13 December 2010

Happy Wold Newton Day

On 13 December 1795 the first observed meteorite strike in Britain took place near the village of Wold Newton. The meteorite was an L6, ordinary chondrite, with a mass of about 25 kilograms. This event was used as part of a literary concept developed based on some of the works of Philip José Farmer.

In the Wold Newton Universe a couple of carriages were passing by when the meteor struck. The people inside were irradiated by the strange energies of the impact. Their descendants would become some of the greatest literary characters of all time including: Tarzan, Doc Savage, Phileas Fogg, Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, Allan Quartermain, Sam Spade, and many others.

It started with Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke where Farmer examines Tarzan’s life in detail and gives links to many other fictional characters. It is written as if Tarzan was an actual person and that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Lord Greystoke’s highly fictionalized memoirs.

Later came Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. In this Mr. Farmer gives Doc Savage the same treatment he gave Tarzan and expanded the Wold Newton Universe.

Other people have also added to the WNU as well. Attempts are made to connect other characters to the existing works. It is sort of like genealogical research for fictional characters. More info can be found on Wold Newton Universe website which is maintained by Win Scott Eckert.

The whole Wold Newton concept has gotten me to read a large number of old books that A decade ago I never would have imagined I’d read. I’ve even started searching out interesting but nearly forgotten books form the 19th century and finding Ebook copies on Google Books. This has expanded my horizons and been both entertaining and educational; that’s why I’m wishing everyone a Happy Wold Newton Day. I want to inspire others to have fun reading again.

If I ever make my way to England one of the stops I’d have to make is to visit the site of the meteor crash. However that is still secondary to spending a couple of nights in Portmeirion.

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