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Venus on the Half Shell [Paperback]

Kilgore Trout
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Mass Market Paperback --  
Paperback, 25 Mar 1976 --  

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Star (25 Mar 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0352398469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0352398468
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 10.9 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,654,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The following is excerpted from Edger Chapman, The Magic Labyrinth of Philip Jose Farmer, (San Bernardino: Borgo Press, 1984) 64-65.
Farmer's most important parody and fictional author story is Venus On The Half-Shell (1975), published by Dell books under the byline "Kilgore Trout." Trout is Vonnegut's itinerant, impoverished science fiction author, a prophet despised and without honor in his own country. A strong admirer of Vonnegut, Farmer has also confessed to a deep identification with Trout (who was actually suggested by Theodore Sturgeon). The identification was strengthened by many things: Farmer's own years as a struggling science fiction author in the early and middle stages of his career; Farmer's experience as a misunderstood social critic; and Farmer's identification with pornography as an Essex House author, a fate that plagued Trout. Finally, not long after Farmer had returned to Peoria, he was accused in 1970 of having written a letter signed "Trout" in the Peoria Journal Star criticizing President Nixon's Vietnam policy-another ironic identification of Farmer and Trout. (The letter is believed to have actually been penned by a college student.)
At any rate, Farmer, when afflicted with a temporary writer's block, conceived the idea of writing one of Trout's nonexistent novels and publishing it under Trout's name. He obtained Vonnegut's permission and went to work. When Venus on the Half-Shell was published by Dell, with Farmer wearing a false beard and a Confederate hat as a disguise on the back cover, the book was a ninety-day wonder, until Farmer's authorship, which Farmer made little effort to conceal, became known.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book I buy every time I find it 26 April 1999
By A Customer
Venus on the Half Shell IS my favorite book, with Jung's autobiography and T.S. Eliot's Complete Works running close second and third. I have read it more times than I can count. It cheers me up when I am answers questions when I am confused (at least it slaps me a good one while shouting, "TAKE YOURSELF A LITTLE MORE SERIOUSLY, WHY DON'T YOU!") It makes me laugh. It laughs at me. There is simply no other book in the same category as Venus.
Originally I found it on the "book shelf" at the Kroger in Petoskey, Michigan just after its publication in '70-something. Where else would one find a Kilgore Trout novel? I knew immediatley that I had happened upon a black pearl of literature! I couldn't wait to get home to start reading it and actually went next door to the Big Boy and had some warm salad a cold hamburger while I entered into the universe of Simon Wagstaff.
The only problem with the edition available here is that it is a new hardback. This is anitpodal to the concept itself. This book MUST be read in paperback, which is available with a little perseverence at your nearest used book shop. Kilgore Trout was NEVER published in hardback, and neither did he ever win a second edition! In order to properly appreciate this book, you really need to know Kilgore Trout as a character. Then read this book. Then read Philip Jose Farmer. If you have put the cart before the horse and already have encountered Philip Jose, it won't ruin the experience...he also wrote some pretty far out Tarzan stories.....
Read and enjoy! And, Mr. Farmer, if you check this particular message board, THANK YOU!!!! It is gratifying to know that you are out there!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It has BALLS! 14 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This is the book that will tickle everyone who has ever wondered about fate, chance, the meaning of life, and when will I get laid again. That's pretty much everybody. With any luck, this book will encourage you to see the stupidity, irony, and just plain "black-lung humor" in your own life. Maybe it'll even inspire you to write a song or two. Don't even think of dying until you have read this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, fun and short! 27 Oct 1998
By A Customer
I loved this book. Even though I havent read it since high school I still think about it. But, where have all the soft back copies gone to? I'm also a huge fan of Vonnegut, and until recently I thought he had written the book. However, Vonnegut's satire and humor is usually a little bit more subtle and dark.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good, light and amusing read. 16 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Farmer mimicks Vonnegut's style well. This is an entertaining and humourous science-fiction story. It's a light read, easily finished in one sitting (say, a long car ride). The social satire is not so subtle, way too transparent and a bit dated. The alien civilizations visited by the hero aren't very thought-provoking and probably won't satisfy well-read science-fiction fans. Nonetheless, the story works in a crescendo towards a very funny and absorbing ending. The trashiness of the story is intentional, an attempt to write like Trout, it is titillating and amusing, sometimes overdone. It leaves a lingering feeling, a nostalgic sensation like all good books when its finished.
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By A Customer
This is a book that I read in the early 1980's for recreational reading while I was a college undergrad I really enjoyed it and wanted to read it again a number of months later. But, I let someone borrow my copy and never got it back. This is happened to me like many others who have also responded in this forum. I never could remember who I let borrow that book. I also was not able to get another copy where I originally purchased the book. Perhaps Vonnegut was secretly trying to get all of the copies of Venus on the Half-Shell one by one because of his displeasure with Farmer's work? The mystery continues, but at least now I can get another copy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It's by Philip José Farmer
PJF obtained Kurt Vonnegut's permission to use the name of Kilgore Trout (who is a recurrent theme of KV's books), and later regretted it, especially as everyone thought it was KV... Read more
Published on 3 Dec 2007 by Nick McIvel
4.0 out of 5 stars What Fun!
I specially like Vonnegut's idea of writing this through the vehicle of his fictional author creation, Trout, because it lets him indulge in some spectacularly bad writing, but... Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2007 by Jezza
5.0 out of 5 stars A satire approch to the meaning of life
Simon is a great charactor to use on a high-flying imaginitivly funny prediction of how the universe was created.
Published on 19 May 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Free spirited, easy to read space adventure :)
I've been hoping that Trout and Vonnegut ARE NOT the same person, just to preserve the illusion. Oh well... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars For a good this one!!!
An incredibly imaginative journey through space, time, consciousness, humanity, philosophy, religion, sexuality, debauchery, life, death, sports, the bizarre, the mundane, the... Read more
Published on 23 Nov 1997
5.0 out of 5 stars Compared to Pan-Galactic Straw Boss
Since Pan-Galactic Straw Boss, Trout's writing has shown a lack of his usual creative genius. But, Venus on the Half-Shell proves he was never gone. Read more
Published on 3 Aug 1997
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous and irreverant look at sex and the universe
Simon, "the space wanderer," the last surviving human, seeks the meaning of life. His journey takes him to various planets where aliens help Simon to answer the... Read more
Published on 2 April 1997
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