Big Planet is Jack Vance’s first major sf novel, and in the words of the Encyclopedia of SF, “provided an sf model for the planetary romance which has been of significant use for forty years”. The huge world of the title is home to a range of colourfully detailed and imaginative human societies, which Vance explores with the zest and humour which are hallmarks of his work.
All Jack Vance titles in the SFGateway use the author’s preferred texts, as restored for the Vance Integral Edition (VIE), an extensive project masterminded by an international online community of Vance’s admirers. In general, we also use the VIE titles, and have adopted the arrangement of short story collections to eliminate overlaps. Big Planet was cut almost in half for its first publication, but sadly the excised pages are lost.
In 1492, Colombus discovered America.
In 1992 Claude Regan had to make it happen again!
The US needed a shot in the arm as the twentieth century entered the last decade. And a World’s fair celebrating five hundred years of American civilisation might just do the trick.
Regan was the trickiest, most ruthless promoter in the country. And the first thing he realised was that Earth wasn’t big enough to hold the kind of fair he wanted.
So he built a new world!
He’s the perfect starship trooper: big, strong, and not too bright. He’s the perfect hero: willing to do almost anything to save his neck (it’s one of the body parts that’s still his own.)
Tsuris, the Mystery Plane, has a mysterious secret weapon, and Bill must get it. But Bill has something the Tsurisians want. They have a lot of brains, but not enough bodies. They’ll take any body that comes along – and put one of their brains in it!
Can Bill escape with his own brain? Can he find the secret weapon? Can he get a drink?
He’s the perfect Spaceship Trooper: big, strong, and completely brainwashed. He’s the perfect hero: willing to do almost anything to save his neck (perhaps one of the only body parts that’s still his own.)
Bill is in the hospital, vainly hoping for a real foot to replace the satyr’s foot he’s been lumbered with. Not that he has anything against satyrs – at least not until one grabs him by the foot and pulls him under the ocean. Into a world of unspeakable and endless pleasures! Roaming this dimension of primordial desires, Bill faces dragons and gunslingers for the sake of true love – and a really good beer!
BILL – the perfect Starship Trooper: big, brawny, and brainwashed. Possessor of two right arms (impressive when it comes to saluting) and a foot that is threatening to turn into something more suited to being an umbrella stand than anything that could be squeezed into a size 11 sneaker.
BILL – a perfect recruit for the good ship Bounty, bound for the Chinger war and carrying a cargo of as nice a company of homicidal misfits and maniacs as you could wish to meet outside of a penitentiary asylum (which is where they’ve just come from).
BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO – he’s back, he’s bad and about to meet the most hideous alien lifeform of his entire career. He’d do anything to save his skin without rocking the boat – but mutiny? On the Bounty?
Blake had waited a long time for his big chance. Finally the selection board called him in. This was it. He got his promotion, his captain’s ticket and his first assignment. Vorgal was a tough planet but Blake was ready for it. He was the first spaceman to land on Vorgal without crashing. He was the first human being to see a Vorgalian and live. He was the first to learn the planet’s deadly secret an come back alive.
But…when he went into landing orbit around Earth they fired on him. No one would believe that the impossible had happened. They thought Blake’s body was being used by an alien, and unless he could convince them fast he would die. Without his secret knowledge of Vorgal, Earth would die too…
THE STORM LORD is a big novel of an unknown planet and of the conflict of empires and peoples on that world. It is a story of a priestess raped and slain, of a baby born of a king and hidden among strangers, and of how that child, grown to manhood, sought his true heritage.
It is a novel of alien gods and lost goddesses, of warriors and wanderers, and of vengeance long delayed.
It is an epic in every sense of the word.
The gigantic world known as Big Planet had become a wilderness of strange peoples and weird cultures as a result of having been the dumping ground for every crackpot and malcontent that ever emigrated from the Earth. Somewhere in its unmapped vastness a plot was being hatched to disturb the peace of the mother world’s civilization.
This novel was previously published under the titles Planet of the Damned and Slaves of the Klau.
All Jack Vance titles in the SFGateway use the author’s preferred texts, as restored for the Vance Integral Edition (VIE), an extensive project masterminded by an international online community of Vance’s admirers. In general, we also use the VIE titles, and have adopted the arrangement of short story collections to eliminate overlaps.
What did our ancestors dream of when they gazed up at the stars and looked beyond the present?
A Journey in Other Worlds races far ahead of the nineteenth century to imagine what life would be like in the year 2000. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Earth is effectively a corporate technocracy, with big businesses using incredible advances in science to improve life on the planet as a whole. Seeking other planets habitable for the growing human population, the spaceship Callisto, powered by an antigravitational force known as apergy, embarks on a momentous tour of the solar system. Jupiter proves to be a wilderness paradise, full of threatening beasts and landscapes of inspired beauty, where the explorers must fight for their lives. Dangers less tangible but equally deadly await the Callisto crew on Saturn, which yields profound secrets about their fate and the ultimate destiny of mankind.
IN THE “DOC” SMITH TRADITION
The planet was fine for big game hunters. And it was the tradition there that one must have a trophy before one could call oneself truly a man.
If that were all, it would hardly interest Cap Kennedy because his trophies consisted of planets saved for Terra and missions accomplished. But there was something on Eriadne which was not just a hunt trophy – something which required the presence of Kennedy and his men to check on. One of these things was a fragment of Zheltyana construction which outdated all civilisation.
But the hunt proved to be a double one – Kennedy against an unslayable monster and a lost world of monsters against Kennedy. And if he lost, it would be Terra itself that would be a trophy on some alien’s hunting lodge wall.
SPAWN OF LABAN is one of the best – a real edge-of-the-seat science fiction chiller in the tradition of Edward E. Smith and Edmond Hamilton
The benevolent, paternalistic World State regarded the freedom-minded Jeffersonians as a minor embarrassment whose violent elimination would cause more disruption than their demise would merit. So both sides were happy when the chance came for voluntary exile to a distant planet. But two hundred years later the less benevolent descendant of the World State that had let them go was to decide that the cosmos was not big enough to hold both it and a free people.
The strange thing about THE END was that nobody expected it…
The pessimists had been wrong. No atomic war. No nuclear destruction. No fall out. No radioactivity. Disarmament had brought universal peace and sanity. Co-existence had become a reality – not an idealist’s dream.
Then disaster struck. The desperate weather forecasts were the beginning. The ice was The End.
Seas became frozen wastes. Rivers turned to glaciers overnight. The whole planet was in the grip of a cold so intense that millions perished in a few hours… millions more died within the week.
Only the bravest and the hardiest survived. Rugged men and courageous women, with the spirits of the earliest pioneers, urging them on to do the impossible.
Was the big freeze just a cosmic accident – with man on the unlucky end? Had one of the big powers tried to master weather control, secretly, despite the disarmament talks… and failed disastrously.
Perhaps it was the prelude to alien invasion?
The planet beckoned them from space – and closed round them like a Venus Fly Trap!
Assailed by strange perils and even stranger temptations, the little group stumbled towards its destiny – Mike Ross, the pilot, Sara Foster, the big game hunter, blind George Smith, and the odious Friar Tuck.
Before them was a legend made flesh, around them were creatures of myth and mystery, close behind them stalked Nemesis. The doll, the little wooden painted doll, was to be their salvation. Or their damnation, for each might choose, and find, his own Nirvana.
Barbaric customs and bizarre human cults are prserved on the planet Elsewhere. The rest of the universe has been taken over by the Hobbs Land Gods, which means that everyone alive, with the exception of the people on Elsewhere, lives in perfect harmony with nature and with each other.
But Elsewhere is ruled by computer-encrypted professors who have been dead for a thousand years. The professors werededicated to maintaining human diversity. Their ancient analogs are dedicated to something far more sinister.
The time has come to consider whether enslavement by the Hobbs Land Gods is not preferable to the depravity being cultivated on Elsewhere. The time has come to ask the Big Question: what is the Destiny of Man?
And answer it . . .
When empires hung on the turn of a card…
Cheyne Scarne was a gambler – a lucky one. What he didn’t know about randomatics wasn’t worth knowing. He had brains to get right to the heart of the Grand Wheel – the syndicate that controlled all illegal activity in the planets under human control.
But what Scarne had staked to get that far was chickenfeed compared to what he would risk to get into the real big time – the massive intergalactic combine that dwarfed the empires of mere men.
For Scarne, double-crossing at every deal, had laid his life on the line to win a game where no one knew the value of the cards and the rules changed with every trick!
The logical outcome of the space race, and the preliminary step towards the Moo, was the manned satellite, the Big Wheel moving in a stable orbit about the Earth, integrating the data necessary for a landing on the Moon, and eventually acting as a fuelling station for the Lunar rockets.
After several failures, the station is ready, but even there, danger exists, unseen, unheard, invisible and terrible. Forced to exist in the belt of cosmic radiation surrounding the planet, men die within weeks from aplastic anemia. Seeking a solution to the problem, Doctor Paul Russell is sent up to the satellite and here learns of the two men fro the previous crew who vanished without a trace after spotting an unidentified spaceship in orbit further out from Earth than themselves.
The ship rose on a column of invisible, super-heated steam ejected at incredible velocity. The spread of the blast flattened everything in the immediate vicinity. The surrounding town was wiped out.
Immediately on blast off the automatic pilot engaged hi-drive to avoid the attacking missile. This put the ship into negative mass with relation to the normal universe. It was now in M-space.
The ship was self-contained. It could keep going till all her occupants died of old age. But where to? Proxima Centauri? Or maybe Alpha Centauri, Riga, perhaps, or Sirius! The universe is a big space.
They hurtled on through space and time until they saw the planet, a cloud-hidden ball, as it hung in space a hundred thousand miles below the orbiting vessel. It had seas and clouds, mountains and ice-caps, islands and continents, It had a moon and a yellow G-type sun.
Home? Was this their second chance?
I’m Horowitz. Private eye. I work of G.O.D., Inc. – the company that rules the Labyrinth between infinite alternate Earths. Only now I’ve got new clients – vengeful rebels out to wreck the Labyrinth. But their Big Plan’s on hold: one of the inner circle’s dead, leaving eight conspirator/ prime suspends on eight private worlds.
And finding the killer’s the least of my problems. The rebels play for high stakes – and I know too much to live. If I succeed, they’ll kill me. If I stall, they’ll blow up a planet – ours. If I escape, the Company will kill me. If I stop the rebel scheme, my wife and child will be turned into mindless drug-sex slaves.
But if I don’t stop them, they’ll unleash a force that might well cremate Earths. All Earths. In all universes. Throughout all creation…
Cy Yancey dreamt of being a big game hunter adventuring in Africa. Little did he know that stepping into an alleyway outside his rifle club would lead him to the most important hunt in his life, a hunt that would take Cy much farther than Africa, a hunt through the worlds of the Dimensions, seeking, of all things, Earth!
For Yancey, in trying to grab a cab, ends up hitching a ride with Porteurs Zelda and Jorine – escapees from the power of the mysterious Contessa.
Fleeing with them, Yancey is bounced from one Dimension to another until he arrives on Jundagai, planet of the Hunters.
On Jundagai lies the answer to Yancey’s dreams. The Hunt reigns supreme, though often one is not sure what the quarry is. But Jundagai holds still a greater attraction. Jundagai, Yancey’s prison, holds the key to home. Yancey has only to find the right lock before death finds him.
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.
The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk – a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside – more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.
Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.
Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun – and report back on what they find.
Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.