It will no doubt shock the international community to learn that Planet of Adventure is a series of planetary adventure novels; written by the inimitable Jack Vance, they concern the exploits of one Adam Reith, scout of the Federal Space Agency, on the strange planet Tschai, as he tries to get the hell off it. This planet is inhabited by not less than four alien species, as well as — to Reith's considerable surprise — humans, in spite of no Earth ship having visited Tschai before Reith's arrival. Reith's own ship is blown up almost immediately upon reaching planetary orbit, his own scout-boat being the sole surviving part of the larger vessel, but this also he loses after crash-landing on the planet, and his subsequent adventures all have the ultimate goal of acquiring a ship he can use to return to Earth (a location which the locals regard as the fable of an idiot).

Each of the four alien species has a book in the series devoted to it; these are in order:

  1. City of the Chasch
  2. Servants of the Wankh
  3. The Dirdir
  4. The Pnume

The usual inimitable Vancian tone is in evidence, except, curiously enough, in the first book, which does contain its share of odd scenarios but almost wholly lacks Vance's characteristic ironic dialogue and faux-civilized comedy of manners — Anacho the dirdirman being the main exception. Why this is I'm not sure, but the Vance we know and expect appears, as I say, in the second book, and happily stays appeared.


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