Friday, July 15, 2011

Forgotten Books: Doc Savage - His Apocalyptic Life

A new Doc Savage novel has been published!
A new Doc Savage novel is now on sale!

To long-time Savage addicts like me, that’s BIG news. I started celebrating two weeks ago, rereading and reviewing Will Murray’s 1991 epic Doc adventure, Python Isle. Then I had the privilege to read an advance copy of the new book, The Desert Demons, which has just gone on sale from Altus Press.

I'll be reviewing The Desert Demons tomorrow. But since this is Forgotten Books day, I'm getting my Doc jollies by focusing on Philip Jose Farmer’s 1973 masterwork, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.

I grokked on this when it first came out in paperback in 1975, and later picked up the Doubleday hardcover shown above.

Farmer, who bought the first issue of the mag on the newsstand when he was 15 years old, admits to having read the entire 182-story series three times in the course of writing this book. Only then, he says, did he realize how truly apocalyptic Doc’s life was, and he spends the first chapter of the book proving his point. He compares Lester Dent’s work and vision with that of other “apocalyptic” writers such as E.E. Smith, William Burroughs and Henry Miller.

Over the course of the book, Farmer shares his unique perspective on Doc himself, his five aides, his cousin Pat and other major elements of the series, like the gadgets, the vehicles, the pets, the villains, and the Empire State Building.

A major part of the book is a continuation of a mythical genealogy called The Wold Newton Family that Farmer detailed in his 1992 biography, Tarzan Alive. The basic idea is that a real-life meteorite that struck Wold Newton, England back in 1795 caused mutations in the descendants of folks who got too close. Many of these descendants had powers and abilities above and beyond those of mortal men, making them fit subjects for heroic literature.

Farmer presents a complex family tree linking not only Tarzan and Doc, but such folks as Solomon Kane, Sherlock Holmes, Natty Bumppo, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Allan Quartermain, Phileas Fogg and Fu Manchu, on down to more modern descendants like Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and James Bond. It’s a fascinating game, and the fun continues in the capable hands of such Wold Newton disciples as Win Scott Eckert, most notably in his recent two-volume work, Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's review of The Desert Demons (a joint effort by Lester Dent and Will Murray). But if you can't wait, you can order right now direct from Altus Press. Click HERE!


Charles Gramlich said...

I'll look forward to your review!

Deka Black said...

Me too! Plus. i think the Crossover books are a fun read and a very useful source of documentation to those who want to particpate in the Wold Newton family universe.

George said...

I really enjoyed Doc Savage - His Apocalyptic Life! Although I haven't read all the Doc Savage novels THREE TIMES, I've read a large percentage of them. Looking forward to tomorrow's review of the new Doc Savage!

Randy Johnson said...

I have that paperback edition. By the way, you lucky dog. THE DESERT DEMONS is working it's way to my home now.

Win Scott Eckert said...

Thanks for the Crossovers plug, Evan! And thanks for the kind words on Crossovers, Deka!

Fingers crossed that a definitive edition of DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE will come back into print in the near future! ;-)

Win Scott Eckert said...

Evan, just a heads up... as I mentioned almost two years ago, a definitive edition of DOC SAVAGE: HIS APOCALYPTIC LIFE is coming back into print. :-)