Kim Stanley Robinson
This work feels somewhat like it's aiming at the same ground as Vance--satirical, fast-paced, traveling in strange areas. Doubtless that impression was boosted by the order in which this book was read, but it clearly stands as different than most of Robinson's productions. Which is somewhat unfortunate, as it's not playing to his strengths, and as a result the comedic energy never fully jarred for me. It was interesting at point and I admired some of the story construction, but it didn't really sparkle for me as a text, and there seemed a bit of tension between this work as an adventure story and it delivering a message. At times Robinson has stumbled over that last element, but I do think he's better off in a full fledged social representation, whether creating his own histories or commenting directly on our own.
In minor details, this piece was interesting for the focus given to Buddhism, which of course reoccurred more prominently in the Science in the Capital Trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt.
Worse than: Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson
Better than: Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson