e99 Online Shopping Mall

Geometry.Net - the online learning center Help  
Home  - Authors - Vance Jack (Books)

  1-20 of 102 | Next 20
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  

click price to see details     click image to enlarge     click link to go to the store

1. Lyonesse (Book 1)
2. Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden Bk.1
3. The Demon Princes, Vol. 2: The
4. The Demon Princes, Vol. 1: The
5. Sjambak
6. Planet of Adventure
7. Showboat World
8. Tales of the Dying Earth
9. This is Me, Jack Vance!
10. Lurulu (Ports of Call)
11. The Dragon Masters
12. Big Planet
13. Araminta Station
14. Faceless Man
15. To Live Forever
16. Cugel'sSaga
17. The Dying Earth
18. Ports of Call
19. Ecce And Old Earth
20. Lyonesse: Book 1 - Suldrun's Garden

1. Lyonesse (Book 1)
by Jack Vance
Paperback: Pages (1987-09-01)
list price: US$5.95
Isbn: 0441505309
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

A monument of fantastic literature to stand beside such classics as DUNE and THE LORD OF THE RINGS, LYONESSE evokes the Elder Isles, a baroque land of pre-Arthurian myth now lost beneath the Atlantic, where powerful sorcerers, aloof faeries, stalwart champions, and nobles eccentric, magnanimous, and cruel pursue intrigue among their separate worlds. In this first book of the trilogy, Suldrun's Garden, Prince Aillas of Troicinet is betrayed on his first diplomatic voyage and cast into the sea. Before he redeems his birthright, he must pass the breadth of Hybras Isle as prisoner, vagabond, and slave, an acquaintance of faeries, wizards, and errant knights, and lover to a sad and beautiful girl whose fate sets his bitter rivalry with the tyrant Casmir, King of Lyonesse.

This eBook was assembled from the definitive Vance Integral Edition text, which was re-edited from its original publication under the supervision of Mr. Vance himself.

World Fantasy Award nominee.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars a masterful homage to real fantasy
Lyonesse, if you did not look at the flyleaf in your now-tattered paperback or at the copyright in your Kindle edition, was first published in the mid-1980's, but it is a beautiful, subtle, and lyrical throwback to the sort of fantasy that originally captivated me. If it is like anything, then it is much like Eddison's Worm Ouroborous or like something from Dunsany, rather than being closer to Cabell (like most of Vance's other works). This is fantasy untainted by Toklein or by the creeping modernity of most epic fantasy we get today.

Part of what makes it different is Vance's willingness to embrace a sort of Edwardian storytelling style. He does not drop us into a non-stop actionfest. Neither is this a coming of age story. At first the omniscient narrator, pace, and style is distancing. We are more observers than participants in Suldrun's early life. But gradually, gradually the reader is drawn into a world rich in detail, closely observed, and gloriously realized.

I mentioned Eddison's famous epic. The similarity to that 1922 novel is, I think, particularly deliberate: there are placenames that both share, for example. Both novels follow multiple character arcs. And both are kind to, or at least understanding of their villains (of which there are many). While I think Eddison's work's flaws (he was too unwilling to give up some of his juvenalia) make is much less open to modern readers, Lyonesse shows that its author has closely and carefully observed these antique hallmarks of fantasy---the ones that he would have cut his teeth on and the ones that I love as well.

If you've never experienced this trilogy, get it now. The great thing about Kindle is that deserving books can find a life away from the ignominy of being out-of-print. Here is one example of a reason why this is a wonderful thing: a classic, unfairly forgotten, that you can read today. If you love fantasy, then spend a little time, like Suldren, in a secret garden lost to memory.

5-0 out of 5 stars Six Stars Should Be An Option
The first Vance books I ever read. I remember picking up a paperback copy when I was maybe 15 years old. It started just a tad slow and then took off so fast I consumed the entire book the next day. So I ran to buy the second and third. I got the second but the third was out of print. I searched high and low until a library book sale finally brought me my prize! I have since re-read them and still feel the same way as I did all those years ago. The fact that it remains out of print (the old fashioned paper way) boggles the mind. It really is up there with Lord of the Rings and should share that same spotlight. With a multitude of characters ranging wildly in disposition and morals it keeps you involved. Surging plot lines that are imaginative as well as surprising. If you sould have the good fortune of running across these books in a used book store or library sale you shouldn't hesitate to buy them, they will not disappoint. I hope this was helpful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superior Fantasy
As I'm writing this, Jack Vance's under-appreciated Lyonesse trilogyhas been off the shelves for years. My library doesn't even have a copy -- it had to be interlibrary loaned for me. Why is that? Publishers have been printing a seemingly endless stream of vampire and werewolf novels these days -- same plot, same characters, blah blah blah. If not that, it's grit. We all want grit. Or maybe it's that more women are reading fantasy these days and publishers think we want to read about bad-ass heroines who kill vampires. But, the publishers and authors are just giving us what we demand, I suppose. We all got sick of the sweeping medieval-style multi-volume epics that take forever to write, publish, and read. So now we get vampires and sassy chicks with tattoos and bare midriffs. When we've become glutted with those (it can't be long now), what's next?

I've got a suggestion: Publishers, why don't you reprint some of the best classic fantasy? Let's start with Jack Vance's Lyonesse. Here we have a beautiful and complex story full of fascinating characters (even those we only see for a couple of pages are engaging), unpredictable and shocking plot twists, and rambling and entertainingly disjointed adventure. No clichés. No vampires.

As a psychologist, I especially appreciated the many insights into human cognition and perceptual processing that I found in Suldrun's Garden. But what's best is Jack Vance's unique style. He's quirky, funny, and droll. He uses language not just to tell us an interesting story, but he actually entertains us with the way he uses language to tell the story. Similar to Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, or Catherynne Valente, but in a different, completely unique style. I love authors who respect the English language and compose their prose with care and precision. Many of Jack Vance's sentences are purposely funny in their construction and I find myself laughing and delighted not at what was said, but at how it was said. Here's his description of Shimrod's excursion to another world:

He apprehended a landscape of vast extent dotted with isolated mountains of gray-yellow custard, each terminating in a ludicrous semi-human face. All faces turned toward himself, displaying outrage and censure. Some showed cataclysmic scowls and grimaces, others produced thunderous belches of disdain. The most intemperate extruded a pair of liver-colored tongues, dripping magma which tinkled in falling, like small bells; one or two spat jets of hissing green sound, which Shimrod avoided, so that they struck other mountains, to cause new disturbance.

And here is part of King Casmir's lecture to his daughter Suldrun when she announced that she's not ready to get married:

That is sentiment properly to be expected in a maiden chaste and innocent. I am not displeased. Still, such qualms must bend before affairs of state ... Your conduct toward Duke Carfilhiot must be amiable and gracious,yet neither fulsome nor exaggerated. Do not press your company upon him; a man like Carfilhiot is stimulated by reserve and reluctance. Still, be neither coy not cold ... Modesty is all very well in moderation, even appealing. Still, when exercised to excess it becomes tiresome.

If you can find a used copy of Suldrun's Garden, the first of the Lyonesse trilogy, snatch it up. There are some available on Amazon and there's a kindle version, too. (Beware the Fantasy Masterworks version, which is known to have printing errors). Jack Vance is original; You won't get his books confused with anyone else's. This is beautiful work for those who love excellent fantasy literature!

5-0 out of 5 stars touching, epic surprise
I had never intended on reading this particular work by Jack Vance, because some literary critic, who was generally very favorable about Jack Vance had said that this was one of his more "commercial" works, planned for the big fantasy community aimed at adding some earnings to all his acclaim.Understandable, since Author's of half his ability sold more books and had their so-so works turned into films and video games.But one day, Suldrun's garden fell into my hands by accident, and this trilogy is heart touching, funny, insightful and a truly epic page turner.You know a book is good when the sun comes up and you go "ooops" and continue right on reading.

The book maybe filed into the fantasy genre, wich right from the start precludes a lot of people from even considering to read it, simply by pre-conceptions of the genre.But if Homer's Oddysey was written today, it would get stuck in that same shelf.Some of our great literature would fall into this scoffed at genre if written today, and Jack Vance's hidden parables and symbolisms take no backseat to anything I got handed in Literature classes. I must recommend this to people who would normally not touch sci-fi or fantasy.

My favorite Story of Jack Vance is still Eyes of the Overworld.

5-0 out of 5 stars Oh My God
Is it really only possible to give this a five star rating? It is deserving of at least double that. 10 out of 5 is more accurate. Can this series REALLY be out of print? What the HELL?! Whoever can change this...I really and trully implore you to. If you ever happen to chance upon this review... ... Read more

2. Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden Bk.1 (Fantasy Masterworks)
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 448 Pages (2002-03-14)
list price: US$14.45
Isbn: 0575073748
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A magical and epic modern classic ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Jack Vance is THE Master
Jack Vance is my favorite writer.I've been through the classics, have a huge science fiction and fantasy library, and have read the typical trash that is constantly being churned out for the masses.There is something about Jack's writing that, for me, set's him apart.

It's not his creative imagination alone that stands out, but also his style, use of words, and the kinds of words he uses.His books are a pleasure to read.I could try to compare him to others, but there is only one way to find out about Jack Vance, and that is to read him.You will become a beleiver.

Lyonesse is something you absolutly must read.After that you'll have to read the others.

I could fill up the review with superlatives, but they wouldn't do justice to his writing, and they would sound like cliches.This is a story you can read again and again and again and again.So, get started, NOW!

5-0 out of 5 stars Lyonesse...per chance to dream
I read this on publication, many years ago. The memory of it was so precious to me that I kept it on the shelf as a prized possession while many other books came and went, championing it to all who were interested (and some who were not) as the greatest high fantasy ever conceived. But I couldn't bring myself to read it again. What if I had been wrong? What if I was disappointed and it didn't belong on the pedestal after all? About a year ago, I finally read it again in a breathless rush, in the space of 24 hours. I needn't have worried. It was as though I was meeting an old friend, and it had gained in resonance and majesty. The romance, the tragedy, the humour, the dreamlike prose and above all the storytelling. The is indeed the greatest of high fantasy and I have found nothing to compare with it in the genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars Vance's masterpiece trilogy of fantasy
Curious, there are 3 possible Lyonesse/Suldrun's Garden books to review, with different reviews on each one.Perhaps Amazon might consider addressing this.

This is without a doubt Jack Vance's most serious, mature work.He creates a fantasy setting of islands between Ireland and France set in the dark ages (post-roman), and offers a wandering, detailed and vivid story.

Some spoilers are in this review.Strongly consider whether to continue reading, as major plot threads may be discussed or deflated.

Initially the story mainly concerns itself with Suldrun, but before too long, she is gone and we gain other main protagonists, Shimrod, Dhrun and Aillas.Aillas' effort to find his son greatly resemble some of his other rambling adventure stories, with the protagonist moving from one setting to another.The journey of Dhrun and Gwyneth is similar, with Shimrod eventually joining them.

Antagonists are competent and developed as well, with Casimir being entirely too competent and ruthless for comfort, while Faude Carhiliot (sp) comes across more as a brilliant opportunist rather than a competent strategist.

I would need to check dates but it is possible this is the first time Vance developed complex and rational female characters in his story, particularly Suldrun.I have read this criticism of his work and in some cases it does appear justified (whether relevant or not is another matter), but I see no such issue in this series.

A major difference in Lyonesse compared to Vance's other works is that Vance's trademark humor, often deadpan or delivered in flatline the most outrageous or self-evident comments, is present but very subdued, and never does one feel oneself to be in a more normal vance story, where such humor can be a central feature.Lyonesse feels much more serious, and there is some doubt as to how things might work out for the major characters, particularly given that he kills his initial protagonist off so easily.

A fabulous story;I could nitpick but it is hard to find fault here.

Edit (9/26/07) Having recently reread the rest of this trilogy, I would say that this series is Vance's best.This is compared to Tschai, the Demon Princes, the Cadwal Chronicles, the Anome trilogy, and Ports of Call/Lurulu, plus whatever else I have forgotten.A major storyline is developed incrementally, numerous characters develop and many are discarded/killed in the course of the story, and a viable, and fairly complete, ending is provided.

4-0 out of 5 stars Forgotten early 80s epic fantasy by a SF grandmaster; dated yet still surprisingly modern.
Jack Vance was a thirty-year veteran of science fiction, a Nebula and multiple Hugo Award winner, when _Lyonesse:Suldrun's Garden_ was published in 1983.His assured authorial hand sets this novel apart from the huge majority of fantasy sagas, which are written by debut writers.Combined with vivid detail, including a seemingly endless variety of medieval foods, Vance's prose paints entrancing images of a fantasy world based on the lost continent of Lyonesse from the old Arthurian legends.

His shifting omniscient point-of-view may feel jarring to modern readers.Although this technique of "head-hopping" through multiple characters' thoughts in the same scene has largely been superceded in modern fiction, it was the default in Vance's era.It can leave the reader feeling distant from the characters, especially when the narrative gives large overviews of family or national history.Yet Vance's prose still places the reader as deeply inside the characters' emotions as any modern limited point-of-view, through the skill of his vivid and lyrical prose.

The organization of the book also shows the narrative fashion of a bygone era.Modern novels seize the reader by shoving many characters on-stage and immediately placing them in peril.In contrast, _Lyonesse:Suldrun's Garden_ starts with the birth of the title character and spends chapters summarizing her youth.The main character doesn't show up for almost a hundred pages, and several chapters in the middle of the book follow tangential plots.Yet all the plot threads coalesce in the end, along with the seeds of conflict for the rest of the trilogy.

Despite these antiquated narrative quirks, _Lyonesse:Suldrun's Garden_ still feels strikingly modern in several respects.The first is Vance's array of character conflicts based on the viciousness of realistic humans.There is no evil overlord, as became cliché soon afterwards from overuse by less talented writers.Yet Vance's human characters will do far more chilling things to each other than any overlord could.The second is the uncompromising strife that his characters face.The protagonists in _Lyonesse:Suldrun's Garden_ are constantly beset by torments from both enemies and friends.No good deed goes unpunished, and quests wander hopelessly.This is the same no-holds-barred style that many modern epic fantasists have adopted, for the astute reason that a brave character in peril compels readers to keep reading.This gritty or brutal modern style of epic fantasy originated with Jack Vance.

_Lyonesse:Suldrun's Garden_ stands like no other work of early 80s epic fantasy--brilliantly rendered, harshly realistic, and dated yet still anachronistically modern.

5-0 out of 5 stars A diamond in the rough
Jack Vance is a true master - of storytelling as well as the fantasy genre. Lyonesse - Book 1 was a brilliant, poetic, engaging, never a dull moment masterpiece. I would highly recommend this book to all fantasy fans. ... Read more

3. The Demon Princes, Vol. 2: The Face * The Book of Dreams
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 408 Pages (1997-08-15)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$10.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312853165
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Jack Vance is undoubtedly one of the most gifted and versatile authors of science fiction today. The winner of a Hugo, a Nebula, and a World Fantasy Award, Vance lays claim to a career that spans more than five decades of critical acclaim and devoted readership. Tor Books has recognized his widespread audience and for years has brought classic Jack Vance novels back into print--most recently The Demon Princes, Volume One, and omnibus containing the first three books of Vance's beloved Demon Princes series. Tor now presents The Demon Princes, Volume Two, and omnibus containing the series' final two novels, The Face and The Book of Dreams.

Kirth Gersen carries in his pocket a slip of paper with a list of five names written upon it--the names of five Demon Princes. The Demon Princes are a race of beings who disguise themselves as humans and delight in power and destruction. however, to Kirth they are merely murderers who killed his family and destroyed his home planet--and who deserves to die for those misdeeds. Three have already fallen in Kirth's hands, but there are two more names on his list, two more Princes who will live only long enough to regret their evil ways.

Lens Larque was just as unique as the other Demon Princes--uniquely appalling.He was personally ugly, startling vicious, and arrogant above all others. Larque's own mission was a villainy of the highest order, and his personal obsession with success kept him hidden well from attackers--almost well enough. Howard Alan Treesong poisoned his friends, tortured his colleagues, and wrote his own horrific holy book, The Book of Dreams. But, clever as he may be, a galaxy-wide guessing game will be his undoing--and Kirth Gersen's sworn vengeance will be complete.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Haunting novel by the master
For me this is one of the most haunting books by Jack Vance. Great reading, a masterpiece of science fiction. The enemies of the main character are tremendously treathening, almost eiry, and the suffering of the key character seems to be painted in brown, red and purple colors. The story is as sticky as molasses (you can't put it down) and like the mud in a swamp that keeps sucking you back: tremendous writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very imaginative novels
Included in this book are the two last of the Demon Princes books.
Jack Vance is at his best. His worlds are wonderfully convincing. Why does he have to put some scholarly notes about the characters or the environment at the beginning of each chapter escapes me. Best jump over them.

3-0 out of 5 stars No frills sci-fi adventure, continued
Jack Vance's five separately published Demon Princes novellas were considered to be excellent science fiction adventure stories in the 1960s. However, they suffer in comparison to sci-fi from the recent couple decades, which has become more sophisticated with much better character development and deeper plotting. In fact, even compared with Isaac Asimov's older Robot, Empire, and Foundation novels, The Demon Princes books come up considerably short. Now I'm in the midst of Stephen Donaldson's Gap series, which makes the Demon Princes look positively amateurish.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Vance's stories. They are well written, simple, fast-paced adventures with clearly defined character roles and motives. Surprising plot twists abound. The characters themselves are only sketched out in the barest fashion, but that's part of what keeps the focus on the action.

This second volume compiles the final two novellas in the series: The Face, The Book of Dreams. Kirth Gersen, the protagonist throughout the entire series, is on a protracted quest of vengeance to assassinate the five Demon Princes who committed great atrocities on the people of his home village. Gersen finishes off the last two princes in this second volume.Of the two I preferred The Face, but The Book of Dreams is certainly a good read as well.

Recommended perhaps as light reading on the airplane and on vacation, while on a beach with drink in hand. I have another Vance series on the shelf (Planet of Adventure) and after a few more other more "sophisticated" novels, I'm sure it will be a relief to interpose a bit of simple innocent science fiction adventure.

5-0 out of 5 stars Some of the best there is by Jack Vance
The Face in particular is one of my single favorite Vance stories.

Rather than regurgitate the many positive and helpful reviews here, I will let my review be a random walk of my thoughts on my 4th rereading of The Face and The Book of Dreams.

1)How can this guy make me wonder what Darsh food smells like?Years after my first reading of the story, I still wonder.

2)The Hadout (bel ruk's) has stayed in my mind every time I think of this story.Vance can create games inside his story and capture the reader in them, this is a prime example.In this case, the already-great dramatic prose was given some extra tension with the addition of the bewilderment of Gersen's Menthel lover being present and, in vancian style, quite bewildered about what the banker Gersen was doing...

3)The Book of Dreams seems slower to me.Some added mystery is brought to the story with H.A. Treesong's apparent ability to vocalize multiple voices at once, which is clearly meant to leave some doubt about whether in fact he DID have his paladins with him, as he believed.This ties into the close as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Demon Princes
Like many of Vance's works this is first and foremost a rich and glorious travelogue through an intricately detailed universe that Vance had used before but which he fleshed out more with each successive novel.The way the series ends is awesomely realistic. The young protagonist disposes of the last of his enemies and his life has lost meaning. We'll never hear from him again.

Vance always knew when to end a series.The man was incapable of writing a lame sequel. ... Read more

4. The Demon Princes, Vol. 1: The Star King * The Killing Machine * The Palace of Love (Demon Prince Series , Vol 1)
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 448 Pages (1997-04-15)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$10.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312853025
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Kirth Gersen carries in his pocket a slip of paper with a list of five names written on it. Theses are the names of the five Demon Princes who led the historic Mount Pleasant Massacre, which destroyed not only Kirth's family but his entrire world as well. He roams the universe, searching the endless galaxies of space, hunting down the Demon Princes and exacting his revenge. Three princes will fall before Kirth's work is done, and two more await their doom...
Amazon.com Review
Jack Vance excels at writing a series of shorter works thattogether comprise a grand, interstellar adventure. Such is the TheDemon Princes, a series of five tales that chronicle KirthGersen's quest for vengeance against the five demon princes. Theprinces led the Mount Pleasant Massacre, a raid that destroyedGersen's family and his world. But now Kirth is on their trail, and nomatter how many galaxies there are to search, he will find them one byone and exact his revenge. This first volume collects three of thefive Demon Prince stories, while the second volume will carry theremaining two. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Jack Vance is a great storyteller but not here.The only problem with the five novels that comprise The Demon Princes is Vance tells the same story five times.Read one - you've read them all.Same plots - same bad guys - same hero who doesn't grow.If you make it through more than a thousand pages to the ending of the fifth novel, congratulations - you'll be disappointed.I've read big sci-fi epics before - Dune, Foundation, Titan, etc. - The Demon Princes is not in their league.

5-0 out of 5 stars I met Jack Vance once.....
If you enjoy reading great writing, the highs and lows ofhuman
existence.The dedication to be true to yourself, at any cost.I wish Vance had more demon princes to hunt down.The obvious is always obvious.

3-0 out of 5 stars No frills sci-fi adventure
Jack Vance's five separately published Demon Princes novellas were considered to be excellent science fiction adventure stories in the 1960s.However, they suffer in comparison to sci-fi from the recent couple decades, which has become more sophisticated with much better character development and deeper plotting.In fact, even compared with Isaac Asimov's older Robot, Empire, and Foundation novels, The Demon Princes books come up considerably short.Now I'm in the midst of Stephen Donaldson's Gap series, which makes the Demon Princes look positively amateurish.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Vance's stories.They are well written, simple, fast-paced adventures with clearly defined character roles and motives.Surprising plot twists abound.The characters themselves are only sketched out in the barest fashion, but that's part of what keeps the focus on the action.

This first volume compiles the first three novellas in the series: The Star King, The Killing Machine, and The Palace of Love.Kirth Gersen, the protagonist throughout the entire series, is on a protracted quest of vengeance to assassinate the five Demon Princes who committed great atrocities on the people of his home village.Gersen finishes off three of the five in this first volume.The Killing Machine was my personal favorite of the three, as the plot was quite complex and intriguing.

Recommended perhaps as light reading on the airplane and on vacation, while on a beach with drink in hand.I have another Vance series on the shelf (Planet of Adventure) and after a few more other more "sophisticated" novels, I'm sure it will be a relief to interpose a bit of simple innocent science fiction adventure.

5-0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars, in actuality, it doesn't get any better than this
This (and the following 2 demon prince stories) is among Vance's best works.It really is hard to find fault.

Given that the volume's positives are described elsewhere, I will let my review touch on any number of odd topics and random thoughts.Comments are welcome.Do I sound negative in my comments?Recall, this is among my most very favorite works by my most favorite author!

1)Vance doesn't do aliens.

You can see this in the Tschai stories as well - aliens are normally pretty anthropomorphic and (to our minds) rational in their goals/norms/thoughts.In the Star King, the Star King is, in terms of story presentation, functionally human in expressed goals and motivations.

As contrast (and the first name that comes to mind), I look at aliens as depicted by Alastair Reynolds.With them, you aren't even sure if the humans and aliens are having the same conversation, much less understanding what the aliens want or think.It is quite a disconcerting juxtaposition.

2)There is an untold story in the Killing Machine - what is a Hormogaunt, and how did 'Hoskins' even get into the info-swapping stage with Hokkus?

The entire Hormogaunt issue sort of got ignored, though it would seem to be something work exploring, since I am still not clear on what one is.The side-issue of how the bank arch-director got mixed up with info-swaps in the first place on this topic would have been of lesser importance, but still of interest.

3)Vance does conveniently write-in how his character becomes a master-forger of currency and incidentally develops a financial empire that rivals some planets and ceases to have any direct financial constraints.

This is convenient!

4) Reserved for odd comment on the Palace of Love - at the moment, I have none!

I recently reread the entire Demon Princes series (in the last few days), so my comments should be fairly fresh.

4-0 out of 5 stars Almost great
I enjoyed this book.The characters were excellent, the writing was competent and the story was great.This is the first Vance novel I've read and I went out and picked up another one the next day (not as good).

The relationships with the women were weird and juvenile.He seems to be hung up on women that are inaccessible and in at least one case, underage.Creepy..?A little.Fortunately its not a deal breaker for the book.

The author's intelligence carries the day and he's able to muscle through the writing.He's able to maintain a sound narrative despite the uninspiring dialogue but what the hell.. its SciFi ... Read more

5. Sjambak
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 28 Pages (2010-07-24)
list price: US$14.14 -- used & new: US$14.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1153823292
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Science fiction ... Read more

6. Planet of Adventure
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 544 Pages (1993-08-15)
list price: US$18.99 -- used & new: US$10.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312854889
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Stranded on the distant planet Tschai, young Adam Reith is the sole survivor of a space mission who discovers the world is inhabited--not only by warring alien cultures, but human slaves as well, taken early in Earth's history. Reith must find a way off planet to warn the Earth of Tschai's deadly existence.

Against a backdrop of baroque cities and haunted wastelands, sumptuous palaces and riotous inns, Reith will encounter deadly wastrels and murderous aliens, dastardly villains and conniving scoundrels.

And always the random beauty in need of rescue...
... Read more

Customer Reviews (52)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Collection of Four Integrated, Well Crafted Novellas
I purchased this, and several other science fiction novels following review of a list purporting to be "The Greatest Science Fiction Works of All Time".There were a number of works with which I was not familiar, and being a fan of science fiction, thought it best to upgrade my library.I became somewhat concerned after reading their #1 selection, Litany of the Long Sun, and finding it not to my taste.

Luckily, I had better luck with this Jack Vance offering, which I found to be very well crafted and highly entertaining.The book is in the form of four novellas, and begins with the arrival of an earth vessel to a planet (Tschai) from which a radio beacon was received 212 light years previously.Immediately following dispatch of an advanced scout team, the mother ship is destroyed, the scout ship crashes and the lone survivor, Adam Reith, is captured by one of the local tribes.

The world on which Reith finds himself is inhabited by a number of different alien species and classes of humanoid figures.Each alien species has an underclass of humanoid beings who are kept in thralldom, raising the question of "When and how did this `human Diaspora' occur?".The novel tracks our Earth born hero through contact with the various inhabitants of Tschai, as he searches for those with the technology to return him to Earth.

The author does an outstanding job of creating and forming different cultures and mores among both the alien species and their human counterparts.He does so without resort to hackneyed or trite stereotypes.This work is very similar to the sociological/anthropological style of fantasy/science fiction that I've enjoyed from Ursula LeGuin.In that respect, it is somewhat short on "hard" science fiction and perhaps more accurately classified as fantasy.

My only quibble with the story lies in the virtual omnipotence and indestructibility of our intrepid hero.Who would guess that in addition to mixed martial arts training, astronauts of the future will be proficient in knife and sword fighting, to the extent that they will be able to best multitudes of attackers who have fought in those styles their entire lives?In instances too numerous to count, Reith overcomes insurmountable odds with barely a scratch.

In any event, I can highly recommend this work and endorse its inclusion on the aforementioned list of science fiction/fantasy greats.

2-0 out of 5 stars Very much like Edgar Rice Burroughs
If you enjoyed the John Carter of Mars series, I think you'll enjoy this colletion of books.It's a bit darker than ERB as I remember them, but very much in the same genre.

5-0 out of 5 stars a very fun read
Jack Vance does a really great job at describing alien cultures and characters.This collection of books is such a fun read.From the time I started reading it until the last page I couldnt put it down.

All of the stories are strong and unique, yet with enough continuity to keep it going.The saddest part was that it had to come to an end.But it was a good ending, one that kept you thinking and inspiring your imagination.

5-0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction At Its Best
This is a great novel. Actually it's a series of four novels, and all four are awesome. I had never read anything by Jack Vance before, but if all of his novels are this good then he definitely has a fan in me. The story is a series of action/science fiction stories centered around Adam Reith the only surviving member of a space ship that has journeyed to the distant planet of Tschai to investigate a distress signal. His ship is shot down and he must find a way to escape and return to earth. If you are a huge fan of the Martian series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, or of Star Trek you will definitely enjoy these novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jack Vance is NO. 1
Jack Vance never ceases to amaze me.He is undoubtedly one of the greatest writers that has ever set a pen to paper.Luckily, he chose science fiction.These four books are an example of his action writing.They are as good as it gets.

Jack Vance has a unique way of describing events, places, and people that is unparalleled.To be honest, he is the only writer I've ever read that keeps me flipping through my dictionary. (I've read everything from Dickens, Hugo, Dumas, Dostoevsky, Heilein, Assimov, Stephen King, and on and on.Vance is the best.

Actually, when reading Vance, I am constantly wondering how someone can imaging such worlds and people and make them come alive.

Of course I rcommend this book.And yes, it is space opera, but what great space opera! ... Read more

7. Showboat World
by Jack Vance
Paperback: Pages (1989-08)
list price: US$3.95
Isbn: 0812500938
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Taste
A masterpiece of mannerisms. How anyone could give this one star staggers me. Presumably the grounds were non sf? If so we might be rejecting thousands of other books with only loose relations to the genre. The comedy alone is worth ten extra stars, the carefully conceived main characters and the meticulously crafted bit part actors make this book one to be read over and over again. The small insular groups who are he audience of each show are tremendously conceived. Possibly one of Vance's best

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, flawed protagonists, Wodehouseque!
This is an interesting Vance story.It is set on Big Planet, a planet so big he can do pretty much whatever he wants.Much of the story is a set of a dozen or more vignettes of varied societies along the riverbank.Re-read yesterday, VIE edition.

Zamp, as noted elsewhere, is just a grade above Cugel in the Scoundrel department (actually I suspect they are equal, Zamp almost never had the chance to forcible coerce the main female protagonist).The broad underlying theme of the competition and the voyage it entails, the curious alterations to MacBeth to make it more generally appealling (is this historically accurate as well?), the ongoing stops in new villages, all add to the layered aspects of the story.

The ending climax is somewhat surprising (I didn't catch it, on first or second reading), and the ending of magnaminity between the remaining protagonists is a theme that pops up many times in vance writings (in Lurulu to finish, IIRC).

This is a very entertaining story.I suspect Vance wrote under a clear page limit, (no evidence for this but it seems to be common practice, both in the 70s and now), and it is a shame, because the book is too short.

3-0 out of 5 stars remember the clown college ep on King of the Hill?
It reminded me of that for some reason. Possibly the costumes the showboat captains wear ("Lemuriel Boke wore striped garments of black, red, and brown and adorned his head with the tripled tiered bonnet of an Ultimate Pantologist").
Big world is a post-tech world settled by misfits and malcontents that grew into communities each as individual as their founders. think old wild west or firefly but with idiocyncracies.
showboats run up and down various rivers, docking and providing entertainment. Apollon Zamp commanding the Miraldra's Enchantment, accepts an invitation to contest by King Waldemar at the Mornune Festival...
not my cup of tea, maybe its someone's though. I'd've voted 2 1/2 stars, btween not liking and OK if possible.

5-0 out of 5 stars A genuinely unique and hilarious adventure
Had to rate this just to help overcome the injustice of the one star review above.This is a book I've read time and again over the last 10 years and it never fails to amaze me.Vance's language alone takes you to another planet. The vistas and cultures he creates are savagely beautiful and ironic.His characters are loveable, laughable, inventive and twisted up in plots, sub-plots and intrigues that are mad works of clever comical genius.
Jack Vance is wildly unlike any other author in the world.He can show you life in a light unlike any you have previously imagined...A true gift that only a great book like this can achieve.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Too Want A Showboat!!
This is one of my very favorite non-magical Vance works, and it is amazing.I want a Showboat so BAD after I read (and reread) this book...!I would call mine "The Golden Conceit."LOL ... Read more

8. Tales of the Dying Earth
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 752 Pages (2000-12-01)
list price: US$21.99 -- used & new: US$11.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312874561
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
One of Jack Vances enduring classics is his 1964 novel, The Dying Earth, and its sequelsa fascinating tale set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever. This volume comprises all four books in the series, The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugels Saga and Rialto the Magnificent. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (54)

5-0 out of 5 stars Turns out the Earth isn't dying, it's just really tired
For some reason, the title "Dying Earth" conjures up images of post-apocalyptic landscapes, with gritty men trudging across it trying to make some sense of this world, finding their way in it and attempting to make one last pitiful mark in a world where the only scars that exist are those made by history.A little bit of "Earth Abides" crossed with Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun", I suppose, where secrets abound and the plot is just another key to the puzzle of this new place and time.

In short, not like this book at all.

Vance's series of "Dying Earth" novels (all four collected here and thus making it well worth the purchase because if you're going to read one you might as well go read them all) are something different in the world of science-fiction.Set in a future that is just what the title says it is, so far distant that even our history is long forgotten and never mentioned, where the sun is gigantic and hanging in the sky and ready to turn out the lights permanently.It's a world that barely qualifies are science-fiction at all, not like Wolfe's series where it used the trappings of fantasy to trick us into thinking we were reading something that wasn't science-fiction before pulling out the rug from under us later, here things happen that might as well be magic for all the explanation we're given.Spells abound and you can almost see where the creators of Dungeons and Dragons were like "Hey, I can use this!" (although his Lyonesse series became a more fertile ground for their inspiration apparently), with strange imps and creatures and wizards and thieves and whatnot roaming the landscape.

But unlike fantasy, there is no moral quest here.For the most part everyone is out for their own self-interest, for better or for ill, whether it be for pure personal gain, or just to keep themselves amused or sheer curiosity.It's a world struck by a marvelous fatalism because while the sun is rapidly reaching its expiration date, nobody knows exactly when that is, so nobody is really seriously bothering to make long-term plans.Which means that, ultimately, everyone is basically just killing time and engaging in plans based purely on whim.

And what whims they have.The first novel "The Dying Earth" basically consists of a series of short stories that eventually have a recurring cast (introducing your friend and mine, Cugel the Clever) and gives you a general idea what to expect.People talk like they were going to the Shakespeare theatre and got off at the wrong bus stop, everyone has names that describe them in some positive fashion, and magic items and spells abound.This all sounds terribly weird, a world we barely recognize, but what helps this all is that nobody ever comments on how weird this all is, every single character takes it all in stride and thus forces us to accept this all as perfectly normal, so that we can believe this is our Earth in the far, far future.We never get a sense of a history of the place, or what led us to these moments, to see these characters, and it barely matters.They exist in the Now, and so do we.The past isn't important and the future is probably not coming, so why worry about it?

The middle two novels feature Cugel and it's a bold choice because Cugel, while not evil, isn't exactly a fantastic human being, spending most of his time wanting to get revenge on the Laughing Magician (what a great name! and he really is jolly all the time!) for doing something to him that Cugel kind of asked for in the first place.So he engages in a rather circuitous path to his goal, doing his best to look out for number one along the way and ticking off an inordinate amount of people in the process.He's not exactly the hero type and yet you find yourself rooting for him anyway, even when he's doing pretty mean and petty things to people, some of which are rather clever.The lack of plot may turn off some people, while others like myself are amazed at Vance's depth of language and imagination, with each chapter taking us to a new scenario that is by turns outlandish and unique.

By the time the last novel rolls around, featuring Rhialto the Marvellous, the humor that was creeping into the situations at the edges has almost taken center stage, with the squabbling magicians and their various rivalries and jealousies being an interesting mirror of us, suggesting that no matter how far humanity comes down the line, no matter how many fancy abilities we discover, we're still really haven't learned anything.They do spend the first chapter freaking out because they're being turned into women, so you can imagine that Vance isn't being entirely serious here.In that vein the book becomes more of a forerunner to Moorcock's "Dancers at the End of Time" without the sense of baroque irony.Vance's magicians seem to be enjoying themselves with their silly little hobbies, while Moorcock's are just bored out of their minds because they can do whatever they want and that's just not exciting after a while.

It's a meaty read and certainly not for those looking for a kind of narrative arc, the closest we get is Cugel's attempts to stick it to the Laughing Magicians and even that is sort of rambling.It's a travelogue without a map, a quest without a purpose, a morality play without any morals.But let yourself get immersed in a world so utterly devoid of reality that it has to be ours, with the colorful characters and settings, and you'll encounter a place that is fun to visit, even if you don't want anyone to actually show you around.

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Highly Original Fantasy
I purchased this novel immediately after reading and enjoying the author's Planet of Adventure series.Much like Planet of Adventure, this book consists of four related novellas, set on far future Earth.While Planet of Adventure would be best labeled as science fiction, Tales of the Dying Earth is purely fantasy.

The first novella, The Dying Earth, is actually a collection of six short stories which are only very loosely related.Pure fantasy, lots of magic and sorcery, a few interesting life forms and moderately entertaining story lines.

In the second novella, Eyes of the Overworld, we meet our protagonist for the next 500 pages, Cugel the Clever.Cugel is a rapscallion of sorts, not a particularly good person, except by comparison.He is certainly clever, as he survives adventure after adventure solely by virtue of his wits and willingness to suspend all moral value.

The third novella, Cugel's Saga, is simply a continuation of the previous story.Cugel is transported to the far reaches of the known world and must find his way home again.On the way, he meets and outsmarts many species of humanoid and animal specie, as well as sorcerers and mythological creatures.As in Planet of Adventure, the author does a masterful job of creating strange life forms and imbuing them with mores, cultures and traditions.His sense of imagination is stunning and highly entertaining.

The final novella in the quartet, Rhialto the Marvelous, is essentially three short stories, focused on a consortium of 20-30 minor magicians and their often adversarial relationships.The first of these, I found virtually unreadable.The second and by far the longest was quite enjoyable.The third, while not as engaging as the second, was entertaining nonetheless.

As mentioned before, Vance is a master of imagination and excels in the creation of landscapes, cultures and alien life forms, while avoiding stereotype.As another Amazon reviewer so perceptively put it, when commenting on these creations:

"Fictional characters definitely, but also vehicles for Vance to express his sharply perceptive take on the human condition in all its extremes of exaltation and debasement, hilarity and wickedness."

For fans of science fiction and fantasy, I cannot recommend Vance's work highly enough.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Tales of a fading world
"Tales of the Dying Earth" is a collection of 4 novels written over 35 years - "The Dying Earth" (1950), "The Eyes of the Overworld" (1966), "Cugel's Saga" (1983) and "Rhialto the Marvellous" (1984). All are set in the far future as the sun flickers and dies, with magicians, lost marvels, time travel and trickery.

The Dying Earth is a succession of linked short stories, with the protangonist of story A becoming a bit player in story B, and so on.The chapters cover the adventures of Turjan, Mazirian, the "sisters" T'sain and T'sais, Liane the Wayfarer - and the unforgettable Chun the unavoidable.

The real jewel of the collection - although this is to distinguish Miss Universe from the mere runners-up - is the centre novels Overworld and Saga, both of which deal with Cujel the Clever (admittedly self-titled) who is not so clever after all, as a rule.Cujel is a thief, swindler, rogue, and rake, who is motivated by greed, lust and revenge.Both novels are about Cujel's long quest to avenge himself on Iucounu the Laughing Magician, who had the temerity to catch Cujel robbing his manse, and set him a hard task as penance.

Cujel's view of the world is unique - his ego astonishing, his cunning low.Yet, he somehow manages to escape any danger, usually without funds, treasure, or willing woman.

Rhialto the Marvellous is a last collection of 3 stories, after the magician of the same name.Rhialto is more sinned against than sinner, although a cursory thought about the state of witches in the world - ie, there are none, as is made clear by the first tale - shows him as no saint.Rhialto deals with potential ensqualmation, jealousy and more in his comparatively simple life.

All of these characters are individuals, well written and placed in an intriguing world.Vance is a true wordsmith, both in the creation of dry, witty dialogue and in the description of the dying earth itself.There are layers of meaning and imagery in each sentence - sometimes, it seems, in each word - and it is a joy to read, even if a dictionary is required on occasion.

These are pure stories - nominally "fantasy" or "science fiction" or whatever - but really modern adult fables.They are about people, and human nature, and the flaws that come with being human.There is no preaching or exhortation to self-improvement; what is, is, and this book can simply be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
One of the finest displays of writing I have ever experienced, and make no mistake, his writing is an experience.

From a reader of fantasy works such as: A Song of Ice and Fire, The Belgariad/Mallorean, Riftwar Saga, Wheel of Time, The Great Book of Amber, etc.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Wonderfully Written!
The strange thing about these books is that the subject matter sounds like a typical hack and slash fantasy novel. The difference is in the writing!

A rogue tries to rob a Wizard and is forced into a quest for magical eyes that allow you to look into another world in consequence. Sounds trite as the worst Tolkien imitator!

But, the dialog is clever, the people real and believable. Cugel is hardly admirable, but he is a perfect mirror for the false and vain pretensions of others! Best of all, the stories somehow manage to explore serious themes of vanity and self-delusion and questions about the meaning of existence with a gentle mocking wit.

All too rare, especially in any form of fantasy fiction, it is simply exceptionally well written. In it's own small way, it's unique. What better recommendation for a book could you have than that? ... Read more

9. This is Me, Jack Vance!
by Jack Vance
Hardcover: 200 Pages (2009-07-30)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$28.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1596062452
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Living in interesting times…

Jack Vance has long been one of the most influential, admired and imitated writers in science fiction and fantasy literature, the award-winning author of such widely acclaimed works as The Dying Earth, the Lyonesse trilogy, the adventures of Cugel the Clever, the Demon Princes series, and many other masterful tales set among the stars, in exotic fantasy realms or on our own Earth.

For much of his career, Vance has also been one of the field's most private writers, an author who preferred to let his work speak for him. Now, at last, to coincide with the release of the tribute anthology Songs of the Dying Earth, Jack gives us this intimate and fascinating glimpse into his rich and eventful life, and a valuable insight into how he went about practicing his craft.

For fans of the Grand Master's work, these memoirs are something to be treasured. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

2-0 out of 5 stars Worst biography I have read

The better name for this book would be: The list places I have visited, some people I have met, and not much else. Certainly Jack Vance tells very little of himself, and practically nothing of his writing. The book consists mainly about simple and short anecdotes about people no one has ever heard of in style of: "the hotel owner such-and-such was pretty friendly in some-or-other place. We used our car to take her to town, as she had no car of her own, and we got to be very friendly with her. We never heard anything about her later". Doh. We also learn that he got stuck be a bee in some meadow, or him saw once a nice looking girl in some bar, with whom he fell in love instantly. The girl or the "love" are never mentioned again. The book feels like a stream of consciousness reminiscences. If you want learn something about his writing, how he got his ideas, how he got published, what he was thinking when he was writing, or anything you usually are excepting when you are reading an author biography, you will be deeply disappointed. I thought that the first part of the book was boring. (There he mainly tells of several different jobs he worked on), and I was excepting to get to the interesting parts later when he started his career as author. However, the last part of the book was even worse. Who is interest about the list of places he has visited? The book doesn't even work as a travelogue as he tells practically nothing about the places he mentions. This most likely going to on the last place on mine list of "related works" category - it is hard to imagine that any of other nominees could be worse. And certainly "no award" will be in the higher position. By far one of the worst things I have read this year.

4-0 out of 5 stars Would not have expected different ...
To the reviewers who note that this volume has little of Jack Vance' inner thoughts, I of course agree.But from one of the most famously private of the great authors of science fiction, would you expect otherwise?This to me is a final lesson from a master storyteller, where the messages are between the lines. Myself, I saw Kirth Gerson's grandfather in Vance's own; the many incidents of music in his work illuminated by his recollections of jazz and his own musicianship; his experiences of sea-going life reflected in Ports of Call, Lurulu and others; other more personal connections between the events of his life and his stories I'll leave to others to speculate on, but they are there.

In short I found this first a refreshing memoir about a time and place in America, where times were tough but anything could happen.Next, the sum of Vance' experiences and their relationships to his work I found fascinating -- nearly every page evoked for me one of his novels or stories.Lastly, the tone of the work I found full of generosity, inventiveness and toughness -- qualities too rare in authors, but abundant in Vance' heroes and heroines and, as I perceive, in Vance himself.

1-0 out of 5 stars This is Utterly Inadequate
Vance says up front that shop-talk about writing is going to be scarce, and that's certainly true -- but that's not what makes this book so disappointing.It's just so utterly unreflective.It doesn't illuminate the subject at all -- the title shouldn't be THIS IS ME, JACK VANCE, since we get very little insight into who Jack Vance is or why. It would be better titled, THIS IS SOME STUFF I, JACK VANCE, DID.BUT NOT IN ANY DETAIL.

The book is full of, "Hey, and then I met this guy, and boy, was he a character!We had some great times, and then he left and I never did see him again," or "And we invited the neighbor family over for a party, and they all came in a bus and they had a big tub of ice and beer with them, and wow, you never saw a party like that, no sir!"And then on to the next thing.

What made it a hell of a party, aside from it being well attended and there being beer on ice?Couldn't tell you, Vance is already on to the next thing.The book is chock-a-bloc with incidents that get told, dropped, and forgotten, as if there was no point to telling us in the first place.Did any of this shape Vance?Cause him to think deeply about anything?Ever?Can't tell by this book.

He was working in Pearl Harbor mere days before the attack, he subsequently worked in a shipbuilding yard for a while, and then when the draft was coming enlisted in the Navy, but for all that there's a narrow escape and a military career described, there's no sense of how Vance felt about the war.Was he patriotic?Was he self-interested?Did he lose friends during the Pearl Harbor attack?He must have, but they're not mentioned.The war's just one more thing that happened, and whether he felt patriotic and determined to fight, whether he was angry, whether he was just angling for the safest way to see the war through with the least effort; it just doesn't come up.It's just anecdote after anecdote, with no there there, to borrow from Gertrude Stein.

Vance did a lot of stuff, and from the anecdotes in this book I can tell he had a fascinating life.He has no interest whatsoever in letting the reader into it, though; reading it is like listening to a guy drone on and on about himself at a cocktal party, never at anything but a light surface level, and never with a point to any of it.

I don't mind that he doesn't talk much about writing, but I'd like to have gotten more of a picture of why he wanted to be a writer than, "My mom had the Tarzan and John Carter books, and I discovered WEIRD TALES and subscribed, and remember some of the writers' names.And hey, I was convinced one of those crazy names was a pseudonym, but, well, I found out years later that it wasn't."

I'd like to have gotten more of a picture of why he did anything.But if any of the stuff he did affected him, shaped his life or decisions, made him struggle or despair or feel triumph or love or anger or anything, he just can't be bothered to say.Having a car that broke down and was eventually abandoned gets more attention than his breaking into the writing field or courting and marrying his wife.And his wartime experiences are more about that time he got drunk in South America or got dropped on his butt while maintaining the ship than about any thoughts he might of had on what the war or his place in it meant.

The book is probably valuable to Vance scholars, in that its first-person reminiscences might serve some biographer well as partial notes toward an actually-good biography.

But as it stands, it's unpublishably bad.At one point, he's in the South Seas, and he tells a story about a memorable building on an island he seems never to have been to; he's simply recounting an anecdote he read about.And that makes him think of another anecdote he read about somewhere, so he throws that in, too.Completely irrelevant.

And the book is full of stuff like the bit where he says his son was reading Gerald Durrell while they were in Corfu, and since they were near where Durrell was said to live, they figured they'd go find the house, and they looked for it, but didn't find it.Oh well, no matter.[I haven't telescoped that anecdote, by the way.That's all the detail he gives it.On the next page, he mentions that the place they were staying, their landlady got them to drive her in to the market so she could buy some corn on the cob, and they looked forward to having corn on the cob that night, but she didn't serve any.Oh well, no matter.]

He describes a trip to Ireland, and throws in an irrelevant aside about how peat is cut and dried; it illuminates nothing, but hey, he figured he'd tell you about peat, so he does.Fifteen pages later, he returns to Ireland, so he tells you about peat again.This kind of duplication is the sort of thing that happens in oral memoirs (he dictated the book and it was assembled from transcriptions), but you'd generally cut the repetition at the editing stage.I can only assume that the people at Subterranean didn't dare cut anything because the book is so woefully short to begin with, and whatever value it has is as a bare transcription of Vance's memories, not as a memoir at all.

It's a handsome edition, I'll give it that.Subterranean puts together a good-looking book.But what's inside is horribly inadequate.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Reading about Mr. Vance, how he lived, his attitude on life....was enlightening and touching.He has lived a life with little regret, seen the world and shared his gift.

4-0 out of 5 stars Vance:courageous and unassuming
Mr Vance's book - written, like many of his works, while he is blind -givesinsight into the triumph of his spirit against adversity, a finely achieved survivalwhich would make a model for Adam Reith's times on Tschai! He tells us of journeys, wanderlust, difficult working tasks.In these you can see the roots of scenes and themes in his books,like jazz,boating on rivers, houseboats, chance, and enchanting, encounters.

If you are looking for a catalogue of his writings and rhetorical analysis of his techniques you will be disappointed - a short final chapter is all you get, because his whole life seems to have been bound up with his writing. And he is throughout generous in his recognition of his late wife Norma's contribution to the stories.

He lists some of the authors that influenced him; he considers the novel his chosen form: as to style, he discovered writing to please yourself (not editors) yielded better results, and he lays down one supreme canon: "the mark of good witing, in my opinion, is that the reader is not aware that the story has been written... the images flow into his mind as if he were living them. The utmost accolade a writer can receive is that the reader is incognizant of his presence".That humble "in my opinion" marks the innate decency of this man wno is one of, if not the, greatest creators of the myths we need for livingin these times.Those guests who chatted overtheir food while he gave one of his rare talks on writing would have done better to listen.

For here is a man whose writing moves on three levels at once-adventure story, imaginative working out of living myth for our age, and profound insight into our human condition with its ferocity and commitments, and its heroes who above all never forgive.

The impact of this book grows on you: without pretention, without fuss, recording the little triumphs and defeats of his life, a very great man here displays his unassuming courage: he is moving, apparently unregretting, onto the final stretch of the journey to annihilation we all must take, where the secrets of a hidden and magical power gleam amidst the darkness of Ultimate Nothing.

This book is made great by its author: buy it, read it, and above all read his works. Then throughthought and imagination you may bring yourself to a greater understanding of your life, greater than you will ever get from religious text and professional philosophising. ... Read more

10. Lurulu (Ports of Call)
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 208 Pages (2007-02-06)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$2.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312872798
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Rejoin Myron Tany and the crew of the space freighter Glicca as they ply their way from planet to planet, star to star, and adventure to adventure. Each of them is there by chance, and each has a secret quest. From one world to the next, they will chase their dreams of revenge and fulfillment.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Vance
Vintage Vance does not disappoint except for the brevity and the fact this may be his last book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Vance's best, but that's still pretty good
This two-part series suffers from an episodic plot that's only moderately entertaining.Set against that is Vance's usual brilliant writing, inventiveness, and mastery of the genre.Recommended only for die-hard fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars A satisfying and wistful ending to a spectacular career
This is the most recent and final book by Jack Vance and it is the sequel to Ports of Call (so buy both books and read the other one first; I imagine they will be combined in future as they are a single work).For reasons below, I consider it one of his finest novels and absolutely required for anyone who has read more than a dozen Vance books.

The story here is carried forward by stops in a journey, each episode sketched with ease.The action, worlds and characters are new, yet they deliberately evoke his past themes.From a few pages, fans may recall entire past novels.Vance can therefore write sparingly, and yet marshal a many-hued nuance that is rich and satisfying.

Working thus, Vance delivers a single story that tours the best of his voluminous life's work, illuminated now from the full bloom of his perspective in older age.Dispensing with incidentals, he comes to the essence of each situation and communicates a total world-view that transcends and unites his earlier individual works.

By the end, you get it... and you are filled with an ineluctable joy and sadness.It's a feeling that only deepens when you realize that Vance's last novel was both a masterpiece and an endpiece to his career, and that you have experienced his great art for the very final time.

1-0 out of 5 stars Jack Vance did not write this book
Lurulu is a sequel to the book "Ports of Call". It was announced a long time ago, and at one point there was another author's name attached to the sequel. Now that it has finally come out, it is obvious that some hack took Vance's scant notes or outline and filled it in as best he could. Many of the characters of Ports of Call are summarily dealt with in a manner very unlike any other Vance series. Ports of Call hinted at certain things happening to the three girls in Moncrief's show and that the crew would have to do something rash to save them from a "fate worse that death". This is completely absent. What happened to the Captain's lurulu on Fluter? Sad to say this current book is a vast disappointment.

4-0 out of 5 stars Klausner is a parasite!
Harriet Klausner, Amazon's # 1 reviewer, clearly has no idea what Vance is about and I am happy to see that the bulk of Vance readersare discerning and intelligent enough to see that her review is a cynical attempt to suck up more votes by gushing away aimlessly about every new relase that comes out.Bah! What is even more amusing and tragic is that Klausner, perhaps chagrined by criticism of her review by the estimable James Windle 'jimbo', totally changed her review in a desperate attempt to garner more votes. Hahaha. Go away Harriet, you parasite! Your infinite mediocrity will be dealth with accordingly.

As for the book, it is readable and at times amusing, but it is certainly no Maeske: Thaery, Trullion: Alastor, nor Showboat World - less known than some other Vance novels perhaps, but truly brilliant works nonetheless. ... Read more

11. The Dragon Masters
by Jack Vance
 Mass Market Paperback: 240 Pages (2010-12-31)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743497716
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Jack Vance is one of the giants of science fiction and winner of Edgar and Hugo Awards. The Dragon Masters was his first Hugo Award-winning novel, one of only 50 or more Hugo Award-winning novels, and thus a true sf classic.

Jack Vance has been central to the sf and fantasy worlds for half a century. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says, "He has a genius of place." Like Zelazny and Bester, he has had enduring appeal because his work was forward-thinking and radical for its time. In The Dragon Masters, the first of ibooks' definitive reissues of his work, Vance develops several races of people and follows the life of a boy born into and growing up in a static, stratified society, in which he comes into conflict and is eventually driven into rebellion. "A Rebel Without a Cause" for an Alien world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great SciFi novels
Like any other Jack Vance book, this is again a very masterful and humerous book - which actually contains two separate stories. Without dwelling on the plots themselves (which, as with any Jack Vance story, develop differently than any synopsis seems to be able to capture) they contain the typical Jack Vance characteristics: great, suave language, truly likeable heroes (that always seem to win), beautiful fantasy landscapes. Again a must-read book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Baroque stylist, Well Woven Storeis
I read the NyTimes Magazine article last month wherein Michael Chabon, Dan Simmons, and Tanith Lee all sang praises for Jack Vance.They compared him to Proust, and suggested that if he were foreign he'd receive a Noble Prize for his work.Lofty, lofty claims that hooked my curioustiy.What made me have to have this was how darn high priced this edition is.It must be very hard to find. I did find it at a Half Priced Books in Illinois for only 4 dollars! The cover is magnificently illustrated, and this edition is very easy to read with large readable type.
Did it live up to that outsized hype?Of course not.To dignify these stories as meditations on humanity is like putting lipstick on a pig.These are pre-feminist, soft (like vaseline) science fiction, for the boys adventures about violent, diffident lone wolfs beating the odds with their cunning and military prowess. There are no female characters, and the societies depicted have depressing views on females complete with beauty pageants, and concubines.Undoubtedly this is what has led to Vance's lack of populairity over the years, and his inability to stay in print.
What is AMAZING, UNIQUE, AND ONE OF A KIND about Jack Vance is his confidence as a stylist.To read Jack Vance is to read an adventure story told in the silkiest flow of heavy muscled narrative I've come across. He cares less about cultivating the characters personae than he does about flourishing out the story if it needs it with a baroque description of an ornament on a character's jacket, and after it eddies around that moment kicking the story forward several days inone paragraph.And when the character's talk!The dialogue is all curley ques and beautiful words.He's so taken with keeping the rhythem of the story and sentences, he's not even that committed to the internal logic of the world's he's presenting, or answering questions he's raised in the text. Strangely you're so in his grip as a writer you don't care. It's odd, and sooo singular: it's true style.
People will point out genetic engineering as the link between these stories, but the real Vancian theme presented here is the competition between self-styled groups, whether of people or species and how pride undoes them. The Dragon Masters is hardly about dragons. Vance generates tension by presenting three groups of humans as they vie for dominance on a harsh planet, the aliens that swoop in at the climax are merely an interesting cherry on the cake, after we are treated to a hundred pages of intraplanetary spying, ambushing, and blustering comic battles.The same is true for "The Last Castle" which seems to me the more sophisticated of the two stories. Trenchant satire on man separating themselves from labor, and dependance on machines and slaves.But interwoven with it was the presentation of 4 hostile communities and each character was merely am emblem of the group being portrayed, not an individual. Considering the stories are more about following Vance through his fleshy visuals than about intrigue and political resolutions, it's ahrd to say why he's so taken with this idea.Perhaps inspired by pre Civil Rights America?
Ultimately this is a great introduction to this writer as it showcases what he's about: great writing.Content is true swashbuckling adventure with aliens to kill, dragons to ride, and idiots to execute.You can see why people who read him in their youth, would be totally branded by the experience.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great long short story...
Wonderful little story. The concept was wonderfully executed, these two species using genetically bred versions of each other, battling it out. Vance is just a very, very good writer is what it comes down to. I think this would make an amazing RTS videogame concept also... well ahead of its' time.

Definitely should have been extended out into a full novel or a series. I, like others, was left wanting more, which is why I give it a 4 and not a 5.

I liked it as a tiny paperback. But it's a little short for a $10 or $11 book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Vance at near the top of his form: elegant, imaginative, baroque
Jack Vance is one of the greatest SF writers of all time, an SFWA Grand Master, an inimitable prose stylist, as individual a writer as anyone. He has won two Hugo awards and one Nebula, for two long novellas from the 60s. These are "The Dragon Masters" (1962) and "The Last Castle" (1966). (The latter won both awards -- the former having been published prior to the establishment of the Nebulas.) These stories have long been associated with each other, not just because they both won Hugos, but because they share certain themes, and because they have been published together as an Ace Double. This new book, called simply The Dragon Masters, brings these two stories together again.

Both stories are set in the far future, and they feature humans enslaving genetically modified aliens. In each, the plot turns on a war between the humans and the aliens. The two stories are quite cynical, and our admiration for the heroes is tempered by our natural antipathy for some of their attitudes and actions.

In "The Dragon Masters", humans have almost been eradicated. Those that remain are mostly slaves of aliens, modified for special uses; except on one planet, where a few remain free. Indeed, these free humans have captured some aliens and radically modified them for their own uses. The hero, Joaz Banbeck, is a very Vancean hero, dour, misogynistic, intelligent but resigned. He has determined that the aliens are due to return, and he tries to organize a defence while dealing with a foolish enemy in the next valley, and also with the reclusive humans who live underneath the ground. The story works its way to a logical and rather bitter and uncompromising conclusion. The science is not terribly plausible (though I can think of ways to paper over the worst bits), but the description is good, and the action is sound. The story moves well and fascinates. And the prose is enjoyable as ever with Vance, if perhaps not tuned to the highest pitch of Vancean elegance.

In "The Last Castle", a group of decadent humans have returned to a long-abandoned Earth and set up an effete society in several "castles". The labour is performed by various genetically conditioned alien races. For example, the Phanes are beautiful elfin creatures sometimes used as sexual playthings. The Peasants perform menial chores. And the Meks are a hive-like species used to maintain the technological underpinnings. The Meks have finally revolted, and using their control of the technology, they have destroyed all the castles, until only the strongest, Castle Hagedorn, remains. The story turns on the ineffectual attempts of the humans to resist -- most are too concerned with their "honour", unable to sully themselves by any hint of labour, to put up a real resistance. Others refuse to kill aliens for what seems an arguably just rebellion anyway. Only a few see that the only hope for humanity is to regain a semblance of a work ethic and to cast off the decadent ways of the aristocratic society. The prose and characterization here is more effective than in "The Dragon Masters", but I thought the plot resolution less convincing.

This is an extremely welcome reissue. It is worth noting that the text is based on that of the Vance Integral Edition, the result of a wonderful project to create, in 44 volumes, a corrected edition of all of Vance's work, under the supervision of the author himself.

4-0 out of 5 stars Exciting, and also thought provoking SF
This review refers only to the Dragon Masters story.I picked up recently an old ACE paperback of this, and having not read Vance before, was really pleased.The "novel's" (actually a novella in length) action all takes place on the distant and desolate planet Aerlith.The planet, or at least the part that interests the reader, is occupied by two groups of men living in two different valleys.One group led by Joaz Banbeck live in Banbeck Vale.Joaz rules like a Renaissance prince.His interests are varied and intellectual, but he's no fop either, and can be ruthless as occasion warrants.Nearby is (the ironically titled) Happy Valley, ruled by Ervis Carcolo, a courageous but often stupid and impulsive man.At the time Dragon Masters was written (1962), you had a Cold War in full chill.The parallel between East and West is obvious.Also on the planet is a mystic group called the Sacerdotes - who represent a future Church of some sort.And "out there" - the Basics, a lizard like race that runs itself on science - they also strike the reader as Nazi-like in their harvesting of humans.

Banbeck fears a return of the Basics, and urges Carcolo to also prepare. Both leaders have on hand armies comprised of dragons.Getting the difference between the various dragon types is difficult at best.But once battle is joined, you don't seem to mind as much as you keep turning the pages.Interestingly, the Basics are themselves related to the very dragons the humans have subdued, probably as a result of long-ago (and improbable) defeat they suffered at the hands of the humans.But Carcolo is deceitful, and as a result an unnecessarilydivided humanity faces a dicey situation beneath the hovering enemy ship.What happens?Read and see.Oh, and the Sacerdotes also, despite themselves, have a role to play.

Overall, I like Vance's ability to draw you into an action packed story, while at the same time say things about the human condition that are as timeless as something you might find in the Bible or in Myth.And that's good writing, whatever the genre. ... Read more

12. Big Planet
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 224 Pages (2002-03-28)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$68.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0575071176
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The objective of the mission from Earth: to stop the ruthless Barjarnum of Beaujolais from expanding his empire on the Big Planet...and prevent the world from falling under this tyrant's domination. Then sabotage forces the craft to crash land, and the survivors face an epic 40,000-mile trek across the dangerous landscape. A SF landmark. "One of the finest writers the science fiction field has ever known."--Poul Anderson. "Vividly compelling...Vance at the top of his form."--Damon Knight.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars BIG PLANET
This was the first Jack Vance fiction I'd ever read. Nearly twenty years ago, my parents bought me a stack of "notched" sci-fi paperbacks, and this was one of them. It sat around for a while, but eventually one bored Saturday I sifted through the stack and pulled this one out to give it a chance. It was like finding a hidden gem. There's so much adventure, character and creativity packed into a mere 217 pages. Modern writers of fat 1000-page books and never-ending series could learn a lot from Jack Vance. His writing is brisk, clever and most of all colorful and lively. A LOT HAPPENS every few pages! Also, Vance's fiction holds up well over time because he does not rely so much on hard science and the theory of his day, but focuses instead on characters, invented cultures, humor, and the engaging interaction of many personalities. Check this book out, it's an enlightening contrast to just about everything else out there.

4-0 out of 5 stars Early Jack Vance Classic
This book, written in the 1950's, shows flashes of the brilliance of the later works of Jack Vance.The use of language (readers new to Vance would be advised to keep a LARGE dictionary by you, or else just let the flow of the language envelope you), the exotic settings, and the realization that the most alien and unknownable creatures that mankind will ever meet, will always be us.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great fun, aimed at a younger audience
This was the first Jack Vance novel I read, thirty or so years ago, and I've been a fan ever since.Vance is one of the great masters, and perhaps had the best use of the language of any SF writer before (at least)Zelazny.I'll always have a fond place in my heart for this one.Itprobably has more truly intriguing cultures tossed off in a couple ofhundred pages than most authors manage in a lifetime, and on top of it all,it is a fun read. ... Read more

13. Araminta Station
by Jack Vance
Hardcover: Pages (1990-05)
list price: US$3.98 -- used & new: US$39.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 079171652X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars First of the Cadwal Series
Araminta Station is the first of Vance's excellent trilogy, telling the tale of Glawen Clattuc, starting with his youth at the headquarters of the Cadwal Conservancy, an organization chartered to maintain the ecological balance of an exotic world of the Gaean Reach. Glawen is witness to strange goings on involving his family, Conservancy members, their opponents in the hanging city of Stroma, and the exotic Yips, who seek land for expansion at any cost on Cadwal.

Vance's characterizations and settings are first-rate. Technology doesn't overwhelm story, as in so many lesser authors' planetary adventures. The story is set in the far future, when Earth is a bucolic backwater and mankind has spread throughout the galaxy. Interstellar travel is no more arduous or unusual than today's air travel.

Glawen's adventures on Cadwal are well told. His story takes the reader to a far flung and exotic locale, makes it real in the mind's eye, and carries us through a rousing adventure.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thanks a mint, Araminta!
Araminta Station is my favorite Jack Vance sci-fi yet!Produces many chortles!But be warned!You're going to need the sequel: Ecce and Old Earth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Vance at his very best, an absolute must-read
If you are not familiar with Jack Vance, I probably can't say anything to convince you to buy this book immediately, and treat yourself to his very best work. Not everyone agrees, but he has a solid fan base, who virtually unanimously consider him to be THE grand master of stylish speculative fiction of a somewhat ironic mode. I've read every one of his novels and the great bulk of his short fiction, and I consider Araminta Station, followed closely by the second and third volumes of the complex story begun here, to be his very finest writing.

DO NOT MISS this book if you care anything for classic "science fiction." Vance is not really part of that genre, as he rises above it in all respects, but if you like the Golden Age stuff, you just can't ignore him.

4-0 out of 5 stars A complex work by an old master
As a writer, Jack Vance isn't for everyone.His language is formal, elaborate, often almost baroque, yet broken by flashes of wry humor; his books tend to move at a leisurely pace, except for occasional rather summary executions and financial judgments by the IPCC, the law-and-order body that oversees all the Worlds of Man; and the future he describes is so distant (humans--now known as Gaeans after the Gaean Reach, where Earth is located--have settled "thousands of worlds") that 99% of his characters' names have no connection to any current language, and while "Old Earth" is still known and visited, there's barely any mention of even those animals (cats and dogs) that we'll be likeliest to take with us to other planets.Yet his people are still human, and they still have to deal with all the emotional problems that humanity is heir to: they love and hate, they have trouble with their bosses and co-workers, they know ambition, jealousy, grief, anger, obsession, and sometimes they're unstable--or even insane.This book is the story of such emotions as they bear on the life of a single young man, covering the life of Glawen Clattuc in the five or six years beginning just before his 16th birthday.Glawen has lived all his life on Cadwal, a planet designated as a natural preserve but plagued by difficulties with the Yips, who seem to be convict labor imported from various planets and, over the colony's thousand years of settlement, not only homogenously mixed, but increased to a point at which population pressure is forcing them to look for other places to live than the area to which the planetary charter confines them.Early in the book, Sessily Veder, who may be Glawen's first love, disappears mysteriously, and all signs point to her having been murdered and tossed into the ocean.Glawen, who has become an apprentice-officer in Bureau B, the planetary police, is assigned to pretend to join a roisterous group of local youths, one of whom may have been the murderer, but learns nothing useful.As the years proceed, he becomes involved in efforts to quell Yip unrest, then discovers what may be a criminal ring and is sent offworld to investigate it, accompanied by a kinsman of his superior's, Kirdy Wook.(No relation to Chewbacca the Wookiee!)Meanwhile he also meets another girl, Wayness Tamm, and courts her in a shy, almost Victorian style.He continues to suspect a cousin of his, Arles Clattuc, of Sessely's murder, but not till almost the very last page is the killer's identity discovered, along with his link to the criminals Glawen has most recently been investigating--and to the so-called Oomphaw, or king, of the Yips.Of course, a brief review can't begin to trace the complexities of Vance's plot, but he does succeed in holding the reader's interest through over 500 pages of uniquely formalized and not especially quick-moving style.I'd recommend one of his shorter works if you're just starting to read him (try The Dying Earth or The Languages of Pao instead), but for those familiar with his idiosyncracies "Araminta Station" will confirm everything they've ever believed about him.If you like it, search out the sequel, Ecce And Old Earth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Araminta....
Well, I can add little to the existing reviews, except to say that Jack Vance is many things to many people....a master story-teller, with skills that could charm the pants off of an entire harem (and I'm told Jack has practised this during his sailing days); an expert sociologist, willing to stretch reality to make a point, and always a cogent one; a loving creator, for he is indeed the origin of many universes and individual stories. Well, I could go on, but this is a lovely introduction, if a bit weighty, to his work--the story of a young man coming of age in a strange but familiar society, where up is down, down is up...or is it? Morality, maturation, and a fantastic linguistic universe are part of this master work, which is, lucky for all of us, just the tip of the iceberg...I envy anyone who loves the English language, a good read, human drama, and a complex story their first outing with this. Plus, Jack is such a great guy, a devoted jazz hound, and he needs the money terribly... ... Read more

14. Faceless Man
by Jack Vance
 Paperback: Pages (1987-05-15)
list price: US$2.95
Isbn: 0441225551
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Day Durdane Stood Still
Gastel Etzwane is a little more clueless and weak than the protags of the Planet of Adventure and Demon Princes series.Yet this work has the trademark weirdness of settings--the 50-odd cantons of Shant--that are even better developed than Tschai, and Gastel is only weak because he is clueless.The concept of the faceless man, the inflexible (and because faceless, inhuman) upholder of never-changing "values" agreed upon by the citizens of Shant in some long-ago convention as a way to keep them from destroying their own society, is not far off from the robot Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

The Durdane trilogy is the most consistent of Vance's series, strong to the end.He explores the theme of freedom, as always, but also the value of knowledge--it isn't always power, after all!

An alternate and actually more common title for this work is _The Anome_.

4-0 out of 5 stars the Faceless Man -
The Faceless Man, also known as Anome or Durdane, is like a typical Vance novel in that it features a strapping young adventurer pitting wit and candor against opposing forces in exotic and debaucherous locales.

Vance revels in describing the cultural customs and mores of the characters that people his work. The Faceless Man, the first in the Durdane trilogy, is no exception. While the central chacter Etzwane does not stick out among the protagonists of Vance's many novels, music is a central theme of the book and Vance, a musician, excels in his descriptions of alien musical interludes and compositions.

I work in a library in Florida, and this book was very hard to find. We had to request it from a Library in Omaha Nebraska. Vance's work is elusive and unknown but highly suggested for those that enjoy Science Fiction with a more fantastic element. ... Read more

15. To Live Forever
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 272 Pages (2004-03-30)
list price: US$11.95
Isbn: 0743479211
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Garven Waylock had waited seven years for the scandal surrounding his former immortal self to be forgotten. He had kept his identity concealed so that he could once again join the ranks of those who lived forever. He had been exceedingly careful about hiding his past. Then he met The Jacynth. She was a beautiful 19 year old, and Garven wanted her. But he recognised that a wisdom far beyond her years marked her as one who knew too much about him to live. As far as she was concerned, death was a mere inconvenience. But once The Jacynth came back, Garven Waylock's life would be an everlasting hell! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Jack Vance writes about things that fascinate me
In Clarges, a city in the far future, humans have conquered death. Unfortunately, there's just not enough room for billions of immortal people to live forever, so they've passed the fair-play act which divides society into 5 phyle which must be maintained at certain population ratios. Those who choose to participate in fair-play must register in Brood, the lowest phyle, and receive 82 years of life, after which an "assassin" visits and takes them away in a black hearse. By significantly contributing to society, citizens may move up through the phyle, adding several years of life with each step. A very select few will reach Amaranth and may have their bodies genetically modified (with 5 copies made, in case of accidents), making them youthful forever. This social climbing causes a lot of anxiety for the people of Clarges, so their mental hospital is full of people who've gone "catto" (alternating periods of catatonia and mania).

Gavin Waylock has been in hiding for seven years, but now he's ready to return to the immortal society that shunned him. He's back at the bottom and must use all of his wits to work his way up to the place he knows he deserves. Things would be a lot easier, though, if he hadn't just met The Jacynth Martin, because she's determined to keep him out of Amaranth.

One thing I love about Jack Vance is that he writes about things that fascinate me. As Gavin is trying to figure out how he can contribute something creative and meaningful to society, and thereby push himself ahead of everyone else, he tackles the field of psychology. I found it great fun to read Vance's ideas about the future of my field.

To Live Forever was written in 1956, at a time when "insane asylums" in the United States were full. Vance must have thought this to be a hopeless situation because while his characters are zipping around in aircars and have plenty of other cool future technologies, one of their psychotherapists tells Gavin that their hospital is full, and psychology is the only science that isn't progressing, because it's impossible to see inside the human brain.

I'm not surprised that Vance didn't foresee brain imaging techniques (though he actually uses a similar technology in this novel!), but it's amusing that it was only a few years later that asylums in developed countries were nearly emptied after antipsychotic, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety drugs became common. It's also amusing that, for fun, citizens of Clarges use different types of "stimmo" pills, some of which are basically antidepressant or anti-anxiety drugs. Hmmm... I wonder if they thought to try those on the cattos...

Though Mr. Vance's vision didn't seem to foresee much beyond Freud and Jung, at the same time one of his characters comes up with an idea to treat catatonic-mania that is stunningly brilliant and something very much like what is only now being tested as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder! Wow!

You don't have to be a psychologist to love To Live Forever. This is a fun, fast-paced, and clever science fiction novel, but it isn't at all "gadgetty," so it will probably appeal even to those who think they don't like scifi. It's also, as is common for Jack Vance, part humorously scathing social commentary.

3-0 out of 5 stars Old-school science fiction with some big ideas
This is the first Vance novel I have read. It is definitely old-school science fiction, almost pulp-ish, with a many-twisted plot that is sometimes hard to follow and some thinly drawn characters (particularly the women). But I appreciated Vance's big ideas about the lure of immortality and the lengths people will go to achieve it.

5-0 out of 5 stars like new
This was a used book but it looked new. I got it very soon after ordering. I would buy from this person again.

4-0 out of 5 stars Vance at his most thoughtful.
Don't get me wrong. I love Jack Vance. But usually the delight of reading his books comes from his use of language, his dry wit, his engaging stories, and the prodigious imagination he harnesses in the development of his favorite theme: cultural diversity--or rather, his rueful fascination with the human propensity for splintering into a myriad of diverse, mutually antagonistic cultures, each with their own convoluted and apparently arbitrary values, customs, laws, rituals, hierarchies, and religions. In a sense, you could say that Vance's science fiction, isn't really science fiction; for in lieu of extrapolating the effects of future science and technology on man and society, he writes assuming that man's nature is fixed. Thus, except for being premised on the existence of spaceships that (somehow) have allowed man to spread to the stars, Vance ignores science in his novels of the future, choosing instead to exercise his imagination in extrapolations of the ever-more bizarre and disparate cultures he feels it is man's nature to divide into given the lebensraum in which to manifest his perversity.

This book's different though. Instead of his cynically detached storytelling, here we have the explication of social theory. This is real science fiction in that it deals with the human implications of a future technology, in this case immortality treatments.

Everyone want to live forever. But on a finite world with finite resources, not everyone can. So how does society choose who gets to live? By rewarding those deemed to have contributed most to society.Each citizen's achievements are graphed in relation to his lifespan thus determining his 'slope'. He has a finite amount of time for his slope to bring him up to the next level of life extension (with the immortals being at the top level), but if his slope doesn't rise quickly enough, one day the assassins will come knocking on his door to make way for more adept strivers.

The pressure is enormous. Mental illness is reaching epidemic proportions. The need to excel or die--though seemingly as fair and rational a system as could be devised and a proven engine of technological progress and wealth--is in reality a desperate rat race which is slowly driving everyone insane.

The parallels to our own lifestyle should be obvious. This is thoughtful, intelligent work as well as an entertaining page-turner. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, literary science fiction...
I love this book. At about 185 paperback pages, it is not long, but Vance develops a world that is completely convincing and involving, at least for me. I hated to come up for air and have happily re-read it.

It is written in what I would call a literary fashion, as opposed to an action-oriented fashion. The book starts off with a couple of pages of narrative to describe the location and set the context. This is in contrast to much science fiction which, by intention, starts off with action or snappy dialogue to "hook" the reader. Vance's approach is more literary.

One note: I believe that Silverberg's, "To Live Again" may be a tribute novel to this one. Just a thought, but there are parallels. That one is really good too. ... Read more

16. Cugel'sSaga
by Jack Vance
Paperback: Pages (1984-11-01)
list price: US$3.50 -- used & new: US$43.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0671559176
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"Vance sees himself in the tradition of popular fantasy writers, but his classic writing style is also comparagle to Homer’s Odyssey, and Cervante's Don Quixote. Though the Cugel tales may lack the scope and pathos of the greatest adventure yarns, in the twenty-first century, they may be as close as one gets to the celebration of epic human perseverance."--editor, Brilliance Audio

Cugel’s Saga, published 17 years after Eyes of the Overworld, is the second novel that features the scoundrel and trickster, Cugel. Again, Cugel tests wits with Iucounu and acquires rudimentary powers himself.

“Cugel the Clever [is] a rogue so venal and unscrupulous that that he makes Harry Flashman look like Dudley Do-Right. How could you not love a guy like that? .... Judging from the number of times that Cugel has come back ... you can’t keep a bad man down.” —George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire.

“Cugel the Clever [is] a liar and thief in a doomed world of liars and thieves.... Probably the least attractive hero it would be possible to find, struggling through a universe like a Hieronymus Bosch painting, a hero only in that nearly everybody else he encounters in that universe is on the make too, and yet the Cugel stories are howlingly funny.” —Kage Baker, author of Empress of Mars. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bed, bath, bus, beach and beyond
How often do you come across a book that you have to take with you in every conceivable situation? Even beyond the 4 Bs, bed, bath, bus, beach? Cugel's Saga is this kind of book. Once you start reading, you feel that this book is growing into something like an artificial limb, you just cannot part from it.

Other reviewers have pointed in fine detail what it is that makes Cugel so likable. Personally, coming from a part of the world where mischief is unfortunately a daily life ritual for many, I can fully understand and appreciate the "no-one for all, all for no-one" Cugel's attitude. And even if you live in the most civilized corner on today's Earth, something like Utopiaville, and cannot really understand Cugel's motivation, you will be mesmerized by the Dying Earth itself and Jack Vance's imagination.

Jack Vance is 94 and still strong. May he live until his dying earth sun goes out, and then some more.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book could have gone on forever for me...
So far each of the books of the Dying Earth cycle have been wondrous gems that confirmed all the hype that I'd read about Jack Vance. He is in fact better than the hype.There's simply no other fantasy writer like him on grounds of sheer style.Beyond his flair for description of odd ornaments and color, there's also his remarkable ability to not-describe.He rarely gives us details about the randomly named animals of his beastiary, characters personality traits are never explicitly stated- only shown through the cracks between the lines of their arcane and ironic dialogue. There's an unusual pace to his stories- they are brisk to get to the plot hook, but he's almost at pains not to create a heroic climax, or give explicit descriptive detail of major actions or plot machinations. Mysteriously this style is unique and completley addictive- perhaps because you are invited to think so much for yourself.
This book was written much further into his career than the first two, and he's so relaxed in this book.It's such a pleasure to watch and read Vance as he masters the picaresque.It's an ancient story form, and endlessly amusing form- as both African and Native American tradition shows us with Anansi and Coyote stories respectively.Maybe its some sort of catharsis watching someone act without morals.You know that something nefarious will happen, some goofiness spilling from Cugel or his compatriot's greed, and you're free to be entertained by it instead of censuring it or comparing the wrong doers to a foil!
Many complained about the redux element of this novel since Cugel is basically retracing his steps from his last adventure.But those readers are looking for plot resolution, something Vance is simply not interested in exploring- at least in these books. It's about the pure pleasure of these mini-adventures he sets up, each one a unique set peice from anything that's gone before- and everything else that's happened in the cycle."Eyes of the Overworld" was rich with pathos, it felt in parts like a meditation on man's hopeless quest for fulfillment in all the major areans- community, power, religion, and philosophy- all masking as a comedic romp. (Noone else was devasted by The Pilgrims?)That being said "Cugel's Saga" on the other hand is more assured for some reason.Perhaps because it was written as one novel, but also because Vance is a much more mature writer at this point. Instead of Cugel versus strange societies or magical mishaps, this is a book about manners, conversations, and transactions. It's hooks are in the real social world of narcicissts, self-interested schmucks, and haughty madams. It's a book that's very concerned with social order. Women finally make appearances, sex is present, Cugel makes more friends. Granted the casual cruelty of men against each other is universal in these worlds, and there's nothing that relieves that view point which does make for a certain emotional monotony.But if you're reading this for emotional trueness you're again missing the point.This is pure fantasy entertainment. Men sleep on columns, demons with talking tongues are kept in the basement, ships float over land. Bizarre set peice, after bizarre set peice, ironic humiliation after curious ironic humiliation, trickster gambit after trickster gambit Vance is assuredly leading you somewhere you've never gone before in literature, folk tales, or sci/fi fantasy.Just go with him, and you'll have a book you'll surely treasure as much as Cugel does his silly hat and his stolen terces.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great fun and light read.
A very amusing and entertaining read, Jack Vance paints a picture in the minds eye beautifully. Not all terms are explained, but you have more than enough to go on, and while slightly distracting, it's never de-tracting from the story. Overall an awesome product.

4-0 out of 5 stars Eyes of the Overworld redux
'Cugel's Saga' is the third book in the 'Dying Earth' series by Jack Vance. Like the previous book ,'The Eyes of the Overworld', the story tells of the journey of the thief and grifter, Cugel, to escape exile and return to his home to gain revenge on Iucounu the magician who sent him to exile twice.
In broad outline the two books are the same, but this time Cugel is a much more sympathetic character than in 'The Eyes of the Overworld'. Here Cugel is almost a lovable loser as in several adventures he seems on the verge of success and riches only to barely escape with his life. Through every misfortune Cugel slowly makes his way home to his final confrontation with Iucounu. The adventures are full Vance's trademark wonderful dialogue and strange imaginative situations.

3-0 out of 5 stars Super Reader
This might be getting to be too much of the same thing, as the Laughing Magician basically hits the reset button on Cugel, and Cugel has to repeat the journey of the previous book, at least in geographical terms. This annoys him, of course, so he has to try and come up with plots and plans to gain some measure of revenge. Plenty of screwups here, etc.

Because of this, I have never gotten around to the last book. ... Read more

17. The Dying Earth
by Jack Vance
 Hardcover: 186 Pages (1994)

Isbn: 0887331920
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The stories included in The Dying Earth introduce dozens of seekers of wisdom and beauty, lovely lost women, wizards of every shade of eccentricity with their runic amulets and spells. We meet the melancholy deodands, who feed on human flesh and the twk-men, who ride dragonflies and trade information for salt. There are monsters and demons. Each being is morally ambiguous: The evil are charming, the good are dangerous. All are at home in Vance’s lyrically described fantastic landscapes like Embelyon where, “The sky [was]a mesh of vast ripples and cross-ripples and these refracted a thousand shafts of colored light, rays which in mid-air wove wondrous laces, rainbow nets, in all the jewel hues....” The dying Earth itself is otherworldly: “A dark blue sky, an ancient sun.... Nothing of Earth was raw or harsh—the ground, the trees, the rock ledge protruding from the meadow; all these had been worked upon, smoothed, aged, mellowed. The light from the sun, though dim, was rich and invested every object of the land ... with a sense of lore and ancient recollection.” Welcome.
“The Dying Earth and its sequels comprise one of the most powerful fantasy/science-fiction concepts in the history of the genre. They are packed with adventure but also with ideas, and the vision of uncounted human civilizations stacked one atop another like layers in a phyllo pastry thrills even as it induces a sense of awe [at] ... the fragility and transience of all things, the nobility of humanity’s struggle against the certainty of an entropic resolution.”— Dean Koontz, author of the Odd Thomas novels.
“He gives you glimpses of entire worlds with just perfectly turned language. If he’d been born south of the border, he’d be up for a Nobel Prize.” — Dan Simmons author of The Hyperion Cantos.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Six fascinating stories
I have been rediscovering some of the older classics of the Fantasy genre, and my latest find is The Dying Earth by Jack Holbrook Vance. This is the first book in his Dying Earth series of (four) books, and like the other is a collection of short stories.

The six short stories in this book are:
Turjan of Miir, which tells the story of Turjan the wizard, who dreams of perfecting the art of growing fully-developed humans in a chemical vat. Seeking out Pandelume, the greatest living wizard, Turjan goes to him, and learns the secrets that he craves. But, the woman he creates has a mind of her own.

In Mazirian the Magician, we meet Mazirian, a wizard who is trying to learn all of the magical spells still known to man, and has captured Turjan, with the design of forcing him to reveal the secret of successfully growing humans in chemical vats. But, a strange woman has been haunting the forest around his castle, and Mazirian will stop at nothing to capture her...no matter the cost.

T'sais is the story of the fractured woman created by the wizard Pandelume. Leaving Embelyon, she journeys to Earth to learn of love and beauty and joy, if it can be found on Earth.

Liane the Wayfarer is the most handsome and desirable of men (in his own estimation), and what more logical course should he take but the win the hand of Lith the Golden, the most beautiful of women? But, when Lith makes her love conditional on Liane fulfilling a quest, he little realizes what he is in for. It is not without reason that his opponent is called Chun the Unavoidable!

Ulan Dhor is the story of the nephew of Prince Kandive the Golden, who uncle has set him a most dangerous quest. He must travel to the lost city of Ampridatvir and learn the secrets of its long-lost wizard-king, Rogol Domedonfors. But, little does he know that Rogol may have plans of his own.

And finally, Guyal of Sfere tells the story of a young man who has an overwhelming desire to learn the secrets that most other men do not worry about. Sent to the fabled Museum of Man, to learn from its famed curator, Guyal encounters many dangers, but the greatest dangers seem to await him within the doors of the Museum itself!

I must say that I really enjoyed these stories. The author spins six fascinating stories, each with fascinating monsters and people. I love stories of strange and powerful wizards, and this book is chockfull of them! So, if you like good fantasy literature, then read The Dying Earth, you won't be disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Spells, deaths and landscapes
This book consists of 6 loosely connected stories in a future Earth, so intertwined with magic, that spells are as common as smartphones on this Earth, everyone carries one or two. This may be a bit too much in the beginning, but it passes quickly.

So, here are some things that impressed me in dying Earth.

Very impressive spells. Original, inventive, sometimes funny, and always used with perfect timing to push the story forward.

Very impressing gore, for a 1950's novel. Deaths of humans (or deodands) are Mr. Romero's dream, and a certain necklace of one's own toes that one has to sew around his own neck sounds like a very creative punishment for any crine.

Very impressive landscapes, buildings and flora. Usually, when a writer starts describing the landscape, there's déjà vu and monotony, but not in dying Earth where Jack Vance makes you almost reach out and touch the entropy.

One thing that did not impressed me too much in dying Earth: there is a quite simplistic motive throughout the book. If you are good, you will survive (and get the girl). If you are bad, you will die. If you are somewhere in between, you don't belong here.

Having said that, 4 stars. Of the 6 stories, Turjan of Miir, Mazirian the Magician, T' sais, Liane the Wayfarer, Ulan Dhor and Guyal of Sfere 2, 5 and 6 are a cut above the rest.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine and spirited pick for any audio library
The Dying Earth represents Volume 1 in 'Tales of the Dying Earth' and provide stories packed with fantasy settings and ideas. From spell-binders and twk-men who ride dragonflies and trade information for salt to blurred distinctions between good and evil in alternate realms, this is a fine and spirited pick for any audio library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Jack Vance is my favorite
The Dying Earth is the first of Jack Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth and contains six somewhat overlapping stories all set in the future when the sun is red and dim, much technology has been lost, and most of humanity has died out. Our planet is so unrecognizable that it might as well be another world, and evil has been "distilled" so that it's concentrated in Earth's remaining inhabitants.

But it's easy to forget that a failing planet is the setting for the Dying Earth stories, for they are neither depressing nor bleak, and they're not really about the doom of the Earth. These stories are whimsical and weird and they focus more on the strange people who remain and the strange things they do. Magicians, wizards, witches, beautiful maidens, damsels in distress, seekers of knowledge, and vain princes strive to outwit each other for their own advantage.

What appeals to me most is that The Tales of the Dying Earth are about how things could possibly be in an alternate reality. All speculative fiction does that, of course, but Jack Vance just happens to hit on the particular things that I find most fascinating to speculate about: neuroscience, psychology, sensation, and perception. These are subjects I study and teach every day, so I think about them a lot. One thing I love to consider, which happens to be a common theme in Vance's work, is how we might experience life differently if our sensory systems were altered just a bit. I find myself occasionally asking my students questions like "what would it be like if we had retinal receptors that could visualize electromagnetic waves outside of the visible spectrum?" (So bizarre to consider, and yet so possible!) They look at me like I'm nuts, but I'm certain that Jack Vance would love to talk about that possibility. And even though The Dying Earth was first published in 1950, it doesn't feel dated at all -- it can still charm a neuroscientist 60 years later. This is because his setting feels medieval; technology has been forgotten. Thus, it doesn't matter that there were no cell phones or Internet when Vance wrote The Dying Earth.

I also love the constant juxtaposition of the ludicrous and the sublimely intelligent. Like Monty Python, Willy Wonka, and Alice in Wonderland. [Aside: This makes me wonder how Johnny Depp would do at portraying a Jack Vance character...] Some of the scenes that involve eyeballs and brains and pickled homunculi make me think of SpongeBob Squarepants -- the most obnoxious show on television, yet somehow brilliant. (Jack Vance probably wouldn't appreciate that I've compared his literature to SpongeBob Squarepants. Or maybe he would!)

Lastly, I love Jack Vance's "high language" (that's what he called it), which is consistent and never feels forced. This style contributes greatly to the humor that pervades his work -- understatement, irony, illogic, and non sequiturs are used to make fun of human behavior, and I find this outrageously funny. As just one example, in one story, Guyal has been tricked into breaking a silly and arbitrary sacred law in the land he's traveling through:

"The entire episode is mockery!" raged Guyal. "Are you savages, then, thus to mistreat a lone wayfarer?"

"By no means," replied the Castellan. "We are a highly civilized people, with customs bequeathed us by the past. Since the past was more glorious than the present, what presumption we would show by questioning these laws!"

Guyal fell quiet. "And what are the usual penalties for my act?"...

"You are indeed fortunate," said the Saponid, "in that, as a witness, I was able to suggest your delinquencies to be more the result of negligence than malice. The last penalties exacted for the crime were stringent; the felon was ordered to perform the following three acts: first, to cut off his toes and sew the severed members into the skin at his neck; second, to revile his forbears for three hours, commencing with a Common Bill of Anathema, including feigned madness and hereditary disease, and at last defiling the hearth of his clan with ordure; and third, walking a mile under the lake with leaded shoes in search of the Lost Book of Kells." And the Castellan regarded Guyal with complacency.

"What deeds must I perform?" inquired Guyal drily.

If you want to find out what three deeds Guyal had to perform, you'll have to get the book!

I listened to Brilliance Audio's production of The Dying Earth and the reader, Arthur Morey, was perfect. He really highlighted the humorous element of Vance's work. It was a terrific production and I'm now enjoying the second Dying Earth audiobook (which is even better than this first one!). By the way, I want to say that I'm extremely pleased with Brilliance Audio for publishing these stories!

Jack Vance is my favorite fantasy author. His work probably won't appeal to the Twilighters, but for those who enjoy Pythonesque surreal humor written in high style, or for fans of Lewis Carroll, Fritz Leiber, and L. Frank Baum, I suggest giving Jack Vance a try. If you listen to audiobooks, definitely try Brilliance Audio's version!

5-0 out of 5 stars Writing Style Elevates Genre
This is a wonderful genre novel set in the distant future on Earth. Magic and sorcery abounds, as well as a tired melancholy, broken only by the journeys taken by the very determined. There is one sentence in the book that made me realize I was reading a masterpiece: ""I am no one, nothing. I am an abstraction, an emotion, the ooze of terror, the sweat of horror, the shake in the air when a scream has departed." I can't think of a better, more arresting sentence than this, and the book is filled with prose in this highly polished style. It's superb. ... Read more

18. Ports of Call
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 304 Pages (1999-01-15)
list price: US$17.99 -- used & new: US$12.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312864744
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Myron's parents insisted that he study economics, and Myron dutifully applied himself. But Myron had an aunt--his great aunt Hester Lojoie, a woman of great wealth inherited from a dead husband, and even greater flamboyance of nature.And when Dame Hester came into possession of a space yacht, Myron suddenly saw his long-supressed dreams of adventure bloom into new life.
Amazon.com Review
Jack Vance, an undisputed king of science fiction, outdoeshimself in this space exploration novel. Myron Tany has been givencommand of a space yacht by his crazy aunt Hester, giving him theperfect chance to live out his childhood fantasies of intergalacticadventure, alien encounters and exotic romance.Set in Vance's GaeanReach universe, Ports of Call is a veritable catalog ofadventures, replete with richly-detailed encounters and charactersworthy of the series that will no doubt follow this book.This is alight, often comedic space adventure that suffers only a bit from ameandering plot.Vance fans will revel in a terrific read. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

3-0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Space Opera with strange worlds but weak protagonist
Myron Tany wants to travel in space, though his folks want him to finish his education and be respectable.When Myron's great aunt Dame Hester LaJoie receives a slander settlement in the form of a beautiful space yacht, Myron sees his opportunity.

Hester wishes to find the "Fountain of Youth" described in a magazine article, and decides to take her yacht for a trip.After exposing Hester's 'male friend' as a fraud, Myron is allowed to captain the yacht.

They set out on their journey, but Hester soon becomes bored and demands that they visit other spaceports for action.Hester allows shady Marko Fassig to join them on their journey, and after a confrontation, Myron is dropped off at the spaceport of Port Tanjee and left behind.

Myron then joins the crew of the 'Glicca', a space freighter, as a supercargo under Captain Maloof.With shipmates Fay Schwatzendale and Wingo, a cargo bay filled with deliveries, and passengers from a strange religious sect, Myron sets out on his space adventures.

'Ports Of Call' is the first book in Myron's adventures, followed by 'Lurulu', so the story will seem unfinished when you reach the end of the book.However, my major complaint wasn't the abrupt ending but the exit of the most interesting character even before the halfway point; Dame Hester LaJoie.Hester has the sauciness of Vance's usual characters, and Myron, in comparison, is weak, dull, and gullible.Following Dame Hester's absence from the story, the most interesting character of Myron's new crew, Hilmar Krim, is quickly removed from the story also.

Adding to the downside is a tendency of Vance's to be repetitive in certain details and phrases, and poor editing on the part of the publisher.Again, like Vance's 'Night Lamp', 'Ports Of Call' is a good book to read if you are a fan of Jack Vance.Otherwise, pick up 'The Demon Princes' first, for a better taste of Vance.Enjoy!

2-0 out of 5 stars Ostentatious expression, light comic prurience and violence
I figure Vance must have been in his eighties when this was published, and as a prolifically established name I suspect the quality control had slipped Asimov style. I haven't minded a couple of his books, much as the language is usually pretentious. It's such a ubiquitous flaw, particularly in fantasy (Hugh Cook, Terry Goodkind) to think that virtually mock-heroically pompous expression, reaching for the thesaurus constantly with a High Schooler's concern that clear and precise language isn't somehow impressive enough - or, rather, with the foolish arrogance to feel that using antiquated or obscure constructions and vocabulary displays great intellect. Much as they may hope to, it's not putting them in the league of `great' writers like Shakespeare, Austen or Samuel Johnson: they haven't worked out that the reason classic authors like these sound so different to everyday speech is more to do with historically dated language than some objectively `higher' style - to their intended audience of contemporaries their now elevated sounding words were far more immediately accessible. It might be fun to have a single character that speaks in that self-consciously ostentatious way, but in Vance we have every character, and the narrator, speaking in the same irritating style. Yes, every single one - from carnival entertainers, to isolated tribesmen to a murderous, uneducated, impoverished bar slut. It's some relief that Vance finds it difficult to maintain this contrived style to its most painful level throughout the entire novel - he unwittingly slips into greater sense and clarity here and there - but they are only slips.

There is no plot. There starts to be one, and, who knows, there might be another sequel or two to tie up the starter story, but it's really pretty random. At least this is more justifiable in context than some other equally undisciplined books - as the title suggests, our protagonist is unattached and pretty happy to be fairly aimlessly flitting about from exotic port to port as crew on an opportunistic cargo (and, at a pinch, passenger) vessel. Hey, there are writers whose style and individual episodes are good enough that they can get away with weak or even non-existent plots on occasion (Fry, Wodehouse, Adams, Keillor, Banks), but Vance isn't one of them. OK, there is some charm, some wit - but not enough. Vance perhaps felt he'd bolstered this by adding some daydream titillation - our young hero Myron can't seem to help but find himself in intimate situations with attractive young women. It's not soft porn, but it is somewhere near to Star Trek 1/James Bond. Vance was born in 1916, and his presentation of playthings women and utterly expendable third world characters is neither politically correct nor insightful: rather it tends to confirm why some attitudes were better left in the last century. His men are supposed to be cool, I suppose, never dropping their carefully scripted lines under fire or seduction.

In his defence he was consciously writing a light comic daydream novel - it was never meant to be some searing social commentary. I suspect the humour may have worked better for someone with more of his own generation's presuppositions. There's much better Vance out there.

4-0 out of 5 stars great vance material, does lack any plot direction
As a big vance fan, I enjoyed this book a lot.It is almost like a scrapbook of various vance-designed worlds and cultures, paraded one after another as the protagonist travels from world to world.The book could be 10000 pages long and I wouldn't get tired of this, but as I said, I am a Vance fan.

The big problem some readers might have with this book is the lack of any overall plot or conflict.I wonder how much of this is a function of Vance's desire not to write the first half of a story without any real guarantees hewould be able to finish it (he is quite elderly).In the event, he has finished the sequel, Lurulu, which should be printed late 2004.

4-0 out of 5 stars Classic Vance
Ports of Call has all the classic Vancean ingredients, interesting travel to a variety of wierd and less than wonderful dystopic worlds where the locals are to say the least idiosyncratic, slippery and all shades on the way to vile. Vance is the master of local colour and characterisation.I particlarly like how he takes out his typical descriptive weapons - detailed descriptions of outre clothing, climate, geography, buildings, the inevitable "Local Bar", local customs and especially the food served at the "local bar" or the hotel that the characters inevitabley book into.Very reminicent of Cudgels Saga and Planet of Adventure. I notice eel is always on the menu somewhere in a vance book. Also inevitably some local huckster it trying to take the hero down.
Its as if Jack has rifled through his entire output and picked up bits and peices, sown them into a verbal quilt and called it "Ports of Call".Thats OK - you get good solid Vance in this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing to this jaded SciFi reader
This was my first Jack Vance read, and to my surprise, I was sucked right into the ride with the rest of the characters.While some people were displeased with the lack of direction, I found it enjoyable to just wander along with Vance wherever the plot took me.The various worlds are colorful, and the characters interesting and varied.

Vance's writing style is refreshingly different after so many SciFi novels that sound the same.There are no cliches - the ideas are fresh, the people are fresh, the dialogue is fresh - it's hard to describe why exactly it feels so different without having you read it for yourself.So do it - if you're a SciFi snob like me, you'l find a good read here. ... Read more

19. Ecce And Old Earth
by Jack Vance
Mass Market Paperback: 448 Pages (1992-09-15)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$71.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812557018
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Glawen Clattuc, scion of one of the scientific houses of Cadwal, must discover which humans are sabotaging his planet, protected by law and covenant against colonization and exploitation. Reprint. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Ecce and Old Earth
I've always been a Jack Vance fan sice I was a teenager.His mannered SF novels such as this one, even seem like a Jane Austen type of understated language which gets to the heart of the human condition even though it may be set on a world far removed from the English counties of Austen. I had volume one of the Cadwell Chronicles, which I read long ago.As he had died, I thought there were no more.Even though this one is not exactly up to his work in volume 1, it is still great. Thank you to the publisher for reissuing it.

5-0 out of 5 stars First Rate Jack Vance · Read Araminta Station First
This book is a continuation of Araminta Station. It is somewhat less complex, and more introspective and episodic. Some of its episodes are classic Vance set-pieces. I love the sequence on Madame Ottilie and her nasty little dogs. If you love Vance, you'll read this with alacrity. If you read the first book, don't miss the second, or the third (Throy).

4-0 out of 5 stars Ecce and Old Earth
"Ecce and Old Earth", sequel to the thunderous "Araminta Station", is actually more like two novels screwed together than a single work.The first hundred pages take us back to Cadwal, where we last saw Glawen Clattuc battling Kirdy in the waves of Deucas.Now he has the last letter from Floreste, which tells him where his father is being held.With Chilke bound by bureaucracy and Bodwyn Wook unwilling to act, Glawen is left mounting a one-man rescue mission through the steaming jungles of Ecce, battling exotic wildlife, severe weather, and the machinations of the dreaded Simonna and Spanchetta.

That part of the story is wrapped upquickly, and we then shift to Old Earth, where we find Wayness Tam intrepidly hunting for the Charter and the Grant-in-Prepetuity that together confer ownership of the entire Planet Cadwal.This is the meat of the novel.Plotwise this book is not nearly as complicated as "Araminta Station".The entertainment comes from watching the bizarre lifestyles that have developed on Earth during the inervening millenia.Here we see progress and stagnation side by side, inbred monarchs, modern artists, fusty scholars, fraudulent treasure-hunters and many more all bumping around on a planet that's gradually sinking into useless oblivion.As we expect, Vance provides each member of this eclectic cast with a unique voice and overriding personality.The result is a feast of wit as they bounce off each other:

"Kiev is like a great laboratory where reverence for poast aesthetic doctrine crashes headlong into utter contempt for the same doctrine - sometimes in the same indvidual - and the collision produces a coruscation of wonders." (p. 190)

"Countess Ottile lives in seclusion, seeing no one but doctors for herself and veterinaries for her dogs.She is said to be extremely aravicious, though she commands great wealth.There is a hint or two that she is, let us say, eccentric.When one of her dogs died, she beat the attending vertinary with her walking stick and drove him away.The veterinary seems to have been of philosophical disposition.When the journalists asked if he intended to sue, he merely shrugged and siad that both beating and biting were accepted hazards of his profession, and there the matter rested." (p. 206)

"Peace returned to Pombareales - but not for long.A few days later it became known that the collectors had all paid very large sums for doubloons stamped from lead, then plated over with a thin wash of gold.Their value was negligible.Collectors are not a fatalistic lot.Consternation gave way to outrage and fury even more intense than the previous enthusiasm." (p. 289)

I will give props to the ending, which is probably the funniest scene in the book while also being the most emotionally satisfactory - no mean feat.The story is resolved in style, though with the nausea-inducing Julian Bohost still active, we're guaranteed much more action and amusement in the final volume of the trilogy.

3-0 out of 5 stars disappointing
one of my favorite writers.not an awful book, but miles from his best.

plot centers around a lost document (whoever finds it owns the world) and trying to find it.whoever possesses it owns an entire world.

science fiction only to the extent in the future there are no photocopy machines, no directories, and real property law makes no sense.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great journey. The weak ending matters little.
After reading "Araminta Station", you can guess what this one will be about: the rescue of Scharde Clattuc (on Ecce) and the search for the original Charter (beginning on Old Earth).The "Old Earth" bit occupiesmost of the book.It's a fine hunt, with who knows how many peoplefollowing who knows how many scents to the Charter; the momentum buildsslowly but surely; and we get a classic Vance travelog on the way; but I ambound to say that the very end of it all - the actual discovery of theCharter - is disappointing.Were it not for the stumble at the end I wouldprefer this even to "Araminta Station". ... Read more

20. Lyonesse: Book 1 - Suldrun's Garden
by Jack Vance
Paperback: 436 Pages (1983-04-01)
list price: US$6.95
Isbn: 0425058735
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars A slow start to a wonderful series
Let me make two recommendations: buy this book, and promise yourself not to give up on it before the end.

The Lyonesse series is easily Jack Vance's best work of fantasy.Normally, Vance's works primarily offer colorful and compelling new worlds, races and cultures, and amusing side adventures and characters encountered in the course of a fairly standard plot.There are exceptions -- in science fiction, the Alastor cluster books come to mind -- but in general, he rarely concerns himself with crafting plots or protagonists with any depth.The Lyonesse series is Vance's stab at more traditional fantasy: a full cast of well-developed characters act out multiple intertwining plots.The result is fantastic, but there's one catch: he takes a long time to get there.Most of the first book is spent on the less-than-thrilling exploits of a restless princess who doesn't want to be wed.So: buy the book, and force yourself through the slow beginning.The trilogy is definitely worth it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why is this out of print?
As I'm writing this, Jack Vance's under-appreciated Lyonesse trilogyhas been off the shelves for years. My library doesn't even have a copy. Why is that? Publishers have been printing a seemingly endless stream of vampire and werewolf novels these days -- same plot, same characters, blah blah blah. If not that, it's grit. We all want grit. Or maybe it's that more women are reading fantasy these days and publishers think we want to read about bad-ass heroines who kill vampires. But, the publishers and authors are just giving us what we demand, I suppose. We all got sick of the sweeping medieval-style multi-volume epics that take forever to write, publish, and read. So now we get vampires and sassy chicks with tattoos and bare midriffs. When we've become glutted with those (it can't be long now), what's next?

I've got a suggestion: Publishers, why don't you reprint some of the best classic fantasy? Let's start with Jack Vance's Lyonesse. Here we have a beautiful and complex story full of fascinating characters (even those we only see for a couple of pages are engaging), unpredictable and shocking plot twists, and rambling and entertainingly disjointed adventure. No clichés. No vampires.

As a psychologist, I especially appreciated the many insights into human cognition and perceptual processing that I found in Suldrun's Garden. But what's best is Jack Vance's unique style. He's quirky, funny, and droll. He uses language not just to tell us an interesting story, but he actually entertains us with the way he uses language to tell the story. Similar to Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, or Catherynne Valente, but in a different, completely unique style. I love authors who respect the English language and compose their prose with care and precision. Many of Jack Vance's sentences are purposely funny in their construction and I find myself laughing and delighted not at what was said, but at how it was said. Here's his description of Shimrod's excursion to another world:

He apprehended a landscape of vast extent dotted with isolated mountains of gray-yellow custard, each terminating in a ludicrous semi-human face. All faces turned toward himself, displaying outrage and censure. Some showed cataclysmic scowls and grimaces, others produced thunderous belches of disdain. The most intemperate extruded a pair of liver-colored tongues, dripping magma which tinkled in falling, like small bells; one or two spat jets of hissing green sound, which Shimrod avoided, so that they struck other mountains, to cause new disturbance.

And here is part of King Casmir's lecture to his daughter Suldrun when she announced that she's not ready to get married:

That is sentiment properly to be expected in a maiden chaste and innocent. I am not displeased. Still, such qualms must bend before affairs of state ... Your conduct toward Duke Carfilhiot must be amiable and gracious,yet neither fulsome nor exaggerated. Do not press your company upon him; a man like Carfilhiot is stimulated by reserve and reluctance. Still, be neither coy not cold ... Modesty is all very well in moderation, even appealing. Still, when exercised to excess it becomes tiresome.

If you can find a used copy of Suldrun's Garden, the first of the Lyonesse trilogy, snatch it up. There are some available on Amazon and there's a kindle version, too. (Beware the Fantasy Masterworks version, which is known to have printing errors). Jack Vance is original; You won't get his books confused with anyone else's. This is beautiful work for those who love excellent fantasy literature!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Trilogy Ever
When I first read this book, I didn't actually believe I had read something as good as it is. I re-read it, and found it was true, that Jack Vance had actually created a masterpiece that dwarfs Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. This is a powerful trilogy, one that should have been immortalized and yet, it seems that time is forgetting it. Please heed my advice and give it a chance! You won't regret it.

2-0 out of 5 stars wy the high ratings?
I read about 110 pages of this book and I jsut don't get why it has so many 5 star reviews. Maybe everyone else who read this is lookign for something totally different than I am. I found that the politcs in this were boring and presented in a boring fashion. There was only one interesting character (in the first quarter of the book) and she never did much of anything. The writing itself wasn't all that good, often going into too much detail abotu stuff that didn't advance the plot. I say that because I couldn't even detect a plot in the first quarter of this book.

So, I have no idea why this has so many high ratings at all. It seemed dry and dreary and completely devoid of life to me.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my top 5 Fantasy novels
I first read this when I was thirteen and keep coming back to read it again and again.Just love the story and the rich characters.The author has a way of drawing you in that makes you keep turning the pages. ... Read more

  1-20 of 102 | Next 20
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  

Prices listed on this site are subject to change without notice.
Questions on ordering or shipping? click here for help.

site stats