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Lurulu
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2004
I'd given up hope on this one, as the publication date slipped back and back. Not to be morbid, but might this be the last new Vance book we get? If so, it must be read in an interesting light by die hard fans of one of SF's greatest authors.
And it really is a book for die hard fans only. Like Ports of Call, the almost total absence of a meaningful plot or real character development means it must be read for the wit, eccentricity and extravagance of the language. If you're new to Vance, start with the Demon Prince series or Araminta Station.
Lurulu is a whimsical journey through various ports and towns of Gaean Reach. It is beautifully written; it is funny - not 'laugh out loud' but 'wry smile' funny. And it reprises many familiar Vance themes - the footloose lifestyle, repressive relationships with family and tradition, portside drinking and camaraderie, over the top impresarios, strange local customs. Unusually for Vance, the family relationships concern mother/aunt and son, rather than father and son as is usual in his works (Emphyrio, Araminta Station, Wyst).
This is a collection of incidents, vignettes and impressions. No story or character is developed, nuanced or extended. The central character is almost invisible - some of the bit parts are more memorable.
If you have explored the Gaean Reach previously and happily in Vance's many books, then you will enjoy this as a commentary/companion to his more robust stories. Otherwise, you'll probably wonder what all the fuss is about.
If this is the time for a retrospective on Vance's career, what does Lurulu tell us? That quality of language and uniqueness of vision can carry a book in the absence of plot; that the real science behind science fiction is as much anthropology as physics; that certain images, descriptions and impressions can live on long after the last page is turned.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
I have been reading Vance for almost forty years; I know he gets sneered at, for writing 'just science fiction', and even within the SF community, for writing space opera. But for me, reading Vance is like drinking a fine wine on the veranda of an inn overlooking a far sea. It is a pleasure that does not pall.
This is a fine writer, who makes whole worlds appear with a pen dipped in many colours, smells and shapes. As soon as I see Excerpts from the Handbook of the Planets heading each chapter, it is like coming home.
This book is vintage Vance; I can't say better than that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Lurulu is the second half of Ports of Call, and itself divides quite neatly into two halves. The first half is quite focused on Myron Tany and Captain Malouf as they undertake a quest for justice on a strange planet, and the last half is a series of short visits to various planets on a tramp starship, buying and selling goods while keeping the local populace more or less happy. There is then an ending of sorts, which is really just a beginning when you think about it.

This was Vance's last novel, unless at age 95 he suddenly changes his mind and decides to write another one, which does not appear terribly likely.

The "Lurulu" of the title is difficult to describe accurately - the best notion I came up with was being at peace, satisfaction perhaps, and finding your personal Xanadu. It is what we are all in search of, I suppose, whether through travel, work, religion or immersing oneself in a cause. All of these options are dealt with in the book, to a greater or lesser degree, and while it is tempting to say that the answer Tany ultimately finds is "correct", I am not sure if it is as simple as that.

Don't read this if you have not read Vance before - even if you start with Ports of Call, its not the ideal place to begin reading Vance. His words are prose poetry, with a style somewhere between sparse and ornate - and somehow both at the same time. Better to start with Lyonesse or Tales of the Dying Earth. But if you have read Vance and enjoy it, this is a sweet little coda to a long and distinguished writing career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2011
This book is a sequel to "Ports of Call," very similar in style, and it is quite a slight volume with some overlap, moreover, between the two books. Read Ports of Call first.

Nobody should buy this book as an introduction to reading Jack Vance.. try something like the Dying Earth series or the Planet of Adventure series first. But if you have read Ports of Call, and if like me you believe that Jack Vance is one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, then you will need to read this, his last novel. So far, anyhow..
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A new novel from veteran science fiction and fantasy writer jack vance. he usually writes very colourful books full of esoteric characters who talk very eloquently and visit colourful and well detailed worlds. thus his prose is not always easy but it's rich and rewarding.

This involves the same characters and setting from his recent novel ports of call. that's the story of a man called myron who was fired from a spaceship job on a ship run by a relative, and who took a job on another vessel, which goes on to tour a region of space called the gaean reach, having various encounters on the way.

This is not strictly a sequel to the original, as it's two hundred pages of material that was cut from it for reasons of space. it does pretty much stand alone thanks to the first chapter summarising ports of call, but it's better to have read that to get more out of this.

And you can see why some of this was cut, because whilst the first half is a decent story of a crewman and colleague of myron's investigating a mystery, the rest has no plot. just various encounters as the ship goes from world to world. however the last twenty pages do resolve plot strands from ports of call, so it's odd they were cut from that.

Not a bad book, but not really one for people other than devotees of the writer. If you've not read his work before go and read the dying earth. that's the best place to start
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Jack Vance's 1998 novel, "Ports of Call", started out well but began to run out of plot ideas towards the end, then stopped, literally in mid-air (OK, outer space). The sequel, "Lurulu", took Vance several years to complete, as his blindness has now progressed to the point where he can no longer type, and must use a tape recorder.

This is not so much a sequel to "Ports of Call" as its completion, and the two books are best read as a two-volume story. Vance's ear for language is undiminished after almost 60 years of writing, but there's almost no plot here. The characters rush from one planet to another, not staying long enough for a culture to be developed, so even Vance's famous backgrounds are only hastily sketched in.

For Vance enthusiasts, there are the usual small pleasures to be found, in the absence of a compelling story. Still, there's no denying that Vance sounds fatigued (he was in his early 90s when writing this) and after such a magnificent career, with such a profusion of ideas, he has finally run dry. 1994's Night Lamp is his last satisfying novel; since then he was written only Ports of Call/Lurulu, which is far from his best work.

If you've acquired a taste for Vance, this story will be mildly entertaining; but if you're looking for a good read with a meaty story, look for Vance's earlier work. There's a real treasure trove of the best SF adventure stories ever written waiting for you.
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on 1 June 2014
Left over bits not used in Ports of Call are assembled into this rather slim paperback. It never really reaches the heights of Jack Vance's best works but is a good read for his fans. Only rare flashes of his past magic appear in this work, like Po-po the Pooder Boy, which made me smile!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2005
I have read the vast majority of Jack Vance's work over the years and have enjoyed pretty much all of them. However when Vance is on form he is really up there with the best of the SF writing community but some of his work is at best average - unfortunately Lurulu falls into this category.
It follows the adventures of Myron Tany across a number of planets incorporating a number of minor plots. The book as a whole does really just meander without any central storyline - effectively the journey is better than the disappointing ending.
There are far better Jack Vance books available like The Planet of Adventure series, The Demon Princes Series or The Dying Earth Series to name but a few. Get those before you get this and you will probably enjoy this book more as a result as you see familiar Jack Vance stylistic touches. I would guess that a first time reader of Vance would potentially be put off reading his other works if they started with Lurulu
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Great!!
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