The Green Odyssey
By Philip Jose Farmer
Unabridged Recording published by LibriVox
Read by Mark Nelson
I had not been previously aware of this book and it did not seem like a typical story by Philip Jose Farmer. I will admit I am far better acquainted with the Riverworld and Dayworld series and The Green Odyssey is so much simpler in style and plot line than those later works. Well, The Green Odyssey was also Farmer’s first book length publication. It was also completely different from his shorter works of the same period leaving many readers disappointed. But some fifty some odd years later it comes off as possible spoof or even a tribute to the pulp novels it so resembles.
I went into the story without preconceptions and found I enjoyed it. It is a story that was out of its time, almost as though Farmer was trying to write at least a decade earlier. Well, there is certainly a place of pulp novels and while this one was a bit simplistic, it is a perfect sort of escape story for those times you do not want to have to think your way through a story.
From the title I expected some sort of environmental polemic, but actually the name comes from the protagonist, Alan Green, a stranded astronaut, who on landing on the world was mistaken for a slave and later claimed by the local duchess as her personal gigolo. That part is typical Farmer, but he never explores that aspect. On hearing of two other spacemen landing on the world, Green escapes from the duchess and, followed by his slave-woman wife, sets sail to find his fellow spacefarers. Along the way he is forced to deal with pirates, cannibals, a black cat named Lady Luck and floating islands which turn out to be lawn mowers.
Those lawn mowers might be another cause for the book’s title. When Green sets sail, it is not on an ocean-going ship, but on a ship with large rollers for sailing across the incredibly flat and well-groomed grasslands. All told, it is a simplistic but interesting and entertaining tale of adventure and mystery. It was a bit clumsy in the telling, but for a first book… not bad at all.
This was the third LibriVox recording I have listened to. LibriVox records public domain books and stories and releases then, also in the public domain, for downloading from www.librivox.org. As regular readers will recall, I thought the LibriVox edition of H. Beam Piper’s Space Viking was very well done, but was less than enchanted by the mixed bag of readers who handled Verne’s Off on a Comet.
Mark Nelson was the reader of Space Viking so I was happy to see he had read this book as well. If anything his reading of The Green Odyssey is smoother and more professional in nature than his work on Space Viking. I think some of the “Oh wow” quality of his reading may have been lost in the increased smoothness, but I enjoyed this reading no less for that. His voice is easy to listen to and just as in Space Viking it sounds as though he is enjoying the book as much as the listener ought to.
So, need a nice mindless, but fun-to-read book? The Green Odyssey might fill the bill for you and if you want to listen to it instead, you can do far worse than this offering from LibriVox.