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Big Planet

(Big Planet #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  994 ratings  ·  55 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 scie ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by Gollancz (first published 1952)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  994 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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May 28, 2016 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 i ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Big Planet is a very early, planetary adventure, science fiction novel by Jack Vance that will probably appeal more to Vance fans than the general reader. It was first published in the pulp magazine Startling Stories in September of 1952. It was cut and reissued as a novel by Avalon Books in 1957. I would avoid the out of print cut version. My copy is the nicely printed, 211 page, oversize, out of print, paperback edition published in 2000 by Gollancz. Fortunately Big Planet is in print with a 2 ...more
Oct 28, 2011 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
Nov 16, 2007 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 o ...more
Sep 23, 2011 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
Dec 02, 2012 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
May 25, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
First published in 1952 (serialized) by Standard Magazine, BP has a lot of firsts, such as a fairly detailed sociological exposes of various human societies on BP and it also helped establish the 'romantic fantasy' genre. Given that it is a product of the times (especially gender relationships), it still reads well along the lines of Burroughs adventure. The big planet is really a huge planet-- 30 times of the volume of Earth. Yet, owing to the lack of metals and heavy elements, the gravity is s ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in the VIE
Florin Pitea
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
The more Jack Vance novels I read, the more formulaic they appear to be.
A surprisingly engrossing and entertaining classic science fiction, where the star of the show is the planet itself.

The story is quite simple. A small group of Terrans crash on Big Planet, a world colonized centuries ago by different groups, all of whom have remained isolated from one another and have thus evolved socially in different ways. The survivors elect to travel 40,000 miles across the world in search of their original quarry and a way home.

This book surprised me. I honestly thought i
Dave Morris
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It would be three stars from anybody but Vance, as it's a very early work and really not much more than a trek with interesting episodes along the way. But, because it's Vance, those episodes are very interesting. Spending time in his company and being invited inside his imagination is always a pleasure. As one early example of his matchless originality, he comes up with and throws away the entire concept of Limitless in a few pages.

Vance returned to the setting in Showboat World, aka The Magnif
my name is corey irl
big snore
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
Jay Daze
Apr 21, 2009 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
Aaron Singleton
Sep 14, 2011 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 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Interesting but somehow not satisfying
Jos Visser
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have a hard time seeing this book as anything else but a warm-up exercise by the master for writing Tschai (Planet of Adventure). There is travel across a weird planet. There is a hero. There are obstacles to overcome. People on the planet have morphed into weird new cultures. The hero is deceived and betrayed, but overcomes his enemies against all odds. And of course there is a damsel that needs to be rescued and the hero has a romantic interest in her. That last thing is starting to annoy me ...more
Scot Isom
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
I have read almost every Jack Vance book over the last few months, and this was the one I was looking forward to the most and the one with which I was most disappointed. Like every Jack Vance book, he delights us with cultural and social what ifs of what factor creates another variant.

Where this lacks, however, is there is no character development whatsoever. The male members of his party are interchangeable with little to differentiate them except their names.

My disappointment is greater havin
Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
It seems to me that this is one of the first (or even just the first) novel concerning a SF plot set in a new world.
I have always considered Vance as the master of 'world builders' or even better 'society builders', although both surely overlap. And he is a master at doing this.
Although the novel is too sort to allow deep insight in this new world and the different cultures/societies that populate it and its characters, it is an excellent starting point to explore Vance's wonderful imagination
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jack vance is arguably the best Author in all history.

To me only AE van Vogt, Michael Moorcock, and Robert E Howard even come close.


Why aren't there movies like this? Do the star wars franchise sue anyone with space battles? and feudalistic plots? heh makes me wonder !
Inspired me to write some dying earth and future dyaing earth stuff.
Enoy the other jack vance stuff like the dying earth, planet of adventure tschai, and basically anything liek magnus rindolf, etc etc etc
Reading Vance was once
Nenad Jaksic
Jan 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
Skip this one, it's not worth it. I barely managed to wade through 36% of it on Kindle before giving up. No character development, no usual beautiful Vancian prose, and the worst crime of all - it was extremely bland and BORING. This is the worst kind of fifties scifi pulp fiction. Go and read Vance's "The Magnificent Showboats of the Lower Vissel River, Lune XXIII, South Big Planet" (you can also find it under the title "Showboat world") instead, which is a wonderful novel, as entertaining and ...more
Warwick Stubbs
Boring planetary adventure I started skipping through just to get to the end.

While the main character isn't racially identified, amongst all the sexist portrayal of women and zero character development, I found Vance's description of Glystra as 'dark-skinned' as perhaps the one redeeming thing about this book (opposed to being the default 'white' of most undescribed characters) - especially considering its from the 50s!
Bill Polhemus
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No one like Jack Vance

This book is to me a classic, not only of the SF/Fantasy mega-genre, but of popular literature. I first read it when I was 15 years old and just reread it for maybe the fifth time at age 61.

No SF author living or dead built worlds like Jack Vance, not Herbert or Heinlein or Niven or any of them. Vance was the master works-builder. And so it shall remain.
Homer Threesixthreetwo
This is a good example of "comfortable Jack Vance." The Big Planet is a nice read, clearly better than I just liked it but not up to I really liked it. I expect that the reason was conflicted character development that really would not have been true or even plausible in a real life, says the person who reads about space travel and big planets.
Another from my box of books I purchased and read in the late 7-'s to early 80's.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jack Vance's unique style never disappoints. Every single one of his stories just pulls me right into one of his completely believable universes and keeps me there until the very last page. Big Planet is no exception. ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This one is unpolished and awkwardly written at times, but everything that makes Jack Vance great is there already. Love it
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic planetary romance by a master.
David McNeill
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Is it a good book? No. But does it prove that old school sci fi wasn't always laughably misogynist? Also no. ...more
Jul 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Fast, action packed read that has an Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp fiction feel to it. Too short for any character development and has somewhat dated references but still a lot of fun.
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Aka John Holbrook 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 g

Other books in the series

Big Planet (2 books)
  • Showboat World

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