Philip J. Farmer

Philip J. Farmer books and biography


Philip José Farmer



Philip Jose FarmerPhilip José Farmer (born January 26, 1918) is an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana but spent much of his life in Peoria, Illinois, where he currently lives.



Some of Farmer's early works were notable for their groundbreaking introduction of sexual themes to science fiction. Farmer's first published science fiction story "The Lovers" which won him the Hugo Award for most promising new writer in 1953, was the first sci-fi story to deal with sexual relations between humans and aliens. It was considered ground breaking and instantly put Farmer on the map. He is best known, however, for his Riverworld series and the earlier World of Tiers series, as well as his fascination for and reworking of the lore of legendary pulp heroes.

His Riverworld series follows the adventures of such diverse characters as Richard Burton, Hermann Göring, and Samuel Clemens through a bizarre afterlife in which every human ever to have lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire planet. The series consists of To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), The Fabulous Riverboat (1971), The Dark Design (1977), The Magic Labyrinth (1980) and Gods of Riverworld (1983). Riverworld and Other Stories (1979) is not part of the series as such but a collection that includes the second-published Riverworld story, which is free-standing rather than integrated into one of the novels. (The first two books were originally published as two novellas, "The Day of the Great Shout" and "The Suicide Express," and a two-part serial, "The Felled Star," in the science fiction magazines Worlds of Tomorrow and If between 1965 and 1967. The separate novelette "Riverworld" ran in Worlds of Tomorrow in January 1966.) A final pair of linked novelettes appeared in the 1990s: "Crossing the Dark River" (in Tales of Riverworld, 1992) and "Up the Bright River" (in Quest to Riverworld, 1993).

The Riverworld series originated in a novel, Owe for the Flesh, written in one month in 1952 as a contest entry. It won the contest, but the book was left unpublished and orphaned when the prize money was misappropriated, and a disappointed and depressed Farmer nearly gave up writing altogether. The original manuscript of the novel was lost, but years later Farmer reworked the material into the Riverworld magazine stories mentioned above. Eventually, a copy of a revised version of the original novel surfaced in a box in a garage and was published as River of Eternity by Phantasia Press in 1983. Farmer's Introduction to this edition gives the details of how it all happened. (Some of the same events are also fictionalized near the beginning of To Your Scattered Bodies Go.)

The World of Tiers series is regarded by many fans as equal to or better than the Riverworld series, however it is less well known. The series is set within a number of artificially-constructed parallel universes, created tens of thousands of years ago by a race of human beings who had achieved an advanced level of technology which gave them almost godlike power and immortality. The principal universe in which these stories take place, and from which the series derives its name, consists of an enormous tiered planet, shaped like a stack of disks or squat cylinders, of diminishing radius, one atop the other. The series follows the adventures of a few humans from Earth who accidentally travel to these artificial universes, and consists of The Maker of Universes (1965), The Gates of Creation (1966), A Private Cosmos (1968), Behind the Walls of Terra (1970), The Lavalite World (1977) and More Than Fire (1993). The World of Tiers series inspired Roger Zelazny's Amber series.[citation needed] A related novel is Red Orc's Rage (1991), which does not involve the principal characters of the other books directly, but does provide background information to certain events and characters portrayed in the other novels.

Many of Farmer's works involve reworking existing characters from fiction and history, such as The Wind Whales of Ishmael (1971), an otherwordly sequel to Herman Melville's Moby-Dick; The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973), which fills in the missing time periods from Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days; and A Barnstormer in Oz (1982), in which Dorothy's adult son, a pilot, flies there by accident. His favorite subjects for this type of work are the pulp heroes Tarzan and Doc Savage: in his novel The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes team up. Farmer also created the Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban series, wherein we see disguised but less-than-innocent versions of Tarzan and Doc Savage. These consist of A Feast Unknown (1969), Lord of the Trees (1970) and The Mad Goblin (1970). Farmer has also written two witty mock biographies of both characters—Tarzan Alive (1972) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973)—wherein he conducts an exigetic mock-biography that winds either character in with a mind-boggling array of other fictional characters.

This has led to a burgeoning of a particular type of this form of fiction which is frequently referred to by reference to Farmer's original premise, the Wold Newton family.

Farmer wrote Venus on the Half-Shell (1975) under the name Kilgore Trout, a fictional author who appears in the works of Kurt Vonnegut. He had planned to write more of Trout's fictional books (notably Son of Jimmy Valentine), but a disagreement with Vonnegut put an end to those plans. Thereafter Farmer wrote a number of pseudonymous "fictional author" stories, mostly for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. These were stories whose "authors" are characters in other stories. The first such story was "by" Jonathon Swift Somers III (invented by Farmer himself in Venus on the Half-Shell), and later Farmer used the "Cordwainer Bird" byline, a pseudonym invented by Harlan Ellison for film and television projects from which he wished to disassociate himself.

Farmer's works often contain sexual themes: his collection of short stories Strange Relations (1960) was a notable event in the history of sex in science fiction. He was one of three dedicatees of Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which was also noted for breaking ground for sexual themes. Fire and the Night (1962) is a non-science-fiction novel about a love affair between a white man and a black woman that features some interesting sociological and psychosexual twists.

His work also sometimes contains religious themes. Jesus shows up as a character in both the Riverworld series (in the novelette "Riverworld" but not in the novels) and Jesus on Mars. Night of Light (1966) takes the rather un-holy Father John Carmody on an odyssey on an alien world where spiritual forces are made manifest in the material world.

Awards and nominations

  • 1953: Hugo Award, Most Promising New Talent, The Lovers
  • 1960: Nomination, Hugo Award for Best Short Story, "The Alley Man"
  • 1961: Nomination, Hugo Award for Best Short Story, "Open to Me, My Sister"
  • 1966: Nomination, Hugo Award for Best Short Story, "The Day of the Great Shout"
  • 1967: Nomination, Nebula Award for Best Novella, Riders of the Purple Wage
  • 1968: Hugo Award for Best Novella, Riders of the Purple Wage
  • 1972: Hugo Award for Best Novel, To Your Scattered Bodies Go
  • 1974: Nomination, Nebula Award for Best Short Story, "After King Kong Fell"
  • 2000: Nebula Award, Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, lifetime achievement
  • 2001: World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement



  • World of Tiers
    • The Maker of Universes (1965)
    • The Gates of Creation (1966)
    • A Private Cosmos (1968)
    • Behind the Walls of Terra (1970)
    • The Lavalite World (1977)
    • Red Orc's Rage (Associated with The World of Tiers Series) (1991)
    • More Than Fire (1993)
  • Riverworld
    • To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)
    • The Fabulous Riverboat (1971)
    • The Dark Design (1977)
    • The Magic Labyrinth (1980)
    • Gods of Riverworld (1983)
    • River of Eternity (Riverworld Variant) (1983)
  • Herald Childe
    • The Image of the Beast (1968)
    • Blown: or Sketches Among the Ruins of My Mind (1969)
    • Traitor to the Living (1973)
  • Doc Caliban and Lord Grandrith
    • A Feast Unknown (1969)
    • Lord of the Trees (1970)
    • The Mad Goblin (1970)
    • Keepers of the Secrets (British) - collects both Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin (1970)
  • Opar
    • Hadon of Ancient Opar (1974)
    • Flight to Opar (1976)
  • Dayworld
    • Dayworld (1984)
    • Dayworld Rebel (1987)
    • Dayworld Breakup (1990)
  • Fictional biographies
    • Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (1972)
    • Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973)


  • The Green Odyssey (1957)
  • Flesh (1960)
  • A Woman a Day or The Day of Timestop (1960)
  • The Lovers (1961)
  • Cache from Outer Space (1962)
  • Fire and the Night (1962)
  • Inside Outside (1964)
  • Tongues of the Moon (1964)
  • Dare (1965)
  • The Gate of Time (1966), revised and expanded as Two Hawks from Earth (1979)
  • Night of Light (1966)
  • A Feast Unknown (1969)
  • Lord Tyger (1970)
  • Love Song (1970)
  • The Stone God Awakens (1970)
  • The Wind Whales of Ishmael (1971)
  • Time's Last Gift (1972)
  • The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973)
  • Traitor to the Living (1973)
  • The Adventures of the Peerless Peer (1974) (writing as John H. Watson)
  • Venus on the Half-Shell (1975) (writing as Kilgore Trout)
  • Ironcastle (1976) (translation/expansion of work by J.-H. Rosny)
  • Jesus on Mars (1979)
  • Dark Is the Sun (1979)
  • The Unreasoning Mask (1981)
  • The Cache (1981)
  • Stations of the Nightmare (1982)
  • Greatheart Silver (1982)
  • A Barnstormer in Oz (1982)
  • The Dark Abyss (1990)
  • Escape From Loki (1991)
  • The Caterpillar's Question (1992) (with Piers Anthony)
  • Nothing Burns in Hell (1998)
  • Naked Came The Farmer (1998) (with Nancy Atherton, Terry Bibo, Steven Burgauer, Dorothy Cannell, David Everson, Joseph Flynn, Julie Kistler, Jerry Klein, Bill Knight, Tracy Knight, Garry Moore and Joel Steinfeldt)
  • The Dark Heart of Time (1999)
  • Up From the Bottomless Pit, published in ten parts in Farmerphile (2005-2007)
  • The City Beyond Play, co-authored with Danny Adams (forthcoming in 2007)


  • Strange Relations (1960)
  • The Alley God (1962)
  • The Celestial Blueprint: And Other Stories (1962)
  • Down in the Black Gang (1971)
  • The Book of Philip José Farmer (1973)
  • Riverworld and Other Stories (1979)
  • Riverworld War: The Supressed Fiction of Philip José Farmer (1980)
  • Father to the Stars (1981)
  • Stations of the Nightmare (1982)
  • Greatheart Silver (1982)
  • The Purple Book (1982)
  • The Classic Philip José Farmer, 1952-1964 (1984)
  • The Classic Philip José Farmer, 1964-1973 (1984)
  • The Grand Adventure (1984)
  • Riders of the Purple Wage (1992)
  • MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (2005)
  • The Best of Philip Jose Farmer (2006)
  • Stranger Relations (2006)
  • Pearls from Peoria (2006)

Short stories

  • "O'Brien and Obrenov" (1946)
  • "The Lovers" (1952)
  • "Sail On! Sail On!" (1952)
  • "The Biological Revolt" (1953)
  • "Mother" (1953)
  • "Moth and Rust" (1953)
  • "Attitudes" (1953)
  • "Strange Compulsion" (1953)
  • "They Twinkled Like Jewels" (1954)
  • "Daughter" (1954)
  • "Queen of the Deep" (1954)
  • "The God Business" (1954)
  • "Rastignac the Devil" (1954)
  • "The Celestial Blueprint" (1954)
  • "The Wounded" (1954)
  • "Totem and Taboo" (1954)
  • "Father" (1955)
  • "The Night of Light" (1955)
  • "The Alley Man" (1959)
  • "Heel" (1960)
  • "My Sister's Brother" or "Open to Me, My Sister" (1960)
  • "A Few Miles" (1960)
  • "Prometheus" (1961)
  • "Tongues of the Moon" (1961)
  • "Uproar in Acheron" (1962)
  • "How Deep the Grooves" (1963)
  • "Some Fabulous Yonder" (1963)
  • "The Blasphemers" (1964)
  • "The King of the Beasts" (1964)
  • "Day of the Great Shout" (1965)
  • "Riverworld" (1966)
  • "The Suicide Express" (1966)
  • "The Blind Rowers" (1967)
  • "A Bowl Bigger than Earth" (1967)
  • "The Felled Star (part 1)" (1967)
  • "The Felled Star (part 2)" (1967)
  • "The Shadow of Space" (1967)
  • "Riders of the Purple Wage" (1967)
  • "Don't Wash the Carats" (1968)
  • "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod" (1968)
  • "Down in the Black Gang" (1969)
  • "The Oogenesis of Bird City" (1970)
  • "The Voice of the Sonar in my Vermiform Appendix" (1971)
  • "Brass and Gold" (1971)
  • "The Fabulous Riverboat (part 1)" (1971)
  • "The Fabulous Riverboat (part 2)" (1971)
  • "Only Who Can Make a Tree?" (1971)
  • "The Sliced-Crosswise Only-On-Tuesday World" (1971)
  • "Seventy Years of Decpop" (1972)
  • "Skinburn" (1972)
  • "The Sumerian Oath" (1972)
  • "Father's in the Basement" (1972)
  • "Toward the Beloved City" (1972)
  • "Mother Earth Wants You" (1972)
  • "Sketches Among the Ruins of My Mind" (1973)
  • "Monolog" (1973)
  • "After King Kong Fell" (1973)
  • "Opening the Door" (1973)
  • "The Two-Edged Gift" (1974)
  • "The Startouched" (1974)
  • "The Evolution of Paul Eyre" (1974)
  • "The Adventure of the Three Madmen" (1974)
  • "Passing On" (1975)
  • "A Scarletin Study, as Jonathan Swift Somers III" (1975)
  • "The Problem of the Sore Bridge - Among Others, as Harry Manders" (1975)
  • "Greatheart Silver" (1975)
  • "The Return of Greatheart Silver" (1975)
  • "Osiris on Crutches, as Leo Queequeg Tincrowder" (1976)
  • "The Volcano, as Paul Chapin" (1976)
  • "The Doge Whose Barque Was Worse Than His Bight, as Jonathan Swift Somers III" (1976)
  • "Fundamental Issue" (1976)
  • "The Henry Miller Dawn Patrol" (1977)
  • "Greatheart Silver in the First Command" (1977)
  • "Savage Shadow as Maxwell Grant" (1977)
  • "The Impotency of Bad Karma as Cordwainer Bird" (1977)
  • "It's the Queen of Darkness, Pal, as Rod Keen" (1978)
  • "Freshman" (1979)
  • "The Leaser of Two Evils" (1979)
  • "J.C. on the Dude Ranch" (1979)
  • "Spiders of the Purple Mage" (1980)
  • "The Making of Revelation, Part I" (1980)
  • "The Long Wet Dream of Rip Van Winkle" (1981)
  • "The Adventure of the Three Madmen" (1984)
  • "UFO vs IRS" (1985)
  • "St. Francis Kisses His Ass Goodbye" (1989)
  • "One Down, One to Go" (1990)
  • "Evil, Be My Good" (1990)
  • "Nobody's Perfect" (1991)
  • "Wolf, Iron and Moth" (1991)
  • "Crossing the Dark River" (1992)
  • "A Hole in Hell as Dane Helstrom" (1992)
  • "Up the Bright River" (1993)
  • "Coda" (1993)
  • "The Good of the Land" (2002)
  • "The Face that Launched a Thousand Eggs" (2005)
  • "The Unnaturals" (2005)
  • "Who Stole Stonhenge?" (2005)
  • "That Great Spanish Author, Ernesto" (2006)
  • "I Still Live!" (2006)
  • "The Essence of the Poison" (2006)
  • "Hayy ibn Yaqzam: An Arabic Mowgli" (2006)
  • "Why Do I Write?" (2006)
  • "The Doll Game" (2006)
  • "The Trout Letters" (2006)
  • "Keep Your Mouth Shut" (2006)

See also

  • Wold Newton family

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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The Green Odyssey

By Philip J. Farmer
Fiction , Fantasy

The Green Odyssey
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