The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

Kingkiller Chronicle #2 Kvothe faces difficulties at school, and eventually sets off on a quest that introduces him to a range of strange characters as he struggles to learn more about the fearsome Chandrian. When reading a sequel, I like to re-read the previous book(s). I wasn’t able to do that here, though I did brush up with the author’s and other summaries of The Name of the Wind. I gave that book 4 stars,…

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Strange People, Queer Notions – Jack Vance

Art student Chuck Musgrave comes to Positano to paint, but finds more going on there than he anticipated. “Strange People, Queer Notions” pretty much encapsulates Vance’s writing, but this is one of his mysteries, not SFF. It’s unusual for Vance in that it’s told in the first person, and of course it doesn’t have some of his more outre elements. It does, however, have a Vance standard in a clever, resourceful protagonist who is, through…

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Big Planet – Jack Vance

Big Planet #1 Earthman Claude Glystra, having crashed on Big Planet due to sabotage, must survive a dangerous journey back to the safety of Earth Enclave. 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…

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Gold and Iron – Jack Vance

An Earthman and a woman from another, more advanced race, are taken captive by the Klau. Gold and iron play no more than a metaphorical role in this early Vance story. The original title, Slaves of the Klau, while considerably less poetic, is more accurate. The story concerns an Earthman and a woman from another, more advanced race, who are taken captive by the Klau. This is a very John Campbell-esque story, in that it’s…

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Galactic Effectuator – Jack Vance

Miro Hetzel is an effectuator – in effect, a private investigator. This book contains two of his cases. Despite the unusual-for-Vance title “Dogtown Tourist Agency”, the story is straightforward Vance, with effectuatory Miro Hetzel traveling to the planet Maz to track down a mysterious shipping company. Maz contains the usual mix of weird races and aloof characters, though the fun language and footnotes are toned down a bit from the Vance usual. It’s a fun…

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Transition – Iain M. Banks

Members of the Circle can move from their own minds into those of people in alternate realities. A struggle for power involves multiple people and worlds. Transition is an intensely political novel. Not in the Katherine Kurtz Deryni sense, but in the sense that it was clearly written in reference to recent and ongoing real-world events. It’s not subtle, but neither is it overbearing. One of the benefits of reading (or, I can say, writing)…

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