Three and a half years and fifteen issues in, we suffered our first major printing problem with the final issue of Farmerphile; the good news is, it's our second straight 60 page issue and it is full of material about Phil's most popular series...Riverworld!
We start the issue with an excerpt from the soon to be completed Western novel, Cougar by the Tail by Philip José Farmer and Tracy Knight. This is followed by an interview with Tracy about his process of working with the material Phil started. Next we have "The Time Distorter" by Paul Spiteri. A shorter version of this story appeared in the Farmercon 90 Convention Program but this expanded version goes beyond Phil gaining access to a time machine before he sets off on his first journey. This story features a full page illustration by Charles Berlin. Buddha Contemplates His Novel shows what a treat it is when we get to print one of Phil's speeches. Contrary to the humorous title Phil does tackle an interesting philosophical question about the omnipotence of God. Win Scott Eckert's Creative Mythography column is one of his most ambitious. He searches Phil's family tree for proof that Phil himself is in a fact a member of the Wold Newton Family! First time contributor David Lars Chamberlain takes on the Bibliophile duty this issue with a look at The Unreasoning Mask. Inspired to read this book by comments made by Gary K. Wolfe, David did a very thorough job of studying one of Phil's deeper novels.
In terms of Riverworld, we have yet another wonderful cover by Keith Howell; this is in fact our first wrap-around cover. We decided to mine the two shared-world anthologies, TALES OF RIVERWORLD and QUEST TO RIVERWORLD for writers to contribute to this issue and easily got three (our first three choices, in fact) to pen articles for us. On the River with Philip José Farmer by author and superfan Robert Weinberg tells, not just about his stories, but also the behind-the-scenes story of the genesis of these two anthologies. Ed Gorman's article, My Time on the River is also a history lesson, one that goes back way before any Riverworld stories saw print. Allen Steele gives us a detailed account of his contribution, from invitation to inspiration to the writing of his story in Writing "Graceland." Together, all three articles combine to shine more light on this topic than we dared hope for.
Also on the Riverworld theme we have The River not Taken by Dennis E. Power. This article clarifies and puts into context a long letter by Phil to Fred Pohl (included) outlining a Riverworld storyline that Phil abandoned. Next we have Tom Mix Resurected by Danny Adams. This article illustrates the lengths that Phil went to while researching a historical figure to include in one his stories. The article includes letters to Daryl Ponicsan (author of the novel, TOM MIX DIED FOR YOUR SINS) and to Phil's good friend Robert Bloch. The highlight of the Riverworld material however is the Unpolished Pearl, Riverworld Dawn by Philip José Farmer. This is an outline (and some notes) for a "sidestream" Riverworld novel Phil wanted to write. He did eventually use part of the idea, but not as originally planned.
The issue finishes up with two more Unpolished Pearls. The first, Myadzian Journal is the oldest material published in Farmerphile and will most likely be considered by many to be the most exciting. It is four handwritten pages of notes (along with a typed transcription) from the late 1930s where Phil first described Kickaha and the World of Tiers. However this Kickaha is very different from the human trickster character we all know and love. And last but not least is a page of typed notes titled Time has its Mirages. This is brainstorm of ideas, the last line of which is "Buddha writes his novel
Copies can be ordered direct from Philip José Farmer's website.