Titan Books, p/b, £7.99/Kindle, £6.39
Reviewed by David Brzeski
On the surface this may look like just another Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiche, but it isn’t.
What Farmer has done here is to take a long, hard look at the scientific implausibility of Tarzan of the Apes, and what might happen if someone with unlimited resources should try to recreate the circumstances of Tarzan’s jungle upbringing with a real baby. This novel is the story of one such baby. He isn’t the first attempt of course. The first two fall foul of the impracticalities of Burroughs’ original scenario very quickly and compromises have to be made.
We follow Ras Tyger from early boyhood to young adulthood, as Farmer takes all the situations imposed on him to their logical conclusions. Ras, of course, is not Tarzan. He proves this as soon as he reaches sexual maturity by having sex with just about any female he can pin down, much to the disgust of his ‘parents’ (actually a couple of little people, who are hired to guide him in the right direction, while pretending to be apes).
Even with all his power and money to bribe governments, eventually other people find the valley in which this insane ERB fan is conducting his grand experiment. Ras meets a mysterious yellow-haired ‘angel’ and begins to learn the truth. Farmer takes them on a wild adventure, full of danger and death, while never letting go of real-world logic. Victims who would be rescued in the average fantasy novel die and Ras Tyger is manipulated into murdering innocents.
Farmer, ever the joker, even manages to slip in a sly Wizard of Oz reference.
All-in-all this is one of “Grand Master” Philip José Farmer’s best books and is fully deserving of the epithet, “classic”. This new edition also has an enjoyable introduction by Joe R. Lansdale and a new forward by Paul Spiteri.