Monday, January 01, 2007


Myths For The Modern Age
Edited By Win Scott Eckert
Monkey Brain Books
392 pages

Imagine, if you will, that all the major fictional heroes of the 20th Century were actually related. Figures like Tarzan, Dr.Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, the Shadow and Sherlock Holmes all being found on the same family-tree. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Well that is exactly what science-fiction writer, Philip Jose Farmer, posited when he invented his wonderful Wold Newton Universe in the early 1970s while writing the biographies of both Tarzan (Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke 1972) and Doc Savage (Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life 1093). In these books, Farmer set forth an amazing genealogy that clearly linked both these remarkable heroes and many others.

According to Farmer, back in 1795, a meteor struck the earth in Wold Newton, a small village in the East Riding Yorkshire County of England. At the moment it hit, two large coaches with fourteen passengers and four coachmen were traveling within a few yards of it. These eighteen souls were all exposed to the ionization of the accompanying meteorites. Somehow this altered their genetic make-up so that their descendants were born with enhanced human abilities and went on to become great crime fighters, scientists and explorers. Whereas others became super criminals.

Since putting forth the theory, Farmer soon found himself swamped with requests from an army of fans to expand the concept. They wanted to know more about these amazing heroes and villains and how they were related to each other. Soon fan interest evolved into scholarly dissertations as other writers came on board to expand the Wold Newton universe and make it their own. Farmer had inadvertently created the biggest mythological sandbox of our times and soon many, many others wanted to play in it.

One such Wold Newton enthusiast, soon to be expert, was Win Eckert. Eckert is a scholar with a B.S. in Anthropology. In 1997 he created the first website devoted to expanding Farmer’s concepts of the Wold Newton Family. This book is a collection of various essays by Eckert, Farmer and others who’ve gone on to add further, more intricate layers to what some call the Modern Mythology.

I truly love this book. Where else can you find an essay that identifies Modesty Blaise as the illegitimate daughter of Tarzan of the Apes and Queen La of the lost jungle city of Opar? Or read an argument to the effect that Sherlock Holmes, Hercules Poirot and Jules

deGrandin are all cousins? And those are just a few of the marvelous concoctions brewed up by these masters of the imagination. It is an introduction to a fabulous world made up of heroes, villains, vampires and ancient gods, all waiting to entertain you with their incredible pedigree. Anyone who calls himself a fan of classic pulp fiction should own this book.


Anonymous said...

How does Modesty end up in civilization when she is the daughter of La?


Ron Fortier said...

Without being facetious, the answer that question is in the book. Or better yet, as you and Win are both members of Flearun, you may want to query him there directly.
This book is so jammed packed with data, it would take me a couple of hours to find the lineage page where
that particular family line extends.
But believe me, it is there. Ha.

Anonymous said...


No prob, I guess that is another book to add to my buying list. Yesterday on the way home from an out of state visit I stopped at the local Borders and bought "The War of the Worlds Murder". Friday before leaving on the trip I bought "The Prestige" by Christopher Priest and a Pulp calendar. During the weekend my firend and I hit all the used bookstores in his area and I came home with a large stack of books.

Ron Fortier said...

Ric, let me know how you like WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER...when you get to it. Ha. Know exactly what you mean.
Over Christmas I got several gift cards to Barnes & Noble and a big one for Amazon. While in Colorado, my son drove me out to their Barnes & Noble one afternoon, handed me a $50 bill at the door and said, "Knock yourself out, Dad." Ha, does he know his father or what. Anyways, I too am starting off the new year with well over 15 new books to add to the "must read" stack. Yippeee!