Most Vance novels include a travelogue in one form or another, as cool but perceptive characters wander through weird and beautiful landscapes. Big Planet takes that approach to its extreme as we follow Earthman Claude Glystra, who, having crashed on the planet due to sabotage, must survive a dangerous journey back to the safety of Earth Enclave.
The standard Vance tropes are in place here – strange fashions, bizarre habits, mysterious strangers. There’s less of the clever language that Vance loves, and that makes his books so much fun. On the other hand, the lead characters are more approachable and less aloof than they often are. The ending won’t surprise you much if you’ve read a lot of Vance, and could have been stronger. In particular, the emotional resolution of Gold and Iron/ Slaves of the Klau, written a few years later, is much more convincing.
Nonetheless, an engaging adventure, and fun for both Vance fans and newcomers. Recommended.