I have a new reading challenge! (Yes, I know I’ve failed spectacularly at every reading challenge I’ve ever tried, but this one is different. You’ll see!)
The fast majority of F. Paul Wilson’s books deal with what he calls ‘The Secret History of the World.’ I first stumbled into this secret history in 1985 when I borrowed The Keep from the library. Subsequently, I did not sleep for two weeks. It was the scariest book I’d ever read and, to this day, I still feel the chill of it.
Several years ago, a friend of mine kept insisting I read Repairman Jack.
“Who?” I asked.
“Totally cool. You have to read The Keep first.”
“I read that in high school. I’m still having nightmares.”
“The rest of the series is even better.”
Over a period of three years, my friend wore me down and I bought The Keep to reread. Then Audible offered Cold City (Repairman Jack: The Early Years, #1) as a daily deal and I snapped it up—partly because I love audio books and partly so I could tell my friend I’d finally started the series. Cold City (and the rest of the Early Years trilogy) is amazing and one of the most entertaining audiobooks I’ve ever listened to. Narrator Alexander Cendese gave Jack a voice I immediately connected with and his Abe has stayed with me through every Repairman Jack novel I’ve read since. I immediately sourced hardcovers of the trilogy for my shelf, then started collecting and reading the rest of the Repairman Jack books.
I had a vague idea of the secret history while reading, but knew I was missing bits and pieces because I hadn’t reread The Keep, or read any more of the companion series, The Adversary Cycle. When I mentioned this to my friend, he cheerfully told me about something called ‘The Secret History of the World.’ One Google search later, a new reading challenge was born. Because I like to track things, I’m posting it here on my blog so I can update as I go along.
(copied from repairmanjack.com)
“Demonsong” (prehistory) [Date Read: 10/16]
“The Compendium of Srem” (1498) [9/16]
“Aryans and Absinthe”** (1923-1924) [9/16]
Black Wind (1926-1945) [9/16]
The Keep (1941) [2/17]
Reborn (February-March 1968) [8/17]
“Dat Tay Vao”*** (March 1968) [8/17]
Jack: Secret Histories (1983) [8/17]
Jack: Secret Circles (1983) [8/17]
Jack: Secret Vengeance (1983) [8/17]
“Faces”* (1988) [8/17]
Cold City (1990) [1/15]
Dark City (1991) [3/15]
Fear City (1993) [4/15]
“Fix” (2006) (with J.A. Konrath & Ann Voss Peterson)
Year Zero Minus Three
Sibs (February) [11/17]
The Tomb (summer) [6/15]
“The Barrens”* (ends in September) [11/18]
“A Day in the Life”* (October) [11/18]
“The Long Way Home”+
Legacies (December) [11/15]
Year Zero Minus Two
“Interlude at Duane’s” (April) ** / +
Conspiracies (April) (includes “Home Repairs”+) [1/16]
All the Rage (May) (includes “The Last Rakosh”+) [5/16]
Hosts (June) [8/16]
The Haunted Air (August) [2/18]
Scar-Lip Redux (August)
Gateways (September) [5/18]
Crisscross (November) [11/18]
Year Zero Minus One
“Infernal Night” (with Heather Graham)
The Fifth Harmonic (April)
By the Sword (May)
The God Gene (May)
Ground Zero (July)
The Touch (ends in August)
The Void Protocol (September)
The Peabody-Ozymandias Traveling Circus & Oddity Emporium (ends in September)
The Last Christmas (December)
Reprisal (ends in February)
Fatal Error (February) (includes “The Wringer”+)
The Dark at the End (March)
* available in The Barrens and Others
** available in Aftershock and Others
*** available in the 2009 reissue of The Touch
+ available in Quick Fixes – Tales of Repairman Jack
I’ve coloured the titles I’ve read blue. As you can see, I’ve a long way to go, but there is no deadline for this one. I simply want to have a list of progress to update and share.
4 thoughts on “The Secret History of the World”
I just started doing this!
I look to do the whole thing in 2018 (hopefully) but I imagine it will take me longer with some breaks in between. I post at the forums on F. Paul Wilson’s site and I post after each book.
Granted, I’m reading The Keep now so I haven’t even met Jack yet but I’m excited to.
Did you give up on this?
I am still doing this! I should put dates beside the books when I read them so this post looks more current. I’ll try to update that today. I read Sibs late last year – November, I think? Maybe October. Next up for me is The Haunted Air. I have the volume of short stories as well, so I’ll probably read those soon as well.
What’s really cool about this series is that you could read the interlinked series (Adversary Cycle, Repairman Jack) and standalone novels mostly as just novels, or as their own series. But I got to a point with the Repairman Jack books where, because I already knew about the Secret History of the World, I knew I was missing some information about the Adversary. So that’s why I went back to the very beginning and read forward.
It’s been really rewarding, especially when I was reading the Young Jack books. Knowing that there is this thread linking the books gives them another level and there are events you’ll be looking forward to as you read on.
Good luck with it and check back in to let me know how you’re doing!
Awesome, have fun. You’re much farther ahead than I am, I’ll check back when I’ve completed a bit more.
I love that the series acts as stand alone novels with a meta arc – reminds me a bit of comic books (and subsequently the Marvel Cinematic Universe). The last series I read Atticus Kodiak by Greg Rucka had a continuity where each book flowed right into the next one and the characters changed along the way, great series but doesn’t lend itself to reading something else in between (not that you would want to!).
I didn’t know that you had moved forward and went back to the beginning, I’ve been mostly going in a chronological way. I’ve read Black Wind before (a few years back when I first discovered F. Paul Wilson with Implant and Midnight Mass [MM is excellent by the way]) but I’m skipping over it until I get closer to the RJ book: By The Sword which has the most links as far as I’ve heard.
I’d definitely recommend “Aryans and Absinthe,” although the links aren’t obvious for me yet, it’s a fascinating and scary look at Post WW1 Germany.
You have any favorites that I should be particularly excited about?
Okay, all updated with dates!
Yes on the comic book comment. I also enjoy comics that are part of a larger universe – like the Star Wars series. I’ve only read Rucka short stories, but have always been interested in trying some of his novels. I’ll have to check him out.
My favourites in this series would have to be the Cold City/Dark City/Fear City trilogy. It’s Jack in his twenties when he becomes Repairman Jack. The story arc of all three and all the stuff we learn about Jack as a person really made these books for me. I’m glad I read them before getting stuck into the Repairman Jack novels. You could read them without, but they really, really enrich his character, and as always, contain hints of things to come!