Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, Part 2 of 4
This month marks the release of Tales of the Wold Newton Universe, a new anthology from Titan Books that collects, for the first time ever in one volume, Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton short fiction, as well as tales set in the mythos by other Farmerian authors.
The Wold Newton Family is a group of heroic and villainous literary figures that science fiction author Philip José Farmer postulated belonged to the same genetic family. Some of these characters are adventurers, some are detectives, some explorers and scientists, some espionage agents, and some are evil geniuses. According to Mr. Farmer, the Wold Newton Family originated when a radioactive meteor landed in Wold Newton, England, in the year 1795. The radiation caused a genetic mutation in those present, which endowed many of their descendants with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The Wold Newton Universe is the larger world in which the Wold Newton Family exists and interacts with other characters from popular literature.
To celebrate the release of the new anthology, we’ve asked the contributors to discuss their interest in Philip José Farmer’s work and to tell us something about how their stories in the book specifically fit into the Wold Newton mythos.
For today’s installment, please join us in welcoming authors Octavio Aragão and Carlos Orsi.
Win Scott Eckert and Christopher Paul Carey,
Editors, Tales of the Wold Newton Universe
OCTAVIO ARAGÃO: The very first Farmer novel I read was Dayworld, I believe, when I was a teenager, and I was hooked. Later, I also loved the concept behind Riverworld, but I must say a huge thank you to my friend and partner Carlos Orsi because he was the one who made me get into the Wold Newton Universe, back in 1999 or so. Since then, I’ve breathed Farmer day and night, to the point that I had to have an interview with him (and I did it!). The Wold Newton Universe is all I ever wanted to do since childhood, but never knew how. Farmer opened my eyes to a postmodern multiverse. Thank you, Master, for all the good moments, the insights, and the inspiration.
“The Last of the Guaranys” relates how John Gribardsun, the time-traveler hero of Farmer’s Time’s Last Gift in his journey through time, passed months in Brazil, back in the 1500s, some years after the discovery of the land by the Portuguese fleet of Pedro Alvares Cabral, and how he, disguised as the Guarany Indian named Peri, managed to prevent a nuclear explosion, fight the bad guys, kill some mutant monsters, and fall in love with a beautiful Portuguese blond girl. As both of us (I mean, Carlos and myself, the authors of the story, of course) loved Time’s Last Gift, we had to be careful not to contradict all the facts postulated by Farmer in that novel, so we made sure that “The Last of the Guaranys” fits perfectly in the Khokarsa series timeline.
CARLOS ORSI: What I love more in Farmer’s writing are his wonderful sense of adventure — the traps, perils, battles he creates — and his amazing power to take a premise that, in a cold, rational light, might seem childish or absurd (as much of the pulp era writings seemed) and to take them to their cold, rational, and logical consequences without becoming childish or absurd at all. The book that best does it is Lord Tyger, in my opinion, but the whole Wold Newton saga is an immense exercise in the same direction. It is breathtaking in scope and marvelous in execution.
“Last of the Guaranys” introduces a classic character of Brazilian romantic fiction, the Guarany Indian Peri, in the Wold Newton Universe. Peri’s adventures, written in the mid-19th century by José de Alencar, take place during the Colonial Era, in the 17th century, when most of the country was, from the point of view of the Europeans, an unexplored and mysterious jungle. We link Alencar’s work into the John Gribardsun mythos from Farmer’s Time’s Last Gift and the Khokarsa series.
Octavio Aragão is the creator of the Intempol series and the author of A Mão Que Cria (The Hand That Creates), a novel where Jules Verne was the very first President of France and some fictional characters change the world as we know it. His short fiction production can be seen — mostly in Portuguese — in a lot of Brazilian anthologies, such as Vaporpunk, Dieselpunk, Sherlock Holmes: Aventuras Secretas (Sherlock Holmes: Secret Adventures), Space Opera 2, Excalibur and Caçadores de Bruxas (Witch Hunters). Find him online at octavioaragao.blogspot.com and @Octavio_Aragao.
Carlos Orsi is a Brazilian journalist and a science fiction, mystery, and horror writer. He has eight books published: two of science journalism and six of fiction, between short stories collections, novellas, and novels. His works have appeared in English in such venues as the classic fanzine Crypt of Cthulhu, Needle: A Magazine of Noir and the Elder Signs Press anthology Rehearsals for Oblivion. Carlos lives in the town of Jundiai, near São Paulo, with his wife and a cat.
I’m excited to see this collection! When I discovered what Farmer was up to tying together such disparate literary figures as Tarzan, John Carter, and Sherlock Holmes, I thought it was a brilliant idea! Farmer was able to appropriate his favorite inspirations in a way that was more than just fan fiction.
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