In this weeks episode I will be discussing Totem and Taboo by Philip José Farmer. February 25, 2015 marked six years since the passing of this enormous talent, so I decided to read one of his stories in remembrance of him. By coincidence, or fate, a copy of The Grand Adventure arrived in the mail on the 25th. These is a beautifully illustrated collection published by Byron Preiss and Berkley Books, which contains some PJF stories I’ve been dying to read. The Totem and Taboo title caught my interest, and after reading Farmer’s introduction to it, I just had to read it. The story itself isn’t very long, Farmer’s introduction is nearly as long as the story itself. But he conveys some interesting points and background material in the introduction.
Totem and Taboo combines two of Farmer’s interests, Psychotherapy and Totems. The name of the story being identical to a thesis by Sigmund Freud isn’t a coincidence. In the introduction, Farmer says this story has nothing to do with Freud’s thesis, but then again he also says it might after all. Farmer had an interest in psychotherapy and psychology, which played a big part in his World of Tiers novel, Red Orc’s Rage.
PJF also gives some serious thoughts about animals towards the beginning of the intro, as well as comparing and contrasting their actions to humans. This kind of thinking is seen from him in other works relating to feral humans. Of course, totems play a part of the Khokarsa series, with Hadon of Ancient Opar being a member of the Ant Totem, and Kwasin of Dythbeth being a member of the Thunder Bear totem.
According to Farmer, at the conclusion of his intro, no psychologist or psychoanalyst, as far as he was aware had combined zoology with their particular school of theory or technique. Farmer mused that maybe they should look into this.
Totem & Taboo at ISFDB: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?58170
Philip José Farmer on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Philip-Jose-Farmer/e/B000APAEPG/
The Grand Adventure on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Adventure-Philip-Jose-Farmer/dp/0425072118/
The Book of Philip José Farmer on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Philip-Jos%C3%A9-Farmer/dp/B0006F1Q1G/
Official Philip José Farmer Website: http://pjfarmer.com
Meteor House Press: http://meteorhousepress.com