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Showboat World by Jack Vance

Showboat World (1975)

by Jack Vance

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Big Planet (2)

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342648,467 (3.56)5



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» See also 5 mentions

English (4)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 4 of 4
Zo jammer dat Jack Vance's verhalen zo heel erg wisselend van kwaliteit zijn. Heb me echt door dit verhaal moeten worstelen.

Ik geef 2 sterren. ( )
  EdwinKort | Nov 6, 2018 |
Apollon Zamp, master of the Showboat Miraldra's Enchantment has just been informed of a contest held by King Waldemar for the best entertainment. He almost misses the preliminary competition because of the machinations of rival Garth Ashdale, which rivalry continues throughout the the journey undertaken toward the final tournament, staging exhibitions at various and multifarious hamlets along the way. Comic tragedy befalls at times, at others no small profit. This is Big Planet, of course, and if you're not familiar it was colonized by refugees from assorted marginalized groups, religious cults, and barbarians of Earth. These settlements and civilizations have remained apart and retained their flavor. Each has interesting laws and prejudices that the showmaster has to contend with in staging his productions, sometimes with unfortunate results. Vance's strengths lie in describing these denizens and Zamp's productions. His weakness is creating sympathetic characters. It may be that he intends the reader to not mind as much when tragedy befalls his characters if we don't really like them. I suppose I was compelled to continue reading, and I do feel that I enjoyed the book, so Vance largely succeeded. I also think that Vance intended to set more books on Big Planet, and it's unfortunate that he hasn't because it's a very interesting place. ( )
1 vote EmScape | Nov 26, 2011 |
The Magnificent Showboats of the Lower Vissel River, Lune XXIII South, Big Planet was originally published as “Showboat World” in 1975 and is set in the same locale as Vance’s novel “Big Planet” – a vast planet in another solar system in which a number of strange cultures live in small towns along an intricate river network. These rivers are plied by a number of showboats who bring entertainment and culture to the strange inhabitants of Big Planet. While this is nominally a work of science fiction, there is no real evidence of advanced technology, though we do have the sense that it is set in a far future where Earth (and the play Macbeth) have been almost entirely forgotten.

Please note that some plot spoilers follow.

The novel follows the misadventures of showboat captain Apollon Zamp as he struggles to take a crew of acrobats, actors, and magicians far upriver to participate in a contest sponsored by an enigmatic and eccentric king. Zamp is a rogue, though a lovable one, and he fairly quickly loses both his showboat and accumulated fortune. He must ally himself with the parsimonious Throdorus Gassoon, a rival showboat captain who vies with Zamp for the attentions of Damsel Blanche-Aster, who also desperately wants to travel upriver. The two captains continually quarrel over what play to perform (they eventually settle on a reenactment of the classic Macbeth, though Zamp edits the play to offer a more entertaining spectacle), production expenses, and how best to deal with the savage and unpredictable customers they encounter along the way. The finale (which I will not spoil here) offers a dramatic and unexpected reversal that caught me off guard. I had thought all along as I read that I knew how the story would end but I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case.

This was a delightful and comedic tale. Not a vast amount of characterization (Zamp, after all, could have just as easily been Cugel), but it was certainly fun. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Review copyright 2010 J. Andrew Byers ( )
1 vote bibliorex | Nov 5, 2010 |
Lesser Vance is still Better Written than most other science fiction. I wouldn't start here, or stop; but once you get hooked to Vance, you will not be too horribly disappointed with this book. ( )
1 vote wirkman | Feb 28, 2007 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Vanceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Di Fate, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elson, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RodneyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattingly, David B.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Big Planet: the innermost planet of the yellow star Phaedra, a world 250,000 miles in diameter with a mean density slightly less than 2 and a surface gravity slightly in excess of Earth Standard.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Average: (3.56)
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