The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Planet of Adventure was the first of Jack Vance’s longer novel series to be completed. As it begins, an exploration ship to the planet Tschai, dispatched from Earth in response to radio signals transmitted centuries ago, is destroyed by a torpedo from the planet’s surface shortly after sending out a scouting vessel. The only survivor, the highly trained scout Adam Reith, quickly learns that Tschai is a base for four alien races (one indigenous), none able to dislodge the others because of their capability of mutually assured destruction. Each race dominates a group of humans who have been manipulated genetically to physically resemble their master race. Reith spends the majority of his time moving among various groups of semi-independent humans who were brought to Tschai in the distant past and have not been artificially reshaped.

In City of the Chasch, Reith quickly makes friends with the former chief of a nomadic bandit tribe, Traz Onmale, and an exiled Dirdirman, Anacho. Reith thus learns intimately about both types of humans on Tschai. He also meets another staple character of the planetary romance, the exotically beautiful female (in this case, Ylin Ylan), whom he rescues from several situations of sexual peril. In order to get to his missing ship, Reith must lead a rebellion of subject humans, first against their despotic human masters and then against the Chasch themselves. When invited to remain as leader of the now liberated humans, Reith decides to continue his quest to return to Earth.

After finding his spacecraft gutted, Reith and his friends in Servants of the Wankh accompany Ylin Ylan...

(The entire section is 676 words.)