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Friday, August 17, 2007

Cottage reading: Ports of Call

Ports of Call (Jack Vance)

You know, I thought Jack Vance was one of the old-school authors. You know, from back in the day - Bradbury, Heinlein, and so on. And then I thought to myself, why don't I get something of his from the library, and bone up on some historical science-fiction.

So I read Ports of call at the Troll Family Cottage. It was entertaining - high-flown humor, perhaps. Ports of Call isn't a novel. It's a series of sketches, a farce - the main character, Myron, a uselessly foppish nephew who reminds me of Bertie Wooster (P. G. Wodehouse): "Of course I can fly your new space yacht," he assures his pompous aunt, "as long as it's got auto-pilot." So Myron and Dame Hester go for a little space tour, flitting from place to place. There's no plot, no real development of character. Every chapter is a new society, a some new friends and some new obstacles. It's got a lot of people being snotty to each other, and man do I love the vocabulary of the future!

But what really impresses me is that it was published in 1999. My jaw dropped when I saw that. The publisher has some respect for the readers (anyone who's ever run across the word etiolated is invited to leave a comment; I take my hat off for you).

If you secretly wish people spoke in Jane-Austen-like dialogue, cheer on the archness of Lady Catherine de Burgh - then, perhaps, this is the novel for you...

1 comment:

Joel said...

I'm currently in the middle of Vance's "Tales of the Dying Earth" collection. I like the imagery, as well as all of the crazy fantasy ideas. I also like seeing all of the little details that obviously inspired parts of D&D.

However, I'm not sure that it reaches the bar I've set for recommendations. I'm just working to get through it right now. However, maybe it'll surprise me by the end.