By Jack Vance
The target of the challenge from Earth: to prevent the ruthless Barjarnum of Beaujolais from increasing his empire at the large Planet...and hinder the area from falling below this tyrant's domination. Then sabotage forces the craft to crash land, and the survivors face an epic 40,000-mile trek around the harmful panorama. A SF landmark. "One of the best writers the technology fiction box has ever known."--Poul Anderson. "Vividly compelling...Vance on the most sensible of his form."--Damon Knight.
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Glystra snorted in disgust. “They’ve got the river-crossing sewed up, and so ... ” “That’s how the Magickers acquire their wealth,” said Motta. Cloyville muttered, “They’ll probably make us pay through the nose. ” Glystra rubbed his short black thatch. “It’s a case of take it or leave it. ” He looked back across the steppe. “I don’t see the Beaujo-lain’s flying squad. No doubt it’s there . . Once we get past the river we can breathe easier. ” They set out along the lip of the bluff toward the village.
Three old men, bald, feeble, came forward. Their bare feet were blue-veined and bony, they wore only ragged G-strings, the ribs showed like corrugations down their milk-colored bodies. ” quavered the first. ” “We want to cross the river,” said Glystra. ” The old men engaged in a wheezing colloquy, watching Glystra suspiciously as they whispered. Then: “It is too late in the year. ” demanded Glystra indignantly. ” The eyes of the old men faltered, fell. A muffled voice came from behind the wall.
Three soldiers fell flat, shrivelled flesh. The others swarmed over him. The clearing was suddenly alive with wild-eyed men, screaming and savage. One sprang at Ketch, toppled him. Glystra killed him with his ion-shine, then felt viciously strong arms seize him from behind, hurl him to the ground. The Earthmen lay weaponless, arms lashed behind their backs. Nearby Morwatz lay moaning from deep in his throat. The soldier who had first kicked him came forward, a tall man with concave cheeks, a pocked forehead, a split nose.
Big Planet by Jack Vance