Book Review: The Blue World, Jack Vance (1966)

4/5 (Good)

1966 Nebula Nominated Novel

Jack Vance’s The Blue World is a delightful (straightforward) sci-fi/fantasy adventure story.  There’s something truly wonderful about Jack Vance’s world building skills, simplistic yet adept prose, and tightly constructed plots.  He’s a top-notch story teller.  The Blue World is worthwhile read (as are all his books I’ve read so far).

Brief Plot Summary

In the distant past a spaceship crashed on the Blue World which consists of one gigantic ocean.  The survivors discovered floating “pads” which are connected to stems which grow in clusters.  These pads became their homes and a small population flourished.  Each pad communicates with the others via a tower and a complicated coded system of lanterns.  The primary purpose is to alert the other pads to the arrival of King Kragen and his lesser minions!  King Kragen is a gigantic vindictive sea monster.  The pads’ inhabitants have developed a policy of appeasing King Kragen who still occasionally wrecks havoc destroying buildings, eating sponges, and breaking nets.

Sklar Hast, our rebellious hero, is an apprentice hoodwink (communication tower operator).  Sklar believes that the policy of appeasement should be replaced with a policy to exterminate King Kragen so the pads can finally live without fear.  He invokes the ire of the more traditionalist members of the the society.  After an audacious attempt at killing King Kragen, Sklar Hast is forced to leave the pads with his followers.

Final Thoughts

The Blue World is great escapist fun!  Don’t expect any deep questions or philosophical discussions — instead, expect a nice tight plot, likable characters, an interesting world and peculiar fauna.  My only qualm concerns the the lack of attention given to the only female character — Meril Rohan — who fades completely out of the narrative about a third of the way through.  Probably not close to Vance’s best but highly recommended.

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