Daily Illuminator

February 26, 2009: Philip Josť Farmer

Science fiction author Philip Josť Farmer died yesterday morning at his home in Peoria, Illinois. He was 91.

He was perhaps best known for the Riverworld series, which we had the privilege of adapting for a GURPS supplement back in 1989. Farmer was a lot of fun to work with. He recognized gaming as a storytelling medium, and liked the idea that thousands of GMs would be setting their own stories in the Riverworld. The backstory of the series involves a technologically mediated "afterlife" for everyone who ever lived (including, of course, all the readers). I remember that he enjoyed the idea of a GM starting a campaign by telling the players "You're dead. What do you do now?" He also did us the huge compliment of making GURPS Riverworld the "series bible" for other authors writing Riverworld stories.

Outside of making a small game publisher very happy, Farmer was a very prolific writer and a great influence on the field. He was nominated for the Hugo Award seven times, and won three . . . for Most Promising New Talent (in 1953), Best Novella (1968) for "Riders of the Purple Wage," and Best Novel (1972), for To Your Scattered Bodies Go, the first Riverworld novel. He was also twice nominated for Nebula Awards, and was named a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 2001.

-- Steve Jackson

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