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Big Planet (Gateway Essentials Book 181) Kindle Edition
About the Author
- ASIN : B0061QGHUY
- Publisher : Gateway; New edition (14 November 2011)
- Language : English
- File size : 1281 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 218 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 692,722 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
The plot is quite straight forward and primarily serves as a means for Vance to do what he does best--that is, take the reader on a grand tour of an exotic, alien world. This was Vance's typical brand of science fiction which he so fondly used throughout his career--the so called planetary romance--and whilst this book was quite unique in it's day and helped establish the genre, in retrospect it suffers from being a little uneven at times due to it being an early work, showing evidence of a young Jack Vance still perfecting his craft.
The book begins a little clumsily and descends into a 'whodunit', with the main protagonist Claude Glystra taking charge of the impossible mission and trying to establish who has betrayed the commission and crash landed the ship. But as the novel progresses and the quest goes on, Vance hits his stride and begins to paint an interesting travelogue which becomes very enjoyable. The highlight of the book is no doubt the intriguing settlement of Kirstendale, to which the central characters arrive at by means of the monoline--which is a sort of wind-powered overhead cable car stretching many hundreds of miles. The group realise that Kirstendale is not what it first appears to be as they discover that an interesting system is in place which allows all of it's settlers to enjoy a part-time life of luxury by dividing their time up between acting as a masters in their own estate and then acting as a servant to other residents at other parts of the day!
Myrtlesee Fountain was another highlight of the book--the religious zealotry built an intense and creepy atmosphere and learning about the bizarre process of how Oracles are created was particularly enjoyable, and quintessential Vance.
The book's main weakness is probably it's characterisation. Our main protagonist, Claude Glystra is your typical hero, who is endlessly motivated to the task at hand. The book's love interest is a local girl called Nancy who joins the group at the crash site of Jubilith, and the relationship between her and Claude is rather predictable. Charley Lysidder, the books villain, is probably the most intriguing character, and his role reminded me of the various villains in Vance's later Demon Princes books. But unfortunately, the rest of the cast--including the other members of the commission--are rather unmemorable and are not really fleshed out enough to make them distinguishable.
Big Planet was a very satisfying read, it was a little slow to get going, but there were lots of interesting and unique ideas as the book progressed. Perhaps not a book to recommend for readers new to Vance, but definitely one that will be enjoyable to those already accustomed to his style.
Compared with other travelogues Vance has written (Eyes of the Overworld and Cugels Saga are the obvious choices), this book doesn't stand up well: it's an early work and you can tell, as he is plainly still developing the skill and style which would flower in later books. The ending feels rushed and is, overall, just unsatisfying in comparison with the author's later work.
If this was any other writer, I'd give it four stars. For vance, three and a half because we know that he wrote other - much better - books later in his career.