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Venus on the Half-Shell
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Venus on the Half-Shell

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  2,094 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
Kilgore Trout's epic science fiction saga.
Mass Market Paperback, 203 pages
Published January 15th 1975 by Dell (first published 1974)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Algernon
Aug 11, 2014 Algernon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

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.
...more
Manny
As everyone knows who's come across him in Kurt Vonnegut's books, Kilgore Trout had great ideas, but couldn't write. So, in a way, it's fitting that Philip José Farmer had a great idea - actually to write the Kilgore Trout novel Venus on the Half Shell, which is referred to in God Bless You, Mr Rosewater - but that the result is embarrassing for everyone concerned.

The best part of Venus is definitely the blurb on the back cover, which, at least in the edition I read, faithfully reproduces the t
...more
Tara
Nov 30, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
lots of people seem to find this book silly. well, it was written by a dude who pretended to be Vonnegut's favorite made-up author, kilgore trout. but you know, i loved it, seriously. it was odd, whimsical, with a touch of seriousness here and there to be followed up by self-mockery. since i've been mildly self-aware i've adored, by genetic default, the works of Vonnegut, forced upon me by parents with crazy love for him. so, i must admit, the only thing the man ever did which depresses me was t ...more
Drew Barth
Apr 11, 2011 Drew Barth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What did I think? I don't even know.
A copy of this was given to me by my Junior year English teacher after doing a presentation on Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, just the fact that one of Kilgore Trout's books was actually released was astonishing to me. Here is a man, more or less, who has written dozens, if not hundreds of various novels and stories over a sordid career that spans decades, and this is the one they saw fit to release in this universe?
Well, I can't really complain abo
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Bas
Dec 17, 2007 Bas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vonnegut, heroes
This book might be my best find... EVER.

Thsi book is a book by Kilgore Trout, a well known alter ego for Kurt Vonnegut Readers. He is a science finction Author that only gets published in dirty magazines as filler between the pictures. He has had hundreds of stories published this way and some of his story ideas are great. Except.. he does not actually exists...
Untill thsi book came out. A great read in the style of Kurt Vonnegut. Only later did everyone realize it was a book by Farmer.
Still.. I
...more
Emily
Apr 01, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
"Kilgore Trout"'s only published novel is like a cross between The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the Oz books, except 20 times dirtier. Simon Wagstaff is on a quest for the answers to his questions, namely, "Why are we here?" and..."Who created all these weird candy-heart shaped indestructable towers on most of the planets in the universe -- but not Earth's galaxy?" Simon gets one of his questions answered, and meets some very interesting aliens along the way. Except for the long, involve ...more
Frahorus
Sconvolgente lo scoprire la risposta alla Domanda delle domande! Non ve la dirò, amici, perché preferisco che prima divorate questo succulento ed umoristico romanzo di Farmer. Ma posso citarvi quello che scrisse Re Alfonso di Castiglia, detto il Saggio: "Se fossi stato presente al momento della creazione, avrei potuto dare a Dio qualche buon suggerimento su come migliorare il mondo".
Denis
Jan 14, 2017 Denis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover, special
Oh my gosh. I have a special place to put books like this while I am reading them. It is a place where there is no other book within reach, such as work, car and such. This ensures that I will pick it up from time to time and eventually read it all the way through. I did not expect much from VOTH-S but what I hoped it would not be, unfortunately, it was.

Philip Josee Farmer, a writer who's work I have enjoyed from time to time, had come up with the cool idea to write a Kilgore Trout novel (and I
...more
Rob
Oct 09, 2014 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lusty young sci-fi fans
This was my dad's old paperback. He gave it to me in... high school? The story around the book (that Farmer wrote it as Kurt Vonnegut's fictional science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, effectively making it like... meta-fan-fiction?) is more interesting than the story in the book itself. The story itself is "just OK", following along with some fairly familiar sci-fi tropes and adding a sprinkling of puerile sexuality. I smirked a few times, but never chuckled. To me it was more interesting to try ...more
Saretta
E' un romanzo di fantascienza abbastanza particolare sia per i temi trattati (anni '70) sia per il gioco di riferimenti che Farmer voleva creare (il libro era inizialmente stato presentato come scritto da Kilgore Trout).
I riferimenti tra autori veri - autori finti e storie da loro scritti ha evidentemente divertito Farmer, però è molto difficile da cogliere se non si è dotati di una Introduzione chiara al romanzo.
Il viaggio fantascientifico è il mezzo che consente di parlare di sesso e religione
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Jerry Jose
Jan 14, 2017 Jerry Jose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kilger Trout is a familiar name among Vonnegut fans, the fictional sci fi writer whose existence every reader secretly wished and googled for. Though Farmer’s version made Vonnegut cross, who according to internet overstatement legends, had dismissed the novel as a fakers drivel (mostly coz of creator ambiguity, which was later cleared by a by-line), I found it pretty fab.

This book is weird, comical, extremely absurd, reference filled and absolutely staggering. I was enraptured from the very int
...more
Mark
Jul 11, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this 40 years ago when it came out. I was reading Vonnegut quite a bit at the time so I knew of his character, the hack science fiction author Kilgore Trout. I recall liking it at the time but I really did not remember much, just a few of the scenes and situations.

The current reading was a 2013 reissue that includes quite a bit of foreword and afterword material on the story behind Philip Jose Farmer writing as Kilgore Trout and some of the drama behind that since the real author w
...more
Christopher Baldwin
I actually read this one, as it wasn't on audiobook (that I could find). And I get how he wanted it to be a tribute to Vonnegut (Farmer wrote it as "Kilgore Trout" a character who is a novelist from Kurt Vonnegut Jr's books), but I also get how Vonnegut tried to ignore it despite initially giving it permission to happen. It has a lot in it which pays tribute to Vonegut's writing and wit, but I didn't find it had the same depth. Some element which holds Vonnegut together seemed missing.

Also, I di
...more
Rob
Oct 02, 2009 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: The Indiana Bard
Shelves: sci-fi
Strange, yet compelling book. There were portions I really liked, some other portions that we just so so, but overall a good read. I enjoyed the silliness, satire, and farce, but at the same time, the author (Philip Jose Farmer, for those who don't know) peppers in some interesting bits that make you think.

Any book that talks about aliens whose method of locomotion is propulsion-by-farting can't be all bad... :)
Carlo
Farmer scrisse questo libro in omaggio a Kurt Vonnegut, tanto che la prima edizione uscì a firma Kilgore Trout, l’immaginario scrittore di fantasceinza che compare qua e là nei romanzi dell’autore di ‘Mattatoio n. 5’. Vonnegut diede prima il suo assenso e poi si ritirò mentre il volume vendeva numerose copie: di questa marcia indietro non sono chiari i motivi, ma in essa bene si riflette l’ambivalenza di cui resta preda il lettore una volta girata l’ultima pagina. Farmer utilizza come canovaccio ...more
Leila Anani
Shallow person that I am I bought this book entirely for the cover, but come on what an absolutely awesome trashy cover! It just had to be bought. Sadly I don't think the contents live up to the gorgeous artwork.

The story follows a banjo playing bum Simon Wagstaff who manages to escape a cleansing flood of Biblical proportions in a Chinese spacecraft. He picks up a dog he calls Anubis, an owl called Athena and a female android called Chworktap and together they roam through space on Simon's ques
...more
John Maberry
May 22, 2014 John Maberry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
How embarrassing to find only now that the book I thought was written by Kurt Vonnegut, under the pseudonym of his Kilgore Trout character, was actually written by Philip Jose Farmer. So it goes (haha). It's probably due to the fact that it seems, to me at least, that Farmer was channeling Vonnegut in the satirical style of the latter. Trout, of course, was a fictional character. It's much like the silliness of ABC-TV in creating books by Richard Castle, their TV character, matching books the TV ...more
Justin Strangward
Feb 18, 2016 Justin Strangward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Absurdists
I see people reviewing this as fan fiction and thats not quite right. I used to see dog-eared copies of this book in bookshops, pre-internet. As a teenager, I didn't know it wasn't by Vonnegut. In fact the picture on the back was of some bloke in a hat, shades and beard. It might be Vonnegut? Its not until I met grownups who had read Vonnegut, that could tell me that it was a sham. There was no way of knowing.

Its a hard book to read as it is pure baloney up until the last beautiful sentence. To
...more
Dan
Apr 02, 2015 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
As other reviewers have suggested, it's like Douglas Adams, but with much more bodily humor. So, light and crude. For me, it seems credible that this might have been the kind of thing that Kurt Vonnegut's Kilgore Trout might have written had he been a real person (the novel is actually authored by Philip José Farmer, who appropriated the name of Vonnegut's fictional writer as an homage to Vonnegut.
Dominic
This book reads like bad Vonnegut, which, of course, was the author's intention as he is having fun writing a book supposedly by Kilgore Trout. So I guess in that sense, it is a success. On the other hand, I think it is fair to ask whether life is too short to bother with reading a book that intentionally reads like bad Vonnegut? It just might be.
Erik Graff
Mar 22, 2010 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Farmer/Vonnegut fans
Recommended to Erik by: a Grinnellian
Shelves: sf
This book was handed to me as a curiosity soon after graduation from Grinnell College. It was very silly--not one of Farmer's better works. Still, the idea of producting something by Kilgore Trout was an amusing one.
Pat Cooney
Mar 20, 2014 Pat Cooney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you should judge a book by its cover which in this case, with the original cover artwork, is completely accurate. Absolutely hysterical, witty in the dumbest way possible, and lovingly mocking of sci-fi. Super fast and a great break from more serious fare.
Jackassin
Jul 31, 2011 Jackassin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, comedy, slapstick
This book is totally amazing.
You can be sure that Vonnegut was jealous he hadn't wrote it.

My problem is that the end was botched in a manner as if the author had been writing on commission by the page, and simply stopped with the attitude of "screw-it, that's all you paid for foikers."
Lyn
Aug 12, 2011 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, and AMAZINGLY, I was wrong that I always thought Vonnegut had either written it or at least contributed more than just the fictional author. I have a new found respect for Farmer.
Frahorus
Divertente. Un romanzo pieno di humor fantascientifico, pieno di vicende strambe e spesso goliardiche... Molto pieno di fantasia, davvero da non perdere.
Guy Dayen
Jan 09, 2016 Guy Dayen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite some of the negative reviews, I think it is well worth for any Vonnegut fan to seek out this book and devour it. Turns out Kilgore Trout can write after all !
Deanne
Jan 20, 2014 Deanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasyandscifi
Just plain whacky, though fun still could only give it 3 stars.
Diana Kathleen Bradbury
So great! I actually thought it was by Vonnegut for quite a long time.
Alex Villepique
Nov 10, 2016 Alex Villepique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I got it from the local library. Character descriptions are deep, thorough, and really make one care for the characters.
The ideas in the settings and plot are so imaginative and surprising that I really enjoyed every single page I read. And the universe and world he is describing is simply amazing. I loved the diversity he uses in his work.
I warmly recommend it.
Anthony
Dec 08, 2015 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Venus on the Half-Shell is one of Philip Jose Farmer’s “fictional author” pieces – novels and stories which, when originally published, were purported to be written by an author the general public knew to be fictional. In this case the “author” is Kilgore Trout, who has appeared in numerous novels by Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, when originally published, the book carried Trout’s byline and no mention was made of Farmer at all. The edition released by Titan Books a few years ago emblazons Farmer’s na ...more
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Philip 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 th
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