Jack Vance, sorted by year written
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A pirate story that almost reads as an episode from The Star Diaries by Lem. Except, there is no parody, no wit, no interesting analogy. It’s a crude tale of greed set against a weirdly anachronistic background...
Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories. Spatterlight, 2012.
The story was revised significantly in 1962 (re-titled as “Dream Castle”).
“Now, as to your process, it clearly has been developed while you worked for us; therefore it becomes our property. There are a thousand legal precedents to this effect.”
Farrero waved his hand. “Irrelevant. My basic idea is to bring Class III homes down to the Class II price level, which is of course not a patentable process.”
“Well, Douane,” presently came Marlais’ soft voice, “you probably could have handled him more subtly...” His voice trailed off to a whisper. Then: “We’ll have a hard time proving ownership of any patents. Still, it may be for the best. The industry is stable. We’re all making money. No telling where disruption might take us. Perhaps we’d better call a meeting of the association, lay our cards on the table. I think everyone will contract neither to hire Farrero nor use his process.”
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight,2012
Well-phrased action story. It is the kind of action as in for example the 2011 Thor movie. Like in movies of that kind, the flow of the action should keep you from examining the unbelievable premises. And the reader is left with a big plot hole...
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012
Reprinted as Bird Isle, Spatterlight 2012.
They drove south with the sun phosphorescing through a high mist that swirled in across the bay from San Francisco. At San Jose the mist was gone and the sun was yellow. At Monterey a wind blew in off the Pacific from the direction of Hawaii, twisting the black cypress, flecking the face of the ocean with whitecaps.
By nightfall San Giorgio seethed with sensation. Two mutilation murders in the week, a maniac at large! Sheriff Hartmann felt blind, baffled, helpless. He had no suspects to question, no leads, no idea of where or how to begin. A single course of inquiry presented itself, stemming from Carr Pendry’s half-dazed identification of Robert Struve. It was a poor piece of evidence. But it was a lead, and he had no others.
Under the pseudonym Peter Held according to this article.
Republished The Flesh Mask, 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.
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.
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.
“She’s okay,” said Carr. “It was that kapok stuff from Deneb Kaitos. Now let’s see I’ve got to set up this phony code. Hey, Scotty,” he called down to Allixter, “made your will yet? This is like stepping out of an airplane holding your nose and hoping you’ll hit water.”
Encouraged, Allixter proceeded to Step Two Enumeration. The screen depicted symbols representing the agglomerative numerals a series of lines, one dot in the first line, two dots in the second line, three in the third, four in the fourth, in such fashion up to twenty. Joe, alive to his task, made sounds for the numbers. Then the screen displayed a random multitude of dots and Joe created another sound.
The speaker made a bleating sound which once more seemed to carry near-human overtones. Allixter set his shoulder to the mobile unit.
Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories
Revised for The Augmented Agent and Other Stories, Underwood-Miller, 1986.
Reprinted in Chateau d'If and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012
The young man stared, taken aback. “Brotherhood?...You mean fraternity?” Enlightenment spread over his face. “Is this some kind of hell-week stunt?” He laughed. “If it is, they sure go all the way.”
After grounding his air-sled Ceistan sat a few minutes inspecting the dead city Therlatch: a wall of earthen brick a hundred feet high, a dusty portal, and a few crumbled roofs lifting above the battlements. Behind the city the desert spread across the near, middle and far distance to the hazy shapes of the Altilune Mountains at the horizon, pink in the light of the twin suns Mig and Pag.
Republished in The Moon Moth and Other Stories
Avery had been watching the dancing lights over his shoulder. “They’re like eyes watching us...Before a colony’s sent out here, these damn things will have to be destroyed. They’d be dangerous flying loose around electricity.”
Far down the beach, Avery and Jason saw the white flash of the explosion, saw the black gullies light up in a ghastly swift glare. Then came a rolling sound and a jar of concussion.
Two ideas in this early story I later saw elsewhere (in a book by Larry Niven, another in a book by Peter F Hamilton). (more)
Republished in Sail 25 and other stories, Spatterlight, 2012
Two puzzles dominated the life of Jim Root. The first, the pyramid out in the desert, tickled and prodded his curiosity, while the second, the problem of getting along with his wife, kept him keyed to a high pitch of anxiety and apprehension. At the moment the problem had crowded the mystery of the pyramid into a lost alley of his brain.
“I suppose anything’s possible,” said Root. He had noticed the acquisitive twitch to Landry’s mouth, the hook of the fingers. “You’d better not get any ideas. I don’t want any trouble with the natives. Remember that, Landry.”
Landry edged slowly forward, keeping his light on the Dicantrops. He asked Root sharply, “Are these lads dangerous?”
Republshed in Golden Girl and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012.
The scientific world seethes with the troglodyte controversy. According to the theory most frequently voiced, the trogs are descended from cavemen of the glacial eras, driven underground by the advancing wall of ice. Other conjectures, more or less scientific, refer to the lost tribes of Israel, the fourth dimension, Armageddon, and Nazi experiments.
“...We have ignored this matter too long. Far from being a scientific curiosity or a freak, this is a very human problem, one of the biggest problems of our day and we must handle it as such. The trogs are pressing from the ground at an ever-increasing rate; the Kreuzertal, or Kreuzer Valley, is inundated with trogs as if by a flood. We have heard reports, we have deliberated, we have made solemn noises, but the fact remains that every one of us is sitting on his hands. These people we must call them people must be settled somewhere permanently; they must be made self-supporting. This hot iron must be grasped; we fail in our responsibilities otherwise...”
The VIE website Foreverness writes: “Written in Fulpmes, Austria. Spurious ending removed”.
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012
It must be, I tell myself, that both objectivity and subjectivity enter into the situation. I receive impressions which my brain finds unfamiliar, and so translates to the concept most closely related. By this theory the inhabitants of this world are constantly close; I move unknowingly through their palaces and arcades; they dance incessantly around me. As my mind gains sensitivity, I verge upon rapport with their way of life and I see them. More exactly, I sense something which creates an image in the visual region of my brain. Their emotions, the pattern of their life sets up a kind of vibration which sounds in my brain as music...The reality of these creatures I am sure I will never know. They are diaphane, I am flesh; they live in a world of spirit, I plod the turf with my heavy feet.
Republished in The World-Thinker 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!”
NOLAND BANNISTER, superintendent of Star Control Field Office #12, was known at the space-port and along Folger Avenue as a hell-roarer a loud-voiced man of vigorous action. He made no secret of his dislike for administrative detail and attacked paper work with a grumbling rancor. Negligence in his staff he dealt with rudely. Mistakes of a more serious nature left him grim and white with rage.
“Here’s how I see it,” said Bannister. “If there’s money to be made looting this planet, Plum will be out and away as soon as he organizes a trip. Once in space, under sky-drive, he’s gone. We can’t trace him. Unless of course we have a representative aboard. There’s where you come in. He’s practically hired you already. You return the jewel to him, tell him you’re sorry you ran off with it, and that you want a chance to pick up a few yourself.”
Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012
Several sources state that this story was first published in “Malcolm’s Mystery Magazine,” March 1954, under the pseudonym John Van See. However, Foreverness seems to think the pseudonym J. A. Kavnnes was used. Maybe the author proposed J. A. Kavnnes and the publisher choose John Van See instead.
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012.
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.” 
Republished in Chateau d’If and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012
Emerson and Cope walked around the ship. Crossing the clearing in leisurely fashion were a young man and woman, a girl and the boy they had seen before. They were the most handsome beings the Earthmen had ever seen. The young man wore a skin-tight garment of emerald-green sequins, a complicated head-dress of silver spines; the boy wore red trousers, a dark blue jacket and a long-billed blue cap. The young woman and the girl wore simple sheaths of white and blue, stretching with easy elasticity as they walked. They were bare-headed; their pale hair fell flowing to their shoulders.
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012.
Summary on jackvance.com:
While in Rome, art student Chuck Musgrave is offered a job painting pictures of Positano, a picturesque town south of Naples. When Chuck arrives in Positano, strange things begin to happen. It becomes clear that not all foreigners living in Positano are there for the scenery!
Foreverness writes that the book was written during Vance’s second stay in Positano (below Napels, Italy), in 1957. [ref]
Republished as Strange People, Queer Notions, Spatterlight, 2012
Comment: A mystery set in Morocco. Foreverness writes that it is based on traveling Morocco in 1957. [ref] The novel was awarded the prestigious Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in the category “Best First Novel by an American Author”. Actually Vance had published two mystery novels earlier, but used for those the pseudonyms Peter Held and Alan Wade respectively, while The Man in the Cage was published under his full name John Holbrook Vance.
The Man in the Cage has a number of favorable user reviews on Amazon. [ref] Hector DeJean writes that Vance had a knack for exotic cultural settings and gives a sketch of Morocco that is “...enough to keep hold the story together, without being excessively wordy. [ref]
Republished as The Man in the Cage, Spatterlight, 2012.
Foreverness indicates that at the time of writing (1970) Vance was in Ireland. [ref]
The first publication in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (February and March 1971) involved a version that was shorter than the novel. (ref: colophon Durdane, 1976 Meulenhof)
The first book publication was as The Anome in 1973 by Dell Publishing. [ref]
The first publication in French was also serialized (in three parts, 1973). [ref]
Plot intro from Wikipedia:
It tells the story of a boy growing to manhood in the land of Shant, a society composed of many different, and wildly individual cantons, some of which are run by cults. Each adult wears an explosive torc which can be detonated by remote command, bringing about instant death by decapitation. The torcs are controlled by an anonymous dictator, the Anome, whose identity is literally unknown. Because those whose heads are exploded are selected primarily by the cantonal leaders, for violations of local law, the Anome is able to operate with only a handful of assistants, or ‘Benevolences’, who themselves do not know his identity. (accessed 7 March 2019)
Republished by Spatterlight as This Is Me, Jack Vance! Or More Properly, This Is I.