|Submitted by Ian Anderson |
(Feb 16, 2005)
For those readers who haven't discovered Vance yet, reading one of his books could be an almost life-altering event. Jack Vance is one of the finest authors of the twentieth century - in any genre - whose stories span many decades and have influenced many of the most influential writers and movers in the fantasy world. For a trivial example, ever wonder where Gary Gygax (inventor of Dungeons and Dragons) took much of his magic system from? Look no further than Vance's Dying Earth books.
Vance tells wonderful stories; stories that amuse, chill and delight. Stories that bring to life wonderful characters and explore worlds and societies that are truly extraordinary and inspiring.
Night lamp is in many ways the quintessential Vance novel.
During a field trip to planet Camberwell, philosopher Hilyer Fath and his musicologist wife, Althea, rescue a six-year-old boy, Jaro, from a severe beating at the hands of local peasants. So traumatized is the boy by his experiences- -including the torture and death of his mother--that the doctors are forced to excise much of his memory. The Faths, with no clue as to Jaro's past, adopt the boy and return to their academic lives on planet Gallingale. Jaro, though occasionally troubled by fleeting memories and instances of what seem to be telepathy, grows up determined to become a spaceman and discover the truth about his origins.
No review could hope to describe fully the enormous delight to be had from this tautly-written adventure; if you enjoy this you should also enjoy the Demon Princes novels and Araminta series.
If your taste turns more to pure fantasy, go straight for the Dying Earth books or the Lyonesse trilogy.