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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Jose_Farmer and here's an obituary over at the AV Club http://www.avclub.com/articles/rip-philip-jose-farmer,24338/ and over at Nerd World http://nerdworld.blogs.time.com/2009/02/25/philip-jose-farmer-1918-2009/
Our prayers are with his soul and his family and his fans, addressed to the God he didn't believe in.