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Venus Plus X Paperback – October 5, 1999
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Theodore Sturgeon and Philip Jose Farmer were among the first SF writers to deal with sexuality in an open, adult manner. Sturgeon's approach was further distinguished by his uncommon awareness of sexual diversity and his passionate belief in the healing power of love. His story, "The World Well Lost" (1953), was the first SF work to present homosexuality sympathetically, and Venus Plus X (1960) was among the earliest SF works to explore and challenge gender-role stereotypes, and surely the first to do so with a vision of a single-sex, androgynous human race. --Cynthia Ward
From Library Journal
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Also I can now recommend it to all my friends and know that they'll read the book - as they should. Because although Ursula Le Guin's "The Left Hand of Darkness" may be the most famous work of science-fiction dealing with an androgynous society, as well as contemporary gender issues, "Venus Plus X" is every bit as good and occasionally a great deal weirder. Part of this is the style. The perspective, when it deals with Charlie Johns in the world of the Ledom, is outsider-only: the reader knows only what Charlie Johns knows and must believe only what Charlie Johns believes. When Charlie Johns' world is turned inside-out and upside-down, so is every single (pre)conception that the reader has held about the Ledom since the book's opening. It's wonderful.Read more ›
This book is most often compared to The Left Hand of Darkness (another fine book!). This is a fair comparison - both novels deal with an intense examination of gender roles. However, The Left Hand of Darkness was written nearly 10 years later. A lot happened in the intervening time. Venus Plus X was even more stand-apart in its theme for its time.
Today's reader will probably not feel the message as strongly as an original reader. BUT! we have an advantage. We are able to read this magnificent book AND see 40 years into the future at the same time. We can see that we have not progressed as far as we probably should have - this book is not insignificant in its message even today.
PS - Thanks to Vintage for rereleasing classic scifi works by such greats as Sturgeon and PKD!
For contrast, there are brief interludes that provide snapshots of life in 1950's-era America. These scenes invariably point out the failings in 20th Century society that the Ledom have ostensibly solved by abandoning two separate sexes. Many involve the subtle and almost harmless-seeming ways in which women are subjugated to men. Of course in today's climate of political correctness, many of these practices are dying out, but when this book was written in 1960, Sturgeon was expressing some pretty radical notions, (i.e. that financial competition between men was fundamentally sexual, or that it was not necessarily "natural" that a woman's place was in the home). There isn't much shock value in this book today, but it was the general availability of ideas like these that led to the massive social changes of the '60's and early '70's.
As the story is told from Charlie's point of view, we readily sympathize with his confusion, his loneliness, and his fear in this radically alien environment. Where is he? When is he? What happened to the world that he spent his life in?Read more ›
The story is not so much slow as nonexistent. The purely Utopian sections are interleaved with a more interesting treatment of contemporary (late 1950's) American life, in which the underlying message is presented in Sturgeon's normal ironical manner. This is quite good, but there is too little of it. The Utopian sections begin to come alive around page 188, with just twenty more pages to go, at which point some plot twists enliven matters, finally. It's a pretty rough slog to get that far.
This has, by and large, no more literary value than a religious tract. If one wants to see some provocative ideas about sex, religion, and so on, there is much more entertainment to be found in the philosophical writings of Bertrand Russell, which are lively and unfettered by the Utopian format. Or for imaginative fiction, one will have more luck with dystopias - Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 - than with Utopias, which are almost inevitably dull, preachy, didactic affairs.
Sturgeon first tried to write for "the slicks", then found a bit more space for his kind of writing in the F&SF genre.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An early, but interesting exploration of gender roles and the role of genetics in how we view each other and ourselves.Published 9 months ago by Peter M. Fitzpatrick
I never thought I would read a poor story by Theodore Sturgeon. He seems to have saved his poorest ideas for this story. Good that they are all piled up in one place. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
In an afterward to _Venus Plus X_ (1960), Theodore Sturgeon writes that his aim was "a) to write a decent book, b) about sex" (160). This he has done. Read morePublished on January 8, 2012 by Paul Camp
I really liked this book. It's the story of Charlie, who time travels to a future Earth, probably thousands of years in the future, where Homo Sapiens are extinct, and where a... Read morePublished on November 20, 2011 by Joseph Dewey
I first read this amazing book 49 years ago and decided to revisit it now. WOW - from a more mature perspective it really blew me away this time! Read morePublished on September 10, 2011 by Alienware/Homeworld Enthusiast
Theodore Sturgeon's Venus Plus X reads a little like an experiment of a writer with a cause. Usually writers with causes don't fare well in the literary department, as can be seen... Read morePublished on July 29, 2011 by Adman
Published in 1960, Venus Plus X is a towering vision of a human destiny that is very close to the truth. Read morePublished on July 23, 2011 by LDM
I'm glad, for one, that I did NOT read any of these reviews before I read this book. Theodore Sturgeon's writing style is not going to be the whiz-bang science fiction no-brainer... Read morePublished on November 6, 2009 by cha cha
My edition of this novel, Pyramid, fifth printing- July 1971 - states on the top of the front cover " One of the greatest science fiction novels ever written! Read morePublished on March 28, 2009 by Paul F. Brooks