Like Reason‘s Jesse Walker it’s been a while since I’ve read Philip José Farmer’s Riverworld Saga series, but his “To Your Scattered Bodies Go” was an early, and breathtaking, example of the possibilities of the sci-fi genre for a stunned 11-year-old living in rural Northern Ireland. The 91 year old author, who received a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America grand master prize and a World Fantasy lifetime achievement award in 2001, died earlier this week in his home town of Peoria, Illinois. Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow pays tribute, and try this from C P Carey – “And that was Phil. The smartest, nicest Trickster you could ever meet.” The Guardian’s obituary recounts the setbacks in the career of the “most underrated SF writer of all time”, and from the Guardian’s Book Blog
It’s a testament to Farmer that he continued in his revolt against the real for his entire writing life and beyond. Precisely because his name never accrued the same aura of many of his peers, his novels still manage to sneak up on unsuspecting readers. They have not been consigned to the intellectual ghetto of “literature” as Vonnegut has, or repeatedly corrupted by the watered-down vision of Hollywood as Philip K Dick has been. They can still be found left lying around for impressionable minds to stumble upon, ready and waiting to deliver a much needed slap in the face.