fPhilip José Farmer, 1953

That knife-like object in Phil's hands is actually one of the very first Hugo Awards, which he won back in 1953. Jack McKnight hand-machined those first, skinny rocket trophies.

See, it never was the stately Philip José Farmer, with Phil’s middle name paying tribute to some powerful male ancestor line of hearts ripped out of sacrificial victims by those sharp obsidian knives. Didn’t happen. There weren’t any of those old, cold-blooded priests in Phil’s ancestry, and anyway, the middle name was not to honor a male of any kind.

What the “Josie” had been tacked on to his birthname for was the memory of a beloved aunt, perhaps a Josephina, memorialized by a short “Josie.” Not every American family chose to give female names to male babies. But as a general rule, however, the Famers didn’t much care what other families did. They went their own way.

I observed this the first time Phil and I went out as a team to convert the heathens. There was some sort of gathering of dealers and jobbers who had expressed a willingness to be told how wonderful our works were. There was, however, a problem. There were more than 400 volunteers to be our audience, but the largest room available to speak to them in held only 200 chairs. It was the kind of problem that forces its own solution. Phil and I would just have to two shows each.

So it was. I did my turn on the first group. Phil did his. Then we rousted out all the first half and repeated the process.

Not, of course, exactly — at least in my half. I never do exactly. There were a couple of places where I hadn’t got quite the laugh I had expected, and a place where I had been surprised by an unexpected titter, all of which I thought I might, with a little help, return to health.

Not Phil, though. He didn’t vary a laugh, a gesture or a wink, and when I said something to him about it, he just looked puzzled.

“But I got it right the first time, didn’t I?” he asked. “Why should I change?”


  1. teletypeturtle says:

    A logical thought, of course! :) thanks for this memory.

  2. Danny Adams says:

    >>There weren’t any of those old, cold-blooded priests in Phil’s ancestry<<

    Though he certainly tried awfully hard to find them.

    “I don’t want kings and queens,” he told me once, “I want horse thieves.”