RIP, Philip Jose Farmer

He passed away last night at 91. Another one gone. Here’s a brief blurb on it from his hometown paper; I’m sure more will be forthcoming. Sympathies to family and lovers of his work.

36 Comments on “RIP, Philip Jose Farmer”

  1. Somewhere, on a unimaginably vast riverbank, a grail-stone crackles to life…

    Dang, he’ll be missed.

  2. NOOOOOOOOO! It can’t be!

    This man WAS Kilgore Trout.
    I suspect he actually would sit down at a typewriter wondering what life would be like if so-and-so-were-true, then set to work since the only one way to find out was to write about it. So many wild ideas – in book form. I still have so many to read too….

  3. A huge influence on me during the teens, when I was reading SF instead of … well, nearly everything else. (But I don’t blame him for how I turned out.) A sad day.

    But I’m happy that we eventually learned the secrets of Riverworld. Congratulations to him for wrapping-up the series.

  4. The passing of a giant — thanks for the notice, John, since I don’t think my “mainstream media” has picked up on this yet.

  5. I am surprised he was still alive; I hadn’t heard anything about him in years. Now I am truly sad at the passing of such a legend, a giant among writers. God speed, Philip Jose Farmer.

  6. Oh wow. He was one of my founding influences. I have read and reread Riverworld all my life. He led me to reading Burton and from there all sorts of other stuff. I’m going to start it again today.

    Josh, at #1, how incredibly apropo. Thanks.

  7. Nick #5, I definitely “blame” Phil Farmer for how I turned out. Reading his books, stories and articles (many of which you couldn’t always tell if they were fiction or not…) directly led me to read many of my now favorite authors and characters: Mark Twain, Richard Burton, P.G. Wodehouse, Carl Hiaasen, Rudy Rucker, Howard Waldrop, H. Rider Haggard, Jules Verne, Doc Savage, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Raffles, Nero Wolfe, and there’s no way I make it through Moby Dick without the promise of his, The Wind Whales of Ishmael as a follow-up.

    Heck, Phil even led me to Subterranean Press which eventually led me to John Scalzi.

    I don’t think anyone will ever adequately get into writing how big his influence is on the science fiction world as we know it today.

  8. A sad day for readers. I grew up reading PJF, having consumed “To Your Scattered Bodies Go” in 3rd or 4th grade, and then read everything else I could find from him. What an amazing body of work, from an equally amazing writer.

  9. Not to long ago I came across an all in one volume copy of World Of Tiers. They were the first PJF stories that I read as a young boy. He is still one of my favorites. News of his death makes me feel sad, and old.

  10. He was a favorite of mine during my teen/twenties as well. I’ll have to track down the World of Tiers series as I haven’t read it in years and it was a favorite of mine.

  11. Snip from Wiki:
    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: Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, lifetime achievement, awarded at the Nebula Awards Ceremony
    2001: World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement
    2003: Forry Award for Lifetime Achievement
    Heck of a career!

  12. I loved The World of Tiers as a kid, even more than Riverworld. The man was a great writer and also an entertaining writer.

  13. Imagine you’re standing in some vaguely wal-martish (not that big, but that kinda variety/dept. store) in the early 80’s, in a suburb just North of Salt Lake City, Utah. You’re 14 or 15, or so, and you’re poking about the science fiction section. You come across this book called “Image of the Beast”. You start reading . . . . .

    Um. YOWZA.

    Crazy book. And to think all the skin mags were behind the counters . . . .

  14. I remember going out and finding his stuff after reading the dedication in Stranger in a Strange Land. Totally worth it.

  15. “Pay up, you owe for the flesh.”

    From a (hallucination) scene in one of the Riverworld novels; pretty sure it was Richard Burton hallucinating.

    It’s one of the semi-random lines that for some reason has inhabited some corner of my mind ever since reading it, even though I read all the Riverworld books 10+ years ago in junior high.

  16. I loved “Tarzan Alive” and “Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.” The latter triggered my love for pulp fiction, as I tracked down Doc Savage and the Shadow.

    He will be missed.

  17. I recently reread “To Your Scattered Bodies, go” in conjunction with that godawful miniseries they did of it. The book stood up. I hope that the cash from the miniseries made his last years more comfortable but my God was that miniseries bad. It is amazing how good the TV/film industry is at turning gold to crap.

  18. Well that’s a weird coincidence. I just started reading (or rather listening to) the audiobook of To Your Scattered Bodies Go a few days ago. It’s quite good and I was thinking I should get the rest of the series. Hopefully the aliens have recorded him and he’ll come back with the rest of humanity.

  19. Rob Thornton @ 17 —

    Yes, indeed. I remember rereading the story in the early 80’s as part of my undergrad thesis (“Science Fiction Publishing: 1926 – 1976” if you must know) and just being taken in by the sheer beauty of the language, and the playful form and structure, juxtaposed with such a horrific in-your-face-so-there content. Definitely earned that Hugo, he did.

  20. I’m another one who spent my teenage years reading all I could find from PJF. I owe him a debt of gratitude for introducing me to the idea that religion was a legitimate (and fertile) subject to explore in sci-fi.

  21. The line that always stuck with me is from Riders of the Purple Wage:

    “I’ll be the northern lights of your soul.”

    Not a bad epitaph, at that.

  22. PJF ranks in my top 3 favorite authors. Riverworld and World of Tiers are the standouts for me. A font of great ideas, great action, fun characters, deep thoughts.

  23. I grew up on Vonnegut and Farmer. I learned to love satire through Kurt and sexually-charged adventure SF from Phil.

    A Feast Unknown was one of my favourite novels in my teens, and the Riverworld books made me question my own thoughts of religion and mortality in a way that only a high school junior can.

    And now to work on the Phillip Jose Farmer Tribute issue of The Drink Tank. I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to do one of those for many more years


  24. Along with Fred Pohl, he’s another writer I always thought of as belonging to a younger generation than he actually did.

    My favorite story of his will always be “The Shadow of Space”. I found out many years after reading it that he initially wrote it as a treatment for Star Trek. There was, of course, no chance that they’d ever put that on Star Trek, but if they had it’d have been the greatest and most disturbing episode ever.

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