Rejoin Myron Tany and the crew of the space freighter Glicca as they ply their way from planet to planet, star to star, and adventure to adventure. Each of them is there by chance, and each has a secret quest. From one world to the next, they will chase their dreams of revenge and fulfillment.
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Jack Vance, born John Holbrook Vance in 1916, was one of the greatest masters of fantasy and science fiction. He was the winner of many awards for his work and career: the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. Among his awards for particular works were the Hugo award in 1963 for The Dragon Masters, in 1967 for The Last Castle, and in 2010 for his memoir This is Me, Jack Vance! He won a Nebula Award in 1966 for The Last Castle. He won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1990 for Lyonesse: Madouc. . He also won an Edgar for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for The Man in the Cage.
Vance published more than 60 books in his long career, sometimes under pseudonyms. Among them were 11 mystery novels, three of them as Ellery Queen. He wrote some of the first, and perhaps best, examples of "planetary adventures", including a novel called Big Planet. His "Dying Earth" series were among the most influential fantasy novels ever written, inspiring both generations of writers, and the creators of Dungeons and Dragons.
Vance's series from Tor include The Demon Princes, The Cadwal Chronicles, The Dying Earth, The Planet of Adventure, and Alastor. Vance's last novels were a series of two: Ports of Call and Lurulu.
Jack Vance was a sailor, a writer, an adventurer, a music critic, and a raconteur. He died in May 2013.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Lurulu (Chapter 1)
Excerpt from the article ‘Fluter: World Of Glamour’, from the periodical Touristic Topics.
There is nothing to be gained by describing the climate of Fluter: it is perfect, and as such it is taken for granted, as are most of the other aspects of this magnificent world. The landscapes are as sunny and verdant as a view across lost Arcady.
The people of Fluter share the attributes of their wonderful world. They seem to dance through life to the measures of music they alone can hear: women of many talents, noble philosophers, solitary vagabonds wandering the lonely places. In general the folk of Fluter are friendly and gay, and anxious to appear beautiful in the eyes of the off-worlders, whom they revere perhaps unreasonably. In the main they are addicted to the joys of feasting, music, star-naming, sailing the wild seas, and love-making in a style known as ‘ingesting the perfumed flowers’.
NOTE: The intelligent reader will quickly observe that the article quoted above is a masterpiece of hyperbole; doubtless the writer was never any closer to Fluter than his local amusement park. Only the most naive of readers, upon exposure to the article, will set off pell-mell for Fluter hoping to find ‘ineffable glamour and daily episodes of erotic hi-jinks’.
The following facts should be noted. The scenery of Fluter is very pleasant. The best hotel in Coro-Coro is the O-Shar-Shan, but there is no running hot water. The girls are neither seductive nor particularly amiable. Arrivals at the spaceport are allowed visitor’s permits of thirty days duration.
The geography of Fluter as seen from space was extraordinary, and perhaps unique — certainly within the bounds of the Gaean Reach. In cooling from its primal melt the world had shrunk, squeezing up the crust into nine enormous anticlines running north and south across all of one hemisphere, leaving the opposite hemisphere a flat peneplain. In the course of time the sea rose and the rock-folds became nine narrow continents, with shallow seas between. The opposite hemisphere was drowned beneath the waters of a vast featureless ocean.
Time passed. The climate was benign; life came to Fluter, and clothed the land in verdure of innumerable varieties. A band of Gaean pioneers arrived from the world Ergard, to settle all nine continents. Five years later, at the First Conclave, they bound themselves to a set of strict covenants by which to control their population, so that never should Fluter become the congested jungle of concrete towers, underground warrens, smells, stinks and pollution, crowded streets and cramped space which they had left behind on Ergard. Time might pass — a hundred years, a thousand years — but never, so they swore, would they allow their wonderful new world to be so desecrated. The Flauts, as they called themselves, surveyed the nine continents and divided the arable land into sections, with each section rated for a maximum population which might never be exceeded.
A thousand years later, the population of Fluter occupied one hundred and forty-seven villages scattered at random across all nine continents, along with a special node surrounding the Coro-Coro spaceport.
The native flora co-existed amiably with dozens of exotic imports, from Old Earth and elsewhere. The ubiquitous coconut palm leaned across a thousand beaches; exotic hardwoods, softwoods, flowering shrubs and vines grew in the Fluter forests and along the mountain slopes. The fauna consisted of a few lizards and insects on land, and a variety of marine life, which made the waters fascinating but dangerous.
At Coro-Coro, on Continent Five, was the famous O-Shar-Shan Hotel, and a dozen other tourist hotels more or less fashionable. Though the calculations were often complicated, Coro-Coro was subject to the same population controls as the rest of Fluter, so that Coro-Coro remained an oversized village.
The Glicca landed at the Coro-Coro spaceport and was boarded by a team of local officials. Their routines were unusually careful. A pair of medics tested ship, crew and passengers for noxious diseases, while another technician filtered samples of air in search of undesirable viruses, pollen, spores or proteins. Finding nothing of interest, the team departed the ship. Meanwhile, an immigration officer noted name, age, world of origin, reason for visit, criminal record, if any, for each member of the ship’s complement, issuing entry permits as he did so. He then addressed the company.
“Please listen with care! I am Civil Agent Uther Taun; I represent the administration of Coro-Coro and, effectually, of all Fluter. Civil Agents are charged with many responsibilities, but most importantly we guard the beauty of our beloved world. Severe penalties are visited upon anyone so depraved as to distribute litter or cause any other defilement. I need not enlarge upon these laws, except to state that they are enforced with diligence by a corps of special Civil Agents, and equally vigilant Land Agents. If appropriate, penalties of three orders are inflicted. Neither the Land Agents nor the Civil Agents accept excuses! Wastes must be deposited in certified receptacles. Random micturition or defecation at large are never encouraged, for reasons which need not be particularized. Nevertheless, rather than frowning and wincing, you should think yourselves privileged to enjoy the delights of Fluter! Visitor’s permits are valid for thirty days, but may be renewed upon timely application. I will mention for persons desiring temporary employment, a Labor Exchange is situated nearby, along Pomare Boulevard.
“A final word: if, during your excursion, you should come upon a village, you would be prudent to turn away and go elsewhere. Should you ignore my advice and enter the village, be absolutely discreet! The typical Flaut is not a graceful host; to the contrary he is both unfeeling and surly. If you visit a village tavern, use total decorum. If you encounter a female, no matter of what age, abstain from familiarity, since the Flauts have no qualms about thrashing an obnoxious tourist. If you are careful and pay with a willing hand, you will encounter no trouble.
“Another matter of importance: the lands of Fluter are devoid of both dangerous beasts and predatory birds; the law therefore forbids the importation or possession of power guns, or other such weapons. This is an ancient law, enacted during the Terrible Times. It was felt that warriors of the day committed enough horror with their dirks and battle-hatchets without the need for more help. The law is still enforced by the Civil Agents, and applies to all weapons of projective energy, large or small. No excuses pertain, and penalties are of the third order. Now then: are there questions?”
The ineffable Cooner stepped forward, his plump face alight with eager innocence. He raised his hand on high, fingers fluttering. The Civil Agent looked down at him. “You have a question?”
“Yes sir! Why are there both Civil Agents and Land Agents?”
The Agent frowned coldly. “The differences are real, but sometimes unclear to the public. In general, the Civil Agents patrol Coro-Coro, while the Land Agents keep a vigilant surveillance over the conduct of campers and excursionists.”
“And which is the more severe?”
“Neither is severe. Both enforce the law of the land to the exact jot and tittle.”
“Ha!” cried Cooner, with unbecoming joviality. “And what, may I ask, is the nature of the three orders of punishment? What, exactly, do they designate?”
The Agent, not happy with Cooner’s flippant demeanor, answered tersely: “These matters are considered indelicate; ladies and gentlemen prefer to ignore them.”
“Aha!” cried Cooner, chuckling. “You misread your audience! Aboard the Glicca we are all philosophers; not a lady or a gentleman in the group! You may speak on with an easy mind.”
The Agent’s voice became even more terse than before. “Just as you like. Listen then!
“Punishment of the first order is public chastisement. Punishment of the second order includes disgrace, confiscation of all property and expulsion from Fluter dressed only in a bramble. Punishment of the third order involves death by subaqueation in Sharler’s Pond.”
“Hm,” said Cooner, more soberly than before. “I see that you take your litigation seriously. Perhaps it is wise to stay within the law.”
“That is ever the case,” said the official.
“A final question!” called Cooner. “How might I detect a Civil Agent or a Land Agent, when one is in the vicinity? How are they different?”
“The questions are nuncupatory. The most prudent conduct is to assume that you are being watched by one or the other at all times. To answer your question more circumspectly: the Civil Agent is never conspicuous, even though he wears a neat uniform. He is polite even when he is taking you into custody. Tradition ordains that he wear a short square beard. He is mature but never infirm, and is notable for his punctilio. The Land Agent wears a green sash and carries a ceremonial whangee. Otherwise he is much like a Civil Agent. Now: to other business.” From his pouch he brought forth pamphlets entitled: ‘LEGAL CODE, Ordinary Regulations’, ‘Duties of the Visitor’ and ‘Advice from a Civil Agent’.
“Everyone must study this compendium with care!” declared the Agent. “There can then be no excuses for misconduct!”
Cooner muttered: “Never fear; we shall creep about our affairs on tiptoe.”
The Agent pretended not to hear. He distributed the pamphlets, then departed the ship.
Perrumpter Kalash made a final attempt to soften the resolve of Captain Maloof. He approached, face wreathed in a tremulous smile. “Sir, in talking with my colleagues, I find that we are united in admiration for the clarity of your wisdom!”
“Thank you,” said Maloof. “That is good to hear.”
“But we also feel that certain of your views are so abstract as to insulate you from the woes of humanity. It is our sincere hope that you have reconsidered our unhappy situation, that perhaps you have reached a better understanding, and now feel a surge of sympathy for our plight; am I right?”
“You could not be more wrong. My recommendation is as before.”
Kalash threw up his arms in defeat and turned away. The pilgrims gathered to confer, and decided to ask Schwatzendale to return his winnings. Wingo overheard their muttered plans and assured them that Schwatzendale would “rather drain blood from his leg than relinquish money, once it had come into his possession.”
Schwatzendale himself joined the conversation. He asked Perrumpter Kalash: “Would you have returned my losses had you depredated my wealth? Remember, if you will, that I too have feelings!”
The pilgrims murmured resentfully, then left the ship and straggled off toward the Labor Exchange. Captain Maloof and Myron went off to the warehouse to arrange for the discharge of cargo. Moncrief, along with Flook, Pook and Snook, set off toward the center of town, with Hunzel and Siglaf hunching behind.
Wingo and Schwatzendale, before leaving the ship, changed into shoreside clothes. Wingo donned dust-brown breeches, a gray-pink shirt with a black string cravat, his loose brown cloak and the brown planter’s hat with the sweeping brim — a costume harking back to those gallant artists who swaggered with such élan across the early romantic eras. His sensitive feet were at ease in the fine boots of soft leather by which he set great store. Schwatzendale wore black breeches, a shirt patterned in a black and green diaper, a soft black cap pulled askew over his black locks. They set off along the Pomare Boulevard, walking under a rustling canopy of overhanging foliage and sweet-smelling flowers.
The trees were of many varieties: some indigenous, others brought from far worlds. Certain of the trees towered grandly on high; others crouched contorted, with heavy limbs spreading fans of foliage over the roadway. Silurian elms displayed fronds of pale blue and sea-green; dendrons released lobes of gas-filled membrane which floated off down the boulevard, loaded with spores. Quake-trees, nectarcups hanging on corkscrew tendrils, bobbed and bounced to spill perfume into the air.
Schwatzendale trotted along in jaunty high spirits. He danced first ahead of Wingo’s staunch and steady gait, then off to the side to pluck a flower, which a moment later he flung over his shoulder in flamboyant disregard for the law. Wingo watched benignly and paused to pick up Schwatzendale’s litter, which he tucked into his pocket.
The two passed the Labor Exchange: a long open-sided shed thatched with tawny palm fronds, overhung by talisman trees. Behind a counter, a single clerk attended to the needs of a stout woman wearing black boots and wide orange pantaloons. The pilgrims, meanwhile, stood in a glum huddle reading notices on a bulletin board, striking from time to time at flying insects.
Wingo and Schwatzendale continued along the way. Wingo was inclined to commiserate with the pilgrims, citing the inconveniences of their present plight. Schwatzendale was more detached. “They were not compelled to march off on this fateful expedition! Had they stayed at home, they might have slept in their own beds, or performed religious rites whenever the notion took them, each to their heart’s content.”
“They are driven by something called ‘afflatus’,” Wingo told him. “It is an all-consuming force which cannot be explained.”
Schwatzendale nodded his comprehension. They proceeded, passing the premises of the Tarquin Transit Company, which offered rental vehicles of all kinds, some fanciful and ostentatious, others built for speed, low in front with tall spindly wheels behind. There were flitters of local construction, so fragile and light that it seemed as if the wind might carry them away.
Taking in the sights Schwatzendale and Wingo went on, dodging the occasional skitter which trundled along the boulevard. They noticed several bungalows, almost hidden in the foliage, then came upon a rambling structure built of old boards and panels of compressed grass, under a high-peaked roof of palm thatch. A sagging porch ran along the front, with three wooden steps connecting porch to ground. Above the porch hung a sign: Pingis Tavern. Wingo and Schwatzendale stopped short. They appraised the raffish structure with practiced eyes, then with one accord they turned aside, mounted the steps and entered the tavern.
They were met by a familiar odor: the scent of old wood permeated by generations of spilled beer, along with the must of dry palm. At this time of day, business was slow. The interior was dim and quiet. At the back a pair of stout ladies gossiped earnestly over small beers. A gentleman of evident respectability leaned against the bar, clasping a goblet of pale liquor in his right hand. He wore a smart blue tunic, breeches of black whipcord, black ankle-boots of good quality. His face was long and sober, under a neatly ordered ruff of crisp brown hair. A short square beard emphasized the sobriety of his features. He nodded politely as Wingo and Schwatzendale seated themselves at a scarred wooden table.
On the wall behind the bar a board listed a dozen special drinks in an illegible scrawl. The brown-bearded gentleman watched tolerantly for a moment, then volunteered advice: “Balrob, our host, is a man of good reputation, and I can vouch for his bitter ale.”
Balrob bowed in gratification. “Thank you, Sir Agent! Your commendation carries weight.”
The gentleman straightened to an erect posture. “Allow me to introduce myself; I am Efram Shant, ...
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Descrizione libro St Martin s Press, United States, 2007. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Rejoin Myron Tany and the crew of the space freighter Glicca as they ply their way from planet to planet, star to star, and adventure to adventure. Each of them is there by chance, and each has a secret quest. From one world to the next, they will chase their dreams of revenge and fulfillment. Codice libro della libreria APC9780312872793
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