Jim Grimson is a troubled young boy with a difficult home life. Eventually finding himself in group therapy, he’s encouraged to imagine himself as a character in Philip Jose Farmer’s World of Tiers series. Immersing himself in the experience, he develops a seeming ability to inhabit the character Red Orc at various stages in his life.
Apparently, Tiersian therapy was a real thing that Farmer learned about. I’m sure it must have intrigued him, and I can see the appeal of incorporating into his World of Tiers series as a sort of recursive meta-fiction. Unfortunately, what was likely fun for Farmer has considerably less appeal for readers.
The writing is surprisingly clunky. Perhaps because he has to deal more with the real world, and less with fantastic coincidence and exaggerated personalities, the protagonist seems crudely constructed and only mildly interesting. While there are clear parallels between Jim’s home life and Red Orc’s upbringing, Farmer strips them of all subtlety, pointing them out and underlining them at every turn.
It’s nice for once to see things from the villain’s viewpoint, but Farmer never goes very far beneath the surface. ‘Red Orc has a hard childhood, so he becomes a bad man’ is about as far is it goes. The rest of the book is a series of episodes in Red Orc’s life, loosely tied together by the Jim Grimson story. I found it hard to be interested in either.
All in all, likely a fun project for the author, but dull for the rest of us.
08 January 2018 Science fiction | Philip Jose Farmer | World of Tiers |