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Comment: Very good copy with moderate cover and page wear from being handled and read. Accessories or dust jacket may be missing. Could be an ex-library copy that will have all the stickers and or marking of the library. Some textual or margin notes possible, and or contain highlighting.
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Night Lamp Hardcover – October, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jack Vance has specialized in science fiction decadence since his first stories in 1950. This novel's decadent world is called Fader, whose inhabitants have only leisure to pursue since they have a genetically engineered slave class to do their hard work. Fader is threatened by many dangers, but the pleasure-seeking inhabitants are paralyzed by lack of will. Vance has developed his own vocabulary, sometimes tricky to decipher, to convey an alien speech, but the meaning of his invented words emerges as the story unfolds.

From Publishers Weekly

Young Jaro comes home to find a man torturing his mother. The boy repels the stranger, then obeys his mother's command to kill her in order to end her pain. Then the fleeing Jaro is nearly beaten to death by malicious older boys. Brain-damaged, the memory of his early life mostly gone, he is nursed back to health by a childless couple. Adopted by them, Jaro leads a mostly happy life, but though his new parents want him to be an academic, he yearns to become a spaceman and to discover the truth behind his mysterious past. Vance (Throy, 1993), who has been publishing SF for close to half a century and has won just about every major award during that time, is near the top of his form in this leisurely tale of interplanetary adventure and financial skullduggery. The pleasure of Vance's books lies in his mannered, heavily ironic language, and in the bizarre societies he creates. His characters, most of whom are rogues, love verbal fencing and often alternate rapidly between violent hyperbole and terse understatement. His cultures abound in strange social customs, preposterous academic pursuits and elaborate costuming. This new novel is unlikely to appeal to the MTV crowd, but it will yield rich rewards to those with the patience to savor its humorous complexities.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st Tor ed edition (October 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312856857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312856854
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,718,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard R. Horton on September 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Night Lamp will be satisfying to Vance fans: it is Science Fiction in Vance's most familiar style, elegantly written, full of ironic bits, often downright funny, portraying at least three complex social structures based on intricate manners. It also shares the weaknesses of much of Vance's work: it is discursive, the Science content is notional at best (for instance, his spaceships seem basically to be automobiles that can fly in space and travel at many multiples of the speed of light without relativistic effects), and it seemed short one rewrite.
The story is that of Jaro Fath, a young boy who is found, on the remote planet of Camberwell, by Hilyer and Anthea Fath, while in the process of being beaten nearly to death by local thugs. The Faths rescue Jaro, and in the process of restoring him to health it is necessary that his memory of the first six years of his life be erased. Hilyer and Anthea take Jaro back to their home world of Gallingale, where they are somewhat unconventional (by Gallingale standards) university professors, and they raise Jaro as their son.
Jaro grows up intelligent and strong, but his life is complicated by several factors. He hears voices in his head which seem to be associated with his early life. His ambition to become a spaceman and seek out the mysteries of the lost six years of his life is thwarted as much as possible by the Faths, who fear that he will come to grief tracing his apparently violent history. And he inherits from the Faths disdain for the social system of Gallingale, which is based on the concept of "striving" up social "ledges", trying to reach clubs of higher and higher status.
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Format: Paperback
For those who loved Vance's 70s classics such as Marune, Wyst, Emphryio, Trullian and others, this one will fit in your hand like a well worn glove. It will also suit the readers of the Amarminta Station books, although it is better. The plot is generally the same as all of them: a decent young man falls into bad circumstances and emerges victorious after a series of wild adventures.
Like Vance's later works this one is longer, and incorporates more elements of mystery than the early tales from the Gaen Reach. All of the standard Vance themes are there, to include the revenge of evil deeds, sly and appealing young women, travels through colorful and bizarre lands, unusual cultural depravities, and a young man's emergence from innocence to realism and competance. The Vance humor shows itself as always; in a comic farce, a series of lectures given by academics quickly disintegrates into name-calling and mayhem.
Vance is at his best, however, when describing alien cultures that are completely foreign to any present or past human condition, yet completely believable. Hes given us that here as well, with a series of societies that seem all too likely.
Is this one of Vance's very best? I've just read it, and I need a little time to let it settle in. For those of you who may be new to Vance, however, you may have little choice since a lot of his very best is no longer readily available.
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Format: Hardcover
Jack Vance has always enjoyed reading mysteries more than science fiction and wishes he could have written more in the mystery genre. His science fiction novels are riddled with sly flourishes that remind one of mystery greats such as Agatha Christie; indeed, more than a few of his sci-fi works are really mysteries in disguise. This is certainly true of Night Lamp, which includes a segment strongly reminiscent of P.D. James' An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (James' youthful private inquiry agent, Cordelia Gray, becomes the female galactic effectuator Skirl). Anyone who enjoys the upcoming PBS television series based on James' character (to be aired in April 1998) is strongly urged to buy Night Lamp and meet Cordelia's 31st century AD sister in arms.
Skirl is not Vance's first female sleuth; she has predecessors in Wayness Tamm (Ecce and Old Earth) and Jean Parlier (Monsters in Orbit). Still, effectuator Skirl is Vance's first female who is more than an inspired amateur; i.e., who undergoes professional training and aspires to a sleuthy career. And a delightful creation she is!

Night Lamp is vintage Vance with alien landscapes, adolescent misfits, neurotic civilizations, and clever rogues. Don't expect a tight plot; the charm of Vance novel's depends in large part on their rambling, picaresque quality which enables Vance to pack as many oddities as possible into each volume.

Buy this book. Cherish it. Tell everyone you know to read it.
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Format: Paperback
If you are a reader with that special attraction for Vance's writing style & subtle humor (you know it if you are one), you already own this book, and all that I write here is redundant to you. If you HAVEN'T read The Dying Earth, The Blue World, The Dragon Masters, or Emphyrio - then you may need to be enticed to read Night Lamp. This latest work is classic Vance - he has included the expected imagery, biting humor and social commentary, and singular style of dialog & description. The story unfolds into gratifying resolution of conflicts & mysteries, with a dose of surprise & tragedy for dessert. I liked Night Lamp very much, and I'm waiting for my recollection of the story's details to dissipate, so that I can read it again. Night Lamp is unique in that it's my only Vance book which has been read but once ... A very temporary condition, I assure you, as I re-read while waiting for Ports of Call. A great story by a man who is, in my opinion, the most skilled manipulator of language in the business of creating and constructing speculative fiction.
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