(review written Dec 24, 2015, catching up)
up the entire Planet of Adventure quadrology in a single volume to read
over our summer vacation in PEI. I will write a single, broad review of
the whole series, because I can no longer remember the details of each
volume. This is book four.
I struggle with Jack
Vance. I find his writing sort of primitive and un-nuanced and yet at
the same time there is an underlying sophistication and cynicism in the
stories he tells. His style is like nobody else from his period or from
the genre in general. I get into the unfolding of the narrative, but
never feel truly connected to any of the characters. I am always
slightly disconnected when reading him yet never disengaged so that I
want to put it down.
The theme across all 4 books of
Planet of Adventure is the competent, scientific and strategic human
gradually mastering a strange environment and in doing so, the read
slowly learns of this interesting world. The protagonist is a human
space explorer who crash lands on the planet and has to navigate the
various species and societies, which are really crazy and cool. He has
his struggles, but he generally kind of dominates, which starts to feel
slightly biased over time with shades of colonialist superiority.
However, the portrayal of the societies and species and their power
structures is rich and complex and Vance does seem to be really trying
to imagine a realistic world utterly different from our own (except that
women are also in subservient roles).