From PJStar:

Science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer died this morning at his home. He was 91.

The Peoria-based writer had written more than 75 books and was awarded the top honors in his field. That includes the Grand Master Award for Science Fiction in 2001, an award also given to noted authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein.

I "discovered" Philip Jose Farmer when my I was a kid – my father owned or gave me a copy of the first book of his Riverworld series To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and I remember really enjoying it, even though there was no way I was mature enough at that time to comprehend much more than the main plot of the book.  Any novel whose scope is so great that it includes all 36,006,009,637 people ever born on earth (from to origin members of homo sapiens through the early 21st century) is sure to make a lasting impression that stays with you.  My father told me that he read all of the Riverworld series and some of the other Farmer novels, and I planned to follow suit. 

Somewhere along the way I couldn't find any more books by Philip Jose Farmer at the library and forgot about searching for them until my interest was rekindled this month when I began to re-read the Riverworld series all over again (as you'll see from my GoodReads profile, if you're following me there).  Although the series does have some minor issues, it's as awe-inspiring now as the first time I read the novels.  Maybe even more so as I'm catching philosophical, theological, and historical references that totally blew by me when I was younger.

The world has lost a great author today, and is a little bit darker for it.  Farmer was one of those great authors whose works I could read over and over again.  There's a lot of his novels I haven't yet read, but now each one that I pick up will remind me of the passing of a writer who had such a strong influence in developing my love for reading in general, and sci-fi in particular.

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