique (though his is actually more a listing than a critical article). But I decided to wait until I'd read the first three before sending in my comments.

We should all be grateful for Mullen's lists and for your printing of It. Future articles on ERB will undoubtedly rely heavily on this handy reference. And I notice that Leslie A. Fiedler has read the listing Mullen did In a previous issue (can't lay my hands on it just now to give title and date of publication). Fiedler referred to the scholar who did it, without naming him, in his recent article on Tarzan in the Now York Times Book Review section...

I have some hopes that the final article by Mullen will do more than list ERB's and Haggard's faults. I hope he isn't one of those critics who think it's the critic's function to ignore a writer's virtues. Such critics are, figuratively, and perhaps literally, half-assed. I rather think, though, that Mullen finds no merit whatever in these two authors, and so we will not learn from him that Jung, Henry Miller, and others have paid tribute to the abidingness of Haggard as a shower-forth of immortal archetypes. Nor will Mullen have perceived (as Fiedler does) why ERB's Tarzan is an immortal literary figure. But I may be wrong. Let's hope so.

Fiedler mentioned me in the article as the world's greatest authority on Burroughs. If he'd said I was the greatest authority on Tarzan, he'd have been right. But I disclaim and deny any statement that I am the world's greatest authority on Burroughs. There are others, John Roy, Reverend Heins, Reverend Richardson, Frank Brueekel, Coriell, Cacadessus, and Mullen, who have made a far closer study of the complete works of Burroughs.

Also, when I say that I know more of Tarzan than anybody else, I must qualify even that statement. Lord Greystoke himself, and his family and a few close friends, know more about him than I do. However, some of the truth about him was revealed in my biography of Greystoke. And more is about to be revealed. From time to time, I got a package in the mails. They're always from the same person, but the mailing addresses are different, and there is no return address. These contain extracts from Greystoke's memoirs, the first batch of which will be in my anthology, Mother Was a Lovely Beast, Chilton Press, Oct., 1974. One of the interesting items in the extracts is the explanation of how Greystoke was able to assume his cousin's title without any publicity whatsoever. It's such a simple explanation, and an inevitable one, too, yet no one had ever guessed it.

This revelation, by the way, is going to force me to revise certain parts of my biography of Greystoke.

I also reveal that my interview with Lord Greystoke did not actually take place in Libreville, Gabon, as stated in the Esquire article. Greystoke had asked me to give this city as the interview site, instead of Chicago, where it actually took place. He did not explain why he wished me to put the interview in Libreville nor did he explain why he will now allow me to give the true place. Apparently he had good reasons, but it's not up to me to ask him what they are. Especially since I don't have his address.

I now have the latest extracts, which describe what really happened between him and La (or the woman whom Burroughs calls La). The two versions, alas, differ considerably, and Greystoke himself is not bound by any of Burroughs' Victorian-Edwardian inhibitions and conventions.

You might be amused by a forthcoming book of mine, a pastiche in which Watson and Holmes meet Greystoke. And encounter G-8 and the Shadow on the way to Cairo to capture Van Bork. It also describes how Holmes solves the mystery of what happened to the Zu-Vendis civilization shortly after Allen Quatermain's MS was received by his agent, H. Rider Haggard. Not to mention Holmes's anticipation of van Frisch's discovery of bee "language." The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, The Aspen Press, September, 1974.

I got a letter from Bill Blackbeard some months ago. Among other matters he mentioned that a lot of people didn't like my theory (in Tarzan Alive) that G-8, the Shadow, and the Spider were three different personalities of ... Richard Wentworth. For those who are interested I've reconsidered the evidence (especially the chronological) and have abandoned that theory (which was actually more speculation than theory). But I cling steadfastly to my belief that G-8 was mad as Alice's hatter. However, he did have his lucid moments.

Also, I got many letters, from people who want to know where they can get copies of my Essex House books. These have long been out of print, but Vernell Coriell is going to reprint A Feast Unknown, probably sometime this year. Later, The Image of the Beast and Blown. These will be illustrated by Richard Corben and will be issued by the Fokker D-LXIX Press, a subsidiary of the Acme Zeppelin Company.

Thanks again for the RQ and I'll send my comments on Mullen's articles after I get the third part.

Philip José Farmer

Expectations of a part three were raised, perhaps, by the conclusion's being given at the very start, which left an apparent gap in the final pages (of part two) where a conclusion usually belongs.// On the failure to list virtues--there was no claim to a "complete" appraisal. Just a discussion of the "Victorian-Edwardian inhibitions and conventions" (in Mr. Farmer's phrase) that restricted--or failed to restrict--each author. Dr. Mullen stated that the fin de siecle audience was less inhibited than that of the early 2Oth but to me this seemed a purely rhetorical device: the essay convinced me, at least, that ERB was totally bounded by the genteel tradition and that HRH was not.


On reading my story, "A Scarletin Study," in the March issue, I noticed that your printer seems to be out of umlauts and has a shortage of g's. At least, he substituted q's for g's in several places. I recently took a trip to Hamburg, Germany, and while there picked up cheap several boxes of umlauts. I am sending you one fourth-class mail. I have some old gee-strings around, and when I find them I'll ship them off. You can tell your printer he can stamp a dozen g's out of one string.

-Jonathon Swift Somers III

F&SF regrets the error. Upcoming: A new Somers story, in which the famous dog-detective Ralph von Wau Wau and a new associate, one Cordwainer Bird, become involved in a plot to steal Venice. The title is: "The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight."


Sept. 16, 1975

Thanks for forwarding the petition to me to finish the Riverworld series. (Mailed by James P. Mays, Jr.) I am writing on the third volume, now titled THE MAGIC LABYRINTH. If I get done in the expected time and Putnam's goes to work on it immediately on receipt of Ms., then it will come out in hardcover late next year. However, I will let you know when it is done and the publisher has a schedule for it.

Re my interview in the last SFR, I expect some will object to my scenario of the future, especially that part concerning the death of the phytoplankton and the consequent decrease in atmospheric oxygen. They will base their objections on rodent indications that there may be a vast oxygen generator (the workings of which are not yet understood) in the upper reaches of the aerosphere. In other words, it is possible that even if all vegetation of land and sea died, there would still be enough oxygen for everybody. We'd starve, of course, so the end result would be the same.) This may be true; it's too early to say that it is a fact. But if it should be validated, and if we do have enough oxygen even if the seas become poisoned and the phytoplankton die, then sea life would die. And the results would be disastrous for land animal life.

((So far, no one has objected-we, are all content to let our children and/or grandchildren asphyxiate. So it goes. After us the deluge.))

Also, I may have made a false impression when I said I was giving up writing s-f in about three years. I do intend to write mainly in mainstream and mystery, but I love s-f too much to give it up entirely. I will be writing occasional pieces of s-f, a short story or novel now and then, maybe one a year, maybe two. Of course, if the publishers should by then suddenly decide to make their advances and royalty percentages realistic, that is, in accord with the wages of a truck driver or plumber of 1960 (see., I don't ask for much) instead of ignoring resolutely the inflation since 1960 and insisting that s-f writers can get along on the same rates as then, then I will write much more s-f. Is there a fat chance for this?

Since my interview came out I received a letter from Franz Rottensteiner. He says that he is actually a secret admirer of mine, but as a Central European critic he has a public image to maintain, and it's mandatory that he bumrap all American writers.

((That must make his intellectual life simpler.))

Dear Mr. Klug:

I am sorry to be so late in answering your letter of November 5th, but have been, and still am, working the third Riverworld novel, trying to finish the first draft by the end of December.

I'll try to give you all the aid I can on your projected article on the Savage Bio and the Wold Newton Family. But my time is limited.

Any semi-interview would have to be conducted by mail, and I'd rather wait until January for it. I hope you can understand.

Thanks for the SASE and your interest.

Philip José Farmer
Peoria, IL

(The above is not a letter of comment and in not being so perhaps it should not have been printed within this feature. I just thought it'd be nice to devote some space in this issue to apologize to Mr. Farmer. (The interview mentioned herein was to have replaced the James Bama feature this issue, which was originally intended for next issue. We might decide to go ahead with the interview for--maybe--ish 10) This hugo-winning author is much more recognized and appreciated for his contributions in the science fiction field than that of the pulps. This observation was noted by several authors this issue (including myself) and perhaps subjected Farmer to unjust criticism. But it was all in fun--and speaking for myself--it was not intended to be taken seriously. If it was conveyed as such, our apologies)



Feb. 2, 1976

I'm five novels late, the third Riverworld book, THE MAGIC LABYRINTH (the final title, a quote from Burton's KASIDAH) keeps getting longer and longer, but I now hope to have the first draft finished by the end of February. It'll probably be 20,000 words or more but I'll be cutting it for the second draft. And probably, alas, adding to it, too.


Re Dean Grennell's article on the Shadow. What he says is true. There are many illogicalities, discrepancies, absurdities, etc. in the Shadow novels and Gibson's style leaves much to be desired. But my own reaction is, So What? I love the Shadow in spite of it all or maybe because of it all.

Meteor Writes

Just so the letter column will not be entirely in vain, we're printing some WNMS correspondance with a very special member from Peoria:

Dear Mr. Farmer

We are writing you this letter corporately for two reasons. First, to thank you for all the enjoyment we've gotten from your work. Second, we have something to offer you.

We are the founders of the Wold Newton Meteoritics Society, which we believe is the first scion society of its type. Our purpose is investigate, analyze, and disseminate information about the Wold Newton family tree, for our own pleasure and for the benefit of the world at large. As yet we are still small and struggling, but we hope to publish a fanzine (The Wold Atlas) by January of 1977 for all members and interested researchers.

As one of our first official acts, it was unanimously agreed that an honorary Chairmanship of the Privy Council should go to the biographer of Lord Greystoke and Dr. Clark Savage Jr., the Prophet from Peoria who was directly responsible for the founding of our Society, yourself.

The Membership proclamation is enclosed in this letter. It will grant you all the rights of Society membership (none whatsoever) for none of the expense (negligible at best).

May your life be as exciting as Doc Savage's, as well known as Tarzan's and as pleasurable as Sir William Clayton's.

The Wold Newton
Meteoritics Society
Privy Council


hearby offers its first honorary Chairmanship

Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author, biographer and historian extraordinaire, and generally imaginative person, without whose efforts the Society could not have been.

With Appreciation for past efforts, and best wishes for future endeavors, this proclamation of Chairmanship is hearby awarded.


Timothy J. Rutt--Coordinator
Arn McConnel--Art Director, the Wold Atlas
Todd R. Rutt--Editorial Director, the Wold Atlas
Kirk McConnell--Keeper of the Tomes
Clay Powers--Treasurer

Dear Privy Council:

Your letter of August 25th both pleased and thrilled me, tickled anyway.

I accept your offer to make me Honorary Chairman of the Wold Newton Meteoritics Society and do so with pride. I'll frame the membership proclamation and hang it up on the wall of my workroom.

And I'll look forward with great anticipation to the first issue of The Wold Atlas.

You might me interested in knowing that a Portland, Oregon group has founded The Bellener Street Irregulars, an organization devoted to the study of the life of Ralph von Wau Wau, whose exploits were first by Kilgore Trout in Venus on the Half-shell. Trout didn't write the Wau Wau stories, of course. He was merely telling about the stories of Ralph as written by Jonathon Swift Somers Somers III. As you may or may not know, a von Wau Wau story by Somers appeared in an issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction ("A Scarletin Study," March, 1975) and a second will appear in the November 1976 issue. The author is currently working on a third Wau Wau. The Irregulars plan to issue an irregular The Bellener Street Journal.

I'll write Somers, who's a very close friend of mine. I'm sure he'll want to join your organization since he's a keen student of the Wold Newton Family.

Thank you very much for your kind words and for the Honorary Chairmanship. My best to Timothy J. Rutt, Arn McConnel, Todd R. Rutt, Kirk McConnell and Clay Powers.

Your Chairman in
Philip José Farmer

Editor's note: Mr. Somers' second Wau Wau story ("The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight") mark's the beginning of Ralph's partnership with Wold Newton Family member Cordwainer Bird. Bird's previous exploits were detailed in Harlan Ellison's "New York Review of Bird," Weird Heroes 2 (Pyramid). Mr. Farmer's stories of Zeppelin captain Greatheart Silver appear in Vols. 1 and 2 of Weird Heroes.


Nov. 26, 1976

I've been (and am) busy with the 330,000-word, draft of the third Riverworld novel. I underestimated its length and tim of completion. Which means that your statement that I'd finished it isn't true, though that's not your fault. Also, I have a box three feet high and two wide filled with correspondence of the unanswered type. And I have spent my evenings, reading for research purposes, though I have snaked in (sneaked, I mean) an occasional book to read just for fun. Mostly mysteries. I don't read much s-f anymore.

Also, my wife and I gave each other a piano for Christmas, and I'm spending some time taking lessons. Until a few weeks ago I couldn't even read a note, having gotten through the so-called classes in music in grade school without ever learning what those funny little golf clubs on the lines meant.

In fact --- and this may give an insight my mind---when I was in second grade I somehow thought that the notes should be read straight down, from top to bottom of the sheet, then the next row should be vertically, and so. As if I was being taught Chinese ideograms. The teacher never noticed how out of step I was; nobody was given individual instruction, every thing in that class was done en mass. When we were singing I made up my own words, such as "The teacher is big fat and dumb, and she has a broad thumb." I should have rhymed "dumb" with "bum", but I didn't know the British term then.

Back to the RR III. 'I" have just finished the final version of volume 1. This is going out as the third book, titled MAYA SMLES. The second half will be a separate book, volume IV, titled THE MAGIC LABYRINTH. Of course, all this may change. Anyway, the next book will get to Putnam's in time for the Fall schedule, and, hopefully, the fourth will come out about three or four months later. I wouldn't go into such detail if it were not that I receive so many inquiries about the next book, and this information might keep people from writing to about it.

Re i.T. Major's letter containing a manuscript claiming the death of Tarzan --- it is a hoax. I got a letter from "Lord Greystoke" dated after Majors' Aug. 16, 1976 letter, and I am happy to report that Tarzan still lives. What Majors overlooked is that a number of people have pretended to be Tarzan (because they were mad or hoped to lay Jane); if he'll read the Tarzan books he'll find I'm not lying. So this fellow slain by Majors was just another imposter. Also, Tarzan is 6'3" tall, not 6'4", and he weighs more than 240 pounds.

I wonder who "Vlaminclel really was?

I'm having a little trouble thinking up a title for the third Opar novel. Don Wollheim insists that "Opar" be in the title of every one of the series. What do you do when the action takes place nowhere near that fabled city?' Or if Hadon isn't in the tale? I'm planning on devoting the third book to the mighty Kwasin, and all events take place on the island of Khokarsa. How about FAR FROM OPAR?

[Geis Note: I wrote Phil suggesting the title KWASIN OF OPAR. Phil replied in following letter which I am inserting here.]

Dec. 3, 1976

Actually, Kwasin was born in the city of Dynbeth, but he is a cousin of Hadon's, and he did spend almost all his early life in the Opar area. So, KWASIN OF OPAR is a title stretching the truth only a little bit.

I had a funny dream last night. I was in church, and I grabbed Steve McQueen as he went down the aisle and argued with him that he should play Jesus Christ in a movie. "All the other actors," I told him, "no matter how great, go stiff and get inhibited when they play Jesus. Now, if you would just play Him with your usual loose and easy style, you'd be a great Jesus!"

There was a lot more nonsense in this dream (though if it could be analyzed it'd make Alice-in-Wonderland sense), but about all I remember is the McQueen-bit and my impatience because Pat Boone wouldn't cut the ceremonies short.

I look forward to writing NOWHERE NEAR OPAR some day. Let Don Wollheim chew on that.

[Now back to Phil's first letter.]

The Dick interview was very interesting. I admire Phil's works very much, and I have affection for the man himself. But I really lost control of my bloodpressure when the he wept for Mao. Did Phil also weep for Hitler, Stalin, and Chiang? Did he weep for the Tibetans when Mao committed their near-genocide? Or for the millions of Chinese ruthlessly slain in the name of social progress?

Apparently no one is going hungry in China, if we can believe the propaganda, and many beneficial things have been done for the Chinese people. On the other hand, during the recent earthquakes, some foreign observers noted that Mao's claim that crime was almost nonexistent in China just wasn't true. Thieving, mugging, prostitution, etc, were easily evident. Nor can these be blamed on a temporary breakdown due to the earthquakes. They obviously had been going on for some time. Also, if Mao really believed that his orders to young people to abstain from sexual intercourse except under certain stipulated conditions was going to be obeyed he knew very little of human nature.

Besides, Mao's poetry (in the translations, anyway) isn't so hot.

I don't agree with you that in long run an author doesn't lose money by accepting a low advance if the book sells enough copies to earn the advance and more in royalties. A well-known writer and editor who wouldn't want me to reveal his name told me that somehow, by the time the money trickles down to the author, the author doesn't get all he should get.

I'm glad you plugged Versins' encyclopedia.

Harry Harrison couldn't get enough,stories for his, THE YEAR TWO MILLION because too many writers could not keep their stories within the word limits. Or so Harry told me. I started a story for him but it turned into a novel. It should be about 100,000 words or more by the time I get it finished.

I liked "The Eyeflash Miracles" enough to nominate it for the Nebula Award.

No, I'm not S. Beach Chester. He really existed, as did Phillpotts and Post. Post, by the way, wrote some good books about a lawyer named Randolph Mason. Mason (who may have been Perry Mason's grandfather) was a very good lawyer for his criminal (and guilty) clients. His vast knowledge of the loopholes of law allowed him to get them off scottfree. In fact, one Mason story caused such an uproar, because it was based on a silly little loophole that did exist, that the law was changed. Later, Mason went straight and helped innocent people, but the stories about these cases were not as interesting. Just as it's easy to make an "evil" man believable in fiction but difficult to make a man without flaws or one who's "too good" either believable or interesting.

((Thank You for,taking the time to,write and update your output. As for future Opar titles. How about, SPAWN OF OPAR...IS OPAR SINKING?...REVENGE FOR OPAR...OPAR IN THE COLD, COLD GROUND...? No, well, I'll keep thinking....


RE CAWTHORN'S comment that it's about time to drop this game that Tarzan really exists. For me, it's not a game. I know that there was a real Tarzan and the he still lives. I'm dead serious, though not deadly serious, I hope.

Nor have I pursued this "game" for money, as Cawthorn says. If I was primarily interested in financial gain, I would never have written TARZAN ALIVE. In the time I spent on the biography I could (no exaggeration) have written four novels. And gotten bigger advances from each one than I made on the bio. The book was a labor of love, and love of labor, though lots of fun for me.

If others insist it's just a game or that Tarzan is purely fictional, I won't argue with them. Let the kafir dwell in the darkness.

As for the controversy about Barsoom. Was is in a parallel universe or its entrance through a time gate et al? This is a game. The game is based on the assumption that there was indeed a John Carter and a Barsoom. I personally think that the Barsoom stories are fiction (and minor classics in world literature). So was everything else that ERB wrote, that is, they were one hundred percent fiction. Except for the Tarzan stories, which, though often fictionalized and exaggerated, contain a kernel of truth.

A thought concerning the 1888/1872 controversy. If Tarzan was born in 1872, then the fingerprints on the diary would have been examined, and his identity as Greystoke proved, in 1893. The identification was done in Paris. But it wasn't until 1891 that identification by fingerprints was removed from the field of theory and made practical. This was the system introduced by Vucetich of Argentina. Not until 1900 did this system become used in Great Britain. To be more precise, Sir Edward Henry published his book on the use of fingerprints in 1900, and the Metropolitan Police Fingerprint Bureau was established in July 1901.

Somewhere in my still unorganized collection of books is a statement about the French S˚rété's first use of fingerprints. I'll send you the information when I find the book. In the meantime, I have a vague and possibly incorrect memory that the French preceded the English in the use of fingerprints. But if they didn't, then it's doubtful that a Tarzan born in 1872 could have been identified by his thumbprint.

Not by the French anyway.

This is a matter to be ascertained later.

In any event, the question is irrelevant if there is a true Tarzan. Obviously, if Tarzan had succeeded his cousin, or, rather, ousted the false claimant, then worldwide publicity would have resulted. We would know exactly who Tarzan was, his real name and title.

But this didn't happen. There was no publicity in real life. So - Tarzan must be fictional right?

No, because ERB did not give us the true sequence of events. As "Lord Greystoke" says in his "Extracts from the Memoirs of Lord Greystoke" (see MOTHER WAS A LOVELY BEAST and THE PEERLESS PEER) Tarzan took his cousin's role after his cousin died. Nobody except a very few confidants knew about this. This is the way it was, and this is how Tarzan avoided publicity. This is also the reason why it is so difficult to determine the true identity of "Lord Greystoke" from a perusal of BURKE'S PEERAGE.

So, there wasn't any telegram from Paris proving that Tarzan was the real heir. Nor was there any notice of a British Peer dying on the coast of West Africa.

Nor is Tarzan's name "John Clayton." ERB makes that clear in TARZAN OF THE APES in the very beginning of the narrative. He says (page 2 A.L. Burt ed.) "we learn that a certain English nobleman, whom we shall call John Clayton, Lord Greystoke..." (italics mine.)

It's possible that "Clayton" wasn't even a member of the nobility. His father may have been a baronet, which is a sort of hereditary knight. But he would have been descended from nobility, as are many of the landed gentry and baronetcy. And it's possible that "John Clayton" earned a noble title in his middle age for his services to the king.

Enough of that. Unlike some of your correspondants, I thought THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT was a bad movie. It only looks good in comparison with AT THE EARTH'S CORE. Here I am, having waiting all my life for the splendors and colors and great adventure of these two books to be transfered to the screen, and they were blown, wasted, ruined. Maybe it is impossible to put the essence of ERB's qualities on film. It's never been done yet. The Tarzan movies were fun, but they weren't the real Tarzan.

Philip José Farmer (Peoria, Ill.)


Byron Preiss bought Savage Shadow by Maxwell Grant, but I don't know in what Weird Heroes it will come out. Kenneth Robeson's story isn't finished yet. The article on Max Brand, rather, Faust, was great!


March 2, 1978

Philip K. Dick's letter (SFR page 61) flabbergasted me. This was the first that I knew that he'd written a letter to Pamela Sargent and to the SFWA Forum that he'd broken "radically with Phil Farmer as to the admission of Lem into SFWA on a normal, dues-paying basis". Or that it had been published in the Forum. Or that he'd disclaimed "the reactionary position which Phil Farmer had taken". (Italics are mine.)

I'd resigned from the SFWA a long time ago and so been getting the Forum or Bulletin. Originally, I'd stated in my letter of resignation that I was dropping out for a year for personal reasons. But so far I haven't seen any reason why I should rejoin. So my absence will be more than a year.

Before I sent in the letter which caused all the uproar (SFWA Forum, April, 1976), I'd talked to Phil Dick on the phone. I offered, if my memory serves me right, to send a copy so he could authorize my statements or remove certain phrases. He refused and then gave me permission to write what I pleased. Or words to that effect.

He had my home address and phone number. Why, when he read the letter in the Forum, didn't he call or write me? But I've heard not a mumbling word from him about the matter. Certainly, if I'd been him, I would have communicated.

The pejorative "reactionary" puzzles me. Neither Dick nor I considered the matter to be political or ideological. At least, I didn't. Dick's complaint was mainly that Lem was ripping him off, though he had some others. (See his "Open Letter to Philip José Farmer in the Forum, Oct., 1975, in which he thanked me for mentioning his beef against Lem and for zapping Lem for his arrogant sneering putdown of all American s-f writers except for a few whom he damned with faint praise.)

"Reactionary" is an item of duckspeak used by members of the ultraleft. It's meaningless, automatic, a conditioned verbal reflex, mindless.

When I wrote to Andy Offutt that Dick and I were resigning because of Lem, I had no idea that Lem would be kicked out because of the letter. I didn't intend or even think that that would happen. Neither did Dick, according to a letter of his in the Forum.

I still believe that Lem should never have been invited to be an honorary member. Nor that he should have "accepted with thanks" an honor from an organization whom he considered to be a bunch of relentless jerks. But, once he'd been made a member, he shouldn't have been kicked out. Even if his membership was invalid because of a technicality. I said, "Fuck it!" and withdrew. I felt a little guilty, And I was upset by those who insisted that the right of free speech was involved when this had nothing to do with the matter. They were the ones who were intruding an ideological issue into the affair. So I extruded and kept on going.

The whole business was unfortunate and badly done, and I include myself in the criticism. If I'd known what was going to happen, that is, that Lem would be hurled head long from SFWA heaven with furious combustion and a lot of bullshit, I would not have written that letter. I'd have quietly dropped out. If Lem had joined again as a dues-paying member, I would have resigned. He has a right to say what he pleases, where he pleases. Anybody does. But I have a right not to belong to a society of which he is a member.

I have a high admiration for Dick as a writer and as a human being. I'd hate to think he regarded me as a warmongering capitalist, an exploiter of the working class and a running dog.

((Apropos of duckspeak: I'd rather be a warmonger, a capitalist, and a running dog exploiter of the working class than a peacemongering socialist chained dog being exploited by the working class.))

((Some people prefer heat to light; preconceptions and dogma are so nice to come home to after a hard day in the real world.))

March 9, 1977

Philip José Farmer
4106 Devon Lane
Peoria, IL 61614

in S F Booklog, No. 12, Nov. - Dec. 1976
of FLIGHT TO OPAR, Philip José Farmer
DAW, UW1238, $1.50.

Dear Ed:

This letter is sent to you for publication since SF Booklog prints only short complimentary comments from writers, editors, etc.

Usually I ignore reviews or criticisms unless they contain something worthwhile, such as pointing out a technical error or plot discrepancy. I've found that unjust and incorrect reviews are forgotten by the readers. The work lives on; the review sinks into limbo. Occasionally, however, I became aroused when a reviewer is, to put it charitably in this case, much mistaken.

To begin, Hook says, "Many publishers are reviving popular characters whose authors are deceased. andrew offut is reviving Cormac MacArt, a character originated by Howard. Farmer is recreating Opar of Edgar Rice Burroughs fame."

Actually, Opar is a city, not a character. Hooks doesn't make this clear, leaving the reader unacquainted with the series with the impression that Opar is a living being.

"The most unfortunate aspect of this revival is that Phil Farmer, attempting to remain true to Burroughs, has also retained the racism inherent in may of Burroughs' work."

As I'll demonstrate, Hooks is wrong on two counts in this statement. I'm not attempting to remain true to ERB, and I've not retained the supposed racism of ERB.

Hooks goes on to remark that the heroine is blond (I would have said blonde) and white. "Hadon, the hero, is darker in hair and complexion, but he is more Mediterranean than Negroid. However, the setting is Africa, and, as usual with Burroughs, no blacks allowed except as extras and casualties fighting against the white men. In FLIGHT TO OPAR blacks are excluded, which is preferable to the stereotyped cannibals and savages of Burroughs' other works."

It's necessary to describe the background of the series to refute the above charges.

The background of the Opar series is the Khokarsan Empire. In my historical fantasy it's the first civilization, preceding the Sumerian by approximately 8600 years. It arose around the northern shores of a great lake, a small sea, in Central Africa. The most readily available evidence for this is in Willy Ley's Engineer's Dreams. (I am speaking of the central sea, of course, not the Khokarsan Empire.)

The first Khokarsans came to the northern shores of the northern sea around 12,000 B.C. This spread over what is now Chad and neighboring regions, the last remnant of which is Lake Chad. To its north are the Tibesti and other mountain ranges. The lower sea drowned what was to be the Belgian Congo and French Equatorial Africa. The seas may have been connected by one or more narrow straights. I assume in the series that one did.

These two great lakes, or small seas, existed in the late Pleistocene times, during the Ice Age. The water level was highest around 25,000 B.C. As the climate took a turn for the dry, they began to evaporate. They may also have drained out when a cataclysm formed a channel in the mountains, permitting the water to flow down into the western Congo region.

At the time of the Khokarsa culture, the Sahara was still a well-watered, green area. It was populated by great herds of elephants, hippos, antelopes, and other animals, and very small tribes of Old Stone Age peoples roamed its extent.

Both Opar books (HADON OF ANCIENT OPAR and FLIGHT) are provided with maps which show the situation as a glance. HADON details the environmental background and one of its appendices outlines the history of Khokarsa, starting in 12,000 B.C. The events of HADON begin 10,011 B.C.

Hooks objects that the Central African characters in FLIGHT are all white. However, as I stated in HADON, anybody in this area would probably be Caucasian, unless they were brought in from West Africa. According to what I've read, Negroes were confined at this time to that area. It wasn't until around 10,000 B.C. that Negroes began to move out into other areas of Africa. The migrations were slow and did not end until the Bantus (Zulus, Khosas, etc.) reached South Africa in the 17th century A.D.

There they met the Dutch, who were coming into the extreme souther region of South Africa at the same time. However, the Bushmen and Hottentots preceded both, only to be slaughtered first by Bantus and then by the Dutch.

There is some evidence that at one time Bushmen and Hottentots lived in North Africa but were pushed south by the Caucasians and then even farther southward by the Negroes. The physically smaller, less numerous, technologically inferior peoples had to live in the deserts, just as the pygmies (and their Asiatic counterparts, the Negritos) were driven into the rain forest by their larger, more numerous enemies, Negroes and Mongolians respectively.

The Negro claim that they were first present in Africa my not be valid. From present evidence North Africa was always the domain of Caucasians (discounting temporary invasions by Sudanese blacks into Egypt). Negroes apparently first appeared in West Africa.

The area in which Negroes originated is unknown. It's a puzzle which the anthropologists have not yet solved. In ancient times Negroes were in two main widely separated groups. One was in Africa; the other, in New Guinea and the Melanesian Islands. (The Australian aborigines are not Negroes but are generally classified as archaic Caucasians.)

The problem is: If Negroes originated in Africa, how did they get to the New Guinea area? Or, if they originated in New Guinea, how did they get to Africa? The distance between the two areas is tremendous.

The most widely held opinion is that they originated in southern India. Over the course of many millennia, some groups made their way to Africa and some to New Guinea-Melanesia. Still, though some skulls with Negroid characteristic have been found in south India, these are not clearly those of Negroes.

Did Negroes originate in India and then spread out in two directions? Were they pushed out by the Indian Caucasians?

The Negroes who went westwards would have had to travel through India, Iran, the Fertile Crescent, across the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, and sown int the area of West Africa. Presumably, they would have liked to settle down in desirable areas but were pushed on by Caucasians. The process would have taken many thousands of years.

The Negroes ousted from India eastwards probably did not cross the Bay of Bengal to Burma or Thailand. At that time the paleolithics did not, as far as we know, have sea-going craft. They probably followed the shoreline up India but were driven on by the Mongolian tribes of southeast Asia and eventually ended in the unoccupied areas of New Guinea and Melanesia. They could have island-hopped or even crossed on land bridges, since the oceanic levels were lower then.

The distances traveled seem very long for such primitive peoples.

However, another race (or subrace) traveled even farther. Consider the Amerindians. Originating in Siberia or Central Asia they migrated across the Bering Bridge to Alaska. Thousands of years later some reached the southern tip of South America. Thus, such long-distance migrations are possible.

I am assuming in my series that the ancestors of the Khokarsans migrated, over many millennia, from Central Asia to Central Africa. I intend to describe this probability in an appendix to a future Opar novel. This will also describe (in outline form) the Khokarsan language. It will suggest that this might be related to the Algonquian languages of North Amerinds.

Why would Caucasians be speaking a distant descendant of proto-Algonquian?

For one thing, the proto-Amerinds seem to have been a hybrid of generalized Mongolians and archaic Caucasians. This mixture of genes took place in Central Asia anf Siberia perhaps 200,000 years ago. Perhaps even earlier. It can be presumed that some of these more-or-less distinctly Caucasian and Mongolian progenitors shared a common language, though they spoke different dialects.

Consider the Ural-Altaic peoples (Turkics, Ugrics, Fins, Huns, etc.). Though many if not most of their languages are unintelligible to each other, they did originate from a common tongue. (Just as English, Russian, Italian, Greek, Hittite, and the Central Asiatic Tokharian sprang from a common speech.)

In fact, linguists have recently claimed that Japanese is related to the Ural-Altaic languages. But its antecedents are so ancient that only a linguist who's made a detailed comparative study of Japanese and Ural-Altaic could "prove" a relationship.

Note also that the anthropologist, Robert A. Hall, Sr., has suggested that the language of the Ainus (originally a Caucasian people) might be related to Algonquain. This is only a suggestion, springing from very little evidence, but he does want some qualified linguist to look into this hypothesis. We do know that the Ainu lived in Siberia before migrating to the Japanese Islands. At that time the Mongolian Japanese tribes were living in a much warmer climate, probably south China or southeast Asia. After the Ainus had occupied the islands, the Japanese migrated, invaded the islands, and drove the Ainus into the remote areas.

So, I'm postulating that the Khokarsans originated in Central Asia. They spoke a language which was related to the proto-Algonguian tongue. They would have picked up some Mongolian and Amerind genes. Then they wandered over a long stretch of time to North Africa. Eventually, some tribes crossed the mountains to the south of what is now the Sahara Desert and found the northern Central African sea.

Given the examples noted above, this is not beyond the bounds of probability.

There the Caucasian Khorkarsans found no Negroes. The latter had not started the series of migrations that would end with their occupation of sub-Sahara Africa. The Khokarsans did find the shores occupied by the last of the Neanderthals. These had been pushed south by the North African Caucasians, were diverted southeastward by the blacks of West Africa, and settled down to make a miserable living on the Sea of Khorkarsan. But the Caucasians then found them, perhaps fifty thousand or more years later, and pushed them south again. Hybridization occurred, so that the tribes along the western shore of the upper sea, the Klemqaba, were half-Caucasian, half-Neanderthal.

The only "pure" Neanderthals left were those which had migrated to the southern sea. Not until gold and silver were found in this area did the Khokarsans enter in large numbers. And, as was the universal custom of ancient civilizations, the numerically and technologically inferior people were enslaved.

If Hooks had read HADON, he would have known that Negroes were not in Central Africa at that time. However, I can't expect that the reader should know all previous books in a series. And I should have described Hadon in the detail covered in the first book.

But it never occurred to me that someone would seize on the "whiteness" of ancient Central Africans and make a racist argument from that.

On the other hand, what if there had been black Africans in that area? Why should Hadon especially notice a black unless he or she were involved significantly in the story? Most blacks would have been slaves in Korkarsa, just as they were in ancient Egypt, Rome, etc. Slaves are just part of the background to the masters. If they're not in the action there's no reason to comment on them any more than there is to comments on the hundreds of white slaves who formed part of the background in FLIGHT.

To reprint the foreword and the appendix of HADON in each one of the series would make the page count too high. Especially when the planned appendices would also be attached.

One of these appendices will describe the plants available in Central Africa in 12,000 B.C. It will point out that the lack of certain plants would have prevented the rise of any civilization there. But this difficulty was overcome when Sahhindar brought in the needed food plants from North Africa and the Mideast. Sahhindar is the supposed God of Time, Bronze, and plants in the series. Actually, he is Gribardsun, the time traveler of my TIME'S LAST GIFT.

The above should remove any charge of racism. I will point out that, as noted in HADON, some expeditions from Khorkarsa to West Africa had captured some blacks who were then brought into the cities as slaves. However, the majority of slaves were white. Moreover, the Khorkarsans, free of color prejudice had a system whereby slaves, black or white, could buy their freedom. A freed slave was permitted to marry whites or blacks, and the children were automatically free.

A freeman, a mulatto beat Hadon in a race during the Great Games. He was mentioned because his role in HADON was large enough for comment.

The Opar series is not just another slapdash jerrybuilt series of ancient days in which a brainless mightly-thewed superman swordsman hews his way through countless foes. It's a carefully detailed, well-researched construction of what was not but could have been -- given the presence of the time traveler, Gribardsun-Sahhindar. Every aspect of the cultures of the two seas has been considered. These include prehistory, history, economy, religion, languages, writing, drama, philosophy, science, technology, agriculture, sociology, geology, botany, zoology, architecture, etc.

Hadon is somewhat introspective, and his character develops as the series progresses. In the first two books his is a very good swordsman but not yet the greatest. Towards the end, he becomes middle-aged and his strength declines.

It's a complicated series in both the personal and politcal situations, and there is always a sense of doom in the air, thickening as the peoples of the two seas head for the destroying cataclysm.

I'd also like to note that the series should not be included in the sword-and-sorcery genre. It's an achronic story in which it is assumed that magic doesn't work but science does. If magic seems to work it is only because it's a delusion.

Anyway, if Hooks is as familiar with my books as he claims to be in his review, he should never have accused me of racism. From the beginning of my writing career I've made evident that I loathed racism of any kind. Need I list THE LOVERS, FIRE AND THE NIGHT, MY SISTER'S BROTHER, the Riverworld series, many more stories, and yea-many anti-racist statements and references in my works.

Under no circumstances would I retain ERB's supposed racism in the Opar series.

I say supposed because the case against ERB is so ambiguous. There are remarks in his works which can be construed as racist. On the other hand a student of his works knows that he also excoriates whites, the Caucasian civilization as a whole. He does have "noble" blacks and a "noble" Jew. I refer Hooks to THE MOON MAID for the latter.

Hooks is wrong when he speaks of the "stereotyped" cannibals and savages" of ERB's works. He forgets that there were just such cannibals and savages, that these stereotypes did exist in the period covered by the Tarzan novels.

Nor were all the blacks in his works just "extras and casualties fighting against white men." Consider Mugambi (THE BEASTS OF TARZAN), the Waziri tribe, and the hospitality and compassion given lost and starving Jane and the baby by a tribe of blacks (BEASTS).

It's true that there were many black villains in the Tarzan novels. But there were also many white villains, and by no means were all of them non-American and non-British.

Surely Hooks doesn't think that all African blacks are noble types? If he does, he's a racist.

A minor quibble before I get back to the main criticisms by Hooks. He says that the girl on the cover illustrations of FLIGHT has ample breasts but no nipples. I suggest he take a closer look or get a new pair of glasses. The nipples, though in shadow, are obvious.

Next, Hooks says that the "unremitting violence nearly kills it." By "it" he means the novel. "Outnumbered by more than thirty to one, he (Hadon) wipes out most of his attackers. Continually he fights dirty, yet he is continually postured as being noble. As a hero, Hadon is brutal, cruel, and violent. There is very little admirable about him."

For the sake of those who've not read FLIGHT, I'll reconstruct the fight he refers to. Minruth's forces are chasing Hadon and his band. This consists of Hadon, two women, a child, a dwarf, a bard, and a middle-aged warrior. The band has reached a narrow pass at the top of a mountain. Lalila, one of the women, has sprained an ankle. She can't go on Hadon makes the others leave.

If he can hold Minruth's soldiers and their dogs long enough, all but Lalila and himself may get to a safe refuge. Lalila climbs a tree, hoping to be unobserved.

Hadon, though believing that he'll eventually be killed, stays behind to make sure the others get away. He is sacrificing himself for the child, her mother Lalila, and him empress, Awineth. (Even though Awineth hates him.) If the others are caught they'll be tortured and then killed.

So, he fights "dirty." That is, with every trick and all the strength and swiftness he can muster against an overwhelming force. And he uses everything available, rocks, boulders, etc. instead of standing in the pass and fighting until he's worn down.

Yet Hooks reproaches Hadon for not fighting according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules. If Hadon had performed a similar feat in modern times, he'd be given a Congressional Medal of Honor or the highest medal for valor of whatever nation he happened to belong to.

Is Hooks a male chauvinist? His sympathies are obviously on the side of Minruth, who wants to destroy the ancient equality of men and women in Khorkarsa and established a male-dominated pattern.

As for Hadon not having all the humanitarian values of moderns, I'll plead guilty. Guilty by reason of realism. This is a historical series (pseudohistorical, anyway), and I'm trying to be realistic. Ancient peoples did not have the viewpoint of moderns. (I should say, the lip-service viewpoint of moderns.)

As a whole, the ancients were more bloddy-minded, vicious, brutal peoples. In short, even the "civilized" were tribal peoples. An enemy was a person to be used as a slave or killed. It was normal for the conquerors to slay every living being in a city, including the animals. See the ancient Hebrew treatment of their victims in the Old Testament, a quite candid account. And these were the good guys. All ancient cultures of the civilized variety, and most of the preliterate variety, acted similarly.

Moreover, their concept of justice just was not modern.

So, to be realistic, my Khokarsan characters will be more brutal and bloody-minded that your average liberal, conservative, or reactionary of the Western world. Nevertheless, even in ancient times there were exceptional individuals, people ahead of their times. Hadon is actually more humanitarian than most ancients and so are some other characters.

As for Hooks' assertion that the Opar series is based on Burroughs, he is about one-fifth correct. It is also based on H. Rider Haggard, Robert Graves, and Longfellow. And on Farmer.

Just as Opar is a lost hidden colony of the ancient empire postulated by Burroughs, so are some other lost cities described in Haggard's Allan Quartermain series and in SHE. These were either survivors of the cataclysm which destroyed Khokarsa or founded by refugees from the cataclysm. Except for KÙr, which will be founded by Hadon's son.

In addition, Lalila and Pag(a) are derived from Haggard's ALLAN AND THE ICE GODS. At the end of this novel these two were in a dubious situation. They might or might not survive. I rescued them and brought them down from the Europe of the Ice Age to Khorkarsa. This was done by the intervention of Sahhindar. Since Haggard didn't chronicle their further adventures, I thought I would.

A part of the Khokarsan culture is based on Robert Graves' concept of the pre-Indo-European, pre-Semitic mediterranean cultures. (See THE WHITE GODDESS and other works by Graves.)

Also, there is, at least in the character of Kwasin and Kebiwabes, some of Longfellow. Kwasin is based partly on Kwasind, Hiawatha's strong-man friend. There are also elements of Hercules and Gilgamesh in him. Not to mention Rabelais' Gargantua. Kebiwabes, the bard, is obviously based on Chibiabos, Hiawatha's singer friend.

But, overall, Khokarsa and its peoples are Farmerian.

Hooks states: "Farmer is too aware of Burroughs. He is unable to transcend the shortcomings and flaws of ERB. Much social change has transpired since Burroughs wrote. By adhering so closely to the original, Farmer severely dates this book..."

As I've shown, I haven't "adhered" to the original. And how could a work realistically dealing with the ancients be "dated." A writer of historical novels doesn't (or certainly shouldn't) portray his characters as 20th-century contemporaries. He or she tries to think as they thought, show them as they were. Does Hooks consider THE ILLIAD and THE ODYSSEY, the epic of Gilgamesh, Malory's MORTE d'ARTHUR dated? Would he want them rewritten to portray Achilles, Odysseus, Lancelot, etcetera as moderns?

What does social change in the 1970's A.D. have to do with the goings-on of 10,000 B.C.? For that matter, what does it have to do with the worlds of Roland and Oliver, King Richard III, d'Artagnan, Roderick Random, David Copperfield, or even Huckleberry Finn?

(A point against Hooks I just remembered. Burroughs' heroes would never have had the sexual freedom of Hadon. Burroughs would have considered Hadon's attitudes as quite reprehensible. So, one more element in which I did not adhere to Burroughs.)

However, it's now time to consider an objection by Hooks which might be valid. Two, in fact. Hooks states the he was confused by the introduction of some characters. He wasn't clear in his mind (where else?) about just what they were doing in FLIGHT. I think he was probably confused about the gray-eyed stranger who appeared in a marketplace in a certain area. Then he dropped out of the story.

FLIGHT is only the second in a series that will probably include ten or twelve volumes. The grey-eyed man, whom I took care to hint was Sahhindar, the supposed god, will appear in a minor role in some sequels.

Since it's obvious that FLIGHT is part of a series, Hooks could have considered this. And he could have said to himself, "Well, the gray-eyed stranger will probably show up in other books." He might even have been curious enough to read the first book. If he had, he would have been illuminated on various points.

Hooks also objects to my cliff-hanger ending. Actually is wasn't really that. FLIGHT ended with Hadon having reached Opar, his major enemy in Opar conquered, and the birth of La, his daughter. Obviously his adventures will continue, since there is the big problem of Minruth to be overcome.

But Hooks has a valid complaint. It would be nice if each book of a series did have a seemingly conclusive ending. I've ended many of my books in various series with cliff-hangers, and the only ones who object strongly are a small minority. other writers have done this, so why should I be singled out for criticism?

On the other hand, why not? I've been the most guilty.

This is because I regard my series as not just being fantasies. I try to make them realistic. That is, as near real life as possible considering their outré environments. In real life, people enter one's life, stay awhile, then drop out, perhaps reappearing later, perhaps not. It's the essence of a series that's its like the flow of life, not ending until the protagonist dies or has conquered his major enemies, himself, his opponents, social forces, Mother Nature's rages, or whatever problem is the main-stream of the series.

In every story, of course, self-inclusive or part of a series, no character should appear who doesn't have something, major or minor, to do with the story. So, if one of my characters does appear only briefly, if he seems to have no relevancy to the story, don't believe it. He or she will show up later, probably in a larger role.

Most of my readers have gone along with my series, waited for the next in line more or less patiently. These know that down the corridor, around the bend, sooner or later, they'll come to the end. No more doors marked TO BE CONTINUED.

Like life.

----Philip José Farmer



The Hansoms of John Clayton welcome you to Wheelwrightings, a forum for the study and celebration of things Sherlockian. (I am quite aware that proper grammatical form would have me saying "welcomes you" but frankly it sounds odd, and I prefer to use "Hansoms" as a plural, rather than a collective singular.) "The Third Wheel of No. 2704" is devoted to correspondence, notices of no little import, and editorial ramblings; but for this first issue, we have a special letter from our Founder ...

* * *
11 May 1978

Not so long ago there was a president of the United States who used to ask his cronies, "Will it play in Peoria?" He was referring to political and economic issues, of course. But Peoria, Illinois, was considered to be the epitome of Averagesville, a dull middle-class midwestern city to be used as a laboratory for reaction to national issues and policies. What Peoria felt was what the majority of American's would feel. Or so went the theory.

Peoria had many things, the vast industrial complex of Caterpillar Tractor, Hiram Walker (the largest distillery in the U.S.), a Pabst brewery, a scenic drive which Theodore Roosevelt called the most beautiful in the world, a pigeon-dirt-spotted bronze statue of Robert Ingersoll, and the honor of being the oldest white settlement west of the Appalachians.

What it did not have to make it truly cosmopolitan was a Baker Street Irregulars Scion Society. Happily, that grave lack has been rectified as of late last year. The Hansoms of John Clayton is (are?) wheeling along fine, thank you, and stopping now and then to pick up more fares. May it (they?) never wear out, and may the passengers always enjoy the ride.

If this issue should happen to fall in the hands of a very old bee-keeper in Sussex, we extend an invitation to you to visit us any time--expenses paid. And an honorarium of no small size. Or, my dear Holmes, if you can't make it, we'd be happy to come to your place. Just send the address.

-- Philip José Farmer

Dear Bill:The address you used was 4 years out of date ((out of his book)) Sorry, I don't have a review on LORD OF THE TREES/MAD GOBLIN. Best,



5617 N. Fairmont Dr.
Peoria, IL 61614

May 1, 1984

Dear Dick (no pun intended)

Charles Platt's "The Decline of Fiction" (SFR #51) bolsters my opinion, belief, or what-have-you that nonfiction is indeed more remunerative than fiction. The trend will swell (but not, like an excited penis, shrink after discharge). So I'm working now on JERRY FALWELL AND ANAL SEX and DON'T KNOCK HYPOCRISY. Two surefire nonfiction best sellers.

Actually I have been thinking about writing a book re my experiences as a technical writer for a secret project conducted by the defense industry. It would be both autobiographical and factual. Tentative title: UNCLE SAM'S MAD TEA PARTY. A friend who is now a lawyer advised me not to write it. He said I'd have the FBI on me and that I could then write a factual book about my prison experiences. However, the project was so secret and confusing and so long ago (1969) and in the end, so ridiculous that I doubt that the U.S. government would even admit that there had been such a project. Still...

((You could always write an article on the matter for SFR. No one in government reads SFR that I know of. Go on...you can tell us!))


TODAY'S MY 67th Birthday (Jan 26th), but I'm busier than I have ever been what with four book contracts, overwhelming fan and business correspondence, and just living. Plus putting in a little time now and then on an Esperanto translation of TARZAN OF THE APES, a latin translation of "The God of Tarzan", and a Munchkin translation of THE WIZARD OF OZ.

During my genealogical research, going on for six years now, I've discovered that President George Washington was a direct descendant of the Barons of Greystoke. Just recently I've found out that President Abraham Lincoln and his mother, Nancy Hanks, were direct descendants of the early lord of Greystoke. And so am I. I'll be happy to send a chart if you're interested in publishing it along with an article. Rather, charts. I figure there are 36 generations from my grandchildren to Forne, the earliest recorded Greystoke.

In fact, there must be over fifty million people in the U.S.A. alone who are descended from the early Greystokes. But most of them can't prove it or, alas, aren't interested in doing so.

When I was in England last July, I saw a taped film of a British film-documentary, THE MAKING OF GREYSTOKE. Someday, maybe, it'll be on PBS here. Ian Johnstone, a British TV reporter-editor, flew to Peoria to interview me, and some of that is in the film. It's certainly gratifying, though unexpected, to see the skyline of Peoria, Illinois in a film made about the filming of the movie. Johnstone had read my biography of Lord Greystoke, so he did the documentary on the assumption that Tarzan was a real person. Did you know that Tarzan's father's oil portrait hangs in the National Gallery in London?



Philip José Farmer
5617 North Fairmont Drive
Peoria, Illinois 61614

After sixty-seven years of more or less life on this planet, I did not think that anything unexpected could happen to me. Not until today when I read Noreen Shaw's letter in the latest THRUST [#23]. Until then I'd always had not the slightest doubt that the award I received for best new writer at the 1953 Philcon was a Hugo. Certainly, Noreen is wrong when she says it did not resemble a Hugo. It's an upright spaceship-form just like all the Hugos. It doesn't have "Hugo" on the plaque, but then neither does the one I won for To Your Scattered Bodies Go in 1972. It says "Science Fiction Achievement Award." And spells my name "Phillip," by the way. The one for "Riders of the Purple Wage" in 1968 does say "Hugo" on the plaque.

Memory is tricky, The Great Trickster, in fact. So I won't get into an acrimonious emotional argument about her claim. Why not put the question to such as Forry Ackerman or Sam Moskowitz?

Ah, Mnemosyne! What fun you have with mere mortals! I remember an article in the local newspaper shortly after I returned from that Philcon. I've always thought it mentioned the Hugo. Could I have reconstructed the past and just thought that it did? Do we all live in parallel worlds that just happen to intersect now and then?

[Phil also attached to his letter a copy of page 403 of Seekers of Tomorrow by Sam Moskowitz (World Publishing, 1967), which says:

By the time of the 11th Annual World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia, September 6, 1953, Philip Hose Farmer seemed to be riding on a crest of a wave. He was presented with the first of the series of awards later to become known as Hugos as the best new science fiction author of 1952.

So it appears that based on Sam's book, the term Hugo was applied retroactively to all the 1953 awards. - DDF]


May, 1986

Thanks for the latest SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW even though I found it to be as depressing as its predecessors. I read the reviews of works by Blaylock, Powers, Rucker, etc., what wonderful ideas they have, what powerful language, what fabulous plots, what great characters. And, as I sink into despair and gloom, I ask myself what an old fart like me is doing still writing? Why don't I just give up and join Ed Earl Rep and Ray Cummings in oblivion?

Or, since I'm not financially able to retire on Social Security and some minor stocks and bonds, why not become a mainstream writer? There's this novel, PEARL DIVING IN OLD PEORIA, I've been thinking about for years. Why not do that? or the nonfiction biography of one of my great heroes, Nellie Bly, demon girl reporter? Ou sont les neiges d'antan?

I wish John Brunner would quit confusing the U.S. government with its citizens. There really are very few of us who want war, nuclear or conventional. There are a lot of us who didn't vote for Reagan and many more who did but wish they hadn't. As for RAMBO, yes, I enjoyed it though I found it somewhat unbelievable. His mission was fully justified, given the circumstances of the story, and he, in the end, was betrayed by his own government for political reasons. That I found credible. That's been done by all governments everywhere in time and place, not just by the U.S. government.

Scott's words re MOBY DICK were quite refreshing and stimulating and on the nose. The book should be removed from college curricula and denied to anyone under forty-five. But that would be censorship, wouldn't it? I'm flat-out against censorship of any kind no matter how laudable the motives of the would-be censors. By any kind I mean the censorship that both conservatives and liberals hope to impose.

5911 N. Isabell Ave
Peoria, IL 61614

Dear Leland:

The statements in RQ #29 re the sales departments taking over seem to be true, and the situation has been worrying us writers for some time. Also, some of the big bookstore chains require that MSS be sent to them by publishers, and the stores decide whom they're going to push. Just who in the stores decides I don't know, but my acquaintance with some managers and clerks of the big chains, whom I regard as semiliterate, makes me despair sometimes. Also, I've noticed a tendency in recent years for editors to attempt to get their writers to simplify the language, to remove anything that the semiliterate reader might not understand. Don't include any concepts that might bewilder the readers, etc. The publishers are wrong in this attitude, of course. Eco's The Name of the Rose was a best seller, though I heard that about 26 publishers rejected it. It's certainly not a zip-zip novel.

[Regarding] Ballard's "painterly" eye, I've always thought of him as the supreme example of the "geometrical" writer, whereas Lafferty, for instance, is "algebraical." A fine example of one who is both geometrical and algebraical is Thomas Pynchon.

Philip José Farmer

5911 N. Isabell Ave
Peoria, IL 61614

Dear Leland:

Thanks very much for the latest RQ. Much enjoyable and informative here, but I particularly was delighted by Batory's "The Climax of When the World Screamed," because I had no idea that Doyle was, unconsciously, of course, writing an erotic story. I'm glad that, when I first read the story at the age of thirteen (1931), my parents did not know that I was reading pornographic literature any more than I did. Thanks to Batory for illuminating me (though I should have thought of the symbolism long ago). I'll be sending a copy of the article to Sam Rosenberg, author of Naked is the Best Disguise, the book that upset so many Sherlockians. He'll be delighted, too.

Philip José Farmer


Dear George: If you care to, and I hope you will, please advertise in the BB that the softcover editions of the Fokker D-LXIX issues of A FEAST UNKNOWN with the Corben illustrations are for sale. If desired, I will inscribe them personally. The price is $21. Sorry I don't have time to write that reviewI promised you, but I have to get my current novel, RED ORC'S RAGE, to the publisher by August 15th, and I can't do that unless I work 7 days a week until then. I'll be lucky to make that date. I doubt I'll be able to make the Dum-Dum,though I really want to, so will have to decide, cast the die, cross the Tiber, etc., very soon. Please drop me a card, and many thanks for your care and labor. Best,

Philip José Farmer
Peoria, Illinois

Dear Locus:

The July 1990 issue lists me as the GoH at Inconjunction 10, June 29-July 1 of this year. I informed the Indianapolis IN committee over nine months ago that I could not attend. Apparently, the committee continued to advertise that I would be there.

The same issue of Locus advertises that I will be a guest of the XXth Century International Convention on April 3-6, 1991, in France. While I would be pleased to accept an invitation to this convention, I have received no invitation as of today. In fact, I was surprised when I read the notice in Locus.

Is a new category coming into sf? That of ghost guests?

--Philip José Farmer


Are you interested in such things as an article on the real barons of Greystoke, which also shows that George Washington was a direct descendant of them? So am I. There's another connection going back to medieval times, but the authorities differ on the validity of the link.

Philip José Farmer
Peoria, Illinois


Thanks for the latest BB which, as usual, is a fine publication. I was excited by the review of the CHRONO-LOG of the Tarzan series. Unfortunately, no street or P.O. Box address was given for "Waziri Publications." I tried to ge the address through theSpokane operator, but she said she had no listing for "Waziri Publications."

Philip José Farmer
Peoria, Illinois


...I enjoyed William Wilson Goodson's article on Robin Hood in issue #166. But he's wrong when he writes that d'Artagnan was entirely a fictional creation of Alexandre Dumas, In fact, Charles de Batz-Castlemore, who assumed the name of d'Artagnan, was a real person. He was born in Gascony, France in 1613 and was killed June 25, 1673 while leading his musketeers at the siege of Maestricht. Athos, Porthos and Aramis were the assumed names of the three musketeers whom d'Artagnan knew quite well.

Courtilz de Sandras' Memoires de Monsiuer D'Artagnan, though only partially established in fact, was published in 1700, and the famous musketeer of Kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV has been the subject of scholarly papers.

There is no valid evidence that a real Robin Hood existed.

Yet, in a sense, Zorro, Robin Hood and d'Artagnan did exist and still exist. The trio we know through fiction live far more vividly than most people we know. Long live Zorro, Robin Hood and d'Artagnan!

Philip José Farmer
Address Withheld

Philip José Farmer is, simply, one of the world's greatest science fiction writers. He's also the biographer of Doc Savage and Tarzan of the Apes. Farmer's new Doc Savage novel, Escape from Loki, will be published by Bantam later this year.