A bibliography for Jack Vance

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The Potters of Firsk

Author: Jack Vance
Year written: 1949
Author’s age at the time: 33
Year published: May 1950
Publication: Astounding Science Fiction
Dutch title: De Pottenbakkers van Firsk
Genre: short story, SF


Before long, however, Thomm came to feel that Covill paid only lip-service to the Bureau philosophy. Some of his actions seemed dense and arbitrary to the well-indoctrinated Thomm. He built an Earth-style office on Penolpan’s main canal, and the concrete and glass made an inexcusable jar against Penolpan’s mellow ivories and browns. He kept strict office hours and on a dozen occasions a delegation of Mi-Tuun, arriving in ceremonial regalia, had to be turned away with stammered excuses by Thomm, when in truth Covill, disliking the crispness of his linen suit, had stripped to the waist and was slumped in a wicker chair with a cigar, a quart of beer, watching girl-shows on his telescreen.

“At the age of fourteen he goes forth from his home with a hammer, a mortar, a pound of bone lime. He must mine clay, lead, sand, spar. He must find iron for brown, malachite for green, cobalt earth for blue, and he must grind a glaze in his mortar, shape and decorate a tile, and set it in the Mouth of the Great Burn. If the tile is successful, the body whole, the glaze good, then he is permitted to enter the long pottery and know the secrets of the craft.”

Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012