I love me my Jack Vance, and Ports of Call might be one of his most unstructured and light sic fi adventures. There is limited story arch: Myron Tany finds himself fulfilling a dream of space adventure aboard his flamboyant and self centered Great Aunt’s space yacht. Soon however, he is ousted by a handsome rogue and finds a job aboard the cargo ship, Glicca. From there, he and his ship mates port at many different planets with various cultural customs and landscape curiosities.
A crazy lot of characters are met, including both amorous and deadly women, gamblers and swindlers of all sorts, and more than one evil minded rascal. It’s most like a very satisfying space adventure television series – or more correctly the kind of inventive and comedic space adventure television series that I wish existed (Firefly is the only thing that comes close – and should be watched by those who missed it’s brief run).
It’s a rambling piece of fiction, a collection of whims, philosophies and interesting worlds that ends quite abruptly. Luckily, years later, Vance took up the story again with a sequel called Lurulu, which, of course, I am reading next. I’ll let you know how it goes.