Vandals of the Void – Jack Vance

Fourteen year old Dick Murdock leaves Venus to join his father at an observatory on Luna. But on the way, they find signs of dreaded space pirates, and Dick soon finds himself enmeshed in far more than he planned for. Very unusually for Jack Vance, the book begins with a note from the author predicting the future (including space pirates). Sadly for all of us, Vance gets much of it wrong (though he’s pretty close…

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The Houses of Iszm – Jack Vance

Iszm, a world dedicated to house-growing trees and house export, is deadly afraid of poachers/intellectual property thieves. The hero gets caught up in the efforts of some of the thieves, with consequences that pursue him after he leaves. The Houses of Iszm was another of the stories new to me when I bought my CVIE, and it’s one that paid off. It’s a relatively early novella, and it doesn’t have Vance’s usual cast of characters.…

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Son of the Tree – Jack Vance

A traveler (Joe Smith) from Earth comes to the planet Kyril, home to a giant Tree served by the Druids, in turn served by the lower classes. Joe immediately finds himself in a complex and dangerous web of espionage and conspiracy involving three stellar systems tightly bound by economics. Joe, of course, has his own goals to serve as he tries to steer clear of plotting factions. My Compact Vance Integral Edition purports to have…

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The Deadly Isles – Jack Vance

The inheritance of a valuable San Francisco estate plays out during a cruise between Tahiti and Hawaii. Luke Royce, targeted by a black-eyed stranger, tries to figure out what’s happening to him and why. I bought my very expensive Compact Vance Integral Edition (CVIE) primarily because of the mysteries that Jack Vance had written as Jonathan Holbrook Vance. I’d read and enjoyed almost all of Vance’s SFF novels, but, aside from two equally expensive print-on-demand…

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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…

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Wyst: Alastor 1716 – Jack Vance

Alastor #3 Visiting a planet famed for egalitarianism, Jantiff Ravenstoke finds trouble with the locals. Wyst is a much more straightforward story than either of its predecessors. While in Trullion and Marune weird games and cultures were front and center, this book uses an unusual setting largely as a backdrop for a mystery thriller. Jantiff Ravenstoke, on the thinnest of pretexts, visits the Arrabus region of Wyst, where egalitarianism is widely practice, but the search…

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