Jack Vance, sorted by year written
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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
Paddy stared aghast. “They’d draw and quarter me! They’d wear out their nerve-suits! They’d—”
She said coolly, “We could be tourists from Earth, making the Lantry Line.”
“The situation has backfired now, Paddy. Today we’re the root-stock, and all these splits and changes brought about by the differences in light, food, atmosphere, gravity they may produce a race as much better than men as men were superior to the proto-simians.”
“Paddy!” cried Fay as if her soul were dissolving. She could not close the outer door as his leg hung out, twisted at an odd engle. Shou could not open the inner door lest she lose all the air inside the ship.
Republished in the Rapparee, Spatterlight 2012.
“Yes, you are. You’re Vasillissa under a spell. Vasillissa frozen in a block of ice. I want to help you, to make you the free Vasillissa again.”
Aiken was studying her face. Was this Carol? Or Vasillissa? And if she were Vasillissa, how did Carol see? He made up his mind. It was definite. There was something in the poise of the head, the slant of the jaw that was unmistakable. This was Vasillissa. But she lived in a new country, in a new time, unable to use her magic. (more)
Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012.
They put down at the cottage. Magnus Ridolph alighted, walked to the edge of the field, bent over. The plants were thick, luxuriant, amply covered with clusters of purple tubes. Magnus Ridolph straightened, looked sidelong at Blantham, who had come up behind him.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Blantham mildly.
This time the cries were louder, mournful, close at hand, and Magnus Ridolph, peering through the peep-hole in the door, saw the tumble of figures come storming down the hill, black against the sky. He dipped a brush into a pan of liquid nearby, slid the door up a trifle, reached out, swabbed the resilian plate, slid the door shut. Rising, he put his eye to the peep-hole.
Reprinted in Magnus Ridolph, Spatterlight 2012
“Ah,” said Magnus Ridolph, “you think I dealt with you unfairly. And you brought me to Jexjeka to work in your mines.”
“You got it right mister. I’m a hard man to deal with when I’m crowded.”
“Your unpleasant threats are supererogatory.”
Republished in Magnus Ridolph, Spatterlight, 2012.
Comment: A “twilight zone” short story.
Everything was breathlessly quiet. The house stood ghostly white in the moonlight among old trees, three stories of archaic elegance, with lights showing dim yellow along the bottom floor.
“Ah,” and Trasek passed on to the second, an abstraction. “Now this,” and Trasek nodded, “is a nightmare.” Indeed, the shapes seemed unreal, and when the mind reached to grasp them, they appeared to slip away from comprehension, and the colors equally odd - nameless off-tones, bright tints the eye saw but could not name. Trasek shook his head disapprovingly, to Horzabky’s amusement, and passed on to the third. This was likewise an abstraction, but composed in a quieter spirit - horizontal lines and stripes of gold, silver, copper, and other metallic colors.
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012.
The reporters made respectful sounds. Chiram relaxed a trifle. “Estimates of the circumference run in the neighborhood of ten to a hundred billion light years. We plan to set out from Earth, assume a course almost any course. After a sufficient period of flying, at a sufficiently high speed, we hope to return from the opposite direction.”
Dead ahead lay the great wheeling galaxy. It grew huge, its arms of glowing stars spread open to embrace the ship. Chiram relaxed the field. The striations of space gripped at their atoms, the ship slowed like a bullet shot into water.
Jay turned his back to the cabin, wrote in his journal. He wrote copiously pages of introspection, fragments of quick-scribbled poetry, which he often returned to, copied, revised. He kept statistical charts: the detailed study of Chiram’s pacing, his average number of steps per square foot of deck, the pattern behind Julius’ menus. He carefully noted his dreams and spent hours trying to trace their genesis from his past. He wrote careful and elaborate excoriations of Chiram “for the record” he told himself and equally cogent self-justifications. He made interminable lists places he had visited, girl-friends, books, colors, songs. He sketched Chiram, Julius, Bob Galt time and time again.
Jay washed, shaved. Freedom was a luxury. This was living again if it were nothing but eat, sleep, look out into darkness. This was life: it would be like this the rest of his life...Curious existence. It seemed natural, sensible. Earth was a trifling recollection, a scene remembered from childhood.
Republished in Sail 25 and other stories, Spatterlight 2012.
Thousands of men and women of all ages had surrounded the ship, all shouting, all agitated by strong emotion.
Betty stared, and Welstead clambered down from the controls. The words were strangely pronounced, the grammar was archaic but it was the language of Earth.
The white-haired man spoke on, without calculation, as if delivering a speech of great familiarity. “We have waited two hundred and seventy-one years for your coming, for the deliverance you will bring us.”
Deliverance? Welstead considered the word. “Don’t see much to deliver ’em from,” he muttered aside to Betty. “The sun’s shining, there’s flowers on all the trees, they look well fed a lot more enthusiastic than I do. Deliver ’em from what?”