Jack Vance, sorted by year written
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“I want to minimize the shock on the brain,” explained the doctor. “The visual images no doubt will be confusing, to say the least. The Phalid’s color spectrum, remember, is twice as long, the field of vision three or four times as wide as that of the average human being. It has two hundred eyes, and the impressions of two hundred separate optic units must be coordinated and merged. A human brain accommodates to two images, but it’s questionable whether it could do the same for two hundred. That’s why we’ve left intact a bit of the creature’s former brain the nodule coordinating the various images.” Here Plogetz paused long enough to give the complex black head an appraising glance.
Wratch looked about the sky for familiar star-patterns, and for the first time regretted the seven new colors in his spectrum. Because the stars were entirely different in guise, some bright in over-violet, others in sub-red.
Republished in Chateau d’If and Other Stories. 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
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
Frayberg interrupted. “What we can use, Wilbur, is a sequence on Sirgamesk superstition. Emphasis on voodoo or witchcraft naked girls dancing stuff with roots in Earth, but now typically Sirgamesk. Lots of color. Secret rite stuff...”
The creature rose to his feet, strode springily toward Murphy. He carried a crossbow and a sword, like those of Murphy's fleet-footed guards. But he wore no space-suit. Could there be breathable traces of an atmosphere? Murphy glanced at his gauge. Outside pressure: zero.
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!”
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
Luke often daydreamed of a more sumptuous life: AAA nutrition, a suite of rooms for his exclusive use, Special Coupons by the bale, Class 7 Erotic Processing, or even Class 6, or 5: despite Luke’s contempt for the High Echelon he had no quarrel with High Echelon perquisites. And always as a bitter coda to the daydreams came the conviction that he might have enjoyed these good things in all reality. He had watched his fellows jockeying; he knew all the tricks and techniques: the beavering, the gregarization, the smutting, knuckling and subuculation…
Republished in The Moon Moth and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012
The houseboat had been built to the most exacting standards of Sirenese craftsmanship, which is to say, as close to the absolute as human eye could detect. The planking of waxy dark wood showed no joints, the fastenings were platinum rivets countersunk and polished flat. In style, the boat was massive, broad beamed, steady as the shore itself, without ponderosity or slackness of line. The bow bulged like a swan’s breast, the stem rising high, then crooking forward to support an iron lantern. The doors were carved from slabs of a mottled black-green wood; the windows were many sectioned, paned with squares of mica, stained rose, blue, pale green and violet. The bow was given to service facilities and quarters for the slaves; amidships were a pair of sleeping cabins, a dining saloon and a parlor saloon, opening upon an observation deck at the stern.
Thissell tried again, laboriously manipulating the strapan. He sang, “To an out-worlder on a foreign planet, the voice of one from his home is like water to a wilting plant. A person who could unite two such persons might find satisfaction in such an act of mercy.”
Republished in The Moon Moth and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012.