Readers’ Choice: The Magnificent Showboats

Since we launched the SF Gateway at the end of 2011, it’s been fascinating to see the reaction to the books and authors we’re returning to print (or should that be ‘print’?).

There have been numerous variations on ‘Oh, I remember her!’ and ‘I love that book, haven’t read anything of his for ages.’, which are very gratifying to hear. There are a few authors whose publication has dropped into the interwebs with nary a ripple, which is a great pity and something we’re determined to rectify via the blog, Twitter and home page spotlight areas. And then there are those authors where the response has been so enthusiastic and vocal that we’re scratching our heads at how their work managed to drift out of print in the first place.

One such author is Jack Vance. There is very clearly a good number of Vance fans who have been desperate to get their hands on eBooks of the multi-award-winning author’s work, and we are very pleased to be able to satisfy that need. All of our Jack Vance titles are based on the Vance Integral Editions text – the author’s preferred versions as compiled and prepared by a group of dedicated fans, with the approval and cooperation of the author and his family.

Jack Vance created many popular milieus – Lyonesse, the Alastor Cluster and the influential Dying Earth, just to name a few – and this week’s Readers’ Choice comes from one of those worlds: the groundbreaking Big Planet. The first use of a massive Earth-like world in planetary romance, Big Planet established a template that has been used many times since, most notably in Robert Silverberg‘s acclaimed Majipoor books.

Friend and Twitter conversationalist of SF Gateway, the excellent Chris Taylor-Davies has chosen Vance’s Big Planet novel The Magnificent Showboats as his Readers’ Choice: ‘Exotic setting, quixotic characters, sublime use of language – the hallmark characteristics of Vance to the fore in this satisfying tale of an extraordinary river journey.’

The Magnificent Showboats follows the farcical adventures of Apollon Zamp, owner of the showboat Miraldra’s Enchantment, and his troupe of acrobats, magicians and actors. Zamp is invited by the King of Soyvanesse to travel up the river Vissel to the distant city of Mornune, there to participate in a contest. A rich prize awaits the showboat captain who stages the most spectacular performance and succeeds in entertaining the king.

The Magnificent Showboats (full title: The Magnificent Showboats of the Lower Vissel River Lune XXIII South, Big Planet) along with the rest of Jack Vance‘s work, is available from SF Gateway for UK and Commonwealth readers. US and Canadian readers: fear not! You can find them all here, at Jack Vance’s own eBook store.


And remember: you can find out more about Jack Vance from his author entry at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.