Read Venus on the Half Shell by Philip José Farmer Free Online
Book Title: Venus on the Half Shell|
The author of the book: Philip José Farmer
Date of issue: February 1st 1975
ISBN 13: 9780440061496
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 24.82 MB
Edition: Dell Books
Read full description of the books Venus on the Half Shell:Writing, and reading, fan fiction is a risky business. I know of a couple of succesful attempts : The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn and arguably the Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding (for Firefly fans). In the case of Philip Jose Farmer, I must confess I was underwhelmed, the main reason being I'm such a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut that I couldn't help comparing this parody project with the master's originals.
In Farmer's defense, the trashy plot and the florid style was probably deliberate. He is actively trying to impersonate here a recurring character from Vonnegut novels, the hack SF writer Kilgore Trout who was allegedly only published in porn magazines as text filler for the pictorials. I know I should have relaxed and read the story as the joke it was designed to be, but I couldn't get over the forced imitation of Vonnegut's cutting edge sarcastic delivery and the fake rants against society's woes. I felt like I was watching some painter who tries to imitate Van Gogh, but can't get right neither the powerful brushstrokes nor the primary colours and misses by a mile on the emotional intensity.
So pretty soon on my journey I started to find fault with everything Farmer was trying to do, and I even thought of giving up on the whole project. Being such a rabid completist (not even one book abandoned this year) I struggled on, and in the end I believe I might have been more indulgent of the results if I had read them before I ever heard of Vonnegut. I can also understand why Vonnegut refused to let Farmer write more books based impersonating his characters and distanced himself from the novel after initially endorsing it.
To give you an idea about the plot and the style I will compare it to a Roger Vadim French cult film from the late sixties, based on a previous comic by another French artist (Forrest) Barbarella . Instead of the alluring heroine of that space adventure (the lovely Jane Fonda), Farmer has chosen as his protagonist a one-eyed, lecherous, banjo-playing hero, the only human survivor after Earth is destroyed by some visiting Aliens. This guy finds a Chinese spaceship abandoned near Mount Ararat and departs to search the Galaxy for the "Definitive Answer to the Ultimate Question," or in other words, for the Meaning of Life. Along the way, he gains immortality for him and for his companion animals, a dog and an owl. He also meets a beautiful woman coming out of the sea in a scene borrowed from the famous Boticelli painting. Additionally, like in the Barbarella movie, there are a lot of sex scenes, but they are quite tame by today's standards.
The different planetary cultures presented here show some promise of originality and offer occasions for picaresque adventures, but mostly they devolve into variations of sexual games and gender politics, spicy and funny but mostly shallow. The final revelation at the far end of the Universe is even more feebly argumented, another attempt to emulate Vonnegut's black humour and cynical presentation, without his deep and rich vein of humanism.
A particular bone to pick for me was Farmer's abuse of anagrams and mispelled French or German words, a kind of insider joke that requires too much effort on the part of the reader to decode. And makes for some truly unpronounceable alien names like Chworktap or Clerun-Gowph. A second bone is another tool stolen/borrowed from Vonnegut: that of telling stories within stories by fictional authors.
Philip Jose Farmer can write much better than this. I remember liking the first Riverworld book back in the early nineties, and I plan to read at some point in the future his World of Tiers series. But I can't honestly endorse the present book.
Read information about the authorPhilip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, but spent much of his life in Peoria, Illinois.
Farmer is best known for his Riverworld series and the earlier World of Tiers series. He is noted for his use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for and reworking of the lore of legendary pulp heroes, and occasional tongue-in-cheek pseudonymous works written as if by fictional characters.
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