The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 2: Of Dust and Soul, edited by Michael Croteau, and with a foreword by Greg Bear, is now shipping from Meteor House. The anthology features a 20,000-word standalone novella—“Kwasin and the Bear God”—which I wrote based on Philip Jose Farmer’s fragmentary alternate outline to The Song of Kwasin, the forthcoming third novel in the Khokarsa series (things are moving forward with the latter, so stay tuned for more details).
Here’s some background on “Kwasin and the Bear God”…
Back in January 2009, after I’d already completed the first draft of The Song of Kwasin based on Phil Farmer’s partial manuscript and a nine-page outline, I was visiting the Farmers in Peoria, Illinois in celebration on Phil’s 91st birthday. Phil’s (and my) friend Paul Spiteri and I were among the last of the celebrants still at the house that weekend, and as we had time before our flights out of town, Phil’s wife, Bette, encouraged us to go downstairs and look through the files for unpublished material by Phil that might be worthy of seeing the light someday. Fatefully, the first filing cabinet drawer I opened contained a folder that I had never seen before labeled “HADON – Khokarsan Lore.”
My heart jumped a bit at this point, because up until that moment I thought I had had access to all of Phil’s fairly extensive extant notes on the Khokarsa series, which Phil and Bette had generously allowed me to photocopy on an earlier visit. But it turned out there were several more gems remaining to be found in this newly uncovered “Khokarsan Lore” folder, including an incomplete alternate outline to The Song of Kwasin. In the end it turned out that the outline was generally unusable for the purposes of the then-already-written third novel, as a large portion either repeated the original outline or broke the established continuity of the two published novels in the series. But there were two very exciting pages of outline detailing a side adventure of Kwasin on the island of Khokarsa.
Phil was too ill at this point to discuss anything to do with the material I’d uncovered, and had really stopped talking much at all in his last few years (although back in 2005 when the original Song of Kwasin outline had turned up he was well enough to give me a few pointers as to how he wanted the novel to wrap up). Bette, however, realized the significance of the new find and told me to take the folder home with me to make copies and study at my leisure. So I did, and sadly I only managed to return the files to Peoria a few days before she passed later that same year, a few short months after Phil’s passing that February.
After I got home from the January visit, I used Phil’s detailed, Tolkienesque notes and articles pertaining to the Khokarsan language from the newly found folder to sync up the Khokarsan names, terms, and phrases in The Song of Kwasin with Phil’s syllabary and grammar rules (let’s just say, Phil was quite the linguist, and I was blown away with how much time and thought he’d put into the Khokarsan language). The novel soon sold to Subterranean, and the idea of doing anything with Kwasin’s lost adventure from the fragmentary alternate outline floated in limbo until I was honored to have Meteor House ask me to write a novella based on the material. And that’s the story of how “Kwasin and the Bear God” came to be.
Artist Charles Berlin has done some fantastic illustrations to go along with the novella in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 2, and I’m really pleased with how the story turned out–I’m told it does a good job of capturing Kwasin’s trickster nature (thanks to Phil’s outline, no doubt!). Anyway, I hope you’ll check out the anthology, which includes a Brobdingnagian assortment of talent, including folks like Spider Robinson, James Sallis, Bradley H. Sinor, Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier, Mary A. Turzillo, John Small, and more. But most importantly, it contains a bunch of never-before-published stuff by Philip José Farmer! Check out the full table of contents here.