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Big Planet Paperback – Jun 1989

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Tor Books (M/M); Reprint edition (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812556984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812556988
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.4 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,159,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

"To land anywhere on Big Planet except Earth Enclave meant tragedy, debacle, cataclysm": it doesn't look good for Claude Glystra's interstellar mission when his sabotaged ship crashes deep in the heart of enemy territory. At least one of the traitors is on the loose, and the forces of the despotic Bajarnum of Beaujolais are out to destroy Claude, his fellow Earthmen and a lovely young native they christen Nancy, as the group embarks upon a deadly 40,000-mile journey to refuge in Jack Vance's weird and highly imaginative Big Planet.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jack Vance was born in 1916 and educated at the University of California in mining engineering, physics and journalism. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Navy and was torpedoed twice. He started contributing stories to the pulp magazines in the late 1940s and published his first book, The Dying Earth, in 1950. Among his many books are To Live Forever, The DragonMasters, for which he won his first Hugo, The Blue World, Emphyrio, The Anome and the Lyonesse sequence. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
This was the first Jack Vance fiction I'd ever read. Nearly twenty years ago, my parents bought me a stack of "notched" sci-fi paperbacks, and this was one of them. It sat around for a while, but eventually one bored Saturday I sifted through the stack and pulled this one out to give it a chance. It was like finding a hidden gem. There's so much adventure, character and creativity packed into a mere 217 pages. Modern writers of fat 1000-page books and never-ending series could learn a lot from Jack Vance. His writing is brisk, clever and most of all colorful and lively. A LOT HAPPENS every few pages! Also, Vance's fiction holds up well over time because he does not rely so much on hard science and the theory of his day, but focuses instead on characters, invented cultures, humor, and the engaging interaction of many personalities. Check this book out, it's an enlightening contrast to just about everything else out there.
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Format: Paperback
I was somewhat unsure what to expect when I first started 'Big Planet' but right from the page 1 it moves at a great pace. The planetary landscapes - the sheer size and kaleidoscope of colours and races makes for fascinating reading. There is a certain 'steampunk' type quality to the types of technology employed but this adds to the novel's readability by avoiding overly technical jargon.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f0e7e28) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efef108) out of 5 stars BIG PLANET Sept. 4 2001
By G. R. Welsh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was the first Jack Vance fiction I'd ever read. Nearly twenty years ago, my parents bought me a stack of "notched" sci-fi paperbacks, and this was one of them. It sat around for a while, but eventually one bored Saturday I sifted through the stack and pulled this one out to give it a chance. It was like finding a hidden gem. There's so much adventure, character and creativity packed into a mere 217 pages. Modern writers of fat 1000-page books and never-ending series could learn a lot from Jack Vance. His writing is brisk, clever and most of all colorful and lively. A LOT HAPPENS every few pages! Also, Vance's fiction holds up well over time because he does not rely so much on hard science and the theory of his day, but focuses instead on characters, invented cultures, humor, and the engaging interaction of many personalities. Check this book out, it's an enlightening contrast to just about everything else out there.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efef510) out of 5 stars Great fun, aimed at a younger audience Nov. 24 1998
By Karl Compton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was the first Jack Vance novel I read, thirty or so years ago, and I've been a fan ever since. Vance is one of the great masters, and perhaps had the best use of the language of any SF writer before (at least) Zelazny. I'll always have a fond place in my heart for this one. It probably has more truly intriguing cultures tossed off in a couple of hundred pages than most authors manage in a lifetime, and on top of it all, it is a fun read.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efef588) out of 5 stars Early Jack Vance Classic Sept. 27 2000
By Cochituate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book, written in the 1950's, shows flashes of the brilliance of the later works of Jack Vance. The use of language (readers new to Vance would be advised to keep a LARGE dictionary by you, or else just let the flow of the language envelope you), the exotic settings, and the realization that the most alien and unknownable creatures that mankind will ever meet, will always be us.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9efef918) out of 5 stars Read SHOWBOAT WORLD First (or Instead). Avoid Butchered Editions July 9 2012
By J. Whelan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This 1952 sci-fi novel takes place on the aptly named "Big Planet", a vast untamed world of high diameter and low density, where a lack of heavy metals impedes advanced technology. It has been settled by countless Earth colonies seeking the freedom to pursue their own particular way of life.

Earth authorities, concerned about the activities of a local warlord/slaver, send a team to investigate/intervene. However, their ship is sabotaged and crashlands on Big Planet. The survivors, led by Claude Glystra, set out on an impossibly ambitious trek to reach Earth Enclave, located on the other side of the planet, 40,000 miles away. Meanwhile, they continue to worry about the possibility of an enemy agent in their midst.

Although I like the idea of "Big Planet", I don't think Vance puts that idea to its best use here. The overarching warlord/sabotage plot tended to distract from the challenge of the planet itself, and tended to have the effect of making a big planet seem small again. Part of the problem, perhaps, is that Vance's original 1948 manuscript (now lost) was almost twice as long, but edited down after he was told it would not sell. But, for whatever reason, we are left with a rushed adventure story that could just as easily taken place on a small planet.

Vance's inventiveness is on display, but he has done better elsewhere. In particular, he has done better with his vastly superior 1975 novel SHOWBOAT WORLD (a/k/a THE MAGIFICENT SHOWBOATS OF THE LOWER VISSEL RIVER, LUNE XIII SOUTH, BIG PLANET), written 23 years later, which is also set on Big Planet. Read that one first - it stands on its own. Read this later, and only if determined to read all things Vance.

If you do seek out BIG PLANET, make sure you find an edition that reverts to the 1952 text that appeared in Startling Stories. The 1957 Ace edition, and later editions based on it (such as the 1977 coronet edition), massacred the 1952 text. The 2012 Kindle edition from Spatterlight Press, the Gollancz Kindle edition, 1978 Miller-Underwood edition (but not, as Wikipedia wrongly says, the 1978 Ace edition) and the unobtainable Vance Integral Edition revert to the 1952 text. I'm not sure about the Gollancz paperbacks. One test is whether the opening paragraph refers to Hidders' mixed-race origens and ends with a reference to "many brains". If so, then read on. If not, and if the second page refers to a "Sister of Succor" rather than a "nun", then hold off and wait for a better copy.
HASH(0x9efef948) out of 5 stars A Great Trek April 2 2014
By Arthur W Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Big Planet (1957) is a standalone SF novel. The Big Planet is much larger than Earth, but has virtually no metals. Thus the surface gravity is about the same as Earth.

Big Planet was settled by hordes of restless people looking for someplace other than the highly regulated home planet. Over four hundred years, millions of people migrate to Big Planet and find a home. The planet is now filled with thousands of small societies, who perpetuate every crime outlawed on Earth.

In this novel, Claude Glystra is the Executive Chairman of a commission sent to the Big Planet to investigate the Bajarnum of Beaujolais .

Pianza is a well-meaning, but dense old man. He is the team organizer and administrator.

Bishop is the team data specialist. He has memorized many records on the planet cultures and terrain.

Cloyville is the team mineralogist

Ketch runs the team video and sound equipment.

Darrot is the team ecologist.

Corbus is the Chief Engineer of the ship.

Vallusser is the Second Engineer of the ship.

Abbigens is the ship radio operator and purser.

Arthur Hidders says he is a trader in furs.

Charley Lysidder is the Bajarnum of Beaujolais. He has been taking over nearby territories.

In this story, Pianza and Hidders are discussing the planet they are approaching. Hidders seems interested in the latest team sent to Big Planet. He wonders what they can do that previous teams could not.

Claude comes to the observation lounge just in time for the dinner chime to ring. As they leave the lounge, the ship appears to sway. Claude asks Abbigens if anything is wrong.

Then the alarms sound. Clause learns that the lifeboats have been ejected without them. The Captain and First Mate are dead and the ship is out of control.

When Claude returns to consciousness, he learns that the ship crashed. Abbigens and Hidders are missing and Corbus and Vallusser are the only surviving crew. A nun passenger is presumed dead since her cabin is at the bottom of the ship.

All of his team have survived. Claude orders them to pack anything useful for a hike and tells them to get ready to leave. If Abbigens or Hidders survived, they are probably off to fetch soldiers to capture them.

His nurse Nancy wants to go with them. Claude refuses, but says she can go with them as far as the woods. As they leave the village, the residents are dancing around them.

In the woods, Clause leaves his team and Nancy to reconnoiter. He finds Beaujolais soldiers settling in for the night. One sets up a blaster and goes back for something.

Clause settles behind the blaster and tells the soldiers to freeze. The gunner rushes him and six soldiers die. Claude calls his team and has them set guards on the soldiers.

Clause pretends to sleep, but keeps an eye on the blaster. The far guards go into the woods one at a time to relief themselves. Vallusser sneaks around and attacks the two men on the blaster. Claude shoots him with his ion shine.

Vallusser and Darrot are dead. Corbus is wounded in the neck. During the excitement, three soldiers escape from the camp. Ketch uses the first aid kit to tend to Corbus.

The next day, the dead are buried. Nancy is sent back. The soldiers are tied together with ankle ropes and marched out of the camp.

This tale takes Claude and his group toward the Earth Enclave. They have forty thousand miles to travel to get there. Along the way, the people of the planet will try to kill them for their wealth and as food.

Claude is determined to let nothing stop him. This story is also available in the Jack Vance SF Gateway Omnibus.

Highly recommended for Vance fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of human settled, but anarchical planets with many cultures. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin

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