Thursday, June 14, 2012

46. Wyst: Alastor 1716

Wyst: Alastor 1716 is the third of the Alastor trilogy. I bought the entire trilogy in a single edition in order to read the first one, Trullion: Alastor 2262 and after that was told that Wyst is better.  Since I've already got the book and I felt guilty leaving a huge chunk of it unread, I thought I should read this one next.

It was very similar to Trullion in the style and story structure, though Wyst was a bit more adventurous and had some neat exploration stuff in it.  In this story, a young man from a sea-oriented planet isn't clear on his future and gets attracted to the idea of Wyst.  He's artistically inclined and learns that the light and colours there are the most beautiful.  It's also a planet that has a very peculiar lifestyle, called "egalism" where everyone is equal and there is no real striving.  So we have two storylines or themes going on.  One is the journey of the young man to find himself and the challenges and adventures he faces in Wyst.  And the other is the society of Wyst itself and whether or not it is truly sustainable. 

I found the lad's adventures quite compelling. He mixes it up with people in the city, then gets caught up in a conspiracy and has to flee.  Out in the hinterlands, he tries to raise money (similar in many ways to the protagonist of Trullion trying to raise money to get out of his situation) by painting and harvesting clam-like food creatures.

The study of Wyst was less succesful for me. I don't know if I was just having trouble conceiving of it or if it is badly conceived.  It just didn't seem feasible and though everybody seems quite idealistic about the values of egalism, they all seemed unhappy and complaining.  Even falser, there is a grand plot of a major conspiracy the proponents of which just did not seem capable of even coming up with such an idea, let alone actually executing it.  It felt a bit like a straw man argument by Vance.  In any case, I wasn't super convinced and the ending seemed pretty far-fetched. None of that really took away from the adventure of the protagonist, which was kind of fun and cool.

I just think that Vance's style is too removed and stilted for my personal tastes.  The stories he tells are rich and meandering in a fun way and the locations do seem quite creative and interesting. But I always feel a bit at arm's length and can't really get into them.

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