Amidst life’s trouble and triumphs, I’ve been reading the five books that comprise Jack Vance’s Demon Princes. Vance is an odd sort of author. At times he is a bit wordy and then at other times he writes with great fluidity. I read that he was a boat enthusiast so maybe it makes sense that his stories ebb and flow.
I had been wanting to read Demon Princes for some time when I came upon a copy at my local library (yes, I still use the library). 900 pages later, I can say I have experienced the worlds of Oikumene and the Beyond. Good stuff all in all even if Kirth Gersen wasn’t the most interesting of protagonists. He’s just a dude out for revenge… then again aren’t we all;)
The one fault I have with Vance is that his female characters leave something to be desired. They’re basically damsels in distress or prizes to be won. Like Tolkien, it feels like Vance practices a male dominated aesthetic. Regardless, he remains one of the most deviously clever authors despite his shortcomings. The Face was probably my favorite of the five stories, if only for the ending. The Star King, The Killing Machine, The Palace of Love, and The Book of Dreams are all worthy reads as well.
So what to read next?
Can you say A Dance with Dragons? :D
Every so often I go on what I’d call a genre reading splurge. During this period I tend to lose sight of all the tasks I should be doing and tend to focus on the fictional exploits of some would-be adventurer. I’m a fantasy guy, but with A Dance with Dragons so near (finally!) I went with good ole’ scifi this time around.
Jack McDevitt’s A Talent for War isn’t quite space opera the way I think of it, but it is a page turner. If you like mystery (and I do) and the tropes of planetary exploration, this is probably a good pick for you. There are space battles and aliens, but they’re more in the background. The focus is on Alex Benedict, who’s something of an antiquities dealer. He’s a very normal kind of guy when it comes down to it and maybe that’s the appeal amidst a universe filled with epic events and heroes. It’s got that slow burn kind of appeal that I just adore, but seems to be lost in the age of non-stop action.
Anyway, A Talent for War check it out cuz Jack McDevitt’s got a talent for writing! Oh!
Until George R.R. Martin finishes A Dance with Dragons, Tyrion Lannister is going to take a beating! ;)