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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
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First published in 1953 in IF - Worlds of science fiction, and pretty typical of that time. Murphy, a reporter for 'Know your Universe!' is sent off to the planet CirgamesÇ, where strange goings-on have been reported. This world, a cross between Java and Arabia, welcomes reporters, as long as they stick to sociologically relevant reporting: farmers at work, fish hatcheries, economic progress. Murphy knows this won't cut much ice with the ruthless editor he reports to, and goes looking for the more shady side to the planet - and finds it.

Great literature it is not, but it is a nice story with a few hints of the Vance we know and love. 3.5 stars, I'd say. You can find this online, too (and for free)
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on 1 October 2010
This is a very short story for the price and, while there are indications of the master story teller that the author was to become, there is insufficient time here to really develop the plot. The main storyline just gets going, with some potentially interesting areas to be explored, when it comes to a sudden end. A sub plot, involving two members of management at the hero's employer, is incomplete and unsatisfying apart from providing an obvious - albeit amusing - vehicle for the ending. This story has the makings of a full length novel but doesn't work on any level as a short story in my opinion.
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on 6 December 2010
This is the story with a 'cowboy' riding a 'horse' in space.
I was going to use that as my title to flag it to any Vance fan that has read this story already.
Then I realised that the title "Cowboy riding a horse in space" would only make sense in context to those who have read the story.
I generally concur with what has been written in the other two reviews. The story was very short, and has been printed in one of the Vance collections. There is an ending but the story didn't really feel 'finished'.
It would have been better if it had been of novel length. What there was of it was enjoyable enough but it is more for completists.
It was so short that instead of a spine it was bound with two staples; a booklet more than a book.
The pages were of good quality paper but for the book to remain undamaged it will need to be stored safely.
The unusual dimensions and paperback format of this slender tome render it somewhat vulnerable.
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Look, I have the free Amazon US Kindle version of this, so the price is right. There is literally no reason not to download it for a quiet moment when you have nothing else to do.

Sjambak is a nice little sci-fi story by Jack Vance, although it is not particularly "Vancian" with only a little of the characteristic dialogue and things just being slightly off-kilter. It's a quick read, 20 or 30 pages long if it were a book. Sadly, it is missing the Virgil Finlay art referred to in the text. To say it about a space cowboy is to both mislead and tell the truth: its really about a journalist looking for a story, space travel, terraforming and ambition. The Sjambak is...well, better to read it and find out.

This not earthshattering stuff: it's a sci-fi short story of the type mass-produced in the 1940's and 50's. But its fun, cheap, and written by Jack Vance, so you know its better than it has a right to be.
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on 29 November 2014
Jack can do no wrong. I'm still re-reading his Sci-Fi after 40 years - must be his use of language - adjectival descriptions par excellence. Pity about Ellery Queen
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on 14 June 2014
OK, but be aware that this is a very short story and is maybe not Jack Vance at his best
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on 9 October 2016
brilliant author
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