Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Star King by Jack Vance

Star King originally appeared in a shorter form in Galaxy Magazine in 1964. I didn’t read it until it was expanded into the 1978 DAW paperback with cover artwork by Gino D’Achille. For DAW collectors Star King is DAW # 305. Author Jack Vance died in 2013. I don’t know how many books he wrote, but every book of his that I’ve read has been pretty damn good. I consider Star King one of the greatest science fiction novels, and the first of five great novels now referred to as “Demon Prince Novels” by fans and sci-fi aficionados. The only problem with my statement is the fact that Jack Vance wrote dozens of books that can be labeled the “greatest science fiction novels.” I guess that means if you haven’t read a Jack Vance book you’d better go to the library and start reading one today. Vance’s plot is complicated, wavering back and forth but never stalling. This is a characteristic of many of his novels, including the “Adventure Planet” series. Basically, the Demon Prince novels are all a tale of revenge. Keith Gersen begins his long revenge here, after one of the Demon Princes annihilate his family. The Star Kings are aliens who have adapted their genetic make-up and intentionally resemble humans. There are five Demon Princes, and in Star King the first one is Attel Malagate, a devious bastard. Vance possessed a fantastic imagination. The characters, worlds and wild imagery comes naturally to him. Star King is old school Space Opera. It begins in Smade’s Tavern and concludes on a faraway world. There is even a minor character appearing late in the book named Mr. Spock, but he bears zero resemblance to the now famous character from television and films. Star King pre-dates Star Trek, Star Wars and all of the similarly influenced material that followed. Jack Vance lead the way. Jack Vance was great at creating suspense and the action is effective. TOR books has published several compilation volumes, and there are numerous Kindle editions of his many titles. You can’t go wrong with anything you choose. The other Demon Prince novels are The Killing Machine, The Palace of Love, The Face, and The Book of Dreams

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