27 February 2009

RIP: Philip José Farmer

Philip José Farmer
26 Jan 1918 – 25 Feb 2009

ZUI this article from the Peoria (IL) Journal Star:
Long after he became an internationally recognized science fiction writer, the usually elusive Philip Jose Farmer lent his fame to a favorite project: Peoria’s public libraries.

Fans would come from around the world to attend Farmer-related events, particularly when the Lakeview branch celebrated his Grand Master Award for Science Fiction in 2001. Puzzled local library patrons might wander by to sample the cookies, occasionally asking what was causing all the fuss. Farmer would crack his tight-lipped smile, but seemed unfazed by either global attention or the local lack thereof.

Farmer died at his North Peoria home Wednesday morning. He was 91.


Michael Croteau, webmaster for pjfarmer.com, the official Philip Jose Farmer Web site, calls Farmer “that great teacher we all wish we had.” The relationship lead Croteau to read authors from Herman Mellville to Edgar Rice Burroughs to Carl Hiassen.


Although Farmer was not always recognized here, he always credited Peoria and its libraries with his love for reading and writing. His family moved to Peoria from Indiana when he was 4. Some of Farmer’s earliest memories involved the McClure Branch Library.

“That’s where I started reading widely,” he said in a 1998 interview, citing the science fiction, the boys’ adventure books and magazines. “And then when I got to the adult section, I just went ape. Literally, because I discovered the Tarzan books.”

That sly humor and love of wordplay never deserted him, despite a series of strokes and health problems during the last few years. Over more than five decades of writing, he wrote more than 75 books and countless short stories. He won science fiction’s highest honor, the Hugo Award, three times. He was nominated for five more. Yet friends and collaborators prefer to remember his generosity of spirit.

I've been a PJF fan since the early '70s, when I read Lord of the Trees, The Mad Goblin, The Gate of Time, the first few World of Tiers books, and others. I'd say The Maker of Universes, The Gate of Time (but not the later, expanded version, Two Hawks from Earth), Tarzan Alive and Time's Last Gift are my favourites of his books.

Farmer's official website is here. A complete bibliography of his books can be found here. ISFDB has another one, including short stories, here. (There's one at his official site as well, of course.) And Wikipedia has an article.

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