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Big Planet (Big Planet #1)

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  704 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The objective of the mission from Earth: to stop the ruthless Barjarnum of Beaujolais from expanding his empire on the Big Planet...and prevent the world from falling under this tyrant's domination. Then sabotage forces the craft to crash land, and the survivors face an epic 40,000-mile trek across the dangerous landscape. A SF landmark. "One of the finest writers the ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by Gollancz (first published 1952)
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Jun 05, 2016 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, here’s what you want to know: you already know that Jack Vance is the granddaddy of several streams of science fiction and fantasy. You already know that Big Planet was the first genuine attempt in the genre to create a full-fledged society on an alien planet. You already know that Big Planet is the ancestor of masterpieces like Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness and Aldiss’ Helliconia. So you know it was influential, seminal. But here is what you want to know: you want to know, alright, it's ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Meggan rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
One of the worst books I've ever read. All aspiring writers should check it out just to get a HUGE confidence boost. I'll read your story about a long, slow painful death from dysentery and enthusiastically rate it 5 stars before I'll recommend this book to anyone.

I knew it was bad when one of the male characters pats a woman on the head without any irony or humor. Let me repeat that just in case the gravity of the situation hasn't sunk in: A man. pats a full grown woman. On the head. And then
Oct 28, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
A commission is sent from Earth to Big Planet to investigate the new Conqueror and see whether there should be any kind of intervention. Unfortunately, the ship crashes due to sabotage and the group sets out on a 40,000 mile journey to the other side of the planet and the safety of Earth Enclave. Not Everyone Is Going To Make It. Danger Lurks At Every Corner. Fantastic Creatures Abound. I gather this is an early example of the Quest through a Strange Land type of novel, so you can't fault it for ...more
Dec 06, 2007 Justin rated it liked it
Jack Vance is a sci-fi writer who concocts grand, majestic space operas packed with action, brainless but hot women, and tough, grizzled male heroes. He's like the Hemingway of the sci-fi world, his prose spare and hard, yet poetic and full of startling descriptions and word choices. Big Planet is about exactly what the title suggest: an enormous planet inhabited by humans. A ship full of intrepid earthlings arrive to check the place out and clean up some of the corruption that's been going on ...more
Jul 27, 2015 Metaphorosis rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2012-rev

Most Vance novels include a travelogue in one form or another, as cool but perceptive characters wander through weird and beautiful landscapes. Big Planet takes that approach to its extreme as we follow Earthman Claude Glystra, who, having crashed on the planet due to sabotage, must survive a dangerous journey back to the safety of Earth Enclave.

The standard Vance tropes are in place here - strange fashions, bizarre habits, mysterious strangers. There's less of the clever language th
Jay Daze
Nov 27, 2009 Jay Daze rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf, hated
At first I just wanted to write a quick dismissal of Big Planet. Even setting aside a casual and complete disregard for women, "built for pleasure", as weak willed dimwits, the entire surprise plot is glaringly apparent from about chapter two. In fact, you have to believe women are morons for the plot to work.

These fatal flaws obscure a wittily curlicued prose and some interesting ideas. As the shipwreck investigators flee across Big Planet they come across a number of societies. In one the hig
This is one of the few books of Vance I didn't read yet. I did read the other Big Planet book (Showboat World), which was a fun read in the picaresque style of Cugel.

Already in the first few pages it is noticable this is one of his earlier works. Not as polished, and let's say old fashioned attitudes (or should I say borderline misogynistic?). It reminded me a lot of the planetary adventure of the Planet of Adventure books.

Naming things was not Vance's strong point at this time. The Bajarnum of
by Ax
Oct 05, 2016 by Ax rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantascienza
Avventura a non finire

Qui siamo di fronte ad una fantascienza dilatata, non strettamente tecnologica, governata da un senso d'avventura che tende a non lasciar respirare il lettore, quasi in corsa contro le pagine. Un aspetto, quest'ultimo, che restituisce indubbiamente una lettura dinamica, vivace — Vance è dotato di una frizzante fantasia e in grado di creare differenti atmosfere, con ritmi serrati e affascinanti al tempo stesso —, ma col rischio di far perdere al lettore qualche pezzo durante
Aaron Singleton
Sep 14, 2011 Aaron Singleton rated it really liked it
Shelves: jack-vance
Early Vance, but still worth a read, considering how short it is. The story is simple as are most of the characters. The main draw here are the strange societies of Big Planet. If you are a Vance fan, check it out.
May 07, 2012 Peter rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Interesting but somehow not satisfying
Andrew Vice
Nov 16, 2016 Andrew Vice rated it did not like it
Mar 13, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big Planet by Jack Vance

Big Planet is a lawless and fragmented world many times larger than Earth, which is largely self-governed, save for a small administrative safe area known as Earth Enclave. The story begins as a spaceship arrives at the planet carrying a commission of people from Earth who have been sent to keep up good relations with the inhabitants and to investigate Earth's growing concern with the Bajarnum of Beaujolais, Charley Lysidder, who is trying to unify the various peoples of
Jul 29, 2012 Corytregoart rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
I picked up this book a few years ago, read the first few chapters, couldn't shake the impression that it was utterly worthless, closed the book, put it down, went on with my life. I admit that I'm writing this review based on the remembered impressions of the first fraction of a book that I read years ago, but hey. If a book is so strongly bad that I gave it up less than a fifth of the way through, I think that's a critical opinion worth sharing.

This book is inept and very, very dated. I partic
Perry Whitford
Big Planet is much like Earth only - you guessed it - bigger. Settled over the centuries by various renegade cultures fleeing the home world, there is no central government and an ambitious tyrant, the deliciously named Barjanum of Beaujolais, aims to assert control.

Earth sends one of its occasional commissions to thwart him, but the spaceship is sabotaged on landing and ends up forty thousand miles away from home base. The crew, led by Claude Glystra, must make their way to safety across a dan
Yanik Franken
Was not all that impressed with the story or setting for the first half of the book.
It is essentially an adventure novel, apart from the monsters and strange creatures it could all just as well have taken place on Earth. The characters are okay, not as extravagant and well developed as Vance’s standard would become but there’s some interesting moments with them.

Wonderful scenes include those on the wind-powered monolines, the fantastical truly Vance-style Kirstendale and a gripping intro and som
Edwin Horlings
Sep 10, 2015 Edwin Horlings rated it liked it
When I read the blurb I expected an epic novel akin to Planet of Adventure. A group of men (typical) from Earth arrives at Big Planet, their ship is sabotaged and crashes on the wrong side of the planet, leaving them stranded 40,000 miles from where they were supposed to land. The survivors have to flee from the wrath of the Barjarnum of Beaujolais, their enemy, and overcome one colourful obstacle after the other. The book gets better after a while, but it left me unsatisfied. The encounters ...more
Lord Humungus
Apr 26, 2015 Lord Humungus rated it did not like it
One of the first books of Vance I didn't like. The story wasn't very interesting. The premise, where a party of protagonists have to somehow cross 40,000 miles of planet on foot, seemed implausible at the outset. With slightly over 200 pages of book, I was pretty sure they weren't going to make it; or there would be a great ellipsis and suddenly we would be years along with 39999 miles behind us. The relationship between the lead character and the female lead seemed artificial and rudimentary, ...more
Fantasy Literature
May 30, 2013 Fantasy Literature rated it liked it
Big Planet is an early work by Jack Vance, and like much of Vance’s early output is a little uneven in quality. The plot is fairly straightforward. Centuries before the events of the story take place, a huge planet is discovered in a neighboring solar system. Despite its size (around 25,000 miles according to a later novel set in the same setting) the planet is of low density, with earthlike gravity and atmosphere, but lacking in metals, making ownership of any metal object valuable.

The planet h
Jan 14, 2013 Nawfal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
There are some fundamental "science fiction ideas" in this novel. Overall, a band of Earthmen gets stranded on Big Planet (a huge planet that absorbed the diaspora of earthlings hundreds of years previous.) The little group makes its way across the planet - some ridiculously gigantic mileage (40,000) - to rid the planet of a power-mad villain. At points, Vance attempts to describe mechanical things, but it's a little difficult to follow. The characters in the book are mostly flat and without ...more
Aug 02, 2008 Gabriel rated it it was ok
Jack Vance is one of these mythical figures in the world of science fiction. I've met many a Jack Vance fan. In fact, knew one who proofread one of the books in the collected works were just put out without seeing the smallest financial remuneration or other. (He bought the twenty-plus volumes like everyone else.) But this book didn't fit the picture I've heard tell of wild imagination and brilliant wit.
Jul 05, 2013 Mohammed rated it liked it
Early Vance novel but with the vintage style and weird imagination his SF stories is known for. This one has a flawed, unconvincing ending but it was enjoyable book. Just so many great later Vance books I have read to compare with.
Jan 09, 2008 Bob(by) rated it it was ok
One of Vance's early books. Pretty much just an adventure like all his other books. The writing isn't as good as his later stories, and that is what came to set him apart from every other science fiction adventure hack.
Oct 13, 2008 Iain rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction, fantasy
Good, simple adventure book. Starts out as sci-fi but quickly descends into fantasy of a quest across a strange land. Fast paced, little time is wasted throughout the story, moving from one thing to the next efficiently with a satisfactory ending and plenty of nice twists.
Brian Collins
Oct 20, 2009 Brian Collins rated it really liked it
For whatever reason, this little novel found itself the major inspiration for my D&D game setting, used from 1976 to the current day...
Jan 23, 2012 Adam rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
Some great, original ideas in here, and Big Planet's amalgamation of every Earth frontier is inspired. However the story itself is way too pat, and the writing pretty tired.
Jan 16, 2016 Typo rated it it was ok
The feels like its from the 1950s or earlier, not 2002. For a good book on the big planet theme look for Mission of Gravity by Half Clement.
Jun 06, 2010 Andrew rated it liked it
It started out a bit slow however, and to be really dated 1950's sci fi, but it soon became classic Vance and after about a third of the way through it, I was totally hooked.
Jul 23, 2016 Smoothw rated it liked it
Not as baroque in language or character as later Vance work, but still a good piece of 50s sf pulp fun.
Chris rated it liked it
Apr 10, 2012
Robot rated it liked it
Jun 03, 2010
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Aka John Holbrooke Vance, Peter Held, John Holbrook, Ellery Queen, John van See, Alan Wade.

The author was born in 1916 and educated at the University of California, first as a mining engineer, then majoring in physics and finally in journalism. During the 1940s and 1950s, he contributed widely to science fiction and fantasy magazines. His first novel, The Dying Earth, was published in 1950 to grea
More about Jack Vance...

Other Books in the Series

Big Planet (2 books)
  • Showboat World

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