Friday, January 8, 2010

Of Wikis and Wold Newton: Part 1

For the past 7 years, the Wold Newton Family tree formulated by Philip Jose Farmer, and expanded by such talented gentlemen as Win Scott Eckert and Dennis E. Power into a whole universe, encompassing a seemingly endless number of interconnected fictional heroes and villains, has been a source of unceasing fascination for me. Unfortunately, while I consider myself to be fairly well-read on the literature written on the subject both in print and online, there are a number of places across the Web that give inaccurate information about who or what has been incorporated, that does not differentiate between which are Phil Farmer's theories and which are post-Farmerian scholars', and generally giving inaccurate information that sadly seems to play a part in many dismissing the whole concept. And, perhaps not surprisingly, Wikipedia has had several entries with inaccurate information about the Wold Newton Universe (hereafter referred to as the WNU). Perhaps the most egregious example is this list, which not even deletion could kill, as a gentleman using the name Phil Sandifer (which I assume is a pseudonym, as that's the proper name of the title character of the movie Daddy-O) has preserved this list on his own profile, where it runs the risk of continuing to mislead people as to what is or isn't in the WNU. In a series of posts, I shall go through the list alphabetically and point out where the people who have compiled this list have fouled-up.

First of all, I want to give props to my good friend Henry Zeo Covert for amending the following onto the list's disclaimer. "The vast majority of characters listed here have never been referred to by Philip Jose Farmer. Dozens, if not hundreds, of the characters listed here do not appear on any of 'the various websites dedicated to the research and geneaology from [sic] the cross-over of characters related to the Wold Newton family featured in the Wold Newton Universe' [as is stated in the disclaimer]. Many characters listed here are only connected to the Wold Newton Universe in this very article - 'User: Phil Sandifer/Wold Newton'. This largely invalidates this article as an encyclopedic reference for readers wishing to know which characters are included in the Wold Newton Universe by the various writers of articles set in the WNU that can be found online or in print. It's impossible to determine if Phil Sandifer himself is claiming credit for compiling this list, and, if so, if he is to be faulted for appending such vast amounts of erroneous information to an entry that could have proven useful to readers faced with the often daunting amount of information pertaining to Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton concepts." Henry is quite correct in pointing out that a disproportionately large number of characters listed on this list have not been Wolded, and for that matter, there are quite a few who cannot be smoothly included, in my opinion.

These characters are from the TV series Earth 2, which to my knowledge has not been incorporated into the WNU, whether via discovery of a crossover linking it to a work already in the WNU, or a piece of research bringing it in. There are, as Henry says "Dozens, if not hundreds" of examples of such on this list, and to save space I will only deal with the most egregious ones.

"The Addamses are all other relatives of a Wold Newton meteor strike survivor. "
News to me.

"Charles, grandfather/clonefather to Gomez Addams and Fester Addams by Abigail Adams and Eudora Addams."
What the hell is a clonefather? And is this meant to be the Charles Addams? The list does not specify.

"Wednesday Friday, daughter of Morticia Frump and Gomez Addams, wife of Edward "Eddie" Wolfgang Munster."
I will address in future chapters the fact that the person who composed the information on the Munsters evidently didn't read the article already Wolding them, but I should point out a chronological discrepancy in this statement: The original Addams Family strips first appeared in the New Yorker in 1938. The first episode of The Munsters aired on September 24, 1964.
Unless this was a May-December marriage, I find this premise unlikely.

"Pugsley, son of Morticia Frump and Gomez Addams, husband of Lydia Deetz."
The argument above applies even moreso here, since the film Beetlejuice came out in 1988.

"Prince Alexander of Daventry <Gwydion>, son of King Graham of Daventry and Queen Valanice."
This is the beginning of an odd trend on the list of including various characters from fairy-tales and related fiction, while conflating some of these characters at random. Again, only the ones that stick out like a sore thumb will be listed herein.

"Phyllis Allenby, cousin of Wilfred Glendon and grandmother of Arlene Logan."
While Dennis E. Power has done some work involving Wilfred Glendon's genealogy, as one can see from reading the linked article, Phyllis Allenby is not mentioned within, nor is she in any of the many articles appearing on the various Wold Newton websites.

"Mr. ? Altamont"
It's actually somewhat astonishing that Holmes' alias from "His Last Bow" has his own entry when Holmes himself already has one.

"Alucard <Adrian Farenheit Tepes>, son of Vlad III Dracula."
While Son of Dracula and Castlevania have both been Wolded, neither piece of research conflates these individuals. Once again, this article's claim that "All the characters listed have been referred to by Philip José Farmer or the various websites dedicated to the research and geneaology from the cross-over of characters related to the Wold Newton family featured in the Wold Newton Universe" is invalidated.

"Doc Ardan"
Again, another example of both a character and his alias having a separate listing. Those who have carefully read Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier's adaptation/translation of Guy d'Armen's novel Doc Ardan: City of Gold and Lepers and subsequent stories about the character by Eckert and others will have picked up on the many implications that Ardan is actually Lester Dent's bronze-skinned hero Doc Savage.

To be continued...Comments and criticism are welcome, of course.


Robert E. "Robyn" Wronski, Jr. said...

Kudos. I'm glad to see someone try to nip this bad trend in the bud. If he really wants to have all these characters in the same universe, he should create his own "reality" and not attribute it to the work of Farmer or call it the WNU.

I've actually been thinking of creating my own list of who is in the WNU, expanding on the lists created by Win and Dennis, and going off of Farmer's work, as well as the work of other published writers such as Win, and those who have articles on Win's and Dennis' sites. But that is a very exhausting task, because it actually involves reading and researching, rather than randomly making things up. So that project will have to wait for now.

Win Scott Eckert said...


Thank you for taking on this good work --it is *highly* appreciated. It is grating that so many readers are turned off by or dismissive of Wold-Newtonry because of baseless lists like "Phil Sandifer's," and thus all real Wold Newton research gets painted with a broad brush of ridicule.

Your work here is highly valuable and I look forward to the subsequent posts!


Toby O'B said...

Interesting stuff so far, Sean, and I'm looking forward to reading more. I agree with Robert about those people creating their own reality rather than tarring the real WNU.

Even within my own little sandbox of Toobworld, I always suggest connections as possibilities rather stating them as fact.

Okay, onward to part two.....

icarus_23 said...

I will post a comment on the Eddie Munster/Wednesday Addams marriage. This was the TV version of the Addams Family, and while it's not canonical, it does have a history behind it.
When I was doing some of the genealogies featuring the roles actors played, the most significant one being Mark Goddard's, showing Major Don West's descent from Jim West, the Claytons, and the Ringo Kid's deputy, I had the chance to speak with Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster. I mentioned the idea of Eddie and Wednesday being married, and he told me the following.
Some SF store had had a grand opening a few years before then where he and the actress who had played Wednesday on TV were in attendance, in character. It was Halloween, and they played the characters, and they did get married... though Butch's lady was quick to point out it was the characters getting married, not the actors.
Wedding pictures of the event do exist, and I was able to find some on the web later.
So there IS some kind of justification for that stance.
Also, I believe the 2 pages of "Wold Newton Characters" that were retained on users' talk pages were the remnants of connections and lists that various folks had contributed to that were fairly ruthlessly "Edited" out of existence, leaving almost nothing when they were done, not even Farmer's own reference. It was about that time (I wasn't caught in the frenzy myself, just aware it was going on) that Wikipedia wasn't worth my time and effort under those circumstances. And I still have what I consider better things to do with my time, which makes me incredibly glad someone like Sean is attempting this daunting task.

Sean Levin said...

Mark, thanks for the info, buddy. What I've read of your genealogical work is very interesting.

The Blogmaster (not to be confused with the Beastmaster)

P.S.: Very glad to have met you last year.