Monday, December 23, 2013

Landing The Kilgore Trout!

Venus on the Half-Shell arrived the other day, the final volume in the Titan Books Wold Newton collection, for now. These have trickled out over the last several years and each one has been a treat, most of which I've only heard of and never read. This is the exception.

It's not your typical Wold Newton saga, but an exceedingly fun conceit by Philip Farmer. He fell in love with the work of Kurt Vonnegut (so did I once upon a time, but I've somewhat gotten over it) and wanted to write a story in the voice of Vonnegut's character "Kilgore Trout", specifically a novel referenced in a Vonnegut novel titled "Venus on the Half-Shell". It took Farmer a while to get permission from the bewildered Vonnegut, but eventually he did and the story appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I didn't see the story there though.

I stumbled across it completely naively on the book rack at my local college bookstore. The cover was sufficiently racy to get my attention despite having no knowledge of an author named "Kilgore Trout". I bought it and enjoyed it sort of. I like the idea of the story better than the novel itself, but it's all a piece, and I only learned it later. A bravura piece of performance art by Farmer, which he tried to get rolling with a number of his friends. They'd each select a character from a favorite work and then (with the author's permission) write a story in that voice. Some got produced and a list of them is in this latest Titan volume.

It's been many moons indeed since a brash college kid first swallowed Farmer's joke hook line and sinker. I'm curious what the disgruntled old codger I've turned into over the decades will make of this story.

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