Doc Savage is one of those enduring pulp icons who will always have a cult following no matter how many years pass since his heyday. The creation of writer Lester Dent, Doc Savage was a combination private eye/crusading scientist/super hero who, with the help of his loyal assistant, managed to defeat some of the most evil threats that mankind has ever had to face. Certainly a bit corny but always a great deal of fun, the Doc Savage tales were always amongst the best of their type and, as the world continues to get more and more complicated, there's something wonderfully reassuring about entering into Doc Savage's world and discovering that evil can always be defeated by one bronze skinned genius. For this reason, Doc Savage continues to maintain a loyal fan base into the present day. One of these fans was the late science fiction writer Phillip Jose Farmer (creator of the Riverworld series and several other underground classics). Farmer wrote Doc Savage, His Apocalyptic Life as an obvious labor of love. While he goes out of his way to try to accurately document the mythos of Doc Savage (though some critics are correct when they point out that he sometimes draws conclusions that are far more Farmer than Dent), Farmer does so with a welcomed tone of uptmost (if still bemused) seriousness. Treating this book as not just a long fan letter but instead as an actual biography of an actual man, Farmer affords Doc Savage fans a dignity that others who have attempted to write about classic pulp icons haven't.
The book to a certain extent acts as a sequel to Farmer's better known (but, to me, of lesser quality) Tarzan Alive. As in the Tarzan book, Farmer concludes with lengthy and imaginative geneaology in which he manages (with not too many excessive liberties taken with their established canons) to show that every pulp hero was in some way related. Along with Tarzan, Doc Savage is soon to be related to Bulldog Drummond, James Bond, Nero Wolfe, The Scarlet Pimpernil, Prof. Challenger, the Shadow, and just about anyone else you could think of. No, its not meant to be taken seriously but, like the original Doc Savage stories themselves, its still a lot of fun.