Pearls from Peoria
Philip Jose Farmer, . . Subterranean, $45 (773pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-059-3
This colossal scrapbook of scarce, offbeat fiction, poetry and nonfiction from SF veteran Farmer offers fans a smorgasbord of his hard—and impossible—to find work from fanzines and other small publications, spanning the 1940s to the 1990s. Amassed by Mike Croteau, who runs the official Philip José Farmer Web site, and edited by Paul Spiteri, who provides brief introductions for each piece, this collection is especially valuable for its insights into the author's writing methods. For fun, Farmer reinterpreted the adventures of pulp hero Doc Savage, Oz characters, Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan. His canine detective, Ralph von Wau Wau, in "A Scarletin Study," somehow blended Holmes, Sam Spade and, typically, puns. Farmer also reprised vampire, werewolf and Frankenstein stories. About the sale of his first story, "The Lovers" (which won a Hugo in 1952), Farmer says in the autobiographical "Maps and Spasms" that he thought he "had the world by the tail. But, as it turned out, there was a tiger at the other end." Fortunately for generations of SF readers, he persisted.
Reviewed on: 06/19/2006