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The Lovers

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  671 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Escaping the religious tyranny of a 31st-century Earth by a fluke assignment to the planet Ozagen, linguist Hal Yarrow found that the worst of Earth had followed him - Pornsen, his personal Guardian Angel, vigilant for any evidence of sin or wrong thinking.
Conditioned by a lifetime of submission, Yarrow would have accepted Pornsen's constant spying as an unpleasant necessi
Paperback, 200 pages
Published February 12th 1980 by Del Rey Books (first published June 1961)
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3.58  · 
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 ·  671 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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This was published in 1952, only 3 years after Orwell’s “1984” It was Farmer's first book, a novella that won him a Hugo Award as a “Most Promising New Talent.” With a bit of the flavor of P.K. Dick, it features an unlikeable man, Hal, who is a cog in the machinery of a totalitarian theocracy with a repressive Victorian outlook on sexuality. As a linguist on an imperialist mission to the planet Ozgan, his job is to help the team learn the language of its sentient species, the Wogglebugs, which h ...more
Hal Yarrow is a linguist sent to the newly discovered planet Ozgan, where another sentient species lives. He has led a repressed and unhappy life. But on Ozgan, he realizes that his tyranical religion and way of life are illogical, and breaks free to find love amongst the natives.

The writing is lazy. There are countless instances of Farmer forgetting what came mere pages ago. For example, on the first page, Yarrow tells a fellow passanger what a "joat" (jack-of-all-trades) is. Not five pages lat
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book I read multiple times in magazine version and in paperback back years ago. This copy is signed by Philip José Farmer.
Aug 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This seems like a short story expanded to a novella or short novel. Interesting (and complete) world design, religious oppression taken to an extreme. No real action in the first half, though. The second half is a good story, with elements of adventure and intrigue at the personal and government scale, and works fairly well.

Tried to find exactly why this book was banned, and only found the statement: "An exploration of alien sex so explicit it was one of the most banned books of it's time."

The o
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks

I read The Lovers in its original publication form in the August 1952 issue of Startling Stories. What is perhaps most startling is how accurately and fully Samuel Mines, the editor, recognized the immediate and long-term influence the story would have. It is worth searching for the issue at Internet Archive and reading his full editorial, but here's the gist of what Mines wrote: "The Lovers is an important story...because it will make a lot of fine writers sit up and be quoted as blurting: 'My
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-rev, reviewed
3 stars, Metaphorosis Reviews


In a repressive future society, a jack-of-all-trades linguist exchanges cultural restrictions for a long trip to another world. Whe he finds there shakes and reshapes his world view and his heart.


In this Hugo-winning novella, Farmer provides more complex characters than in much of his later work. The hero is a rebel, but not too much of one; he’s caught up by the beliefs he was raised with, and has difficulty getting past them. In this, he doesn’t alwa
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy, z-1960-s
Really liked it when I read it as a kid. Have to read it again to comment though.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I personally found this book “all right”. The writing was definitely confusing at some points. I feel like Farmer put a lot of unnecessary parts into the book, as someone else that wrote a review stated, such as at the end of the book. There wasn’t really a point to write pages and pages worth of a description on how Jeanette’s species works. I could see a few pages to give the reader an idea of what was going on, and to add to the story for Hal Yarrow’s sake but not as many as 15. I also felt l ...more
Rene Bard
My first PJF book may be my last. We'll see...

The Lovers is a novella from 1952 about a human male who falls in love with a humanoid female on a distant planet. While the story may have been fresh at the time it was published, it has not aged well. The sci-fi elements and the romance elements are ridiculous unless you appreciate the finer points of a space rocket with lots of paper files (in triplicate!) or a female protagonist who will do anything to please her man as long as he keeps her suppl
Riju Ganguly
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
A not-so-clever dystopian novel, that's how I would like to describe this work. At times, our protagonist behaved in a sensible and intelligent manner. On other occasions he behaved like a jerk. But the book really became incomprehensible once the merry band of human fanatics reached the other planet. Jeanette, the... er, not-exactly-human heroine stepped in, and the book sort of imploded. The biology and sociology both being bonkers, only one question remained. Is this a thought provoking work? ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Government and religion have blended, resulting (as you might expect) in a rather creepy society where everything revolves around control and following the rules. The story follows Hal Yarrow who attempts to escape his unhappy life. He falls in love with a woman on another planet, resulting in a strange relationship. The story has many interesting themes and seems well constructed; a lot less random than other novels by this writer.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting early work from Farmer. There are some very interesting ideas explored here, especially those concerning religion, discrimination, and free will. At times the writing seems dated, and the naming of one of the alien races is particularly unfortunate, and this made reading uncomfortable at times.
Chloe Noland
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Aight, but not my favorite Farmer story. Seemed to borrow devices from other contemporary sci-fi writers that were using them better (suspended animation, big brother-type religious cult leaders, etc)--although tbh I'm not sure what is the chicken and what is the egg here. Anyway.
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started out intriguing given the current political climate, but got kinda boring in the middle. Ending was unsatisfactory, though some predictions I had made came true. Similarly dated stereotypical description of women, expected because of the publication date and having read Farmer before.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing story of repression, religiosity and ultimately love. This is a must read if you like science fiction.
Mr. Farmer’s novel about humans and their on-going attempts of domination, whether of themselves or an alien race, is a searing and thought-provoking classic. While dissecting a stifling theocracy whose tenets slyly invoke those of Christianity, he outlines a love affair that is as moving as it is subtly seductive.

Jeannette is the polar opposite of Hal Yarrow’s sexually repressed, moody wife Mary. Yet she is also a clingy, sharp-tongued, weepy alcoholic. But, because she is amazingly beautiful,
Ronald Koltnow
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Philip Jose Farmer is the man who brought sex into science fiction. The original short story that was expanded into this novel first appeared in the August 1952 issue of Startling Stories. The story,of an Earthman on a distant planet who falls in love with a beautiful humanoid and who enjoys a decidedly earthy relationship with her, opened the doors to a new form of sf, the innerspace story. Yet, things are neither as simple or as clear as they may appear. Farmer is essentially a satirist, like ...more
Jean Doolittle
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Philip Jose Farmer is a world builder. He has created so many intriguing cultures and that is true in this book as well. Although this is set in the 31st century, the wrong-headed righteousness of today's most rabid fundamentalists can be seen here. The Sigmenites have a rigidly controlled society based on unquestionable truths that don't stand up to scrutiny, but are never scrutinized by the followers. When Hal Yarrow, a linguistic "joat" (jack of all trades--generalist in linguistics)is enlist ...more
David Merrill
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I can definitely see why this book was so controversial in its day and it offered up far more than its sexual frankness, so it deserves its classic status. Farmer makes the humans in the story seem completely alien because of their religion based government. The society he describes is completely claustrophobic due to the gapts whose job it is to judge and punish their charges for even the slightest overstepping of the rules, including sinful thoughts. I found it amusing the protagonist's (Hal Y ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Would recommend to for the "man". Scathing critique/exploration of religious archetypes, totalitarianism, xenophobia, and...well.....the boundaries of love (or the lack thereof). This one is truly a classic. Having primarily attended private (read: religious) schools throughout the majority of my adolescence, I easily identified with the protagonist. This one goes beyond its sci-fi assignation, as it has universal appeal. Farmer is one of my all-time favorite authors, and thi ...more
Kelsye Nelson
Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked up this book at Powell's City of Books simply to gawk at the wonderfully weird cover. (Different from the one shown here.) When I read the back, I was intrigued by the concept of the world split into two shifts (day/night) due to over population. It was only $3.50, so I bought. I read it on the train home. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it.

There were places the writing could certainly be cleaned up. Yet the characters were excellent, the plot moves fast and it's a fun world to inh
Martin Goodman
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
A crisp brisk read ... starts off as a dystopia then hurtles through light years to a distant planet. The newly recognized (when written) crime of genocide is at the hart of it, and of course a daring live story. I was surprised how many plot devices were planted along the way, all of which I missed: neat structure. It ends up playing with the Lileth legend. Good that a scifi book can take you so farwithout taking 800 pages to do it in.
L. Lawson
May 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
I picked this up because i'd heard a lot about it being the forerunner (haha) of the SciFi genre in some ways. It's a quick read and might be worthwhile reading except for the repugnant relationship between Hal and Jeanette. He treats her like she's sub-human, in my view. (Ironic, considering (view spoiler)). I know it's not fair to judge elder books on modern standards, but some books should be left behind.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This novella won Farmer the Hugo Award, and it remains one of the works for which he will be remembered. Great science fiction distinguishes itself from escapism by expertly exploring universal themes. What is love? Is our concept of love narrow?

I haven't read this book in a very long time, so I need to re-read it. But it is by any measure some of the best science fiction ever written.
This story really sticks with me, year after year -- it's about the emotional roller-coaster ride taken by a linguist who travels to a new planet to learn to communicate with the intelligent insects there, and falls in love with an apparently human woman he finds in their alien forests.
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was really good, but i have to admit that i was expecting something different on this controversial theme. And the ending could be a little por polished.
Ilias Avramidis
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
One of the very first Sci-Fi reads i had, actually maybe this is the one that got me into Sci-Fi books! Loved the universe and the whole sexual aspect, i just wish it was longer!
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's such a pleasure to read someone capable of writing such a believable alternate reality.

Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delicious brain food.
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cleanskin
I know its meant to be a classic of SF but, didn't really do it for me
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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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