Myths for the Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe edited by Win Scott Eckert

The Wold Newton Universe is truly the mother of all crossover fiction, and after more than a decade of wading through it (and after spending most of my life immersing myself in its source literature), I discovered this little gem.

Wait, you don’t know about the WNU? Imagine if you will, the greats of classic and pulp literature in a single universe, built around the common origin of a real life meteor crash. This meteor ties together the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Avenger, The Spider, The Green Hornet, Fu Manchu, James Bond, and SO many others without altering any of the original stories. If anything, it’s an entry point to rediscover those classics by conceding to the idea that perhaps those stories were “real” or inspired somehow by real events.

This book is a collection of essays that help to explain the “rules” of the Game and fleshes out some of the core characters and lineages in a way that enhances both the WNU at large and the appreciation of the individual stories. It’s quite possibly the most friendly entry into the never-ending rabbit hole that is the WNU mythography that I’ve ever encountered, though it’s hardly entry-level. It’s assumed you either know these characters or are actively learning about them, but this is as close to hand-holding as it gets short of character biographies (the very foundation of the WNU). The first 25 pages alone expanded my reading list considerably in pinning down new WNU resources and stories. For those who love Victorian literature and the pulps they inspired, this is an absolute must-have. It’s next-level geek awesomeness, built on the foundations of everything that has gone before.

4 stars

myths-for-the-modern-age

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