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Friday, February 27, 2009

Remembering a Sci-Fi Giant: Philip José Farmer

The prolific science-fiction writer Philip José Farmer died recently at the age of 91. His books had global appeal. According to a tribute in the New York Times, his more than 75 books have been translated into 22 languages and published in more than 40 countries.

Farmer is best known for a number of imaginative series. In Riverworld, Farmer created a river that was millions of mile long on a far-away planet where anyone who has died on earth is reborn in good health and with a second chance. The first book in the series, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, won a Hugo Award in 1972. Among the people reborn in his Riverworld books were Mark Twain and Odysseus.

Other series include Dayworld in which a population crisis requires individuals to spend one day a week awake and the other six in suspended animation and World of Tiers in which god-like figures create pocket worlds for their own enjoyment, but then have to deal with their rebellious creations.

Farmer had his critics and was sometimes accused of writing too fast, but no-one questioned the scope of his imagination. According to the New York Times, Farmer once said, “Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.”

If you wish to sample some of Farmer’s creations, try these books:

The Classic Philip José Farmer: 1952 - 1964

To Your Scattered Bodies Go

The Dark Design

Gods of Riverworld

Dayworld Breakup

A Reminder

Mississippi Freedom Riders. March 5, 7:30 p.m. Alden Theatre, McLean Community Center.
The Fairfax Library Foundation presents Eric Etheridge, author of Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders and former Freedom Rider Rev. Reginald Green. For more information call 703-324-8428. Registration is not required; tickets will be distributed beginning at 7 p.m. on March 5; limit of four tickets per person, first come, first served; books will be available for sale and signing.

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