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Whipping Star

(ConSentiency Universe #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,940 ratings  ·  155 reviews
In the far future, humankind has made contact with numerous other species: Gowachin, Laclac, Wreaves, Pan Spechi, Taprisiots, and Caleban, and has helped to form the ConSentiency to govern among the species. After suffering under a tyrannous pure democracy, the sentients of the galaxy find the need for a Bureau of Sabotage (BuSab) to slow the wheels of government, thereby ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published January 20th 2009 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published November 30th 1969)
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3.65  · 
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 ·  2,940 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Whipping Star by Frank Herbert, first published in 1970, explores among many things the complexities of communication; heightened by hyperbole as between xenological species but also as an allegory for human relations.

I once cross-examined a troglodyte who was being intentionally evasive and it was maddening. Reading passages in this book was akin to that experience, yet Herbert uses it as an illustration of the frailty of relational semantics.

Another aspect of this book that was disc
Benjamin Duffy
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi

Like a lot of Herbert fans, I was introduced to Frank Herbert through Dune and its original quintet of sequels. And like a lot of Herbert fans, I kind of stopped there. It was only later, years later, that I bothered to read some of his other books. And while the Dune saga still represents his most complete vision and best storytelling (at least through the first four books), and is deservedly his best-known work, I've started to realize that some of his most truly impressive feats
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've only read some of his Dune books, so I thought to expand a bit. This wasn't really worth the effort. I think it's supposed to be a farce about communication. If so, the humor part mostly passed me by. What was left seemed more mental masturbation than story. There were some ingenious aliens, but that was about it.
Bryan Alexander
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, mystery
I picked this from the shelves on impulse. I wanted to reread it for pleasure, to confirm my memories of the book. Also, I continue my leisurely effort to remember and/or explore Frank Herbert's non-Dune books.

And what a fun novel!

It's a bit hard to describe. The story takes place in a future where humans and aliens coexist across the galaxy. The plot begins as a villain attempts to kill a Calebian, an alien with the power to teleport anyone across star systems. Our protagonist, Jorg McKie, is a
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The ultimate SF wordsmith, Frank Herbert takes on an ambitious project with the classic book Whipping Star.

In a universe made smaller by instantaneous travel, a mystery unfolds as the creatures who make such travel possible are disappearing. In fact, many have transferred their "connectives" such that there is just one, the Caleban named Fannie Mae. Jorj X. McGie of the Bureau of Sabotage (BuSab), an agency responsible for slowing down a hyper-efficient universal government, is specifically cal

2.5 stars. Not in the same category as the Dune series (but what it). Overall, a decent to good story and some very good writing, especially in the conversations between the human and alien characters.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The attraction of SF books is that they are like telescopes, looking at some point into the far future. They aren't hemmed in by the here and now, instead, in that tiny piece of glass at the very end, you get to see myriad possibilities tinted with a hint of reality, with some futures, of course, being far more realistic than others.

SF books come in different genres. You have military, political, biological, psychological, mystery, romance, etc, one common point being they are based on a futuri
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Frank Herbert and sci-fi
Shelves: sci-fi
Here's a basic premise of this novel: A seemingly divine being is discovered that allows instantaneous travel from any known point in the universe to any other. It is dying. If it dies, anyone who has used its abilities, which means nearly every known sentient being in the universe, will die with it because they are all now "connected." This sentient being has entered into a binding contract with a woman in order to learn about life in our dimension. Unfortunately, this woman is a sadist and wan ...more
Invadozer Misothorax Circular-thallus Popewaffensquat
This Frank Herbert fella wrote the book Dune which was a semi sleeper for me as it walked around this barren planet with some aristocracy stuff going on, got to try to read it again maybe I'm missing something?

This other "WHIPPING STAR" is swell though. Frank's little obtuse and abstract words and concepts hobble around and die and later get picked up and slapped back to life when you are completely confused and he nonchalantly needs to explain the word/concept for the story's sake which works m
Fantasy Literature
Whipping Star is one of Frank Herbert’s non-Dune books that Tor has been reprinting in recent years. This 1970 novel is the first full novel in the ConSentiency universe, which up to this point consisted of only two short stories. Both of them are contained in the collection Eye and may very well be included in other short fiction collections. Like these short stories, Whipping Star features the unusually observant BuSab agent Jorj X. McKie as a main character. This universe is also the setting ...more
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Frank Herbert fans, sci fi fans, Literature students
Recommended to Michael by: Wikipedia
Having never read any of Herbert’s work besides Dune, I was very surprised (and a little disappointed) to find that he had written such a generic example of period science fiction as well. I always sort of imagine Dune springing forth fully-formed from his head, but it’s obvious just from reading this that he had a career as a sci fi author, and that much of the work he published was simply not of the same caliber. This one could almost have been re-written as an episode of “Star Trek: The Anima ...more
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had started reading "The Dosadi Experiment," and realized that it was not the first book in the McKie (Saboteur Extraordinary) series. So since I was pretty darn lost (after 40+ pages), decided to back up and read "Whipping Star" to get a handle on the basic story/recurring characters. By the end of "Whipping Star," while I felt less lost, I still didn't get the impression I really grasped what the heck was happening in this story. When Frank Herbert wants to get into the minds of aliens, thin ...more
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a part of Vintage SciFi Month and truly enjoyed it. Yet again Frank Herbert is proven to be a master at his craft. As with others of his books this one is primarily dialogue and quite philosophical. I will post more in the review on my website.
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The idea of sentience is critical to understanding this story. What makes a being sentient? What truly is pain? How can we relate to something so vast; we can't even quantify it? Whipping Star is a life or death struggle to answer these questions and more.
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, sci-fi
I read this book because it seemed like The Dosadi Experiment, which I had in paperback, was a sequel. Which is true, but I resent reading this book.

McKie is a Saboteur Extraordinary of the Bureau of Sabotage, a strange governmental body which has grown like a cross between a vital hormonal gland in the galactic government, throwing sand in the works of a machinery of government that is too perfect. His vital mission this time is to sabotage the whipping to death of a Caleban at the hands of an
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my few Desert Island books, along with Samuel Delany's Driftglass and Jack Williamson's Seedling Stars, LOTR, anything by Barbara Tuchman, Winston Churchill, Oliver Sacks. Wait, the list is getting too long.
Let me start again. What are the natures of intelligence, communication, pain, compulsion, identity, compassion & the role(s) of government? The prose - it's Herbert after all, is dense, intense, often confusing (frequent re-reads), but full of the excitement of ideas, by a very go
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, speculative
I can’t explain how I feel about this book without this first paragraph. There are minor spoilers in it, but nearly all of them are made pretty clear early on in the novel. Whipping Star‘s plot more or less boils down to this: a sadistic, psychotic woman with vast amounts of wealth – who was obliged to undergo conditioning so she wouldn’t be able to tolerate seeing pain in others anymore – has her minions nonetheless whip (with an actual bullwhip) a godlike alien (visible to humans as a small st ...more
Scott Rhee
This is an odd book, even for Frank Herbert, which is not to say I didn't like it. The title "Whipping Star", I thought, was going to have some fascinating metaphorical meaning, but nope, it actually involves someone using a leather whip on a shining bright ball of gas in space. I'm not joking. The ball of gas in question is actually a life-form called a Caleban, which exists on another plane or dimension of existence, and I'm still not quite clear as to why the character actually has a thing fo ...more
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book probably only deserves one star. It's really bad in some respects and pretty much the paragon of bad science fiction. There's really no plot. Herbert gives a crisis, which seems completely unmotivated, like the actions of most of the characters, that you just can't seem to care about. Some stuff happens, then some poorly conceived mystical / quasi-scientific revelation unsatisfyingly solves the crisis in the last dozen pages. A bunch of nonsense mathematical sounding terms get thrown a ...more
J.M. Hushour
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A galactic dominatrix flogs the last living member of a species that makes real-time travel across light-years possible. Thing is, if that thing dies under the perverse ministrations of the galactic dominatrix who is whipping it, everyone who has ever traveled using this creature (basically every sentient being in the galaxy) will die.
I am not kidding. That is the plot to this fantastic novel which might surpass even Herbert's own mighty "Dune" saga for its sheer alien weirdness and delightful w
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it
...I thought Whipping Star is one of the more interesting novels by Herbert I have read. It is not a very heavy read like some of his other works, but definitely worth my time. The short tempered McKie makes for an interesting character. There are some parallels with Lewis Orne, main character in the novel The Godmakers as well as number of short stories, but McKie is much better developed. His humanity gives the reader a firm anchor in the ConSentiency, with it’s numerous alien characters. This ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: High schoolers and up who like sf
Shelves: for-upper-el
I listened to this book on a playaway from the library and it was quite good. It's a space detective story, but for me the best parts were the interspecies interactions. The way the main "alien" species communicates with the other sentients of Herbert's worlds makes for a lot of hilarious, sometimes grimly so, miscommunication. The main character is a hard-boiled type, but he works for the bureau of sabotage, which does all it can to keep the governments on their toes--an interesting premise. Th ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterpiece of a short book. A page turner from start to finish, Whipping Star condenses the herbert experience into a tight, well-implemented package. Smart dialogue, incredible world building, exotic aliens and customs, and an interesting plot. This book is very well edited, i didnt think the book spent too much time in one particular area in negligence of others.

The ending is a little short, but its at least its not a cliffhanger. More detail could have been put into Athnea, i think her cha
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an amazing journey in the realms of psychology and philosophy, centered on solipsism or at least in conjecture with it.
Our reality exist only in our mind, but what kind of reality is there outside our mind? How could we explore a reality outside our minds? Aristotle, Plato, Frege, Wittgenstein, Russell, even John Ellis and others tried to understand it and we see this struggle from a different perspective in this book, in a fictional universe.
I highly recommend it to introspective people
Chris Gager
Jun 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't remember it that much since it was a long time ago that I read it. Seems like I enjoyed it though. Date read is a guess.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short summary :
A highly amusing read. A mix of very dry and often, but not always, sarcastic humor with several interesting ideas. However, this book is not without heart. Another thing to note, is a lot of the humor is language based.

Some more about the book:
The book rests on and deals with the limits of communication and language, both between humans and even more so, between alien species. It is the main theme and it suffuses everything, which is not a problem, because it is a good subject
Gilbert Stack
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frank Herbert excels at the creation of truly alien, incomprehensible cultures, and it is this problem of communication that is the heart of the superb novel, Whipping Star. In the universe of the future multiple alien species live together in a government called the ConSentiency. For several decades, the peoples of the ConSentiency have taken advantage of advanced technology provided to them by a new race called the Caleban. The Caleban are almost impossible to understand, but they have a jump ...more
Douglas Debner
May 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this book. I got about 1/4 of the way into before it became too stupid to bear. The first major stupidity was the existence of a department of saboteurs to keep government from becoming too efficient. The story then moves on to magic aliens who can move people anywhere in the universe. One of these aliens enters into a contract that will kill it. Previously unknown was that anyone who traveled with the help of one of these aliens will die when the alien dies. So most of the senti ...more
Stephanie Ricker
I wobbled between two and three stars for this one. As a massive Dune fan, I was hoping for something similar with Whipping Star, since this is also scifi by Herbert. It definitely isn't similar. Herbert's stellar (no pun intended) world-building still shines through, but the story lacked solid coherence. The plot was frankly ridiculous, but it was treated in such a serious way that I kind of wondered if I was missing something important. By far the best part of the novel is the linguistic gymna ...more
Bar Lovv
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
A member of a branch of government specifically responsible for disrupting government finds himself in an investigation of a woman who has secured a BDSM contract with an inter-dimensional alien in order to both fulfill her sexual desire for flogging, and, as a bonus, bring about the apocalyse. She needs this alien because she has been modified in a way that makes her incapable of causing suffering to any sentient being, and these aliens exist on all planes and don't have any obvious sentience. ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Whipping Star 2 16 Sep 17, 2015 03:12PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Frank Herbert: Whipping Star 2 31 Nov 16, 2012 09:21PM  

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Frank Herbert was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author.

He is best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, dealt with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power, and is widely considered to be among the classi

Other books in the series

ConSentiency Universe (3 books)
  • The Tactful Saboteur (ConSentiency Universe, #0.5)
  • The Dosadi Experiment (ConSentiency Universe, #2)
“Any conversation is a unique jazz performance. Some are more pleasing to the ears, but that is not necessarily a measurement of their importance” 12 likes
“Are you a believer or just playing safe?” 4 likes
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