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The Harrad Experiment Paperback – September 1, 1990

36 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 25 Anv edition (September 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879756233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879756239
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,156,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 26, 1997
Format: Paperback
I first read The Harrad Experiment in 1973. I was about to leave home for college in a few days, and I wanted something to read on the journey. That notion didn't work; I got the book home and stayed up most of the night reading it. But it did work after all; I read it again on the trip, and many times since.
Bob Rimmer's writing (in Harrad, and in his other books which I read later) was a major influence on my feelings about life and love. (Perhaps getting to me at a susceptible age helped.) Harrad taught me that (to steal the words of another writer, Robert Heinlein, whose character Lazarus Long said it better than I can) "the more you love, the more you can love" and (in Rimmer's own words) that "love is laughter, too".
Harrad isn't perfect; it is in certain ways a period piece, and Bob Rimmer has the occasional sexist moment (though remarkably few for a book that came out in 1966). But it remains the best fictional introduction to polyamory (a word that didn't even exist when Harrad was written) that I have encountered.
The 25th Anniversary Edition has an extra bonus; a short autobiography of Bob Rimmer. All fans of Rimmer's work will want to read it; it's almost worth the cost of a new book, even if you already have a dogeared copy of the old Bantam edition of The Harrad Experiment. There is also an updated bibliography/reading list, so you'll actually have a chance of being able to find the books.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By T. Niksa on March 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
I cannot mistake it for being anything but a fantasy, but one that appeals a lot to me...women who one gets to see naked at least once a day, a roommate that you are told has been computer-assigned to you on the basis of sexual compatablily, a nice isolated New England college. Such a life - would definitely be good!
I enjoyed the heck out of this in the early seventies. While not anywhere as explicit as "Literotica" or other writings on the web, back then it was pretty hot stuff, particularly for someone who had lazy intellectual pretensions. The scene where two of our heroes/heroines have a long discussion of the history of polyamory while continuously coupled was especially pleasing.
Since then, I've grown up some; I've realized the war between advocates of prohibitions on sexual conduct, usually backed by the established religions, on the one hand, and the advocates of sexual license on the other, is never going to be won by one side or the other. Although not religious myself, I am mature enough to know that neither side is entirely right or wrong, and the advocacy of complete sexual license is often just one other strategy for guys to try and cut themselves out as big a slice of the female gene pie as possible. Heck, it sure worked for Rasputin and Charles Manson. I've also noticed the participants in the experiment are a cross-section of a '60s student body - white, middle class, without physical handicaps, and secure in their futures. Except for the young Indian girl who taken out of poverty is quickly converted to the "new American way." The earlier writer who said this reflected cultural arrogance is on the mark here.
Still, I still keep my copy around, reread it from time to time, and sure wish I could get dormed with someone like Sheila.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
When this book first came out in the mid 'Sixties, it could only be ordered by mail through an ad in Playboy. Three years later, I found it in stores as a Bantam paperback. Symbolic of the fact that if the Sexual Revolution had been a car, it would have had a 32-valve Northstar engine, but no ABS braking. This book was clearly aimed at the undergrad of my day, when college administrations held clear-cut in loco parentis authority, and the directors of girls' dorms were called "house mothers". You were taking a big chance going on a "panty raid" back then. In retrospect, I'm not really sure that today's way is necessarily "more enlightened". But you couldn't tell us that back then, with our hormones in overdrive! As a story, though, this one's short on credibilty. It's told through "diaries" of four students attending a privately-endowed "auxiliary college". Students still attend classes at recognized schools, but also attend Harrad's "human values" seminars, and live with a roommate of the opposite sex. One of the boys is a BMOC type whose sex appeal already gets him places--what's he doing here? His roomie is a shy rich girl with a low opinion of her own sex appeal. Then there's a school nerd who's paired off with this "prom queen" type who he'd be afraid to even say hi to back home, much less ask her out. But where are the prom queens who'll only date the football jocks? How about those jocks who only date the cheerleaders? Hel-lo? Unlike in the "Nerds" films, the socially inept don't get even, they remain an underclass. Rimmer is about as subtle as a Richter-scale quake when he implies that these kids' main problem is "society" and "the establishment".Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luna Lindsey on April 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Harrad Experiment is set in the 1960s, and tells of a college established to form new styles of looking at relationships. It is written in diary-style, by four of the fictional students, covering their four years there.

This is an interesting book, which at the time of its publication, was revolutionary. Keep in mind it was written when censorship was considered a good thing, by an author who had to travel to India to get a copy of the Kama Sutra.

I was surprised to learn that during the first twelve years, before it went out of print, The Harrad Experiment sold 3 million copies. It garnered a huge following, and people thought Harrad College was a real place, and clamored to attend. The author received letters from people all over. Had the internet been around, it would have spawned blogs and forums and communities.

As it stands, along with the works of Robert Heinlein, it is considered one of the founding novels that lead to the modern polyamory movement. I am polyamorous, living with two life-partners in a triad relationship, and we are raising three children. I owe my lifestyle to this book, although I didn't read it until many years after becoming poly.

I started reading this book a few years back, but found it a bit boring, perhaps because the co-ed dorms and free-love living arrangements were not so shocking to me, as a practicing poly person in the early 2000s. So the authors hook failed on me. Also I think I was also expecting something a bit more sci-fi. After about 20% in, I set it down. I just returned to it, determined to finish it no matter what.

It does get a little more interesting, and plot points *do* happen, though I still found it a bit dry.
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