Jack Vance is not only a great sf writer, but a great American writer. He started out writing fairly standard pulp adventure sf (albeit very clever and well-written pulp), but over the years, his eccentric writing style, biting view of human nature, humor, and skill at building strange new worlds became more and more important, although they are still allied closely with pulp adventure and tons of plot in a small space. He never loves his sentences more than the whole. He’s a lot like Cabell, if Cabell had written better women and had had more interest in sf and sense of wonder.
Cabell would never have written a character saying, “I would offer congratulations were it not for this tentacle gripping my leg.”
Anyway, his friends and relatives have made an ebook of The Chasch (aka City of the Chasch) available for free, till the end of August. What a deal! It is part of the thrilling ‘Tschai’ or ‘Planet of Adventure’ series, in which an interstellar scout investigating an old distress call shipwrecks in the middle of an undeveloped planet full of alien (and alien human) cultures, and has to get to the spaceport. It turns out that all of the planet’s alien species (native and not) have variously enslaved or formed odd relationships with the descendants of humans that landed on the planet, so it’s not easy to get around. The weird societies which have resulted, and how the main character disrupts them by his actions, are pretty much the star of the show. There are four books in the series. …
Maureen from Aliens in This World sums up why you want to try this book. (She says more about the author and his work so do click through.) Pick up the ebook at Jack Vance’s site. You do have to register and log in, but it is simple.