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Araminta Station

(Cadwal Chronicles #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,043 ratings  ·  73 reviews
The planet Cadwal is forever set aside as a natural perserve, owned and administered by the Naturalist Society of Earth, and inhabited by a very limited number of skilled human scientists and their families. But this system has been complicated by the passing centuries, and has become a byzantine culture where every place in the Houses of Cadwal is the object of savage com ...more
Hardcover, 554 pages
Published May 18th 1990 by Bookthrift Co (first published 1987)
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Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books which I try and read every couple of years.

This hardcover is copy 74 of 500 signed and numbered copies, signed by Jack Vance.
Jeffrey Daniels
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jack Vance is my all-time favorite author, so gushing over any of his works is a given.

On display in this trilogy is Vance's characteristic brilliant wit (his people speak elegantly, yet totally relatable) and majestic descriptions of flora and fauna. His landscapes, both planetary and societal are detailed and fascinating. Re-reading his work always turns up some previously unnoticed marvel.

Another personal joy of mine is that Vance has tied this work into his famous "Gaean Reach", the large o
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Araminta Station is a long book, and it is very "Jack Vance." It's set in the very far future on a planet that has been set aside for centuries for preservation in near-natural state. Permanent population is strictly limited to the descendents of 6 original administrators -- 20 males and 20 females in each of the 6 "Agency" families. Over the years some allowances have been made for permanent staff, servants, tourists and tourist facilities, "compatible" economic development like small-scale win ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2013-rev
Araminta Station has less of the wordplay that makes so many Vance books great fun to read. That's not to say it's not classic Vance - there are strict societies, dispassionate characters, and alien landscapes galore. But the verbiage is somewhat tamer than in other books. At the same time, Vance focuses more on the detective aspect than usual. In short, this is an excellent SF crime mystery handled with Jack Vance style and panache.

The hero, Glawen Clattuc, is more approachable and 'normal' th
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Araminta Station is a 554 page novel by Jack Vance that was first published in 1987. It is much longer than most of his novels and is a later works written when he was at the peak of his talents. It is also the first novel of three that comprise the Cadwal Chronicles. This the second time I've carefully read this novel and have found it to be the best of the three in the series and one of Vance's finest. It is fascinating, intriguing and one of Vance's better novels. I look forward to reading ag ...more
Andrew Hamblin
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Araminta Station is the quiet administrative center of the Cadwal Conservancy, which encompasses the entire planet of Cadwal. A small number of families provide the human resources to staff the various bureaus established by the Cadwal Charter, an ancient document prepared by the Naturalist Society of Old Earth, that functions as their Constitution. People are chosen for this relatively small number of positions according to their Status Index; this is affected by lineage, academic achievement a ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Whenever I want to find something exciting to read in the world of science fiction, I always turn to Jack Vance, the master. You will always get strange worlds with stranger people in it, and all of these people have different motivations for doing things.

Halfway along the Perseid Arm, near the edge of the Gaean Reach, a capricious swirl of galactic gravitation has caught up ten thousand stars and sent them streaming off at a veer, with a curl and a flourish at the tip. This strand of stars is M
Dec 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book takes an unexpected turn about halfway through, when the action inexplicably moves away from the intrigues, infighting, and politics of planet Cadwal. The protagonist, Glawen Clattuc, travels with a reluctant subordinate on a long investigation into various criminal activities. The bulk of this excursion, from the departure at the spaceport until Glawen's inevitable discovery of the criminals, is extraneous to the story and not terribly interesting to read, and during this hundred page ...more
Rog Harrison
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"This book came out in 1988 and I immediately bought a copy and have read it many times since. I always enjoy reading it and I think it is certainly in my top ten of favourite Jack Vance books." was what I wrote on 6 June 2012 when I gave it four stars.

On reading it again I think it deserves five stars. The author creates interesting worlds and Glawen Clattuc is one of the author's more sympathetic main characters.
Roddy Williams
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first in another trilogy by Vance (The Cadwal Chronicles), this one set on the planet Cadwal, orbiting a star in what is known as the Wisp. As is common with Vance, we follow the fortunes of a young man (in this case Glawen Clattuc) growing up in a society with both advantages and injustices.
Cadwal is, because of its natural beauties, its diverse landscapes and complex biosphere, a kind of planet-sized nature reserve and is held in trust by a society of Conservators, whose charter promises p
Perry Whitford
So this is what happened when Jack Vance took the opportunity to stretch out a little...

Most of his novels are short, their strengths are obvious but they tended to leave me wanting a little more. Nearly five hundred pages in length, Araminta Station was certainly that. Regrettably I can't say it was all the better for it.

Cadwal is a conservatory planet run by an incestuous cadre of families of ancient lineage. Vance never admits it outright but centuries of inbreeding has hardly done much to be
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh man this is an outrageous book. The "F#@% you very much"/"But good sir, I would not think of denying you the full balance of f#$%s you have so diligently earned"-style dialogue that Vance deploys to such hilarious effect in The Dying Earth books and Showboat World is here elevated to Shakespearean heights. (Those aren't actual quotes, btw, just a sloppy characterization.) The story here is a total page-turner of a thrilling political space epic-slash-comedy of interplanetary manners, full of ...more
Odd. Very odd in fact. I've read a few Jack Vance books in the distant past, and I don't remember them being this odd!

I like the set-up, in particular the fact that Cadwal is a nature reserve which is an entire *planet* which is under threat from unscrupulous people who want to exploit it (humanity obviously doesn't change even in the far future). The society of conservators is highly stratified and very formal, and this leads to the people in the book also being very formal. The dialogue reads
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in historical SF
Recommended to Lucky by: my book club
Shows its age. The good: the characters are members of families who are guardians of a planet that has been declared the equivalent of a wilderness area. No immigration, no commercial enterprises except in restricted places: airport, visitor's lodge. A lot of discussion of the evils/benefits of wilderness areas, of political systems and who has the power to create and/or protect these areas. An interesting read for these reasons.

The bad: It read like the dialogue sounded in 70's Kung-Fu Movies.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really expected to struggle with this book but I didn't. It isn't like other sci fi aka laid full of jargon and background world building that has nothing to do with the plot.Instead there were likable characters, a gripping interplanetary murder mystery and a believable location. I can see how George RR Martin was influenced by Vane and I cant wait to read the sequel(if I can find a copy). A very entertaining piece of sci fi ...more
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Based upon the cover illustration alone, I did not expect to travel to a distant world and find myself in an extended homage to Jane Austen. Still, as an Austen fan, I found the discourse either engaging and delightfully frothy, or truly representative of an author without interpersonal social skills. And the plot -- for the story was but some of a life -- was suitably interesting.
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This is my first Jack Vance book, and I was really expecting to like it, but was disappointed. It's okay, and comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but I almost gave up a couple times at the dry, boring storyline and the odd, ponderous dialogue. ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this is not a seminal work of science fiction it is, nevertheless, probably my favourite book. It's a Jack Vance planetary romance par excellence. ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite SF books. I reread it every so often. Adventure, mystery, and romance - in a completely realized future culture that is both familiar and strange - classic Vance!
Matt Thompson
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
great story. loved it as a teeenager and wss just as delighted re-reading it again.
D. Krauss
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Everyone knows the scifi grandmasters- Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein- but there’s another set, not so heralded- Moorcock, Wolfe, and Vance. Who? Oh, c’mon guys, you know: Michael Moorcock wrote The Dancers at the End of Time series (and a couple of Blue Oyster Cult songs); Gene Wolfe wrote the extraordinary The Book of the New Sun novels, and Jack Vance wrote…Jack Vance.

It’s kinda hard to describe the guy. “All-over-the-place” Cervantes would just about sum him up. The Dragon Masters is stunning and
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it, but it was not like I was expecting. I knew it was a coming of age story, and that part I got right. It's about a youngster named Glawen Clattuc who lives in Cadwal, a world that is set a a planet-wide natural reserve where immigration is heavily restricted. The Naturalist Society of Earth, the institution that set the reserve, has basically disbanded on Earth, but Cadwal continues operating according to its charter, although there are political pressures trying to change that. The ...more
Amanda Nunn
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was very hard to rate, since one part of it (the plot and intrigue) was very good, while another (the dialogue and characterisation) was dismal.

I didn't know this was going to be a mystery, so the sudden appearance of one gave me a new lease of interest on what had so far appeared to be the story of Glawen cruising his way through life and meeting with very little in the way of challenge.

Soon I was engrossed in the web of mysteries, which were very skillfully handled, with minor detail
Love of Hopeless Causes
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Make love to me. . . at a medium pace. These song lyrics came to mind when trying to describe the experience of the first two hours. It's typical story fare of no particular interest. Young male protag verbally spars with bully, a too small planet with petty inter-house intrigues.
Compared to Downward to the Earth this book just isn't making any hay. Downward has an active character instead of reluctant and passive. Downward has interesting ecology and creatures, Araminta is earth with different
Sheena Hocking
I would not have read this book had it not been highly recommended to me by someone I respect.
At the beginning, I nearly gave up on it. So many characters, places and names were introduced near the beginning that confusion was beginning to set in.

I did like this particular snippet of wisdom:
"...when an idea, clever or otherwise, enters my head, I wonder as to its source. Is this idea truly mine or am I simply regurgitating the notions of someone else?"

As I pressed on into the book I came to admi
Finn Pumford
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Great sci-fi series. Jack Vance does culture so well, some of the best I've ever read. I get the impression the writer was a nomad, though I could be wrong.
Brilliant description of picturesque landscapes throughout this trilogy. Will definitely be checking out another series by him soon.
I'm shocked by the lack of ratings for this. Would have thought he'd be much more popular. His writing style is a little extravagant and can take a bit of getting used to but it adds flavour to the novels.
To me t
Ry Herman
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Some characteristic Jack Vance devices don't work as well here as they do in other books. His tendency towards incident rather than plot makes the book feel a bit plodding midway through. And while his amoral worldview works well when his protagonists are (almost) as awful as his antagonists, in a book where we're clearly supposed to sympathize with a heroic main character, it grates a bit to find that character arguing against the concept of democracy, participating in summary executions withou ...more
Hans van der Veeke
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It has been some time since I read Araminta Station and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Jack folds out a consistent universe and an understandable planetary environment. Glawen is very likable as a character and the story intricate and satisfying, although sometimes a bit tedious. The dialogs are superb, as usual with Vance, and make me ponder if it is possible to use this attitude to my own personal advantage. But alas, something like that is not possible. There is only one master, ...more
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Science fiction murder mystery. Jack Vance is the best at setting a mood. You can always tell that someone is about to die, you can feel it. The worlds, people, and creatures are always fascinating. He can build a world. Something I love about Jack Vance is his use of foot notes. You don't need to remember details like family heritage or crazy details like that, when they come up again it is in the foot notes. These books are dense and can seem over whelming to those not accustomed to his writin ...more
Peter Walt
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Vance is a sci-fi great. I read Araminta Station in high school and it blew my mind. It is science fiction, with all the ecology and worldbuilding and big themes native to the genre: but Vance's command of language makes it feel like you might be reading a Classic.

The Cadwal Chronicles is a trilogy. Not too ambitious for someone new to the genre, and Vance's beautiful prose guides many a stranger through their first sci-fi sojourn.

This guy's name really ought to be bigger than it is.
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I don't like making titles 1 17 May 29, 2007 10:08PM  

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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

Cadwal Chronicles (3 books)
  • Ecce and Old Earth (Cadwal Chronicles, #2)
  • Throy (Cadwal Chronicles, #3)

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“Glawen alighted, removed his luggage from the bin while Maxen sat drumming his fingers on the wheel. Glawen paid the standard fee, which Maxen accepted with raised eyebrows. “And the gratuity?”
Glawen slowly turned to stare into the driver’s compartment.
“Did you help me load my luggage?”
“No, but -”
“Did you help me unload it?”
“By the same token -”
“Did you not tell me that I was inbred and eccentric, and probably weak-minded?”
“That was a joke.”
“Now can you guess the location of your gratuity?”
“Yes. Nowhere.”
“Quite right.”
“Hoity-toity!” murmured Maxen, and drove quickly away, elbows stylishly high.”
“Folk who turn their backs on trouble only get their arses kicked.” 0 likes
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