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Kilgore Trout Biography (Greatest Science Fiction Writer Of All Time)
Kilgore Trout ^

Posted on 03/07/2002 10:28:59 AM PST by PJ-Comix

Kilgore Trout was bom in 1907 of American parents on the British island of Bermuda. Trout attended grammar school there until his father's job with the Royal Ornithological Society terminated. The family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Trout graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1924. Thereafter, he wandered around the country, workng at menial low-paying jobs and writing science-fiction in his spare time. His only known residences during, this period are Hyannis, Mass., Indianapolis, Ind., and Ilium and Cohoes, N.Y.

He has been married and divorced three times and has one child, Leo, a veteran of Vietnam.

As of 1974, Trout has written one hundred seventeen novels and two thousand short stories. Yet until recently he was little known. This regrettable situation is due to Trout's extreme reclusivity and his indifference to the publication of his stories. He was ill-advised in his choice of publishers, the chief one, World Classics Library, being a firm specializing pornographic novels and magazines. This ensured that his works would be distributed only to stores specializing in this genre. Yet Trout's work, with one exception,* contained no explicitly erotic content. Without Trout's permission or knowledge, World Classics Library put lurid covers on his novels and used his short stories as fillers in ''girlie'' magazines.

In the past few years, however, his fiction has come to the attention of some notable critics and writers in both mainstream and science-fiction. It has been praised for its high imagination and Swiftean satire. Professor Pierre Versins, for instance, in his massive study, Encyclopgdie de l'Utopie, des Voyages Extraordinaires, et de la Science Fiction, Editions l'Age d'Homme, S.A., Lausanne, Switzerland, 1973, says of Trout, ''A thesis on the too neglected works of this author would be most welcome.''

This is true, but the task of collecting his entire corpus of works is formidable. Even the wealthiest and most indefatigable of collectors cannot boast that they have all of Trout's stories. Venus on the Half-Shell is so rare that its only known possessor required payment of several thousand dollars for its purchase by Dell Publishing Company.

However, as one prominent writer has predicted, Trout's career is on the upswing. Dell is proud to be the first to launch Kilgore Trout into the literary-mainstream. That the author is no longer indifferent ,to his brain-children is shown by his insistence on rewriting Venus on the Half-Shell, updating it somewhat, and expanding the character of Chworktap.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: spg; urbanlegends
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Any other Kilgore Trout fans out there? If you haven't heard of Kilgore Trout before it might be because of his relative obscurity. However many die-hard sci-fi readers consider Kilgore Trout to be the greatest science fiction writer of all time. His "Venus On The Half-Shell" is considered by far the BEST science fiction novel ever written. If you have never read this book before, check it out. You won't be disappointed.
1 posted on 03/07/2002 10:28:59 AM PST by PJ-Comix (pj@pjcomix.com)
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To: PJ-Comix
Good-bye Blue Monday.
2 posted on 03/07/2002 10:31:13 AM PST by Spiff
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To: PJ-Comix
I used to like the guy from whom I first heard of Trout, but then he kept writing the same book again and again….
3 posted on 03/07/2002 10:33:19 AM PST by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: Spiff
That the author is no longer indifferent ,to his brain-children is shown by his insistence on rewriting Venus on the Half-Shell, updating it somewhat, and expanding the character of Chworktap.

It's amazing the depth of character he added to Chworktap in the expanded version.

4 posted on 03/07/2002 10:33:30 AM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
My hubby is a big fan.
Kilgore Trout aka Kurt Vonnegut.
5 posted on 03/07/2002 10:34:18 AM PST by mystery-ak
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To: PJ-Comix
Never heard of him. Then again, I hate sci fi.
6 posted on 03/07/2002 10:34:47 AM PST by deadrock
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To: PJ-Comix
I've long been a big fan since I first read Trout in high school.

Quite above and beyond his success in the sci-fi genre, I think he's one of the American masters of prose comparable to Lincoln, Clemens or Hemingway.

7 posted on 03/07/2002 10:34:51 AM PST by billorites
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To: PJ-Comix
He's good, but he's no Kurt Vonnegut ;)
8 posted on 03/07/2002 10:35:13 AM PST by caprockkate
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To: PJ-Comix
I've heard of Kilgore Trout, but haven't read him since college. It's Kurt Vonnegut.
9 posted on 03/07/2002 10:36:16 AM PST by Catspaw
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To: PJ-Comix

10 posted on 03/07/2002 10:37:14 AM PST by Spiff
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To: PJ-Comix
Kilgore Trout lived for one semester in the same boarding house as Carlos Casteneda in the early 60s, but on a different floor.
11 posted on 03/07/2002 10:37:21 AM PST by RightWhale
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To: PJ-Comix
Never read him - though I'll keep my eyes open for something of his now - but I doubt he could possibly be as good as the greatest science fiction writer of all time, Robert A. Heinlein.
12 posted on 03/07/2002 10:38:06 AM PST by JenB
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To: DEADROCK
Never heard of him. Then again, I hate sci fi.

You should read Venus On The Half-Shell. It is unlike any other science fiction ever written because it is a very serious work.

13 posted on 03/07/2002 10:42:37 AM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: JenB
Never read him - though I'll keep my eyes open for something of his now - but I doubt he could possibly be as good as the greatest science fiction writer of all time, Robert A. Heinlein.

Kilgore Trout has a much greater depth than Robert Henlein.

14 posted on 03/07/2002 10:44:07 AM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
Even on these silly threads, one can find something of interest. Following the links on the "Kilgore Trout" site can take you to right here:

A story from the Washington Post

Reprinted in its entirety. I wonder why they get to do it and we don't.

15 posted on 03/07/2002 10:44:59 AM PST by Cable225
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To: PJ-Comix
I read Venus on the Halfshell in college. It is the only one of his books I have ever found.
16 posted on 03/07/2002 10:47:13 AM PST by steve in DC
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: PJ-Comix
Why are we created only to suffer and die?
18 posted on 03/07/2002 10:52:39 AM PST by Ben Chad
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To: PJ-Comix
Schlachthof-Funf
19 posted on 03/07/2002 10:54:23 AM PST by vikingchick
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To: PJ-Comix
Really? More depth than Heinlein? Some of the best 'messages' I've ever encounted in a book I found in Heinlein. Ideas like doing your best because you should, even if other people are goofing off; putting the needs of others ahead of yourself; learning for its own sake; and that there are times when it's much better to be a dead hero than a live louse. Not to mention basic distances between planets, the name of Pluto's discoverer, why airplanes can't just fall on your head, and the irregular orbit of Pluto. Mind, I'd probably have learned these at some point anyway, but Heinlein's works exposed me to these ideas at the age of ten.

Oh, and his works interested me so much, I even went out, found an old slide rule, and learned how to use it for basic arithmatic. That's good writing for you.

20 posted on 03/07/2002 10:55:02 AM PST by JenB
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To: Ben Chad; all


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21 posted on 03/07/2002 10:55:13 AM PST by Jen
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To: PJ-Comix
I haven't read Kilgore Trout's books, but he gave a great college commencement speech a couple of years ago.
22 posted on 03/07/2002 10:57:25 AM PST by drjimmy
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To: JenB
Anybody here who has read Kilgore Trout can tell you that his books have MUCH MORE depth than any of Heinlein's books. My best advice is to suggest you read "Venus On The Half-Shell" and find out for yourself. I rank Trout even above Tolstoy.
23 posted on 03/07/2002 10:58:38 AM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: RightWhale
Casteneda was on a "higher" floor?
24 posted on 03/07/2002 11:00:00 AM PST by stanz
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To: steve in DC
Trout wrote Venus on the Half-Shell in one sitting while subsisting on a diet of chocolate and tobacco and skipping classes at Berkeley.
25 posted on 03/07/2002 11:00:19 AM PST by RightWhale
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To: PJ-Comix
Trout is one of the most underrated sci-fi authors of all time, and one of my favorites.
26 posted on 03/07/2002 11:02:21 AM PST by toenail
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To: stanz
In a garret under the eaves. No plumbing.
27 posted on 03/07/2002 11:02:21 AM PST by RightWhale
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To: seamole
SPG: The "Black Sheep" of FreeRepublic? P.J. O'Rourke's kind of Republican.

Sniff! Does this mean I'm a Black Sheep of the Free Republic. BTW, I object to the OTHER PJ's name used with mine. It is sacreligious to use our names on the same thread.

28 posted on 03/07/2002 11:03:38 AM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: JenB
the greatest science fiction writer of all time, Robert A. Heinlein.

Agreed.

29 posted on 03/07/2002 11:05:03 AM PST by Samwise
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To: Samwise
Apparently you haven't read "Venus On The Half-Shell." BTW, I read a little known auto-biographical book by Heinlein called "Tramp Steamer." Interesting but he's not in the same league as Kilgore Trout.
30 posted on 03/07/2002 11:06:48 AM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
Kilgore trout, his work is truly the "Breakfast of Champions"
31 posted on 03/07/2002 11:06:59 AM PST by Cliff Dweller
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To: mystery-ak
Kilgore Trout, aka Philip Jose Farmer.
32 posted on 03/07/2002 11:08:52 AM PST by Britton J Wingfield
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To: mystery-ak
Kilgore Trout aka Kurt Vonnegut.

I remember reading Slaughterhouse Five on flight from New York in the early 1970's. In that book, Vonnegut said he would not let his children play with the children of anyone working for the defense industry. I have not read anything by him since.

33 posted on 03/07/2002 11:09:16 AM PST by saminfl
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To: PJ-Comix
I was under the impression that Kilgore Trout was Kurt Vonnegut's dog.

If you look carefully at the picture on the back of "Venus on the Half Shell", you might imagine that it's a dog, not a person.
Regards,

34 posted on 03/07/2002 11:10:28 AM PST by john in orinda
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To: Samwise
Master Samwise, you have excellent taste!
35 posted on 03/07/2002 11:11:16 AM PST by JenB
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To: PJ-Comix
Venus on the Half Shell was written by Philip Jose Farmer, under the name Kilgore Trout. Trout is, of course, a fictional character created by Kurt Vonnegut.
36 posted on 03/07/2002 11:17:38 AM PST by Britton J Wingfield
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To: saminfl
I remember reading Slaughterhouse Five on flight from New York in the early 1970's.

The movie made from that book wasn't bad. BTW, the first Vonnegut book I read was "Sirens Of Titan" which I checked out of the school library when I was in the fourth grade. Some of the words I didn't understand and when I asked my mother about them, she became upset and had the book pulled from the library. I've hated censorship ever since. (And I still learned what those nasty little words meant)

37 posted on 03/07/2002 11:17:54 AM PST by PJ-Comix
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To: JenB; samwise
Heinlein is the all-time master. The two best contemporary scifi authors are (imho) WIlliam Gibson and Neil Stephenson. I haven't seen a new Larry Niven book in a long time, so he doesn't count.
38 posted on 03/07/2002 11:19:51 AM PST by Britton J Wingfield
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To: PJ-Comix
A Venus on the Half Shell bump. "Anyone without a prehensile tail is clearly deformed."

Stay well - Stay safe- Stay armed - Yorktown

39 posted on 03/07/2002 11:21:21 AM PST by harpseal
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To: Britton J Wingfield
Hmm... sounds like you like hard scifi/cyberpunk. Personally I don't care for either of the authors you mentioned. I think Orson Scott Card has some brilliant stuff (Ender's Game) and Connie Willis is fairly unknown but absolutely great. Her works sometimes resemble Heinlein's and she is clearly a fan, one of her books is dedicated to him! She wrote Doomsday Book, a time travel story, and To Say Nothing of the Dog, a time travelling romance Victorian mystery with a side trip to the Blitz. Absolutely a hilarious novel, and well written to boot. Her latest book was Passage, another brilliant work. Other than that... well, Heinlein's dead and most new stuff is trash.
40 posted on 03/07/2002 11:23:54 AM PST by JenB
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To: JenB
Ah, to be back in college again, where humoristic and witty authors expand you knowledge and fill you punkin with idealistic drival. Kurt Vonnegut was a favorite of mine. "Slaughterhouse five" et al, enlightened my to the barbaric U.S.'s mauling of Dresden via fire bombing. The good old days went a war was a war. Ya, just cant get that kind of body counts like they used to. You know, back when the Democrats were a significant majority. When we were never told about the Kennedys and their mafia connections or the Democrats/Union and mafia connections. Staying ignorant simplifies the mind...makes ya feel better.
41 posted on 03/07/2002 11:25:35 AM PST by Rockiesrider
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To: Rockiesrider
I don't let writers fill my head with 'idealistic drivel'. I see right through the heavy-handed attempts at liberal propoganda in so much sci-fi; that's why I say most new stuff is crap. Read Heinlein's early works (the juveniles) or Starship Troopers, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Double Star, or The Door into Summer. Half the time he writers things you hear on this forum!

Today, there are few writers not pushing an 'agenda'. IMHO, Card and Willis are two of them. Jerry Pournelle also seems to be "one of us" and there's a guy named James Hogan who seems to be libertarian, but other than that you'll find shelves full of liberal ideas and theories.

42 posted on 03/07/2002 11:33:04 AM PST by JenB
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To: JenB
Ender's Game is brilliant, and Card is fine author. David Drake is great, if you like a military setting.
43 posted on 03/07/2002 11:35:42 AM PST by Britton J Wingfield
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To: Britton J Wingfield
Ender's great, yes... I don't care for Drake. I like the really old stuff, so I spend time searching used bookstores for thirty-year-old novels with little rockets on the cover. Sad that so much modern sci-fi has become dull and preachy.
44 posted on 03/07/2002 11:42:22 AM PST by JenB
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To: JenB
I don't let writers fill my head with 'idealistic drivel'.

Awww! Come on! It's fun. It makes you feel goooooood....

Heh, your post is number 42, heh, heh, that's cool.

45 posted on 03/07/2002 11:50:07 AM PST by bokonon
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To: PJ-Comix
Never read him - though I'll keep my eyes open for something of his now - but I doubt he could possibly be as good as the greatest science fiction writer of all time, Robert A. Heinlein.

Kilgore Trout has a much greater depth than Robert Henlein.

Depends upon what you want. KT (aka K. Vonnegut) is great at social satire. His characters are wild and unusual. RH is great at plotting and simply telling a story. His characters are well drawn, but he only has about 3-4 types of characters that he re-uses from book to book. RH has some political axes he likes to grind, but I often agree with him, so I don't mind. I much prefer RH to KT (or KV). I have read all of RH's novels and many of his short stories. I've read Venus on the half Shell, Slaughterhouse 5, and one or two others by KV.

46 posted on 03/07/2002 11:54:07 AM PST by Forgiven_Sinner
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
I've read Venus on the half Shell, Slaughterhouse 5, and one or two others by KV.

No- as noted by someone else on this thread, "VENUS ON THE HALF SHELL" was written by Philip Jose Farmer (an author who seems to me to be virtually unreadable).

I have a copy of "VOTHS", though, and if it's worth "thousands" as this story indicates I may have to auction it off on eBay!!!

47 posted on 03/07/2002 11:58:21 AM PST by RANGERAIRBORNE
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To: bokonon
I too thought that VOTHS was written by Kurt Vonnegut, and even bought a book by Farmer to see if there was any similarities. I didn't think that Farmer could have written VOTHS and that it must have been Vonnegut. Upon further investigation, I found this page: http://www.pjfarmer.com/trout.htm about Farmer and VOTHS.
48 posted on 03/07/2002 12:08:19 PM PST by twocents
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To: JenB
Sad that so much modern sci-fi has become dull and preachy.

Yep. That's why after many years of fandom I hung it all up in the 1980s. The real decline came after the death of J.W. Campbell Jr. when "Analog" was taken over by the liberal new breed. Stan Schmidt offered a little reprieve, but his editorship was mechanical and unimaginative although he did bring some exciting new writers on-board (Card was one, I think).

Also, SF ran afoul of reality: no more space operas about Venusians or exotic Martian locales. We knew their environments were largely hostile to life. The Moon was no longer much of a mystery. Even warp drives were futzed-up by that stinkin' Einstein, so visits to other star systems were largely out unless the writers cobbled up some teleportation scheme. And Marxist "social justice" 1960s-style seemed to be the "in" thing, with liberal editors trying to lead readers by the nose. It was the era of Carl Sagan and his sybaritic clones. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Though SF magazines struggled on, that "sense of wonder" described by the late Hugo Gernsback was largely gone. For me it became much more exciting to read non-fiction. Do you realize how many SF themes of the 50's through the 70s are now reality? Sadly, our imaginations failed to keep up with the pace of real science. Still, lots of the older writers are still fresh. Heinlein was a Libertarian mechanic: his lackluster writing bored me when it was new although I learned from him (but not Libertarianism). In my opinion some of the best writing was done by people like Theodore Sturgeon, Henry Kuttner (under lots of pseudonyms like Lewis Padgett, etc.), L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Silverberg, Isaac Asimov, P.K. Farmer and dozens more.

49 posted on 03/07/2002 12:29:51 PM PST by Bernard Marx
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To: Bernard Marx
Though Heinlein is always going to be my favorite, I too love some of those old ones. L. Sprague de Camp - did you read the stories he wrote with Fletcher Pratt, especially the Harold Shea stories? So funny, and good too! Asimov never really thrilled me though I love Foundation. Some of Fred Pohl's stuff I enjoy a lot, and I actually have a few stories that John Campbell wrote - the guy was a much better editor than writer, but they're good stories.
50 posted on 03/07/2002 12:32:59 PM PST by JenB
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