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Philip Jose Farmer (1918-2009) is one of those authors that I like a few books of his. He liked to write about fictional characters that inspired him. He wrote more about Tarzan and his world than any other classic character. For years, Time’s Last Gift was on the read one day list. It was also […]

I first came across the Ruritanian romance, a genre featuring adventure in a small, fictional, usually European kingdom, in Nabokov’s Pale Fire.  While that version was decidedly un-heroic, as Nabokov’s tragicomic works tend to be, it still impressed me as a promising setting for a story.  Later, in Philip Jose Farmer’s Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of […]

One quality I love about pulps and classic science fiction works is how much physical confrontation is in them.  Whether it involves mech suits, killer drones, shooting, swords, fisticuffs, or wrestling, there was heaps of full-blooded action.  And it’s seemingly simple, right?  Just write about one man punching another!  How hard that can be? And […]

Tarzan as imagined by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a vivid hero that epitomizes full-blooded adventure and influenced generations of writers.  The Tarzan of Jose Philip Farmer is better; the ultimate, indomitable hero and my favorite fictional character. As we noted in last week’s column, Farmer was utterly fascinated with Tarzan and wrote several different pastiches […]

It’s often been asked what later science fiction writers the pulp masters influenced.  I wager there were many, even when it’s not directly obvious from the works themselves.  For instance, the adventurousness of Heinlein’s stories and his classic heroes remind me strongly of the best pulp authors. But speculation aside, of all the great science […]

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