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Literature / The Lovers

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Hal Yarrow is a lowly joat linguist living in the oppressive Haijac Union, one of the major World powers in 3050 A.C. The Haijac Union is a puritan Theocracy based on a future religion called Serialism, an offshoot of Judeochristian beliefs mixed with a pseudo-scientific temporal theory called Dunnology. Adherence to realist actions is a matter of life and death, as citizens are rated regularly in their morals and those who consistently slip are "sent to H". Yarrow, unfortunately, is prone to unreal thinking, and he's not helped by his wife Marie, a proper, frigid, passive-aggressive Sigmenite who feels forced to rat out every minor unreality to their resident gapt Pornsen, a combination of confessor and political commissar.


Eventually Yarrow's stubborn lack of specialization is his salvation, as he gets recruited for a top secret mission— be the resident linguist for a diplomatic expedition to Ozagen, the first inhabitable world found by the Haijac space program. Ozagen is populated by friendly, highly evolved sentient arthropods whose technological level is comparable to that of the early 20th century, derisively named wogglebugs (wogs for short) by the Haijacs. The expedition, though, is actually a mission of genocide, as the Haijac union plans to kill the whole species using a Synthetic Plague. Wogs would join in extinction the other sentient species they used to share their planet with, a mammalian anthropoid astonishingly similar to humans. It is while exploring some ruins of these man-like aliens that Yarrow meets a mysterious girl, who makes him feel for the first time what his Sturch-appointed wife never did. This and his growing friendship with Fobo, a wog psychologist, sends him into a downward spiral of unreality.


This novel launched the career of Philip José Farmer, won an Hugo in 1953, is often listed as a landmark in Science Fiction... and it pretty much stopped Farmer's professional writing career for the next decade, as it was a shining example of a book ahead of its time that no publisher in The '50s would touch with a ten foot pole (in fact, it wasn't published in book form until 1961). The Lovers is credited with introducing Sex into Science Fiction beyond the Green-Skinned Space Babe, and mixing it with Religion, Politics, Psychology and Pulp, Farmer's favourite subjects.

There's another novel by Farmer sharing the same setting, Day of Timestop (a.k.a. as Timestop or A Woman A Day), but it's not actually a sequel.


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