The Gridley Wave #318 ~ March 2009
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Philip José Farmer Dies At Age 91
Phil Farmer sailed down the River Iss last week, January 25, 2009, on his final journey into the unknown. Most national newspaper obits, such as the New York Times, skipped over his preoccupation with Tarzan and the Burroughs legend, but faithful fans remember him well through his many Tarzan oriented books such as Tarzan Alive, The Peerless Peer, Lord of the Trees, Mother Was a Lovely Beast, Flight to Opar, and numerous magazine interviews. 

I first met him face to face at a Chicago dinner in 1989 at the Adventurer's Club where we both received awards from the Normal Beans Chapter of the Burroughs Bibliophiles. He was delightful company, and so was his beautiful wife Bette. To cement our friendship, he sent me the large original painting of the Greystoke Coat of Arms which he had researched and which was painted by Bjo Trimble. The motto (in archaic French script) is pictured at the top of the heraldic shield, and reads: "Je Suys Encore Vyvant" ("I Still Live"). The watchword at the bottom reads: Kreeg--ah! Phil gave a speech at the 1971 Detroit Dum-Dum on his Greystoke Coat of Arms, and it was published in Burroughs Bulletin #22 (Summer, 1971) by his good friend Vern Coriell, editor and publisher of the magazine.


We exchanged many letters over the years, and in 1996 we both appeared in a French documentary entitled "Moi Tarzan" in which Phil was filmed in his own home giving a talk on how he met the real Tarzan. His imagination was vast, as demonstrated in the huge array of books he published in the science fiction genre, most notably his Riverworld and World of Tiers series.

Most of all, we remember him for his original view of the Tarzan myth which he tried to convince his reading public was not myth but reality. He made no bones about Tarzan inspiring him to become a writer. He won two Hugo awards (1967 and 1970), was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2001, and was always in demand by publishers for more of his brand of writing skills. He spent most of his life in Peoria where he grew up, went to college, and where he died last week, survived by his wife Bette, two children, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so he managed to fill his life with good memories and to inspire friendship in those who knew him. He will be missed.

Here is a gallery of Phil's Burroughs-inspired covers to remember him by.

... "Ye Editor"

Ballantine 1977  - Darrell Sweet art
Doubleday & Company Inc., HC 1st - 1972 - Milton Glaser art
The Gridley Wave #318 ~ March 2009
Published monthly for the Burroughs Bibliophiles as a supplement to The Burroughs Bulletin. Edited by George T. McWhorter,
The Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection, William F. Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292.
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