A bibliography for Jack Vance

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The Augmented Agent

Author: Jack Vance
Year written: 1956
Author’s age at the time: 40
Year published: October 1961
Publication: Amazing Stories
Other title(s): I-C-a-BeM
French title: Le syndrome de l’homme augmenté
Genre: short story, novelette, SF


Looking into the mirror, he saw a face familiar only from the photographs he had studied dark, feral and harsh: the face, literally, of a savage. His hair, which he had allowed to grow long, had been oiled, stranded with gold tinsel, braided and coiled; his teeth had been replaced with stainless-steel dentures; from his ears dangled a pair of ivory amulets. In each case, adornment was the secondary function. The tinsel strands in his head-dress were multi-laminated accumulators, their charge maintained by thermo-electric action. The dentures scrambled, condensed, transmitted, received, expanded and unscrambled radio waves of energies almost too low to be detected. The seeming ivory amulets were stereophonic radar units, which not only could guide Keith through the dark, but also provided a fractional second’s warning of a bullet, an arrow, a bludgeon. His fingernails were copper-silver alloy, internally connected to the accumulators in his hair. Another circuit served as a ground, to protect him against electrocution one of his own potent weapons. These were the more obvious augmentations; others more subtle had been fabricated into his flesh.

Forverness writes: “Written at editor’s request to fit an illustration.” [1]

The wordpress blog site gaping blackbird (carries adds) has a review on “The Augmented Agent”. Internet Archive: [snapshot].

Republished in Chateau d’If and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012