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Farren, Mick

Entry updated 31 July 2023. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of Michael A Farren (1943-2013), UK author, journalist and rock musician who was first active as a member of a band, The Deviants, 1967-1969 (revived several times, most recently in 2011); he then edited the underground paper IT 1970-1973 and founded the underground comic Nasty Tales – prosecuted for obscenity in a well-known trial – in the pages of which, with Chris Rowley and Chris Welch, he produced a comic strip with sf content, Ogoth the Wasted. He later edited several nonfiction books on popular music, most importantly the Encyclopedia of British Beat Groups and Solo Artists of the Sixties (1980) with Colin Cross and Paul Kendall.

Farren's first sf novel was The Texts of Festival (1973), set in a surrealistic Post-Holocaust England with prescient hints of twenty-first-century understandings of the use of Virtual Reality, through which famous dead people are being replicated; this novel and his subsequent Jeb Stuart Ho trilogy – The Quest of the DNA Cowboys (1976), Synaptic Manhunt (1976) and The Neural Atrocity (1977), all assembled as The DNA Cowboys Trilogy (omni 2002) – radiate a late-1960s aura of apocalyptic, hip hyperbole, sometimes effectively. The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys (1989) is a loose sequel. The world of the trilogy especially is almost deliriously polymorphic, full of images out of Westerns and other genres and references to dope, rock and the hippy subculture generally, and can be seen as a clear precursor of Cyberpunk, though without competent Computers, and laced throughout with the kind of somewhat dogged Drug use which later writers like William Gibson were able to avoid through the various delights of Cyberspace.

Farren's next novels were similar in texture. Both The Feelies (1978; rev 1990), a left-oriented Satire whose premise resembles that of John D MacDonald's "Spectator Sport" (February 1950 Thrilling Wonder), and the dithery The Song of Phaid the Gambler (1981; rev vt 2vols as Phaid the Gambler: Being Part One of the Song of Phaid the Gambler 1986 US and Citizen Phaid: Being Part Two of the Song of Phaid the Gambler 1987) seemed paralysed by their 1960s provenance. After Protectorate (1984), set in an Earth run by Aliens, his work began to seem derivative of the cyberpunk writers who had in fact followed him. Corpse (1986; vt Vickers 1988), The Long Orbit (1988; vt Exit Funtopia 1989) and Armageddon Crazy (1989) have in common violent action, desolate Near-Future venues and spiritual malaise. Their Master's War (1988) concerns the ruthless use of helpless species in an unending interstellar conflict. Jim Morrison's Adventures in the Afterlife (1999) reproduces in less gripping fantasy terms some of the sf innovations hinted at in The Texts of Festival.

Much of Farren's later work – such as the Renquist/Time of Feasting sequence beginning with The Time of Feasting (1996), Vampire urban fantasy tales mostly set in New York and evoking some of the cosmic terror of H P Lovecraft – is not straight sf, though the fourth Renquist volume Underland (2002) invokes the Hollow-Earth trope; a fifth book in this series had been projected, with the working title «Renquist V». The Flame of Evil sequence – comprising Kindling (2004) and Conflagration (2006), with further volumes intended – sets its Young Adult adventures in a Parallel World plagued by religious fundamentalism. Farren died after collapsing on stage during a July 2013 Deviants performance at the London live-music venue The Borderline. [JC]

Michael Anthony Farren

born Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: 3 September 1943

died London: 27 July 2013

works (selected)


Jeb Stuart Ho

Time of Feasting

  • The Time of Feasting (New York: Tor, 1996) [Renquist/Time of Feasting: hb/Mike Graziolo]
  • Darklost (New York: Tor, 2000) [Renquist/Time of Feasting: hb/]
  • More Than Mortal (New York: Tor, 2001) [Renquist/Time of Feasting: hb/Drive Communications]
  • Underland (New York: Tor, 2002) [Renquist/Time of Feasting: hb/David Seeley]

The Flame of Evil

  • Kindling (New York: Tor, 2004) [The Flame of Evil: hb/David Seeley]
  • Conflagration (New York: Tor, 2006) [The Flame of Evil: hb/]

individual titles


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