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Ports of Call (Gaean Reach)

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  344 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Myron's parents insisted that he study economics, and Myron dutifully applied himself. But Myron had an aunt--his great aunt Hester Lojoie, a woman of great wealth inherited from a dead husband, and even greater flamboyance of nature. And when Dame Hester came into possession of a space yacht, Myron suddenly saw his long-supressed dreams of adventure bloom into new life.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 15th 1999 by Tor Books (first published 1997)
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Half a century after he started publishing, Vance showed in this story that he still had his gift. For Vance fans, the characters are familiar types, but the writing flows just as smoothly as ever.

Ports of Call is a travelogue, somewhat in the mode of Big Planet (but broader) or Space Opera (but less farcical). In brief, a young man is forced to make his way as a member of a spaceship crew, visiting all manner of planets. As always, the worlds are strange, the customs bizarre, the decisions whim
Kerri Northey
I suspect that this book was intended to be funny. However, I found it arch, pretentious and obvious. Vance's vivid imagination shone through but it was a failure in all other respects.
The setup is nothing new for a Jack Vance story: a man essentially alone against the world in a hostile environment and having to live by his wits alone. The description and cover copy go this far.

What's odd here is that the description is deceptive. Myron immediately falls in with the crew of the starship Glicca, who for once (in a Vance story at least) appear completely trustworthy and competent. This development drains the tension and feeling of menace out of the narrative: from the moment My
Rog Harrison
Recently an old friend I had not heard from in 20 years got in touch and we agreed that 40 years on we still enjoyed the books of Jack Vance. What I had not realised was that Jack Vance had written a final book "Lurulu". He is now in his nineties so is unlikely to write another. I duly bought a copy of "Lurulu" (in fact due to a mistake I actually bought two copies!) but before reading it decided to re-read "Ports of call" which is the start of the story which concludes in Lurulu".

This is probab
David Meiklejohn
It's always a joy to read a Jack Vance book, no matter the setting, the plot or the action. Which is good because this book is pretty low on plot and action. As for setting, we are whisked around Vance's Gaean Reach to visit a number of exotic and dangerous planets, as the hero hooks up with the crew of a space ship and they deliver stuff to a number of places. It's a cosmic episode of Postman Pat.
But it's the characters and dialogue that matter in a Vance book, and we're treated to his usual ca
Brian Rogers
I struggled on whether this was 3 or 4 stars, but the sudden inconclusive ending tipped it downward for me. Still, Vance's writing - the decadent cultures, the fascinating conversations, the general abiding oddness of his worlds - is still top notch in this, one of his later books. I will likely be stealing elements for my upcoming Traveller game.

it did occur to me that the worlds Jack Vance presents are exactly the worlds of role playing games, where every NPC is out to screw you, or they're c
Philippe Lhoste
J'ai été fan de Jack Vance dans ma jeunesse, je dois avoir une bonne partie de son œuvre éditée en français.
Je parle au passé parce que je n'avais pas lu de ses livres depuis des années, et je me demande comment j'apprécierai ces livres maintenant. Faudra que je les relise...

J'appréciais ses descriptions minutieuses de mondes exotiques, le point de vue quasi anthropologique sur des civilisations, les personnages se sortant de situations épineuses grâce à leur intelligence et prudence...

Ici, ce n
If I'd read this as my first Vance book I would probably not have enjoyed it. As it is, I believe I've read most of his output and so I know what he's about. And reading Ports of Call (and more so Lurulu) is like exactly what it is: one last fond loving look back over the landscapes and vistas that had been carved out of fire and stone over the last five decades - a leisurely piece of nostalgia and the last opportunity to read some of his most beautiful descriptions and inventions without the an ...more
One of the things that are missing from goodreads is the possibility to give half star ratings. especially with this book I really miss this. This book is better than a two star book but not quite three stars.

This is the story of Myron who by taking his job serious; get's stranded on some alien planet and has to enroll on a small spaceship. The whole book is filled with peculiar characters, strange situations and wierd places. And all this with a sligh humorous undertone and a beautifull archaic
If you like Jack Vance's space opera, you will enjoy this. Not one of his best, but in no way bad.
Ivan Stoner
This book is very good, and has some wonderful passages in it. Myron's travels across the universe with an eclectic crew of voyagers to different-but-meaningfully-similar locales is (I think) a series of pretty profound meditations on the nature of life. It is interesting that many people complain about lack of "plot," "satisfying ending," or "story." There are two responses to this: (1) The plot is not the point; (2) The plotlessness *is* the point.

More Vintage Vance! Vance's books put me in this wonderful frame of mind. So many insights communicated across in such a fascinating way. Some reviews have complained about the lack of plotting in the book which is true. But for me, the book was good enough that I could not care less about the plot. Now onto Lurulu!
The only Jack Vance book -- along with its sequel, Lurulu -- that I read on the beach that wasn't fantastic. The problem here is there's no story, just a series of visits to planets with interesting predicaments. After a while, you just want to go home.
It was kind of engaging, but I get the impression it's perhaps an odd first Vance book for me to have chosen to read. The grandiloquent and prolix flights of verbiage were appealing, the paper-thin female characters not so much.
Booknerd Fraser
I understand what Vance is trying to do here (merge P.G. Wodehouse and space opera), but it just doesn't quite work, It just seems stilted and dull. Shame, really, since I loved the The Blue World.
Although I enjoyed reading what is one of Vance's later books, I felt that it was just a re-hash of a lot Vance's earlier works. Similar plot lines, similar characters, similar scenarios.
Shannon Appelcline
Up to Vance's usual high standards for prose & characterization. However, the lack of plot in this book, due to its extreme picaresque nature, becomes very trying by the end.
Typical Vance really - a series of scenes, mostly good, with a vague overall story arc.
The first three fourths of the book makes for an excellent boy-turned-adventurer story.
Sarah Sammis
I don't recall any of the details.
Wendy McGuire
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Nov 09, 2015
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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

Gaean Reach (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Gray Prince
  • Maske: Thaery
  • Night Lamp
  • Araminta Station (Cadwal Chronicles, #1)
  • Ecce and Old Earth (Cadwal Chronicles, #2)
  • Throy (Cadwal Chronicles, #3)
  • The Demon Princes
  • Galactic Effectuator
  • The Dogtown Tourist Agency
  • Lurulu

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