Book Review: Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin by Philip José Farm

Lord of the Trees by Philip José Farmer

Titan Books – Reprint 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1781162934 (Trade paperback)

The Mad Goblin by Philip José Farmer

Titan Books – Reprint 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1781162996 (Trade paperback)


Titan Books has reprinted, with extra “historical” material, two of Philip José Farmer’s classic short novels: Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin. And I couldn’t be happier.

Published originally as an Ace Double back in 1970, these two novellas function as a kind of homage to Tarzan and Doc Savage and their pulp worlds. Actually, they constitute more than mere homage. These are fictional extrapolations of the two great pulp characters, but brought into the modern age–because built into these stories is the idea that both Tarzan and Doc Savage are genetically related and may very well be immortal.

Farmer appears to be the first author to take a whole set of characters and fashion them into a mythical genealogy first outlined in his totally-made-up biography of Tarzan in 1972 called Tarzan Alive. He did the same later on for Doc Savage in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life in 1973. In the process, he invented what he loosely called the “Wold Newton Family”, being descendants from several individuals who, while riding together in a coach in England, were nearly struck by a mysterious blue meteor. They survived the impact, but were irradiated by the glowing stone. Their descendents became all the great pulp and action heroes of the 19th and 20th centuries. These would also include a few villains such as Captain Nemo and Professor Moriarty.

It’s a wonderful conceit, entirely fictional, and makes for a great read. Titan Books has already released a slew of Farmer novels that fall into the Wold Newton Universe. Among them are The Wind Whales of Ishmael, A Feast Unknown, Time’s Last Gift, Hadon of Ancient Opar, and The Other Log of Phileas Fogg. I would like to see Titan release the World of Tiers series because the original novels came out piecemeal and unpredictably. However, we’re lucky to have these. If you haven’t read Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin, you’re in for a treat.


–Paul Cook

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