News & What's New - February 2008
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
22 February 2008

A new omnibus with three of Farmer's lesser known, "...but still excellent...", novels will be published with the title The Other in The Mirror by Subterranean Press. Which novels will be included has not been made known yet. Maybe it could be the three Dayworld novels, or Dark is the Sun, Inside Outside and The Stone God Awakens. Or the three Lord Grandrith novels maybe. There is enough time for speculation because the publication of the omnibus is planned for 2009.
Publisher's website: "If all goes according to plan, each novel will feature a special introduction by an sf/fantasy luminary."

The Case of the Bellman's Foreword (final)
22 February 2008

There have been responses to Ralph's investigaton. On 17 February 2008 was a Blog message posted by 'Tom Wode Bellman' himself, see here. And Christopher Paul Carey posted a short message on 18 February 2008 on his site referring to the Blog message from Tom.
With his message Tom Wode Bellman did not give any proof that he is real. He only states that he has written a fictional-author story too...
Ralph doesn't have anything to add to his earlier conclusion. He only said, that "if Tom Wode Bellman is real, then let him contact me". Because he stills needs a ghost-writer to finish a yet uncompleted Ralph von Wau Wau story, "Who Stole Stonehenge?"

The Case of the Bellman's Foreword (2)
18 February 2008

The investigation by Ralph von Wau Wau if the so called author Tom Wode Bellman is a hoax or not, see earlier entries, has come to a conclusion. Ralph has checked my earlier findings, see below under "The trickster(s) did it again!". But his investigation went further, because he did 'find' a Thomas A. Bellman Jr. in Illinois, who could be family maybe. When he phoned the Bellmans a teenage boy, Dan, answered the phone—his mom and dad weren't at home—and when asked answered that his uncle is called Tom Bellman, but that Uncle Tom, who had written some stories long ago as far as he knew, was on a vacation on Bermuda.

After this conversation Ralph decided that it might be worthwhile to take a flight to Bermuda. He doesn't like flying, because he always has to stay in a special cage in the cargo bay. He still is not allowed with the other passengers, they might be offended. Worst of all is that he is also not allowed to use the toilets... Ralph had no complaints about the flight crew, they were nice and even served him a few shots of King's Ransom Scotch on a plate. There is one advantage Ralph pointed out, you fly a lot cheaper as cargo.

On Bermuda Ralph went straight to a bar in the small city Hamilton, to have a drink and hopefully talk to some people. He entered "The Beach" on Front Street at the Harbour, a 'slightly disreputable bar' as he was told by the taxi driver, 'but also the best place to ask some questions...'. The bar is directly across from Number One Shed, where cruise ship passengers make their Bermuda landfall. Maybe Tom had been seen here.

The bar was noisy and with dark corners. When Ralph asked the bartender for a good Scotch, he got the attention of two men at the bar, who were very curious about Ralph and what he was doing on the island. He offered them a drink and both asked for a 'Dark and Stormy', which seems to be a mix of rum and ginger ale.
After introducing himself he asked them for their names. The youngest, a grey-haired men with a small also grey beard in his late fifties, was called Roger Crombie, and introduced himself as a journalist and writer. The older of the two, it was hard to guess his age because of his long beard and wild hair under a baseball cap, said his name was 'Gillmore' or 'Gillgore'. At least that was what Ralph understood, because the man was hardly understandable. He maybe had more of those 'Dark and Stormy' drinks than was good for a normal conversation and also, he had hardly any teeth in his mouth. Ralph guessed him at least ninety years old. 'Gillmore' had also been a writer, he had written many books in the past, but none of them were in print anymore.

Ralph explained his situation, that he was looking for another writer on the island, Tom Wode Bellman, who had written a foreword for a book by Philip José Farmer. Both men replied that they knew and had met Farmer personally, what a surprise and what a coincidence! But Tom Wode Bellman, no, it didn't ring a bell.
The rest of the conversation did not bring any news, at least not about this case, and after a few more drinks Ralph went to his hotel, Waterloo House, at the other end of Hamilton, a charming, old-fashioned, family-run hotel on the water. "That one will be demolished next year", had Crombie told him. Interesting, but Ralph would be staying only one, maybe two nights...
There was no Tom Wode Bellman to be found on the whole island of Bermuda, none of the hotels or guesthouses knew a man by this name.

Back in the US did Ralph call the Bellmans again and this time he got Thomas Bellman Jr. himself at the phone. No, he did not know any Uncle Tom who would be a writer, and would be staying on Bermuda. There was no Uncle Tom in his whole family: "Has Dan told this to you? I'm sorry, but Dan likes to make up stories. He wants to be a writer himself someday."

With this information Ralph closed the case and he comes to no other conclusion than I already had done before, maybe a bit premature, but nevertheless. There is no real Tom Wode Bellman, it is another nom de plume of Philip José Farmer.
Thank you Ralph!

I'm curious if the editor of the collection Venus on the Half-Shell and Others, Chris Carey, will comment this time on the new information.

Flußwelt in Germany
17 February 2008

The complete Riverworld, Flußwelt in German, series will be published again this year in Germany. Piper Verlag will bring the first three novels, Die Flusswelt der Zeit (To Your Scattered Bodies Go), Auf den Zeitstrom (The Fabulous Riverboat) and Das dunkle Muster (The Dark Design) in April 2008. These are not merely reprints of the previously by Heyne published books. Stories, that have not been translated and published before in Germany, will be included in these new editions from Piper. The story "Am dunklen Fluss" ("Crossing the Dark River") will be in the first book of the series.

click to enlarge
Strange Relations in paperback
15 February 2008

Publisher Baen published in 2006 in a nice trade paperback the omnibus Strange Relations. The omnibus contains two novels, The Lovers and Flesh, and a collection with five stories, also called Strange Relations.
This omnibus has now, published in February 2008, a new edition in a mass market paperback (price $7.99).
Publishers Weekly: "This landmark book belongs in every SF collection", about The Lovers. Algis Budrys said this about the same novel, "Acceptably written and equipped with an ingenious plot and explosive sf premise".
Tony Lewis wrote this in Locus about Flesh: "Farmer must have had lots of fun writing this because I had quite a bit reading it".


click to enlarge
Critical PJF study reprinted
15 February 2008

Borgo Press/Wildside Press reprinted the twenty-four year old critical study, The Magic Labyrinth of Philip Jose Farmer by Edgar L. Chapman. It was published last year in September in hardcover, price $19.95, and seems to be a print-on-demand title.
The Magic Labyrinth of Philip Jose Farmer is still a very readable and very interesting study about Farmer and his work, with chapters about recurring themes in his stories as sex, religion, the trickster, Tarzan and Doc Savage for instance. See also this review of the original publication by Gary K. Wolfe.
I would have liked to see a completely new, or at least an updated critical study of Farmer's work. With this book it looks like Farmer stopped writing in the early 80's. In my opinion such a study is long overdue. Even for want of a more recent and complete one, if you are interested in Farmer you will have a good read with this critique.

click to enlarge
News from France
15 February 2008

Christian Gitton (Paris) emailed that he had found an issue of the fanzine La Tribune des amis d'Edgar Rice Burroughs, No. 64, March 2007, which is a special PJF issue. It has a well known cover illustration by John Picacio.
On the website of the publishers you can see that issue No. 65 also has PJF related articles. Hopefully I can get these two issues, so the information can be added on the pages of the bibliography.

The collection La nuit de la lumière (Father to the Stars & Night of Light) will have a new edition in 2008 from publisher Laffont/Le Livre de pôche. There is no information on the publishers website yet.
Merci for this news also Christian.

click to enlarge
Farmerphile Issue No. 11
12 February 2008

Last week I received my copy of Issue number 11 of this wonderful magazine Farmerphile. I haven't had the time yet to read it, but will do so very soon. Especially because there are two completely new, or better previously unpublished stories by Farmer: "The First Robot" and "Duo Miaule". Also an essay by Farmer, and articles by Spider Robinson, Howard Waldrop, Robert R. Barrett, Cristopher Carey, Win Scott Eckert and Paul Spiteri.
Plus twenty-one birthday wishes from well known colleagues of Phil Farmer. I will be back on this issue when I have finished reading it.

click to enlarge
The Case of the Bellman's Foreword
12 February 2008

Ralph von Wau Wau has let me know that he has not yet found the mysterious Tom Wode Bellman, see the earlier entries. It seems Bellman is on vacation on the island Bermuda and will stay there a longer period untill the very cold weather in Illinois is gone. Later this week, most probably on Thursday, will Ralph take a flight to Bermuda and try to contact Bellman on the island.
Will be continued...

Locus honors Farmer's 90th Birthday
10 February 2008

The February 2008 issue of Locus, Issue 565, has in honor op Phil's 90th birthday four pages with birthday greetings, letters and appreciations, from authors as Joe Haldeman, Richard A. Lupoff, Mike Resnick, Gary K. Wolfe, Garth Nix, Barry Malzberg, Allan Steele, and Karl Schroeder, with a photo retrospective, spanning Phil's life from when he was only five months old till only last year. Charles N. Brown, the publisher, congratulates Phil in his Editorial.
And Graham Sleight reviews on another two pages in his column "Yesterday's Tomorrows" four previously published books by Farmer: The Best of Philip José Farmer, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Lord Tyger and Pearls from Peoria.

click to enlarge
New edition of both Exorcism novels
9 February 2008

Creation Books published in 2001 an omnibus edition of the exorcism novels The Image of the Beast and its sequel Blown. Under the imprint of Creation Oneiros the omnibus has now been reprinted in a new edition, with the 1975 cover illustration of the first UK edition by Jim Burns. The book price is $15.95 or £9.95.
Have a look at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk for your copy of these highly erotic —once marked, and for some maybe still marked as pornographic— SF-detective novels.

click to enlarge
More investigation
9 February 2008

Thanks to a suggestion by Paul Spiteri (UK) I have asked Ralph von Wau Wau to further investigate the Tom Wode Bellman case, see under. I hope he can easily —with all the knowledge and experience he has— confirm or deny my conclusions in this case. Ralph von Wau Wau accepted the request I made and does not expect that he needs much time for his investigation if Mr. Bellman is a hoax or not.
The editor, Chris Carey, of the collection Venus on the Half-Shell and Others will at this time not comment on —as he calls it— the 'speculation'.

The trickster(s) did it again!
7 February 2008

The foreword to the new collection Venus on the Half-Shell and Others has been written by Tom Wode Bellman. A real-life author who got involved in Farmer's plans of fictional authors. Or so it seemed in the book at first glance. But I had second thoughts, I had heard never before of Farmer's plans of an anthology with fictional author stories by other writers, nor had I heard before of the author Tom Wode Bellman.

Thus, I Googled the internet looking for information about Tom Wode Bellman, which I soon found, even with a photo (at right) on MySpace (here) and Tom Wode Bellman - The Unofficial Blog (here). A 90 year old man living in Illinois. Hey, that sounds familiar. Looking at all the other information, titles of some books and stories, like "The Light-Hog Incident", and even a signature on a wrongly spelled title page of a book, made it soon clear that what we have here is another fictional author, a.k.a. Philip José Farmer.
The signature is definitely in Farmer's handwriting. But in what story is this Tom Wode Bellman a fictional author then? Very close to home, in the before mentioned story "The Light-Hog Incident", only last year published in issue number 7 of Farmerphile and in Up From the Bottomless Pit and Other Stories.

I had hoped that the editor, Chris Carey, would have found in Farmer's files a previously unpublished fictional author story and include that in Venus on the Half-Shell and Others. For instance by another Tom, the fictional author of fast-action private-eye novels Tom Bonder maybe. He is a character in Farmer's "Down in the Black Gang".
But instead we got a foreword by a fictional author, something I had not expected. It was fun while it lasted.

So Farmer, the trickster, did it again! And he did it not alone this time. The internet information must have been made up by Farmer's accomplices, because Farmer himself is not 'online'. I think Chris, and Mike, know more about this. Nice work guys!

New collection received
4 February 2008
The trade edition of the collection Venus on the Half-Shell and Others has been received. And what a fine collection of stories this is!
Although the collection is new, the contents is not. The book contains stories that Farmer has written in the 70's of the past century. Nearly all of them were published while Farmer was using pseudonyms, or in these cases using the names of fictional authors for pseudonyms. The reason why Farmer did write the 'fictional-author stories', and involved other authors as well in his trickster's scheme of fictional authors, is told in the very interesting introduction by Christopher Paul Carey, the editor, and in the foreword by Tom Wode Bellman, one of the involved real-life authors.
Carey did a fantastic job bringing the stories together in this book and introducing everyone of them individually. The stories are all great —some belong to the best of Farmer's oeuvre— and just fun to read. I have read them all before, at least once when they were published the first time. With the book in my hands I feel the longing to read them all again! But where to start? I am feeling like the young boy standing with his nose at the window of a candyshop. He has the money to buy one of the displayed candies. They are all good and very tasty, he has had them once before, but which one to choose for now? While I already have all the candies in my hand, I still find it difficult to pick the first one to start with...

Venus on the Half-Shell and Others got a starred review (low on that page, under SF) from Publishers Weekly before the actual publication: "...Finally, after demonstrating how Tarzan might have sounded had he been written by William S. rather than Edgar Rice, Farmer dons the mantle of Conan Doyle's Dr. Watson and introduces Tarzan to Holmes in “The Adventure of the Peerless Peer.” Only a writer as mature as Farmer could have pulled this stunt off so successfully."
This is again a very beautifully bound book, with a great cover by Bob Eggleton, from Subterranean Press. It is always a pleasure to have a book from this publisher in my hands. Both the limited editions are not yet ready for shipping, we have to wait a little more for those.
You will not only enjoy this book by its looks, but definitely by its contents. It is a superb collection!

click to enlarge

Added Books
From November 2007 till February 2008 there were 35 publications added on the book pages.
See the Update info of February 2008 - extra.
Due to the restyling of the book pages I cannot give you exact numbers right now. When all is finished I will give these numbers again.

These are the about numbers, the last time - in November 2006 - they were counted:

1275 publications
750 different covers

© Zacharias L.A. Nuninga -- Page last updated: 22-06-2010