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Lurulu    by Jack Vance order for
by Jack Vance
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Space opera is alive and well in the hands of Jack Vance, as he shares with us the ongoing galactic adventures (following Ports of Call) of Myron Tany. The young man wanders through space on the freighter Glicca, captained by Adair Maloof, and with an eccentric crew of fellow misfits, including the colorful Mouse-rider troupe of performing artists.

The first chapter gives a précis of Ports of Call, telling how Myron's parents wanted him to become a financial analyst like his father, while he dreamed of space exploration. His dreams came to fruition when his great-aunt Dame Hester Lajoie won a space-yacht (in a judgment against slander) and decided to take it to a world with a supposedly successful rejuvenation program. Myron accompanied her on her travels until she hired an untrustworthy scapegrace as purser, after which he left the ship, encountered Captain Maloof and signed on as Supercargo on the Glicca.

They journey to various new worlds - each introduced by its entry from Handbook to the Planets. On Fluter, Myron aids the Captain in his search for his frivolous elderly mother who eloped with a much younger adventurer, Tremaine - Maloof also suspects that Tremaine murdered his father, and has tracked him down to Fluter. They deal with the villain in an admirable fashion, rescue the flighty old lady and then muse about the meaning of the state of lurulu, something to do with the gratification of yearnings.

On Star Home, they recover a stolen cargo and win valuable rugs as their reward. On Blenkinsop, a Mouse-riders performance is sabotaged, leading to a very hasty exit, 'Up, and out!' On Falziel they buy 'swamp-gnarl tankards' as souvenirs, and on Organon, they're bewildered and shocked when served barley water in a tavern. They dissuade a crewmember from an arduous pilgrimage on Kyril. Myron meets his great-aunt again in a hospice on Naharius, and visits the residence of Tibbet Garwig on Alcydon, before they journey back to his homeworld of Vermazen.

If this meandering story has a theme at all, it's of various crewmembers - and particularly Myron - dealing with their lurulu. Though I had some trouble keeping my interest in the book's happenings, I did enjoy the depiction of different societies and cultures across the galaxy and on the Glicca, and found the ending satisfying.

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