Friday, May 08, 2009

Kilgore Trout Came Alive

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Years ago when looking over the book racks at a newsstand the above book caught my eye: VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL by Kilgore Trout. Interesting! I had to buy it.

If you are a fan of the late writer Kurt Vonnegut and his works you know who Kilgore Trout is. Or, maybe I should say you know what Kilgore Trout isn’t. He isn’t human.

Kilgore Trout is an imaginary science-fiction writer in Kurt Vonnegut’s books.

So, how did an imaginary character actually write a book you can hold in your hands?

The title, VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL is a name like Vonnegut would have had his alter-ego Trout come up with. That was right down the right alley.

However, the text just did not have the bounce of a Vonnegut book. It was evidently written by someone else.

Of course I spent some long hard hours burning the midnight oil to find out who the real writer of VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL was… really, I spent 3 to 5 minutes on Wikipedia-on-encyclopedia. Here is my findings, in a half-shell, opps! I mean nut-shell:

At least one actual published work is attributed to a Kilgore Trout: the novel Venus on the Half-Shell, written by Philip José Farmer but published under the name "Kilgore Trout." For some time it was assumed that Vonnegut must have written it; when the truth of its authorship came out, Vonnegut was reported as being "not amused"; in an issue of the semi-prozine Science Fiction Review, published by Richard E. Geis, Geis claimed to have received an angry, obscenity-laden telephone call from Vonnegut about what Farmer had said about the book in Geis' zine.[1]

So, there you go. Vonnegut wasn’t too happy without someone bringing his character to life and raking in the money – would you?



Blogger El Postino said...

Philip José Farmer died February 25 at age 91.

It had been his plan to write a bunch of books under the names of literary characters. He got permission from Vonnegut to do Venus On the Half-Shell, but Vonnegut hated it.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Si's blog said...

Have read some of Farmer's books long ago and really enjoyed them. Need to get back into scifi again. Fascinating story. Need to reread Vonnegut's, too. So many books, so little time!

10:09 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

That is generally my feeling - so much to read in so little time. So, I reading very little new stuff unless it is historical but rereading a lot of comic book stuff - I know I liked them.

Well, I like Vonnegut too, but I'm taking this choosing as serious as Sophie did.

10:45 AM  

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