Top positive review
"Fantasy Football" for literature buffs
July 14, 2013
It's sort of like fantasy football for literature buffs: Trying to fit all your favorite fictional characters into one gigantic family tree, a Unified Field Theory of heroic fiction. Sci-fi author Philip Jose Farmer laid the groundwork, postulating that the real-life crash of a meteor in the English town of Wold Newton in 1795 gave off radiation that altered the DNA of those nearby, creating a strain of nearly-superhuman geniuses and physical marvels who then became the great heroes and villains of fiction. Everyone from Tarzan to James Bond to Travis McGee to Phileas Fogg were part of the extended family. Since then, many other "Wold Newton scholars" have jumped into the game, expanding and refining Farmer's original family tree to incorporate even more characters from literature, movies, radio, tv, comic books and cartoons.
Myths for the Modern Age lays out the origins of the Wold Newton concept, and the generally-accepted "rules of the game". The bulk of the book consists of essays establishing, clarifying, and debating how various characters fit into the Wold Newton Family. Was Captain Nemo really Professor Moriarty in disguise? Was Charlie Chan the son of Fu Manchu? Is Zorro in all those books, movies, and tv shows really all the same person? How many children did Tarzan have, anyway? The answers are all here, exhaustively researched and footnoted, with a generous dollop of imagination and a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor.
It's a niche interest, to be sure...inside jokes don't get much more "inside" than this. But if this kind of "creative mythologizing" and pop-culture obsessing appeals to you, this is big barrel of fun.