BREAKING NEWS: Philip Jose Farmer has died (1918-2009)

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Philip Jose Farmer, the 91-year-old "Man who would be Kilgore Trout" and author of the Riverworld series has died.

In a half-century career, the man wrote more than 75 books and was highly influential in the SF community, though generally in ways I myself was always uncomfortable with. Yes, he was funny as hell, yes he was a supremely gifted writer, but at the same time he's pretty much the guy who's responsible for bringing open sexuality (in the non-squeaky-clean sense) and some fairly repulsive sexual deviance to the SF Masses. He was also occasionally rather fond of telling stories in 5 or 10 books that could have been just as easily told in 1 or 3. He was also somewhat responsible for the dubious trend of retconing other people's classic characters, such as with the Wold-Newton family, in which he manages to tie every important fictional character in to the same bloodline.

I think for me, personally, his "Venus on the Halfshell" was the most fun I ever had reading him. A filthy and blasphemous book, it was undeniably funny and the man had an uncanny knack for aping Kurt Vonnegutt's style. He did it so well that there was a lot of debate as to wether or not Vonnegutt actually wrote the book, and a lot of noteworthy people concluded that he had. (Vonnegutt, when he found out about the semi-plagiarism, was furious, which put the kaibosh on any potential future Farmer-penned spinoffs of Kilgore Trout's fictional bibliography. That's a shame.)

He was a unique and gifted man, there was really no one else like him. Not my favorite writer by a long shot, and one I sort of wish hadn't done a lot of things that he actualy did - definitely *NOT* an author that Conservative SF fans would be anything other than morbidly offended by - but definitely an important bright light in the SF firmament has been extinguished, and he will be missed.

Here's his Wiki page and here's an obituary over at the AV Club,24338/ and over at Nerd World

Our prayers are with his soul and his family and his fans, addressed to the God he didn't believe in.