Mr. Farmer’s novel about humans and their on-going attempts of domination, whether of themselves or an alien race, is a searing and thought-provoking classic. While dissecting a stifling theocracy whose tenets slyly invoke those of Christianity, he outlines a love affair that is as moving as it is subtly seductive.
Jeannette is the polar opposite of Hal Yarrow’s sexually repressed, moody wife Mary. Yet she is also a clingy, sharp-tongued, weepy alcoholic. But, because she is amazingly beautiful, sexual active and openly pleased about Hal and his attentions to her, he opens up to her as he never has to anyone else. She is just the balm that he needs for his closed-off, aching, thirsty spirit. He finds himself attempting feats of daring and question that he never would have had he not known her.
That’s what makes the denouement of this novel so startling. You want to laugh at how Hal’s “dreams” have been both realized and demolished even as you shiver uneasily about the truth behind humanity’s dealings with the wogs. Much of the weakness displayed by the humans comes of their foolish notion that they are superior to all other species, simply because their Forerunner once stated so.
The scientific jargon as well as the bewildering dissections of current humanities cross cultures and societies is a bit wearying at times. They read more like they belong in a social studies classroom than in a novel. But they don’t bog down the story overmuch. This novel requires that you think as you read. I think it is one of those rare science fiction novels that rate re-readings and discussion as well.
This seems like a short story expanded to a novella or short novel. Interesting (and complete) world design, religious oppression taken to an extreme. No real action in the first half, though. The second half is a good story, with elements of adventure and intrigue at the personal and government scale, and works fairly well.
Tried to find exactly why this book was banned, and only found the statement: "An exploration of alien sex so explicit it was one of the most banned books of it's time."
The only thing explicit is the biological description of how this species reproduces - unless it is the idea of sex with lights on and eyes wide open.
Easily a four or five star short story that suffers with expansion. Still a very quick read.
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