First 200 Words (part 6)

Anthology editors are never supposed to say “this is my favorite” about something in a book they edit, but I just can’t help myself. As much as I love the new stories set in Phil’s worlds and the other fascinating items in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 1: Protean Dimensions, I guess, when it comes down to it, I’m really just a (science fiction) history buff. This essay not only gives us first person history from science fiction great Randall Garrett, but also includes text by Philip José Farmer that was thought lost forever.

“The Bite of the Asp”

by Randall Garrett

Someone once said that the difference between a goose and a viper was that a viper is an asp in the grass. In the science fiction world, we have a great many of both. For some reason, the science fiction fan (amateur or professional) seems to take great delight in sinking his little fangs into someone else, discharging a good dose of venom, and then sitting back to watch the results.

In the March 1953 Dimensions, Richard Elsberry ripped into Gernsback’s Science Fiction Plus with great glee, concentrating especially on a story therein entitled “The Biological Revolt,” which was printed in that magazine under the byline of Philip José Farmer. When I read it, I very noisily blew my stack.

Calm down, Elsberry; I’m not sore at you. Quite the contrary; I agree with you all the way. And, oddly enough, so does Phil Farmer. The story was a stinker; an out-and-out rotter. If you want to see Mr. Farmer cry in his beer, just say “biological revolt” to him, and behold, his eyes become misty.

Why? Gather round, kiddies, and I’ll tell you.

There are certain editors in the field who believe that an editor’s job, begad, is to …

(Copyright © 1957 by Randall Garrett. Reprinted by permission of JABerwocky Literary Agency Inc.)

The rest of the “The Bite of the Asp” 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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1 Response

  1. Art Sippo says:

    THis article was a lost gem defending the intergity of One of Philip Jose Farmer’s earlier works which had been butchered into mediocrity by a magazine editor. It is a piece of historical documentation that shows how poorly the work of authors in the popular press had been treated in the Golden Age of Pulp Publishing. It is of interest to all PJF fans and to those of us who know and treasure the pulps.

    It is one of many gems from the anthology.

    Art Sippo