Jack Vance, sorted by year written
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Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012
Six days after the Kay had come and gone, the Beaudry arrived from Blue Star. It brought a complete ecological laboratory, with stocks of seeds, spores, eggs, sperm; spawn, bulbs, grafts; frozen fingerlings, copepods, experimental cells and embryos; grubs, larvae, pupae; amoebae, bacteria, viruses; as well as nutritive cultures and solutions. There were also tools for manipulating or mutating established species; even a supply of raw nuclein, unpatterned tissue, clear protoplasm from which simple forms of life could be designed and constructed. It was now Bernisty’s option either to return to Blue Star with the Blauelm, or remain to direct the development of New Earth. Without conscious thought he made his choice; he elected to stay. Almost two-thirds of his technical crew made the same choice. And the day after the arrival of the Beaudry, the Blauelm took off for Blue Star.
Within the Beaudry there was everywhere a sense of defeat. Bernisty walked limping along the promenade, the limp more of an unconscious attitude than a physical necessity. The problem was too complex for a single brain, he thought or for a single team of human brains. The various life-forms on the planet, each evolving, mutating, expanding into vacant niches, selecting the range of their eventual destinies they made a pattern too haphazard for an electronic computer, for a team of computers.
“Kay ships,” said Bufco. “A round dozen mountainous barrels! They made one circuit departed!”