Another startlingly vivid glimpse into the alien minds and landscapes of Jack Vance's world of imagination and excitement is revealed in The Brains of Earth—a story which has been admired for its characters and a sense of adventure....
|Title||:||The Brains of Earth|
|Number of Pages||:||108 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Brains of Earth Reviews
Definitely my least favourite of all the Vance that I've read. Despite a prologue speaking of war on an alien world, this book has a "contemporary" Earth setting and a distinct lack of flamboyant, Vanceian trademark characters. There's an interesting idea at play about humans being hosts for alien organisms and not even being aware, but I think this would have been handled better by someone like A. E. Van Vogt. I have come to expect atmosphere, culture and stylishness from Vance; this book just doesn't have much. I confess now that I read this a few years ago and I simply can't remember any of the crap that happens, whereas Vance usually leaves a strong impression of having taken his readers on an informative, sly and sometimes amusing journey, or at the very least to have put some strange culture or society under the microscope. There's a bit of humour in The Brains of Earth, but without the usual Vance stylishness it just doesn't come off too well. There's even a weird anti-commie/Cold War rant at the end that made me question whether Vance meant any of this seriously at all.
Brains of the Earth is a 108 page novella that was first released in book form in 1966 in an Ace Double with The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph. The title was changed to Nopalgarth in 1980 when DAW issued it. This is the 40th Vance book I have read recently and can say that it is not one of his better efforts, although it is not without interest. A scientist, Paul Burke, from Earth is kidnapped by aliens (Xaxans) and is charged with saving Earth by helping eliminate a parasite called "nopals" that attach themselves to Xaxans and also to humans and can influence the feelings, thoughts, perceptions and behavior of their host. Nopals are usually invisible because they are not composed of matter and are from the "para-cosmos." The Xaxans call Earth "Nopalgarth" because all people on Earth are infected with nopals. The nopals on Earth use it as a breeding grounds and then travel to other planets to infect the Xaxans and other. The Xaxans are planning a mass assault on Earth to kill all nopals if Burke does not succeed. They provide him with gold and a machine that painfully detaches nopals one at a time from those infected. Note that "Chitumih" and "Taukptu" are not two different species. A Chitumih is any creature, Earthling or Xaxan, who is infected with a nopal. Taukptu is any person or alien who is not infected with a nopal. I found this initially rather confusing. Although some of the prose and the discussions between the scientists was rather flat for Vance, a master writer, the odd story held my interest and is mildly recommended to dedicated Vance fans. My rating: 3 "Liked it"
Its a Vance book, what more needs to be said, perhaps not one of his best books, but there will be no more, need a fix every once in a while.
This is exactly what I like in soft sci-fi: a novel situation, analogous to mundane moral quandaries, set in a bizarre yet entertainingly presented new world yet seen through eyes to which I can relate. This could easily have felt dated, but is related in such a way that instead it simply feels set in a bygone era of rotary telephones, beat cops, and clunky technology.