First 200 Words (part 4)

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We’ve gotten lots of questions about the subtitle of the book, “Protean Dimensions.” Just what does that mean? The subtitle, the entire book, and indeed the entire proposed series of Worlds of Philip José Farmer books, is explained at the front of the book, in the:

“Editor’s Preface”

by Michael Croteau

     Protean Dimensions. Two words attempting to describe a writer who eluded the conventional, side-stepped expectations, and denied even the need for boundaries. Philip José Farmer liked to kick down the walls that   defined—and enclosed—genre fiction. When that wasn’t enough, he blurred the lines between reality and fiction; just ask Sir Richard Francis Burton, Mark Twain, Tarzan, and Kilgore Trout.
     Farmer was many things to many people. He was an iconoclast, having written about sex and religion in places they had never been seen before. He wrote with a deep understanding of subjects like philosophy, psychology, and mythology. But he was also a teller of grand, supposedly “light,” adventure stories. He wrote pastiches and parodies of the stories he loved the most, and in doing so, introduced new generations of readers to the heroes of a bygone day. He was a master world—no, make that universe—builder. His “quasi-scholarship” was better researched than most Ph.D. thesis papers. He was himself protean: a renaissance man, a polymath, a self-taught: historian, theologian, anthropologist, linguist, evolutionary biologist, and sociologist. The careful reader may find all of these elements in any sample of his work.
     No matter how you first discover Farmer …

(Copyright © 2010 by Michael Croteau)

The rest of the “Editor’s Preface’” can be found in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 1: Protean Dimensions. Keep watching this space for more 200 word excerpts.

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