Yep, Philip Jose Farmer would turn 100 today. He got pretty damned close to making it while still above ground. Diehard pulp fans are made of stern stuff, it would seem, and Farmer was nothing if not a diehard fan of the pulps.
That love of the pulps, among several reasons, is why the gentle readers of the DMR blog should care about the PJF centennial. Farmer was born in 1918, just as the Golden Age of Pulp was getting rolling. He entered his teens as Howard, Smith and Lovecraft (and Quinn) cemented their hegemony over Weird Tales. Meanwhile, Burroughs and Merritt ruled the roost at Argosy at the same time that the Shadow and Doc Savage got their own pulps. I could go on, but you get the picture. Too bad about that whole Depression thing.
Farmer absolutely adored the pulps and started his career writing for several. When the market collapsed, he kept on chugging, eventually winning three Hugos when that actually meant something. Meanwhile, he was one of the few prestigious authors of the '60s and '70s to openly praise and promote the pulps. Not just the big names like Tarzan or Doc Savage, but lots of obscure ones. That grew into his whole "Wold Newton" concept, a sort of Cthulhu Mythos for pulp heroes. That is being carried on by his protegees and fans as we speak, doing much to keep the legacy of the pulps out there for modern readers.
Finally, there is Farmer as a writer. His literary descent from ERB is obvious, but PJF was his own man. He definitely was blessed with a rich imagination and a good feel for characterization and action scenes. I've enjoyed most of his work, but I have to say that his Opar/Khokharsa novels are my favorites. I'll be looking at his oeuvre and Wold Newton in the next few months.
Others will be celebrating the PJF centennial as well. Pulpfest is making it a central theme and Meteor House is publishing a massive volume of Farmer's works to commemorate it.