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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A precursor to Storm Constantine's Wraeththu
In the far away 1960 SF writer Theodore Sturgeon wrote this intriguing book about a man who finds himself snatched from his own time and projected in a future when an hermaphrodite race (called Ledom) has supplanted humanity. Those Ledom are very sociable people, skilled in biological and social science, and they're rather peculiar: they never sleep (instead sometimes...
Published on 11 May 2004 by Ventura Angelo

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best?
This novel was first published in 1960.
The story mainly centres on Charlie Johns who finds he has been 'transported' to Ledom, a future society. The narrative switches back and forth between Charlie's experiences in Ledom and the Smiths and the Railes in modern domestic America. Ledom serves as a Utopia (guess how he got the name) where there is no such thing as...
Published on 4 Dec 2002 by R. J. Hole


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A precursor to Storm Constantine's Wraeththu, 11 May 2004
By 
Ventura Angelo (Brescia, Lombardia Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Venus Plus X (Paperback)
In the far away 1960 SF writer Theodore Sturgeon wrote this intriguing book about a man who finds himself snatched from his own time and projected in a future when an hermaphrodite race (called Ledom) has supplanted humanity. Those Ledom are very sociable people, skilled in biological and social science, and they're rather peculiar: they never sleep (instead sometimes fall in a sort of trance), have two uterus and always procreate twins. The insemination is reciprocal and contemporaneous. They have a device, the cerebrostyle, that allows fast learning connecting a recording machine directly to the brain. No lenghty hours to spend studying over textbooks for them! This novel is of the category "Utopian", which means almost no plot and long expanations, but on the whole it is very interesting. The Ledom are very kind and emphatic, and literally worship children "because it is not conceivable we'll ever obey them". That's a bit weird. The human, Charlie Johns, is very impressed by their charity and compassion, but since the Ledom have snatched him to have a frank appraisal of their society by an average man, they have to tell him a secret of theirs that'll make Charlie revise his judgment. In the last pages there are some plot twists, and we get, finally, to glimpse Ledom society from the inside. A final revelation awaits the reader who patiently waded through descriptions and dissertations. A really worthy read, in my opinion!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sturgeon at his most philosophical, 19 Dec 2011
I'm a latecomer to SF and an even latercomer to the work of Theodore Sturgeon, but on the basis of only three novels, he is fast becoming one of my favourite authors in the genre. He's reminiscent of one of my other favourites, John Wyndham: his characters are always grounded in the real world and both authors use SF devices to shed light on modern life more often than trying to extrapolate the future. Other similarities include a gentle wit, the balance of pessimism about society with a general optimism about the intrinsic good in humankind and, as evidenced in this novel, a liberal view about the family and the roles of men and women. Where Sturgeon and Wyndham differ, however, is that Sturgeon is a little more edgy; his moments of cynicism are more biting, his laments more mournful, his examination of sex and sexuality less bashful.

This novel, which follows the classic social SF format of one man's tour around a strange and foreign future, planet or country, really feels like it deserves to be called a novel. It is science FICTION in the truest sense; the prose is readable, the form is bold, the mystery enticing; it follows two narratives which are contrasted but never intertwine and a great deal of the novel is either a satire on modern morés or a discussion of ethical concepts, it is a very worthy read and its arguments still speak to a modern reader, in a way that makes the proto-feminism of John Wyndham's Trouble with Lichen actually seem quite quaint.

I recommend this story heartily to those who love social SF, as it's a real landmark in the genre in terms of its arguments, of a kind that were greatly recycled elsewhere, and will be a worthy addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Walter Tevis and Robert Silverberg.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST BUY!, 19 Aug 2011
I read this book in 1972 & wanted to re-read.This is sci-fi at its v.best.Page 89 is amongst the best pieces of descriptive writing EVER!...a beautiful book that is timeless.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best?, 4 Dec 2002
By 
R. J. Hole (England) - See all my reviews
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This novel was first published in 1960.
The story mainly centres on Charlie Johns who finds he has been 'transported' to Ledom, a future society. The narrative switches back and forth between Charlie's experiences in Ledom and the Smiths and the Railes in modern domestic America. Ledom serves as a Utopia (guess how he got the name) where there is no such thing as male or female. The domestic scenes represent the male/female differences which are breaking down. I found the latter scenes fairly uninteresting and not particularly well written and only served to break up the flow of the main story. Even the main story I didn't find particulary exciting: I tired of the sermonising.
I like Sturgeon's writing but felt that this wasn't his best. However, this is claimed to be his best by others, e.g. on the cover "Brilliant . . . his best", Frederik Pohl. It has got quite a neat ending, as well.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Novel ideas but a traditional message, 30 Nov 2002
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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My reaction to this book seems to be a little different than that of others. Had I not read others' favorable reviews, this book would have frustrated me. The second running commentary about a "modern" family and its neighbors did provide a little humor but mainly just served to interrupt the flow of the main story. I expected some kind of grand ending which would embrace the secondary story and clearly show its meaning and purpose, but the ending did not really accomplish that to my satisfaction. As far as the presentation of homosexual themes in this story, I found nothing very controversial or nontraditional in its presentation. Our "homo sap." protagonist Charlie Johns encounters homosexuality, is confused by its practice, and actually delivers a biting criticism of that kind of lifestyle; he in fact goes so far as to say that over 99% of the men in his world would want to destroy the Ledom just because they accept and practice homosexuality. In an even larger sense, the utopian aspects of Ledom society seem to be overstated by some reviewers and certainly by the guy who wrote the words on the front and back covers of my rather old copy of the book. While Charlie Johns is seemingly very impressed by Ledom society at one point, I didn't really understand why he suddenly felt that way. Moreover, his views quickly change as his guide Philos shows him some of Ledom's secrets. I can't really go into the heart of this matter without giving something away to the future reader, so let me just say that clearly all of the Ledom are not blissfully happy nor do they even claim to be an ideal society.
This book does succeed in delivering a powerful ending. While I expected a late twist, I did not really expect the ending Sturgeon gave me, and this largely made up for the dissatisfaction I felt regarding the secondary "modern life" story. The ending makes this book the classic it is, but the main story is thoroughly enjoyable throughout. A man is somehow snatched from his own world into that of a strange new world inhabited by a small, largely sexless society which purports to keep all its citizens equal, happy, and free. In return for a trip back home, Johns agrees to study the society objectively (objectivity being something the Ledom lack); the new society rather quickly reveals a layer of conflict and isolated unhappiness hidden behind a mask of equality and utopia. Interestingly, Charlie Johns (and the Ledom) learns more about home sap. society than he does Ledom society. In essence, the book serves not as a critique but more of a study of human life, honing in on two issues: sexuality and religion. Sturgeon offers a number of interesting ideas on society, but these seem to me to be ideas only and not prescriptions or even suggestions. To my mind, Sturgeon actually lauds the greatness of human society despite whatever ills it certainly possesses.
Venus Plus X is an important, influential, successful example of social science fiction, proving that science fiction is at its best when it deals with the large, abstract issues of mankind rather than focusing exclusively on the technical aspects and believability of a future or alternative science. You can learn something about yourself by reading this book, and that is a grand accomplishment indeed for any writer in any genre.
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Venus Plus X
Venus Plus X by T. Sturgeon (Paperback - 9 Nov 1999)
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