Philip Jose Farmer Essay - Critical Essays

Farmer, Philip Jose (Vol. 1)

Farmer, Philip Jose 1918–

American science fiction writer. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)

Farmer is best known and most often referred to in critical works about science fiction as the first to introduce speculation about sex intelligently as a legitimate subject of science-fiction extrapolation…. [But] we [also] have in [his] stories the premise that a physical species, akin to man in every way (emotionally and physically), had advanced its civilization and control of the secrets of nature so far that it was able to create entire universes, closed cosmoses, establish whatever arbitrary laws of "science" it wished to govern these man-made continuums, and then use them for its own private playgrounds!…

[Farmer's] novels are a veritable fireworks of new concepts in biology and fantasy lands—the creations fall over each other and the possibilities continue to burst from Farmer's mind in ever-growing array….

[Farmer's pocket universes] are possible today because of the advanced state of the art, because science-fiction readers have become aware of the cosmological implications of man's progress, and because also the past few years have shucked off the fear of religious bigotry that would have inhibited writers and publishers … only a short time ago.

Any religious person—God-fearing would be the right word—would presumably object to such sacrilegious ideas as that man could ever compete directly with God. The implication that God Himself might be just another mortal playing at scientific games would cause a true believer to write furious letters to publishers. But this no longer happens. Apparently science fiction no longer needs to fear the anger of the believers.

Donald A. Wolheim, in his The Universe Makers, Harper & Row, 1971, pp. 49-51.