The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip Jose Farmer
When I first started reading Farmer’s novel after scanning the blurb, I had expected to find a conventional science fiction re-writing of Verne’s classic tale ‘Eighty Days around the World’. However, what I was faced with was a heavily researched and cleverly worked companion guide to Verne’s novel in which a previously “unknown” log of Phileas Fogg exists that the author wishes to tell. In order to do this, he both consults and challenges Verne’s original text, questioning contradictions and gaps in the information and uses these to insert information that was “unknown” to Verne.
In this version Farmer tells the reader how Phileas Fogg is in fact an adopted-alien secret agent, setting out to save his “race” from annihilation. This action version of this well-known Victorian novel may seem quite fan-fiction esque and much like many other rewritings of the genre. However, what sets this novel and in fact the ‘Wold Newton’ series it is a part of, apart from the rest, is not its storyline, as much as the convincing style of the writing. Farmer purposefully writes to transform the classic characters found in the novel into real historical people and throughout, despite its obvious science fiction setting, I found myself questioning their fictionality. His attention to details such as important dates in the characters’ lives, character lineage, comparisons between this “unknown” version of the story and Verne’s version, and detailed description of real historical settings in the novel is such that the fictional elements become blurred into fact. Indeed, in places it is hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins.
The novel is also unique (at least in the 2012 edition I read) in that it contains after-words in the form of essays and articles by other writers which keep up the pretence created by the novel. These relate to the detailed lineage of Phileas Fogg, including family trees, Fogg’s relation to the author (apparently deceased in 2009, although I wasn’t sure if this was also part of the fiction!) and the discussion of other characters who appear in the novel who are in fact cross-overs from other books. Whilst I knew that the novel itself could not be true, none of these after-words dispelled the idea that the novel was somehow based on truth, such was the convincing nature of the writing. Due to this, it wasn’t until I did some research of my own that I fully appreciated the cleverness of his fictional writing, and, feeling slightly foolish, found out that the author had actually died in 2009 and was not part of the fiction. The novel I had was not in fact a newly released book as I had first thought, but merely a new edition, the original being released in 1973. The ‘Wold Newton’ series that the book belongs to however, I discovered does in fact have a partly factual base; a meteorite strike near Wold Newton cottage in 1795 in East Yorkshire inspired Farmer to imagine up the ‘Wold Newton Family’ – a group of people affected by the meteorite strike whose ancestors and relatives all become the famous heroes, villains, detectives and scientists we know from literature, Phileas Fogg being one of them.
However, whilst Farmer is certainly a very ingenious and convincing writer, this book is not for everyone. It is written in quite formal English, in keeping with the story’s Victorian origins and the narrative is far from conventional; halting continuously to examine details of the plot in comparison to Verne’s version and very rarely allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the story for its own sake but constantly reminding them of the “editor’s” presence. Farmer also assumes that the majority of his readers are at least familiar with the “known” parts of the story and so spends very little time on them, either skipping over them quickly or contradicting Verne’s “account” to tell what actually happened. Therefore I feel that on the majority of people, Farmer’s clever insertions and alterations to Verne’s text will be lost as they will not be as familiar with the intimate details as the author. However, I myself have not read Verne’s novel but was still able to appreciate the work that Farmer put into his detailed and well-researched re-writing despite this, and I now find myself wanting to go and read the original to compare it. So overall, if this novel can make others do the same, and read old novels not before touched or discovered, then that is surely a good thing!
This The Other Log of Phileas Fogg book review was written by Deborah Bell
All reviews for: Wold Newton Novels
The Other Log of Phileas Fogg
Wold Newton Novels
About a hundred years ago, a group of mutant supermen began playing a major role in our affairs. It is no accident that Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Captain Nemo, and Doc Savag...
Have you read The Other Log of Phileas Fogg?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Other Log of Phileas Fogg reader reviews
8.8/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troop...
Guy Gavriel Kay
Set in a beleaguered land caught in a web of tyranny, Tigana is the deeply moving story of a people struggling to be free. A people so cursed by the dark sorceries of the t...
A Christmas Carol
It is Christmas Eve in Victorian London, and all around the snow-covered city people are rushing home to be with their families. All except one man, that is: Ebenezer Scroo...
In the winter of his eleventh year, Little Hawk goes deep into the forest, where he must endure a three-month test of solitude and survival which will turn him into a man. ...
As they approach adulthood, Cat Barahal and her cousin Bee think they understand the society they live in and their place within it. At a select academy they study new airs...
The Moon and the Sun
Vonda N McIntyre
Louis XIV, the Sun King, rules the Western World from the Chateau at Versailles. Marie- Josèphe de la Croix looks forward to assisting her brother in the scientific ...
Come one come all to greatest city in the world. In London, all men are free, the streets are lined with gold and the naughty ladies are friendly to all. In London there ar...
Who or what is Endymion Spring? A power for good, or for evil... A legendary book that holds the secret to a world of knowledge... A young boy without a voice - whose five-...
Publius Varrus is the last legionnaire in Britain, and The Skystone is in many ways his story. He is a common man with aristocratic friends, and successful both as a soldie...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: