Series I’ve Read: Philip Jose Farmer’s The Dungeon

Oh. Wow. While going through my memory for books that I’ve read, I just remembered The Dungeon.

The Dungeon is about a group of adventurers traveling through, well a dungeon that’s somewhere undefined. It may have been underground or in a pocket universe or wherever.

Our original point-of-view character is Clive Folliot, who is looking for his missing brother, Neville. Along the way he teams up with a giant spider, a cyborg, and his own granddaughter (great-granddaughter? great-great granddaughter?) They have adventures with public domain fictional characters, figures from mythology, and so forth.

Here’s the kicker, though. The Dungeon is a six-part series where the first and last books were written by one writer, and the middle four were written by three different writers.

And for the most part, the three writers play well together and the story holds together really well. Until the last book, that is, when apparently the original writer didn’t like where the middle four books had gone and wrenched it in another direction entirely without any rationale for it at all.

Obviously, Richard Lupoff, the writer of the first and sixth books, has never done a round robin story. Unless you set out where you want to go ahead of time, you’ll never go where you want to.

I have one particularly, well, I don’t know if “fond” is the word. “Schadenfreude-full,” maybe, of me saying at the beginning of a round robin story that we should plan it out ahead of time and one writer in particular vetoing it because it’s “more fun” if it’s full of surprises for the writers. So, when it came my turn, I gave that writer a surprise. I could see where they were heading and when my turn came, I interpreted what they had said in a completely different way and headed the story off in a different direction.

They threw a fit about how they were heading for resolution X and I just said, “You wanted surprises. I gave you a surprise.”

So, let’s hear it for our three middle writers — Bruce Coville, Charles de Lint, and Robin Wayne Bailey, for doing a great job on those middle books. I’ve never read anything else by any of those authors, I don’t think. I’ll have to look into it.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is the March 2020 Fantastic Strangelings Book Club pick — We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry. This was my favorite book club pick until July’s Mexican Gothic, which we’ll do later. We Ride Upon Sticks is set in Danvers, Massachusetts, which is where the original accusations of the Salem Witch Trials took place. The 1989 Danvers Falcons girls’ field hockey team is the worst in their district (in the book, in real life they actually were an excellent team). Then they sell their souls to Emilio Estevez and suddenly things start to improve for their team. Is it teamwork and friendship, or is it witchcraft?

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