Jack Vance, sorted by year written
show ‘1951’ (clear filter)
“Several hundred thousand years ago,” mused Lurulu, “we had a period called ‘The Era of Insanity’; this was when the white-haired people of the south and the golden-haired people of the north purposely killed each other.” She paused, then said vaguely, “They had a culture roughly equivalent to yours.”
Lurulu ignored the onlookers, completely indifferent to the staring eyes and excited babble. Baxter, uncomfortable and somehow resentful, followed at her elbow as she turned up the street. She seemed to enjoy the sunlight, and held her hand outstretched, as if feeling the texture of the light. Her skin glowed like rich satin. She breathed deeply, glanced in at the houses which lined the street. Blackney’s little hospital was in a pleasant suburb, shaded with great elms, and the houses sat well back among gardens.
Republished in Golden Girl 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
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?”
Reprinted in Son of the Tree, Spatterlight, 2012
Revised for The Augmented Agent and Other Stories, Underwood-Miller, 1986.
Reprinted 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
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 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