Venus on The Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout (actually written by Philip Jose Farmer from characters and ideas by Kurt Vonnegut) is a mixed bag of imaginative ideas, pulp sci-fi parody, and sophomoric humor (part of the parody I presume). Reminiscent of Hitchiker’s Guide to The Galaxy (which was written later), it follows the lone survivor of an Earth-wide deluge, as he explores the universe in a Chinese spaceship with a faithful dog and owl he rescued from the flood.
What I liked about the book is that they touch on several different alien worlds with very creative, imaginative aliens and cultures. In one place Farmer seems to pay homage my favorite author Robert Heinlein’s “Coventry:”
“The Free Land, it turned out, was a territory about the size of Texas. It consists mostly of mountains and heavy forests, wild animals and wilder humans. Felons, instead of being put in jail, were sent into it and told not to come back. Also, any citizen who didn’t like his government or the society he lived in was free to go there. Sometimes he was asked, not very politely, to emigrate there.”
On the other hand, gratuitous raunchy humor, phallic symbols, or descriptions of alien sexuality every few pages might annoy or offend many readers; apparently this was Farmer’s characterization of the fictional author Kilgore Trout.
On balance I enjoyed it because it was imaginative, sometimes funny, and readable (action and dialog flow).