But for me there was one major drawback. I'm sure it was well done, but somehow it turned me off, and I suspect it offered scant pickings for the hard-core sex reader. Maybe it's that a chase is one way to get from point A to B, and too much chase dilutes the content. The Postscript this time is by Theodore Sturgeon.
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It is violence which makes our society ejaculate, while genuine pleasures are suppressed. Piers Anthony. Edited by Philip Jose Farmer. Essex House. Would you like to read a brand-new Tarzan story? Sure you would! Do you enjoy a Doc Savage adventure?
How a super-special epic thriller in which they both appear; a violent physical confrontation between these two legendary supermen of fiction? Speculation can be endless when one considers the possibilities in such a story. Well, the story has yet to be written, although Philip Jose Farmer almost persuades us that he has done it.
If they are really meant to be Tarz and Doc, then they are dwellers in some alternate time-stream. His two might heroes are called James Cloamby, Lord Grandrith, demi-god of the jungle, and Doc Caliban, all-around scientist and fighter against the forces of evil.
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Doc even has two henchmen whom you may think that you recognize. Grandrith himself admits to the seperate existence of Tarzan, who by the way, and as you should know, is not the same as Tarzan. The tale is told by Lord Grandrith, whose better-known identity we do not learn. He is the natural son of Jack the Ripper, who as it turns out, is also the father of Doc Caliban. Both heroes are members of a secret organization of near-immortals headed by the mysterious and sinister nine, who seem to be the real rulers of the world. The global intrigues of the Nine are carried out by the rank-and-file, bound to them by the dependance on the elixer of prolonged youth.
For reasons of their own the Nine pit Grandrith and Caliban against each other in a contest to the death. The struggle of titans carries on from Africa to England to a terrific and bloody climax, where the true evil of the Nine is eventually realized. The simple plot outlined above is but the overstory and should be great fun, especially to a bibliophile, if he can refrain from losing his temper at the understory, where the meat is.
Say it right out there in cold print with lots of good old four-letter Anglo-Saxon words, so that the previously unread may find his way without difficulty. Don't pussyfoot around coyly speaking about a commodity usally found in a corral; call it something more terse. There should be a large enough Pavlovian response among s-f and ERB fans alone to ensure a good sale without the seekers of blatant sexual situations.
Telling It Like It Is also includes exposing to the light anything currently within the totality of human experience, or whatever may possibly be imagined, no matter how unpleasant. Perhaps Farmer had long had the feeling that ERB, that hopeless old Victorian, both because of the publishing restrictions of his day, and because of the social milieu that formed him, had left a lot untold about his ape-man. Grandrith admits that there was much he kept from his biographer, not wanting to shock him, and who, even if he did suspect, chose not to tell anyway.
You know, for instance, that Tarzan, because of his Mangani upbringing is essentially a loner, with many of the habits and characteristics of the beasts. He has, among other things, their unquestioning reactance to injury, a stoical acceptance of what cannot be changed, and unlike his harried civilized brother, an apparent perfect obliviousness to the passing of time.
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What Farmer has done here is to throw some light on the murkier implications of environmental indluence upon a while man raise from infancy among a tribe of apes, herein called the Folk. Perhaps long exposure has inured your stomach to a reasonable fortitude while contemplating Tarzan's gustatory delight in slugs and bugs.
Your civilized and squeamish stomach must learn to endure the knowledge that there are things much worse than nice fat grubs and worms that a true apeman may eat. Farmer also tells you that your jungle lord not only has feet of clay and gonads of flesh, but most certainly will enter a bathroom for the same purpose as you and I. Also that the entirely uninhibited and guiltless sex-play or pre-pubertyMangani young cannot failt to have left its influence on an impressionable young Taramangani.
It is a shocking book, with gobs of very bad taste, requiring an extremely strong stomach, but it is an honest book. I think seekers of pornography will be disappointed, for it strikes out in that department, even though there are many assorted repellent, perverse and perverted practices on display. The mayhem and brutality in the fighting sequences are about par for today's readers. We cannot advocate entirely the convenient sweeping of unpleasant things under the rug, for the hinges on the lid of Pandora's box are sprung beyond any possibility of closing. Nevertheless, simple good taste and not old lady Grundy should tend to make us go along with Kipling when he observed that, "there are things in the breast of mankind that are best, in darkness and decency hid.
Shuyler Miller to learn that Farmer's book did not, as he clairvoyantly foretold in his November '69 Reference Library column, "drive the Burroughs Bibliophiles up the wall. After that, I had a lot of fun reading the book. Frankly, I haven't enjoyed so many belly-hurting laughs in ages Maybe after fifty and some years of actually living life, I've learned the necessities and nastiness of it all. Maybe my stomach is tough after years of eating in restaurants, cook houses, grease joints, mess halls, and out of army messkits and various and sundry tins and boxes.
I recall the billions of flies on Corregidor and wonder how many I unwittingly consumed along with my C ration. I recall the mutilated bodies of comrades which we found What else is in that beef, or pork, or hamburger you had for lunch? Haven't you wondered why your canine friend' s breath is so hot and fetid? Or what the acute alcoholic drinks when he is broke and thirsty? How does your garden grow? Is it all so very repugnant? When was the last time you swallowed your pride.
Whatever else Phil's book is, as Al sezs, it's honest, but the casual reader will think it is not dirty enough. Any Burroughs Bibliophile who does not read it and place it in his library--along with the forthcoming sequels from Ace--is chicken! You say that it isn't a spoof; that it's a further extension of the prototype hero-mythos making use of the simulacra of familiar popkulchur figures in order to deepen its racial-subconscious prevelence and provide a traumatizing shock of recognition. Heaven forfend, though I don't doubt that you have a point imbedded there. For those new to Farmer's naughty books, A Feast Unknown is the ninth volume of Lord Grandrith's autobiography, the first eight of which haven't been written -we're led to believe that they remain hidden, be we know better.
In this episode Grandrith who henceforth will be called Tarzan because it's easier to spell trots about Africa and England wearing little but a knife and a hyperbolic erection "Adults Only. He fights, kills, eats animal wastes, battles Doctor Caliban, the bronze. T and DS even come together, as it were, while hand wrestling on a tight-rope bridge over a proverbial yawning chasm.
To quote T: "We swayed back and forth in this footless dance. With women both of our heroes are a flop; is it the lack of the wound that keeps them detumesced? Or are they just peculiar? After much nastiness DS is killed by T. Or is he? No, certainly not. T and DS are now brothers in league against The Nine. Who are The Nine? That's the part I didn't get into above.
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All of the routine and cliched plot is tossed off by Farmer with a kind of rapturous insouciance. It's kind of like that wondrously picaresque "Noah" section of the John Huston film, The Bible ; the creator is having a ball, and you're invited if you wear the right attitude. But if you are going to wear your serious clothes, don't come, you'll only be miserable. Odd that this long out-of-print collector's itme shoudl appear simultaneously from Fokker in the U.
Fokker's edition has naughty illustrations by Richard Corben. The Quartet edition leaves it all to your imagination.
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