01/06/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books. 306 page illustrated small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 7.99 (UK), $ 9.95 (US), $11.95. (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-85768-964-1.
check out website: www.titanbooks.com
It’s been many years since I’ve read Jules Verne’s ‘ Around The World In Eighty Days’. I’m pretty sure many of you are also more familiar with the 1956 film version starring David Niven. According to the late Science Fiction author Philip José Farmer in his1973 book, The Other Log Of Phileas Fogg’, re-issued by Titan Books this month, Fogg was doing more than originally related. Apart from fulfilling a bet to get around this fair planet in eighty days, as well as avoiding the police who believed he was the mastermind behind a bank robbery and was indeed using this money to pay for the venture, he was also involved in another mission. This involved stopping a distorter, a teleportation device, falling into the hands of Captain Nemo aka James Moriarty. How much more can I say without heading into spoiler zone? Not a lot actually. Even if you realise how the outcome must happen, the voyage (sic) is worth the journey to see how Fogg beats such adversities and adversaries.
All of this is part of Farmer’s ‘ Wode Newton Series’, hinted at originally in ‘ Doc Savage: His Apocalyptical Life’ and ‘ Tarzan Alive’, both of which I read and enjoyed when young. Both of these books were more biographies than stories per se. What happened was that the parents of all these luminaries, there were many others, were affected by radiation from a fallen meteorite near Wode Newton and many of their off-spring was recruited between two alien species, the Eridaneans and the Capelleans, to continue their own war as their own number died off. There’s a full chronology at the back of the book to clue you in. If you think that sounds somewhat like Alan Moore’s ‘ League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, always remember Farmer was there first and somewhat inspired the former’s stories. In fact, Farmer wrote several books about these other adventures and Titan are releasing this year. Considering that Farmer enjoyed playing with resurrecting historical figures in the ‘ Riverworld’ books, it’s hardly surprising that he would play a similar game with fictional characters.
This book is an incredible page-turner and you should ensure you give yourself a couple nice days in the sun to read it. Farmer was always a good storyteller. The fact that he could bring period research to life and play with it well is always a bonus. I never saw this book when it first came out. If memory serves, few of them were given a UK release at the time. Although this book sounds like steampunk, it actually isn’t because any advanced technology isn’t driven by steam. Read one Farmer book and you’ll want to read more. Don’t miss it.
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