Last month I had a brief exchange with Alex over at Cirsova about Jack Vance. It’s a name I’d heard before, but he resides in one of the nooks and crannies of SFF that I haven’t yet explored. Anyway, the Cirsova review of the Gray Prince piqued my interest and I pulled the trigger. I’m not that far in yet, but I wanted to briefly share a few first impressions.
First, the book is shorter than I was expecting. This isn’t a bad thing. It feels like every novel these days is at least 300 pages long. I’ve got queues of books to read, though – queues! This one weighs in at around 150ish pages, which is welcome.
It’s certainly very dense. Cirsova alludes to this fact in referring to the oddly numerous footnotes. I’m not opposed to this, but it does make for less of a relaxing scifi romp and more of a labor.
Although I wouldn’t compare Vance’s writing style at this point to Herbert’s, the Gray Prince does make me think of Dune. The amount of ink spilled on world-building is noteworthy. We’re not in some generic scifi world of simple human colonists and insectoid aliens; the human race has changed and mutated to adapt to life on thousands of different worlds. Vance lays out these facts and colors the story from the get-go with explanations of the world’s social strata, economics, and the alphabet soup of SJW groups fighting for this cause and that.
This isn’t a story pieced together paragraph by paragraph a’la George R.R. Martin. It’s an extremely developed and thought-out piece of Vance’s universe.
Whether or not I’ll enjoy the ride and reach a satisfactory destination, I do not yet know. But I’m glad to now be acquainted with Vance.