Friday, August 22, 2008

Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan Are Related To Each Other?!? (No, Really!)

When I first read Philip Jose Farmer's Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (a "biography" of Doc, based on the 181 pulp novels by "Kenneth Robeson"/Lester Dent) in 1975, there was a chapter and family tree linking Doc to "cousins" like Sherlock Holmes, Fu Manchu (the family "black sheep" ?), Philip Marlowe, The Shadow, Captain Nemo and James Bond 007, among others.

Farmer had originally posited this idea in his similar "fictional biography", 1972's Tarzan Alive (yes, Tarzan, AKA Lord Greystoke, is a member). In a nutshell, a meteor crashed in Wold Newton, England, in 1795, and its radiation somehow affected the people and their eventual descendants genetically. The descendants of the people of Wold Newton (according to Farmer) developed various above-average intellect and skills and the drive to do good (or evil) deeds.

Here's Farmer discussing how he "met" the real Tarzan when doing research for Tarzan Alive :

It's a goofy idea, but a fun one. Farmer himself wrote some short stories & novels such as 1976's The Adventures of the Peerless Peer, which teamed up Holmes & Tarzan (here called "Lord Greystoke" to keep the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate licenseholders happy) in 1916 Africa, and 1991's Escape To Loki, a WWI-set "prequel" to the Doc Savage novels, in which he continued to link all these characters to each other.

PJF fan and writer Win Scott Eckert took it upon himself to expand upon Farmer's "family tree" of fictional adventure characters and began a site devoted to the "Wold Newton Universe", which you can find here . Well, Eckert published a collection of essays by him, Farmer & others in 2005 called Myths For The Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe, which I just got via the library & will start reading ASAP.

In addition to the aformentioned characters, Eckert, Farmer & others link other fictional icons (like Zorro, Charlie Chan and even Henry Higgins -!- from Pygmalion/My Fair Lady) to said "family". Looks like a good read. Can I find 'em or what? -Ed

Related links: The Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe ; The Lester Dent Museum ; The Official Tarzan Web Site

1 comment:

Win Scott Eckert said...

Ed, I hope you enjoy the Wold Newton esays in MYTHS.

And check out my latest site, The Evil in Pemberley House, about a Wold Newton novel started by Phil Farmer which I've completed from his manuscript and outline. The novel is in the hands of Phil's agent now...