The late, great Philip José Farmer has prolific library of books and other writings available. Farmer passed away in 2009 and his devoted fan base (of which I am one) continue to seek out his work. These include posthumous publications, collaborations, and original works by other authors that are connected to the fantastic worlds he created over the many decades of writing. One of the more interesting aspects, to me, of Farmer's writing is how often he was involved in projects where he was not the marquee name. His ego was such that he was willing to be the partner, part of a round-robin style project, or as in the focus of this blog post—providing evocative phantasmagorical commentary accompaniment to the fantasy art of painter Boris Vallejo.
From 1995 through 1999, Farmer wrote the accompanying commentaries for Vallejo's Fantasy Calendar series from Workman Publishing. The Philip José Farmer International Bibliography website does have listings for all the calendars, but does not really give you a fair taste of how cool they really are. Any Farmer completist really needs to seek these out and add them to your collection. It seems pretty clear that the process was that the paintings from Vallejo were selected for the calendar and then they were presented to Farmer who let the visual imagery guide his imagination into whatever creative tangent or imaginary world they birthed within his author's mind. Fans of Farmer's World of Tiers books will find a lot within these calendar commentaries that could easily slide into the parallel worlds mythology of the World of Tiers if they want them to.
I'm going to use this blog to reproduce the text from the 1996 calendar along with their corresponding picture for the month just to give the reader a taste but also for a representative historical example of an obscure writing of Farmer's that has been unavailable anywhere else for 25 years as of 2020.
Enjoy...The Myths of Raltarnee and Other Character Profiles by Philip José Farmer inspired by artwork created by Boris Vallejo!
All image descriptions copyright © 1996, 2020, by
the P J Farmer Family Trust.
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 1
In the complex of parallel universes known as Raltarnee, one creation-story is known everywhere: That Raltarnee is the Original Goddess, self-created, and creator of all universes and all forms of life.
It is also generally accepted that Raltarnee created many worlds from the original one, and a goddess for each. The worlds came out of pre-nothing, in a long line that stretched from infinity to eternity, and many are doomed to perish.
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 2
One universe created by Raltarnee, the Supreme Goddess, was called the World of Never-Ending War. After she made it, she created many goddesses and gods. She then said to them: "Whoever survives will be the everlasting deity of this world."
The last two warriors were shape-shifting goddesses. In their final battle, one took the form of a giant stone ape, and one of a centauress. This universe is now completely lifeless.
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 3
Mormak was a minor god created by a goddess as her mate. But he was not happy with his rank and power, and warred on the goddesses of a hundred worlds. All are now locked up in the Place of Neither Entrance Nor Exit. During the war, Mormak enlisted Rekmall, a refugee shape-shifter from the Universe of Never-Ending War.
What Mormak does not know is that Rekmall is really Raltarnee. She's been amusing herself by helping him in his war, but soon . . .
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 4
Although Raltarnee has created goddesses for each universe, she has not made them her equals.
Their powers are limited.
Raltarnee has given Sunai gossamer wings and useless arms. This has spoiled Sunai's joy in the godlike abilities she does have. After an aeon of suffering, Sunai prays to Raltarnee to either give her arms power or slay her. Raltarnee's face begins to form on the peak as she answers Sunai's request through the medium of the mountain.
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 5
The Supreme Goddess, Raltarnee, repopulated the World of Never-Ending War. Her first two creations, only half-formed, seem to soar up from a vent in the earth like images shaped from the breath of a human on a cold morning. Raltarnee did not like what she saw. Thus, what you see here are two incomplete creatures vanishing, drawn back into the vent like a breath now being inhaled.
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 6
Pamati was one of the earlier goddesses to be created by the Supreme Goddess, Raltarnee. Pamati then made two beings to help her expand and reshape the rather small world given her. One was Phoneet, goddess of the air; the other was Shooshkram, goddess of the sea. Pamati reserved the rule of the land for herself, and she also kept the final say in the councils of the air, the sea, and the land.
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 7
The laws of physics do not always apply in the universes of Raltarnee. Thus, the atmosphere of a Jupiter-size but low-gravity planet in a certain universe supports a tiny, wind-driven, floating moon.
The half-goddess Duthina desires to become a complete goddess and the only one in this universe. She has caught and tamed a creature that would look to us like a unicorn. She plans to fly on it to the moon, where the ruling goddess Seegreet lives, in hopes of capturing and imprisoning her.
MYTHS OF RALTARNEE: MYTH 8
Every seven years, a high priest is chosen by lot to be sacrified to the goddess Theetuni. He is taken to an islet and chained to a rock where a gigantic monster destroys him. Lhahl, whose lover has been chosen, tamed the flesh-eating, winged, unicorn-like beloved beast of Theetuni. Daring the goddess's wrath, she has slain the monster with the help of the steed.
There are similar myths on Earth, but the sacrifice is always a woman who is rescued by a man.
Things are not so int he worlds of Raltarnee.
THE THOUGHT THAT THINKS IT CAN
Thorma is an afterthought of the world-spanning brain that was buried deep under the soil aeons ago. Those who made it have perished. Now, the brain is dying. Erosion has exposeds part of its semimineral, semiprotein latticework. If this part is reburied, the brain may revive, and Thorma and the many living figments of the brain may live on. But on of the brain's forethoughts is devouring its creator. Thorma, after a dangerous search, has found the Flying Ax. It is the only thing that can slay the creature.
THE ARCHANGEL OF SPACE AND TIME
New universes are created in a dreamer's sleep. He knows, deep in his mind, this truth: Without matter, there is no space; without space, there is not time. The new matter appears in the realm of dreams—outside the dreamer's world.
The winged creature, full-fledged from the dreamer, seems to be collecting rocks in the serial void. But he is pushing the debris outward. Thus matter expands, creating new space. And thus time is created on the edge of the burgeoning world.
QUEST OF THE TWO SISTERS
Sithima and Taulyka of the planet Erana are searching for their sister, Arbatru. Shagii, Lord of the Movable Keep, abducted her long ago.
During their quest, they fought and subdued the Bird-That-Sees-Evil. Now they use it to track down the Movable Keep. But they are starving. The balloon-creatures sent by Shagii to ingest the two sister are tasty and energyful, though very dangerous to them. Luckily, the balloon-creature is the favorite prey of the Bird-That-Sees-Evil.
THINGS BETTER UNMET
Nadha has fled from the unendurable into a terrifying swamp. Among the swamp's raveners is an entity that might save a threatened wayfarer—if it so desired.
Nahda recognizes the necklace around the swan-thing's neck. She'd lost it in the swamp. She also sees the swan-thing's thick, unbirdlike tail dipping into the water. Suddenly, she knows that the bird is a shape-shifted limb of the python-thing in the water. The swamp is a living creature, and it's decided to save her.
The Alabaster City sits on top of the gigantic mountain in the center of the only continent on the planet Oormamteb. In the city, on a table cut from an emerald, is a drinking cup fashioned from a diamond. From each of the four sides of the cup flow two things good and two things bad.
Many have sneaked into the city to steal the cup. Only Torwyn has gotten close enough to touch it before flying away in terror. The cup's guardian is raging; his majic is shredding. Torwyn's wings. Although Torwyn will fall to his death, he will become a legend to outlast the city.