Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Peerless Peer!

This Wold-Newton story by the late Philip Jose Farmer is a total hoot. This was the first Wold-Newton adventure I ever read, even before I much knew what the concept was all about. A lot of the humor was lost on me when I first read it over thirty years ago.

For those who might not know, the story pits a very old Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, both drawn out of retirement during World War I against an old foe Von Bork who has developed a formula which could specifically destroy the traditional foods of England.

The duo are flown into the teeth of the enemy by pulp heroes G-8 and The Shadow (in other identities) and dropped off after much expended energy into the hands of the enemy who take them aboard a zeppelin and then transport them into the wilds of Africa where they encounter a lost civilization and the Lord of the Jungle, the titular Peer himself, the mighty Tarzan.

It's a fast-paced adventure with lots of sniggering jibes at all the heroes involved. G-8 is crazed, The Shadow is a berserker, and Tarzan himself is not exactly as Edgar Rice Burroughs described him. Holmes and Watson are very funny as the two old partners become increasingly disagreeable as the wild ride continues across the globe. There are the usual Farmer digs on the lack of sexual content in the adventures of the classic pulp heroes, and that in itself makes for some funny sequences.

If you've never encountered The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, I highly recommend this very short novelette. The volume currently available from Titan Books supplements this small story with an essay further extrapolating on the characters involved and offers up several extras to pad out the still slim volume.

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  1. Historical note:
    The version of this story published in The Grand Aventure and MisAdventures of Sherlock Holmes features Mowgli instead of Tarzan due to Tarzan still being in copyright (which expired in 1999).
    So if you have that version of the tale in either book you have the rewrite.
    This new edition is the original version!

  2. I've not got a copy of the revised "The Adventure of The Three Madmen", but I'd love to see it for comparison's sake. I've only ever read the original with Tarzan's character intact.

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