Flesh (novel)

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Flesh by Farmer.jpg

Flesh is an American science fiction novel written by Philip José Farmer. Originally released in 1960, it was Farmer's second novel-length publication, after The Green Odyssey. Flesh features many sexual themes, as is typical of Farmer's earliest work.


In Flesh, Peter Stagg and a group of astronauts leave Earth in 2100 A.D. Due to the benefits of hypersleep, they return to the planet eight hundred years later. They find a strange world, inhabited by pagan cultists and bizarre societies decorating a scorched, rocky landscape. Inducted into the mostly female "Elk" group, Stagg has antlers grafted onto his skull and is christened the "Sunhero". As such, he becomes a sexual slave, forced to engage in intercourse with virtually every member of the group, especially virgins. The primary thrust of the book's plot is Stagg's internal dialogue, ruminating on the moral, ethical, spiritual, and physical implications of his actions. However, when he truly falls in love for the first time, the object of his affections refuses to give in to his physical advances.

Reaction and analysis[edit]

The book was met with a lukewarm reception by critics. While most enjoyed Farmer's writing style, they often felt that the plot was simply a weak excuse to string together lurid depictions of graphic sex.[1][2] The revised and expanded edition published eight years after the original release was met with somewhat more praise, largely due to the perceived greater depth of the plot.[3]



  1. ^ Analog, January 1961
  2. ^ Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1968.
  3. ^ Analog, November 1969.