Anne McCaffrey, Robert Silverberg and others remember Philip Jose Farmer

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Philip Jose Farmer, who died last month at the age of 91, created more than 60 novels and more than 100 shorter works—but also left behind memories both in the minds of his friends and those who were influenced by his work.

SCI FI Wire asked some of them to share how Farmer, famed for his Riverworld and World of Tiers novels as well as for introducing strong sexual themes into science fiction, touched their lives.

Anne McCaffrey, creator of the Dragonriders of Pern series, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.

I am very sorry to learn of Phil Farmer's death. I vividly remember reading his first story and reminding myself that this was a new author to watch out for. Then we both had stories up for Hugos and were tied that year. Good company to be in, and I'm sorry he won't be around anymore, but he will be remembered.

Robert Silverberg, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning writer, was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2004.

His work was revolutionary in its time and still holds much for modern readers. He was a splendidly original writer, one of the giants of science fiction, and a grand human being. It was a privilege to know him.

Michael Moorcock edited the British science fiction magazine New Worlds, which heralded the New Wave movement, and is the creator of the fantasy hero Elric of Melniboné.

Phil was one of the first sf writers I ever read and enjoyed—The Green Odyssey—and I became a great fan. We ran his "Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod" in New Worlds—William Burroughs writing Edgar Rice Burroughs—and I thought it was brilliant. He was a writer with a wide talent and wide tastes which he combined to provide his readers with a huge amount of top quality fiction. And he was a very nice man. He graced the field he made his own.

Cory Doctorow is the co-editor of the blog Boing Boing, winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2000, and author of the bestselling novel Little Brother.

I never knew Philip Jose Farmer; he was of an older generation of sf writers. But Riverworld's scope, audacity, richness, and mystery forever changed the way I viewed epics. For me, Farmer is the eternal master of the saga.

Kim Newman in an award-winning fiction writer, a film journalist, and a frequent television film critic.

Here are some things I got from PJ Farmer:

... that it's all right to make up stories about whatever you happen to be interested in—pulp heroes, zeppelins, weird sex, 19th century fringe history—and hope enough readers out there will either share your interests or come to them through the story.

... that it's not enough to just pastiche earlier works—if you borrow a character or a plot or a setting, you have to put a spin on it, engage with the original work in some critical, almost adversarial way.

... that you can use real people as viewpoint characters, and even be quite rude about them, so long as you inhabit them as much as fictional creations.

... there's no such thing as useless information. Everything you know can be used.

... science fiction characters can have sex lives. And senses of humour.

... what a Psyche knot is.

... you can tie all your books and stories and even non-fiction together without imposing any deadening consistency (Mike Moorcock and M. John Harrison reinforce this).

David Hartwell has worked in publishing since 1971 and has been an editor at Tor Books since 1984, where is is currently Senior Editor.

Phil was the first SF writer to pick human sexuality as a primary theme in his writing. He was often very much on the cutting edge over decades of work, and an influence on many later writers, not the least of whom was Roger Zelazny.