Watership Down – Richard Adams

Watership Down #1 When young rabbit Fiver has a premonition, his friend Hazel convinces a few other rabbits to leave their warren and search for a safer home. What can I say about Watership Down that you don’t already know? It’s a classic, a moving story of companionship and adversity, the spark for hundreds of imitators, and the benchmark against which they are held. Richard Adams wasn’t the first to write a talking-animal story, not…

Keep reading

Songmaster – Orson Scott Card

The Songhouse trains singers – such good singers that the House is by custom inviolate. Yet when the tyrant Mikal requests a Songbird, the Songhouse gives him one, risking its long reputation for probity. Mikal’s Songbird Ansset, who knows only how to sing, ends up at the focus of change in the Empire. I first read Songmaster in a Futura edition with 23 pages missing out of the middle. Intensely annoying, especially because I thought…

Keep reading

Cugel: the Skybreak Spatterlight – Jack Vance

Dying Earth #3 Rogue and dastard Cugel must make his way across dangerous landscapes – again. This is Vance at his classic best. The dastardly Cugel once again must fight his way back across the Dying Earth, over hostile regions, past weird and unnatural creatures, and, worst of all, through the endless shades of human culture and habit. Vance is at his literary best, with beautiful, original language sketching characters and actions from base to…

Keep reading

Marune: Alastor 933 – Jack Vance

Alastor #2 An amnesiac slowly finds clues to his home planet and society. Marune was one of the first Jack Vance books I ever bought. In fact, one of the first books of any kind I bought with my own money. I had no idea who Vance was, or what I was getting into. I don’t remember what drew me to the book. It may have been the Coronet cover, which had virtually nothing to…

Keep reading

Lurulu – Jack Vance

Ports of Call #2 The crew of a merchant spaceship visit odd destinations. As a standalone book, Lurulu isn’t a great success. It’s short, and it depends heavily on what went before. (Though there is a nice summary of Ports of Call, which is well worth reading, as it describes that book in even more colorful terms than the book itself.) As a sequel, or considered as the final part of a single volume inexplicably…

Keep reading

The Languages of Pao – Jack Vance

A science fiction examination of the Sapir-Whorf theory that language shapes thought – a neighbouring planet introduces three caste-specific langauges to Pao. I first read this book a long time ago. It was my first exposure to the idea that language shapes not just how one says things, but what it is possible to say and think. I was tremendously impressed. Vance takes that idea, and runs with it. While I wouldn’t say that this…

Keep reading