Christopher Paul Carey (co-author of THE SONG OF KWASIN with Philip José Farmer) discusses Farmer’s Ancient Opar Series at the 2016 Dum-Dum in Morris, IL, hosted by the Burroughs Bibliophiles.
A note from Christopher Paul Carey: I would like to correct two minor errors I made in my Dum-Dum talk. One, the Ancient Opar series is set 12,000 years ago (not 10,000 years ago). Two, Frank Brueckel’s last name is properly pronounced “Breckel” (not “Broy-kel”). I can only blame stage fright and lack of sleep for these mistakes, as I was well aware at the time of both facts.
If you’re interested in video games, I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with mods and the mod community. Mods are fan-made modifications to games already in existence. I was recently made aware of a mod for a World War II Super Hero video game that swaps out the pre-existing super hero characters and their missions with a wide variety of pulp heroes and pulp-styled missions.
The video game in question is Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich, which was originally created by Irrational Games back in 2005 for the PC. It’s now available to download via the Steam store. This is a real-time tactical role-playing game where you control a group of heroes who time travel back in time to World War II and fight the Nazis.
I’m somewhat familiar with this franchise as the artwork always caught my attention due to its strong Jack Kirby influence, but I can’t say I’ve ever investigated it too deeply. Given the premise, it seems to be an ideal base product to insert some pulpy goodness.
With the Pulp Adventures Mod by Benton Grey, rather than the stock heroes, players control the likes of Doc Savage, The Shadow, Indiana Jones, The Green Hornet, Kato, the Rocketeer, The Spider, The Spirit, The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, The Phantom, Captain Midnight, Miss Fury, Dick Tracy, Jungle Jim, Kolu, Monk Mayfair, Ham Brooks, and Renny Renwick on a unique campaign of 17 world-spanning missions. Also, according to the website, “the story features several classic pulp villains and a twisting, turning plot that ties into the settings and adventures of many of the starring characters.”
In addition to the huge cast available in the campaign mode mentioned above, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and John Carter of Mars are playable in the sandbox mode at the moment.
In this week’s episode I discuss “The God of Tarzan” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is a short story typically read in the Jungle Tales of Tarzan collection by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The story deals with a 19 year old Tarzan’s quest to find God after reading the term in the dictionary.
Last year I was lucky to obtain an advanced reader copy of Hadon, King of Opar by Christopher Paul Carey before its release at PulpFest 2015. PulpFest 2016 is just around the corner and once again Meteor House provided Pulp Crazy with an advanced reader copy of the latest novella in Philip Jose Farmer’s Khokarsa (Ancient Opar) series, Blood of Ancient Opar by Christopher Paul Carey.
Blood of Ancient Opar picks up immediately following the massive cliffhanger of Hadon, King of Opar. Hadon and his allies have triumphed over the forces of the Mikawaru pirates who had invaded Opar in Hadon, King of Opar (with the Priests of Resu and the Oracle of Kho assisting the raiders), but Hadon’s troubles are far from over.
His daughter La reveals an ancient prophecy to Hadon and the two of them spend the rest of the novella trying to make sense of it and use it to their advantage against an emerging threat.
Blood of Ancient Opar is a fast-paced adventure that once again has the reader side-by-side with Hadon throughout the course of the story. This is one of those tales that is tough to review, as I don’t want to spoil some major events that occur in the book, but I can discuss some portions.
During the course of the book, Hadon finds himself in the valley adjoining Opar, the Valley of the Royals. Here, Hadon visits the Palace of Queens, which readers of Tarzan and the Golden Lion will likely find very familiar. The wonderful cover painting by Bob Eggleton depicts this event. The chapters set at the royal retreat were some of my favorites, as it was fun to visit an all-new location in Ancient Opar alongside Hadon.
On a grimmer note, needless to say, before the events of Hadon, King of Opar, the queendom was already facing hard times. As Blood of Ancient Opar begins, the city is in an even worse situation. Hadon and La really have their work cut out for them if they hope to get Opar back on track.
Using Farmer’s notes, Carey skillfully executes the kind of fantasy adventure tale you just don’t see much of anymore. His contributions to the Khokarsa/Ancient Opar series feel right at home sitting beside Farmer’s original Ancient Opar books on my bookshelf and I feel fortunate to see the series continue in such great hands. Blood of Ancient Opar is everything I hoped it would be.
This is a tale of heroic fantasy skillfully brought to life through the pen and mind of a writer intimately familiar with the source material. Blood of Ancient Opar hearkens back to classic sword and sorcery adventures of the past while displaying a mastery of modern fiction writing. One thing thing is for sure, readers familiar with Opar will never look at the lost city the same way again.
Blood of Ancient Opar will be debut July 21st at PulpFest 2016 / FarmerCon XI in Columbus, Ohio. The novella is available for preorder in both softcover and hardcover formats at http://meteorhousepress.com/blood-of-ancient-opar/ . It’s highly recommend you preorder now if you want to guarantee a copy. Meteor House is also offering the remaining copies of Hadon, King of Opar for sale as well. The two novellas can be purchased together while supplies last.
Christopher Paul Carey joins me in discussing his latest novella, Blood of Ancient Opar. This is the latest installment of Philip José Farmer’s Ancient Opar series and is a must read for all fans of Opar. Today (6/15/2016) is the last day to preorder the book at http://meteorhousepress.com/blood-of-ancient-opar/ and have your name in the acknowledgments. You can preorder after 6/15/2016, but it’s highly recommend you preorder now if you want to guarantee yourself a copy.
Today, December 13, 2015 is the 220th anniversary of the Wold Newton event. On December 13, 1795, a meteorite struck outside the hamlet of Wold Newton in Yorkshire, England. According to Philip José Farmer, when the meteorite crashed into the countryside, two carriages were passing by. The drivers and passengers, who were already of heroic stock, were exposed to the ionization of the meteorite and were further enhanced by it.
These passengers include Sir Percy Blakeny, the Scarlet Pimpernel as well as Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. Ancestors of Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Doc Savage, the Avenger, the Shadow, the Spider, and others were present as well. The passengers included several married couples, with some of the women already being pregnant at the time. Their children would later marry each other, thus the enriched genes would not become recessive. Due to the families becoming interconnected, they are referred to as one family, the Wold Newton Family.
Today also marks the day of the launch of WOLDNEWTONFAMILY.COM. A website devoted to the canonical Wold Newton Family works by Philip José Farmer and authorized continuations. Be sure to take some time and give it a peek on Wold Newton Day, it has several articles, and is a great introduction and resource to Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Family.
In this week’s episode, I look at a seminal Wold Newton tale, “The Adventure of the Peerless Peer” by Philip José Farmer himself. This story features Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, and Tarzan, with several cameos by other pulp heroes.
In this week’s episode Chris and Chuck discuss the Farmerian Tarzan, focusing on Philip José Farmer’s official Tarzan projects, Tarzan Alive and The Dark Heart of Time: A Tarzan Novel. Farmer was a lifelong Tarzan fan, and while Tarzan Alive is often spoken of, The Dark Heart of Time seems to be neglected. The Dark Heart of Time also gets a bad rap for having extraterrestrial science fiction elements, but as it turns out, that’s just Farmer going over most of our heads. In this episode Chris explains that Farmer was actually pulling from preexisting African folk lore and mythology, not just throwing in science fiction elements.
I decided to split our conversation right when Chuck began talking about Thomas Yeates’ comic series Tarzan: The Beckoning as Chuck goes into a little bit of Farmer territory here. Chuck then talks briefly about the Hal Foster comic strips, before we move on to discussing Farmer’s Tarzan and how much of a Burroughs fan Farmer was.
This is a special episode of Pulp Crazy for two reasons. The first is that it’s going up on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ birthday, September 1st. The second, is that I’m joined by two special guests Christopher Paul Carey and Chuck Loridans. We’re going to be discussing Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan. These two are huge Burroughs and Tarzan fans and they cover a lot of ground from the books to other media that they feel captures or in part captures the spirit of the original Burroughs character.
There is also some talk about H. Rider Haggard’s influence on Burroughs, and a bit about how the style and framing sequence of the original Burroughs novels influenced Philip Jose Farmer when he came up with the concept for his biography of Tarzan, Tarzan: Alive. I enjoyed listening to these two go back and forth about Tarzan and ERB this past weekend. We recorded this episode without realizing it was Burroughs’ birthday coming out. So it’s a happy coincidence.
In this weeks episode I will be discussing Tarzan and the Gods of Opar Part Three written and illustrated by Mike Grell. This is the third and final installment of Tarzan and the Gods of Opar and it appeared a few weeks back in Dark Horse Presents #10. Once again Grell delivers eight wonderful pages of Tarzan. I really wish Dark Horse would make Tarzan a fixture in the pages of Dark Horse Presents, and have Grell illustrate eight pages a month. This was a great story, and Dark Horse really needs to make better use of the Tarzan property in my opinion.
Christopher Paul Carey and Meteor House graciously granted me the opportunity to read an early draft of Hadon, King of Opar. Hadon, King of Opar is the fourth book in the Khokarsa series which began with Hadon of Ancient Opar by Philip José Farmer back in 1974. Farmer wrote a sequel, Flight to Opar which followed in 1976. The conclusion to the original trilogy, The Song of Kwasin was published in 2012 in the Gods of Opar omnibus from Subterranean Press. The Song of Kwasin was co-authored by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey. Carey also co-authored the novella, Kwasin and the Bear God with Philip José Farmer, which was first published in 2011, in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 2: Of Dust And Soul from Meteor House. It has since been reprinted in Tales of the Wold Newton Universe from Titan Books published in 2013.
In addition to co-authoring Kwasin and the Bear God and The Song of Kwasin with Farmer, Carey has also written Khokarsa tales on his own. “A Kick In the Side” was published in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 1: Protean Dimensions by Meteor House back in 2010. Exiles of Kho was published by Meteor House in 2012. Exiles of Kho is a novella written by Carey that acts a prequel to the Khokarsa series. The novella chronicles the discovery of the valley which will one day house the city of Opar.
Farmer passed the tenu (a Khokarsan broadsword to the uninitiated) to Carey, and he’s been continuing the chronicles of Khokarsa ever since. The new novella, Hadon, King of Opar continues Philip José Farmer’s saga of ancient Africa which draws from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard. The Khokarsa series shows how the ancient cities encountered by Tarzan and Alan Quatermain actually have a shared history. Farmer was inspired by an essay written by two Edgar Rice Burroughs fans, John Harwood and Frank Brueckel, called Heritage of the Flaming God. Using the concept of Africa once having an inland sea (actually two seas, joined by a straight), he engaged in some Tolkien-esque world building, and connected his vision of Ancient Africa to the works of Burroughs and Haggard. The final product is the Khokarsa series starring Hadon of Opar and Kwasin of Dythbeth.
Hadon is the main character in Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar. He doesn’t make an appearance until the epilogue of The Song of Kwasin, which as you can guess, focused on his cousin, Kwasin. I’m a big fan of Kwasin, but seeing Hadon take center stage once again feels very appropriate.
Hadon, King of Opar takes place 14 years after The Song of Kwasin. Hadon is no longer the young man from the first two books, he’s now forty years old and has a family. He’s also King of Opar. His wife, Lalila, is the Queen. But don’t worry, he hasn’t let himself go like all the other Khokarsan kings (Minruth and Gamori). Hadon is still a physical specimen. He’s a paragon of heroic fantasy, and an expert swordsman. The King and Queen aren’t the only familiar faces in the novella, though.
Paga, the manling and forger of the Ax of Victory plays a role in the story. Abeth, Lalila’s daughter by the fallen hero Wi has a part to play too. Abeth was only a toddler during the original books, and now she’s a young woman. Kohr, who is Hadon’s son by the deceased priestess Klyhy, is a young man now. It’s great seeing Kohr, someone who was literally conceived during the first Ancient Opar book, play a role in the newest novella. Kohr is now a Captain in the Queensguard and he wields the Ax of Victory which once belonged to his uncle (actually second cousin) Kwasin. Kebiwabes, the bard from the original books also plays a part in the new novella. Last, but certainly not least is La, the child of prophecy born on the final page of Flight to Opar. She is Hadon and Lalila’s daughter, and is now a priestess of Kho and a follower of the teachings of Lupoeth. Lupoeth is the warrior priestess featured in Exiles of Kho.
It’s great to not only see Hadon and Lalila again, but seeing their grown children taking part in the story really drives home the scope of the Khokarsa series, and Farmer’s original vision for it. A few new characters show up too. I’m certain they will quickly become fan favorites, but saying anymore would give it away. It’s best the reader discover them when Hadon does.
Carey does a great job in putting Hadon in an interesting situation from the very beginning of the story. Hadon, King of Opar is a fast paced tale where you follow Hadon’s movements while Opar is besieged by invaders. The action takes place in, around, and under the city, thanks to the subterranean tunnel system mentioned in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the original Ancient Opar novels written by Farmer. Carey and Hadon both cover a lot of ground in this novella in regards to Opar’s geography. The vast amount of research into the Opar related Edgar Rice Burroughs tales, and Farmer’s Ancient Opar stories is very evident in the text. Carey’s research, and spot on prose has allowed him to craft a great piece of action and adventure set around Opar. I don’t think there is a person on the planet more knowledgeable about the city of Opar and Khokarsa than Carey.
Carey takes great care in the mythology and history Farmer established for the series and brings elements of both into the new novella. For instance, tensions between the priests of Resu (the Sun God) and priestesses of Kho (The Mother Goddess) are still present even during Lalila and Hadon’s reign. I also enjoyed the scenes featuring Togana’no. He’s a Gokakko, one of the neanderthal people who live in shanty towns within Ancient Opar. Farmer wrote about the Gokakko in the original Ancient Opar books, and Carey developed them further in Exiles of Kho. It’s quite a contrast to see how the Gokakko are treated by Lupoeth in Exiles of Kho compared to how the people of Opar treat them in the Ancient Opar books.
When reading Hadon, King of Opar, it felt like I was reading a lost work of Philip José Farmer himself. Carey’s talent as a writer, knowledge of the works of Burroughs, Haggard, and Farmer, his education in anthropology, and interest in linguistics has allowed him to continue the Khokarsa series with the same skill and passion as Farmer. The Khokarsa series is something both authors are going to be remembered for.
If you’re a fan of Khokarsa, Hadon, King of Opar should vault to the top of your reading list. Look at that Bob Eggleton cover; who wouldn’t want that on their bookshelf alongside the rest of the Khokarsa series? Besides an amazingly well done piece of cover art, you’re also going to get a great story.
Reading Hadon, King of Opar is like catching up with some old friends you haven’t seen in a while, then going on an adventure with them. If you’re new to Khokarsa, and are working on getting caught up, I would still preorder this book immediately. Meteor House prints a limited number of their releases, so you don’t want to miss out. Head to the Meteor House website and get your order in to guarantee your place in the party. Then return to Ancient Opar and join Hadon on another adventure.