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Big Planet by Jack Vance
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Big Planet (1951)

by Jack Vance

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Title:Big Planet
Authors:Jack Vance
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Big Planet by Jack Vance (1951)

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» See also 17 mentions

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Not sure where I heard about this one; maybe Damon Knight's "In Search of Wonder." I thought it sounded interesting and I finally found a copy.

It's a quick read. It strikes me as a proto-Ringworld - the planet it takes place on is literally a big planet (maybe Jupiter size or larger), and the descendants of the colonists have formed different societies, and there are nomads and lawless bands and so on. There is little or no metal in the planet itself, so metal from offworlders carries immense value.

It begins with a ship crash, and the survivors needing to get to the one place where Earth has a presence. So they travel through various territories, and then the plot takes a twist and gets resolved neatly and quickly. I'm not a huge fan of the abrupt ending; on the other hand, if this had been written today, I could see where you could stretch it into a huge series of 'Song of Ice and Fire'-length tomes.

There are some troubling racial undertones (not particularly surprising, and not too prominent). I think there was room for Vance to stretch it out a little bit, but all in all it's a fun read and I'm curious to read the follow-up (which stands on its own as it only shares the setting of Big Planet). ( )
  wjohnston | Nov 9, 2013 |
CVIE vol III

Most Vance novels include a travelogue in one form or another, as cool but perceptive characters wander through weird and beautiful landscapes. Big Planet takes that approach to its extreme as we follow Earthman Claude Glystra, who, having crashed on the planet due to sabotage, must survive a dangerous journey back to the safety of Earth Enclave.

The standard Vance tropes are in place here - strange fashions, bizarre habits, mysterious strangers. There's less of the clever language that Vance loves, and that makes his books so much fun. On the other hand, the lead characters are more approachable and less aloof than they often are. The ending won't surprise you much if you've read a lot of Vance, and could have been stronger. In particular, the emotional resolution of [b:Gold and Iron|16058318|Gold and Iron (Slaves of the Klau)|Jack Vance|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349098069s/16058318.jpg|1903956]/ Slaves of the Klau, written a few years later, is much more convincing.

Nonetheless, an engaging adventure, and fun for both Vance fans and newcomers. Recommended. ( )
  BMorrisAllen | Mar 31, 2013 |
A commission is sent from Earth to Big Planet to investigate the new Conqueror and see whether there should be any kind of intervention. Unfortunately, the ship crashes due to sabotage and the group sets out on a 40,000 mile journey to the other side of the planet and the safety of Earth Enclave. Not Everyone Is Going To Make It. Danger Lurks At Every Corner. Fantastic Creatures Abound. I gather this is an early example of the Quest through a Strange Land type of novel, so you can't fault it for being unimaginative, and some might call it a progenitor, but unfortunately it's not one of the first that I read.
Now that I think about it, I was enjoying it just fine until my favorite character died [I don't consider this a spoiler because you don't have any idea who my favorite character is.] and now I'm just pissed. And sad. I don't want to talk about this anymore. ( )
  EmScape | Oct 30, 2011 |
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Like Cabell, Vance in this book (and of course others) declined the chance at world-building, preferring instead to construct scenarios which the reader is forced to accept purely on their own terms. ... Well, that was OK, I guess, quite fun in places, but, er, so what?
 
Instead of a thinly rationalized displacement of the opulent East or some other mundane historical epoch to an extraterrestrial setting, Big Planet was fully thought through, its ecology, economics, technology, and political organization carefully formulated, so much so that the conviction persists that it is not the characters who serve as the book's protagonists, but rather Big Planet itself. ... Within larger contexts of idealism radically challenged and the powerful rendered powerless, Vance makes many telling points as his richly dramatic adventure story unfolds.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Vanceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
DiFate, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emshwiller, EdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hickman, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waugh, BrianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575071176, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:47 -0400)

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