Popular science fiction writer Philip Jose Farmer (1918–2009) was born on this day in Terre Haute, Indiana and grew up in Peoria, Illinois. His imagination was sparked at age six when he saw a zeppelin passing overhead.
“Many ghosts of ancestors crowded around to assist in the delivery. The Good Fairy blessed me with one gift, and the Evil Witch laid on me some curses and geases. St. Francis of Assisi and Jack the Ripper telegrammed their regards," he wrote of his birth.
In 1953, he won a Hugo Award, science fiction’s highest honor, for his first short story, The Lovers, which described graphically a love scene between an alien and human. This combination of provocative sex with intelligence and fantasy was unheard of at the time.
"It was the first time in any science fiction magazine, or maybe in any normal or national magazine in the U.S., where it used the word 'orgasm,'" Farmer said.
With continued imagination, he published novella Night of Light in 1957, inspiring Jimi Hendrix with the phrase "purple haze." He reincarnated Tarzan, Mark Twain, and explorer Richard Burton and wrote Venus On the Half Shell (1975) in the style of Kurt Vonnegut's beloved character Kilgore Trout
Farmer said, "Despite my vast interest in other universes and new ideas and space, travel and time travel, which by the way I think is impossible, the basic thing is human character, which is the main thing of most writers."
Farmer wrote more than 75 books that have been translated into 22 languages and published in over 40 countries.
"What man does, no matter how seemingly insignificant, vibrates through the strands and affects every man," Farmer said.
Write...then write some more.