Farmer, Burroughs and Doc – Making Connections
Thanks to JD at SFSignal, I am now reading Gods of Opar, an ARC of the soon to be published trilogy of Philip Jose Farmers two Opar books (Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar), plus the conclusion to the trilogy, The Song of Kwasin, written by Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey (I believe Mr. Carey finished this story based on notes in the PJFarmer archives). Originally written to be a series of “ten or twelve volumes” (so says a letter from PJF) of historical fantasy based in Opar, an ancient world first visited in fiction by Tarzan.
This book and Farmer connects the dots with two of my long term obsessions: Doc Savage and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Farmer should be a familiar author based on his two most widely read series: the Riverboat series (To Your Scattered Bodies Go (a most excellent name for a novel, BTW) won the Hugo in 1972) and the World of Tiers series. But Farmer also had a fascination and participation with Edgar Rice Burroughs and Doc Savage.
Doc Savage is the long running pulp series (my primer on SFSignal can provide you background) which Will Murray has recently revived. Farmer wrote two books in the Doc Savage canon: Escape from Loki (which depicts Doc and his five men as an origination story in World War I) and the psuedo-biography Doc Savage: His Apocolyptic Life.
Edgar Rice Burroughs is the creator of Tarzan and John Carter, the subject of my current SFSignal Primers (written here and video here).
Farmer connects Doc Savage and Tarzan in many of his stories, and in his Wold Newton universe (which postulates that a meteorite that landed in England affected certain people in the universe by giving them extraordinary abilities).
The Gods of Opar stories bring this connection full circle. Opar is first mentioned in Burrough’s second Tarzan book, Return of Tarzan, and is the setting of three others in the series. Farmer expands this region by building the history, setting Hadon in the year 10,000 BC and putting a time-traveler character from one of his other novels as a tinkerer and trouble maker.
A full review of the trillogy will be on SFSignal when reading is complete.
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