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The Evil in Pemberley House [Hardcover]

Philip Jose Farmer , Win Scott Eckert


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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant addition to the Farmerian Mythos 20 Sep 2009
By R. Lai - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This novel clevery links earlier works by Philip José Farmer into the context of a gothic mystery. The elaborate connections between Tarzan and Doc Savage from Mr. Farmer's Wold Newton Universe are skillfully interwoven into an exciting narative.

There are also many refrences to other fictional characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Fu Manchu and Bulldog Drummond. Even the most erudite fan of populer fiction may have difficulty in catching all of these literary crossovers. It took me a while to realize that a comment concerning a family named Belville tied into E. W. Hornung's Raffles story, "To Catch a Thief."

Completed by Win Scott Eckert from an unfinished manuscript and a very detailed outline by Philip José Farmer, the novel is an enthralling delight. Mr. Eckert was ideally suited for this task. He has consistently championed the crossover concepts of Philip José Farmer in articles (see Myths for the Modern Age) and in pastiche fiction (see Mr. Eckert's wonderful short stories in the Tales of the Shadowmen anthologies).

Although I wholeheartedly recommend this novel, I must add a word of caution. Unlike the other Wold Newton works by Mr. Farmer, The Evil in Pemberley House has graphic sexual content. Mr. Farmer clearly intended this novel to be the Wold Newton equivalent of A Feast Unknown (1969), an early controversial Tarzan/Doc Savage pastiche that was contradicted by his later works. While the disguised version of Doc Savage in this novel does not engage in any controversial sexual acts in The Evil in Pemberley House, the novel's heroine (meant to be Doc's daughter) behaves in a very provocative manner.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Farmer's legacy lives on! 17 Sep 2009
By Dennis Power - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Eckert is perhaps uniquely qualified to be Farmer's collaborator on this novel since the background of the novel concerns Farmer's Wold Newton Family, a subject near and dear to Eckert's heart. Eckert has been webmaster and publisher of the premiere Wold Newton family website An Expansion of Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe for over a decade. Eckert was also the editor of Myths for the Modern Age, a collection of essays that expanded upon Farmer's Wold Newton Family concept.

Although some reviews may call The Evil in Pemberley House a posthumous work, it is not. Although published after Phil Farmer's passing, the novel was finished, approved by Farmer and bought by a publisher prior to his death.

Sex has always been a double edged sword for Farmer. Portraying it brought him both acclaim and condemnation, and I think possibly precluded him from being looked at in the same regard as Asimov, Heinlein or Clarke. For my money, I think his ideas were just as broad and his execution was in many regards more skillful than the Big Three.

While less explicit than Farmer's other pieces of erotic fiction The Evil in Pemberley is a book for mature audience and does have a strong sexual content. Yet these scenes are never simply prurient and each one is intrinsic to the plot as a whole.

However clever the author of a review wants to be in discussing his favorite novelist, the reader undoubtedly is impatiently thinking. Get to the gist! Is it any good? Does it measure up to Farmer's other works?

The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. Like many of Farmer's works it can be read on many levels, a sexually charged gothic thriller, a psychological mystery, a sherlockian/pulp pastiche and yes, as a novel that fits into his Wold Newton Family mythos. Farmer's skill was always to adeptly take many disparate elements, enact some literary alchemy and decant gold from the mixture. The Evil in Pemberley House is no exception to this rule. It is a very good book and a compelling read. I think that it easily stands alongside such works as The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, Greatheart Silver, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg as well as his erotic classic A Feast Unknown.

Kudos for this must be given to collaborator Eckert. Win Eckert is most assuredly a scholar of Farmer's work, yet even if such a scholar of an author's works so thoroughly steeps himself in his collaborator's words that it seems as though he hijacked and channeled his muse only a writer of exceptional talent can make the collaboration seamless. I have read a few works that were unfinished works, finished by other authors, of some note, and invariably there comes a point in your reading where you know where the original text left off and the new writer took up the pen. In the case of The Evil in Pemberley House unless it is pointed out to me, I cannot tell were Farmer left off and Eckert began. While it is a collaboration, it is truly a Farmer book.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Surprise 23 Oct 2010
By D. Merrill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A mixture of gothic romance/mystery with an erotic twist, ghost story, Jane Austen spin-off and Doc Savage/ Tarzan/ Sherlock Holmes tie-in, this novel is surprisingly good at meshing all of them. For me the Sub Press description didn't give me the full scope of what Farmer and Eckert have done here. Not being terribly familiar with Farmer's work beyond Riverworld and his entry in Dangerous Visions, I really didn't know what to expect and how closely to the Doc Savage and Sherlock Holmes universes this book would read. I've been a fan of Doc Savage since I was a kid and this book was a lot of fun as a result. The main character is the daughter of Doc Savage and shares his skin tone, gold-flecked eyes and penchant for solving mysteries. It's also a story within a story as we read along with her a thinly veiled "fictional Holmes based short story" that gives her background on the characters she encounters at Pemberley House. This book has everything but the kitchen sink and is highly readable. Endpapers contain a helpful family tree showing how all the characters are related to each other and to Doc Savage and Tarzan, among others. You will have to see through their aliases in the story to make the connections, but there are plenty of clues to get you there. This is a great introduction to Farmer's Wold Newton world where he integrates the worlds of many pulp and literary characters. It made me want to read more Wold Newton books.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable romp. 28 Sep 2010
By Barry Reese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First, let me quite honest about something: while I enjoy a little bit of the Wold Newton stuff, there are times that I think it goes overboard and ruins my enjoyment of certain stories. It's neat to see crossovers but exhaustive attempts to fit every fictional character into the Wold Newton framework makes my eyes glaze over in the same way that listening to someone tell me all about their family tree does.

So, having said that, let me also point out that I have enjoyed a number of works by Philip Farmer over the years, including A Feast Unknown, his over the top erotic interpretation of Doc Savage and Tarzan. I mention Feast here because The Evil in Pemberley House exists in that same sort of world: a world where everyone has deep-seated sexual neuroses and the authors aren't afraid to continually point out the size of the bulges in every man's pants.

The Evil in Pemberley House is an homage to the Gothic horror tradition. Patricia Wildman, daughter of the world-renowned adventurer Dr. James Clarke "Doc" Wildman, is all alone in the world when she inherits the family estate in Derbyshire, England. The estate is old, dark, and supposedly haunted. Along the way, Patricia engages in much worry over her incestuous desires for her father (who is missing when the story begins and believed dead). She's sexually victimized by another woman early on but recovers enough to go forward on a journey that's as much about her sexual exploration as it is the hauntings that have made Pemberley House infamous. There are direct ties to a classic Sherlock Holmes tale and the setting is straight out of Pride and Prejudice. The Wold Newton elements weren't particularly intrusive early in the book but towards the end, there were parts where I wondered how much stronger this story would have been if the focus had been a little tighter on the story at hand.

The writing is quite fluid and feels very Farmer-esque. I'm not sure how much rewriting or original writing that Eckert had to do but the fact that I can't pick out which parts are his is a credit to his work.

I liked Patricia's character quite a bit and the overall Gothic trappings really worked when she first arrived at Pemberley and the mystery was first unveiled. I wasn't completely pleased with the way things played out but it was still fun seeing Pat Savage -- er, I mean Pat Wildman -- adventuring on her own in Pemberley. The ending screams sequel and I hope that Win Eckert (who finished this story based off Farmer's work and notes) picks up the pieces and takes us further with Pat. This was a lot of fun, though as I've said, I always think Wold Newton pieces would be stronger stories with more focus and less attention to tying things together.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Lost Evil Comes to Light 8 Nov 2009
By Anthony R. Cardno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Evil in Pemberley House by Philip Jose Farmer and Win Scott Eckert, isbn 9781596062498, 214 pages, Subterranean Press, $40.00
(also available in a Limited signed & numbered edition with addtional chapbook for $60).

I'll admit that when it comes to the depth and breadth of character interconnectedness that is The Wold-Newton Universe, I am nowhere near as well-versed as Win Scott Eckert, Denis Powers, Rick Lai and the folks who have spent countless years building upon the basis laid down by Philip Jose Farmer in books like Tarzan Alive, Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, and such works. I like to think I'm a slightly above-average fan, though -- I enjoy picking out the little mentions here and there that indicate how a new piece of fiction might be linked to the classics (such as the veiled reference to Indiana Jones in the first Gabriel Hunt adventure; or the fact that Shannon Rutherford on LOST might actually be distantly related to Tarzan's mother).

As he says in his author's notes, Win Eckert got the chance to meet Mr. Farmer, and to dig through old files looking for pieces of interest for the Farmerphile fan magazine, and came across the unfinished manuscript for The Evil in Pemberley House. And Farmer agreed to let Eckert finish the manuscript and submit it for publication.

The Evil in Pemberley House is pure classic Farmer, connecting the daughter of Doc Savage to a curse that stretches back through the Darcy family of Austen's Pride and Prejudice and even further back from there. There are connections to Sherlock Holmes, Fu Manchu, The Shadow, The Avenger, and a variety of other pulp-and-earlier classic adventure tales, including of course Doc Savage himself. I don't think I picked up every single cross-literary name-drop, but I enjoyed the hell out of trying to.

Also in classic Farmer mode: every one of these characters has a libido -- an active libido. Farmer, after all, is credited with finally showing super-heroes as fully functioning beings, including bathroom breaks and sex .... lots of sex. By today's standards, the actual descriptions of sex are pretty tame. Eckert rightfully resisted the urge to "beef up" the sex scenes to match what today's readers might find shocking; and because of that, the scenes that are meant to be erotic actually are erotic -- the old "less is more" adage in full effect. (And, I should add, not every sex scene is meant to be erotic, especially the very first one).

The story is the classic Gothic literature setup: young woman is the sole remaining heir to a large, and possibly haunted, estate. Is the house really haunted, or are other people trying to scare her off? That is the crux of Farmer's story, as developed and completely by Eckert. The authors go out of their way to walk that line through the story that the creators of Savage and Holmes usually walked in their heroes' tales: there's always a plausible non-supernatural explanation for everything, but it is left up to the reader to decide in the end what was really happening.

In true collaborative form, you can't really tell where Farmer's original ms and Eckert's later work start and end, which I think is a testament to Eckert's ability as a writer. There are people with questionable motives all around the heroine, Patricia Wildman, and another fun part of the book is figuring who (if anyone) actually has her best interests at heart.

I highly recommend The Evil in Pemberley House to anyone who is a fan of gothic lit, pulp adventure, or a good old fashioned mystery. I'm very glad this was rescued from the depths of Farmer's files and that Subterranean Press agreed to publish it.
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