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Jack Vance





Jack Vance is certainly one the most inventive writers in SF&F, capable of creating very detailed and fascinating environments, but unfortunately, rarely giving them any further exploration or depth. His early stories are great entertainment, but later fiction became less accessible, with confusing plot-lines and irrelevant side-stories. However, at his best, Vance shines as a most spectacular visionary in history of SF&F.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Abercrombie Station"
(also as part of "Monsters in Orbit")
(Jean Parlier series)
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb 1952
Monsters In Orbit, 1965
--/ cool sf story

----------------------------------------------



"Assault On A City"
© Universe # 4, 1974
Lost Moons, 1982
--novella : 1975 Locus /4
--novella : 1975 Jupiter
--/ fourth place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award

Keeping in mind the year of its writing - 1974 - this novella predated many classic "cyberpunk" urban environments and, specifically, "Bladerunner" visuals. Not as dark as the famous Ridley Scott's movie set designs, "Assault on a City" features similar intense & ragged crowds of human & alien origin, plenty of fringe-culture display, flying cars and skyscraper jungle - all serving as a backdrop to pretty run-of-the-mill detective story. Even though the plot is confusing, the atmosphere is familiar and much liked in sf: it is the Asimov's "Caves of Steel" environment, updated for the 70s. Or rather, for the 80s - I believe this novella is 10 years ahead of its time in style and design. I am also glad the story's got a better title, than the originally-intended "The Insufferable Red-Headed Daughter of Commander Tynnott O.T.E.".
review: 05-Feb-08 (read in 1988)

----------------------------------------------

"The Asutra" (nv)
(Durdane series 3)
© 1973, F&SF
book: Dell Books, 1974
--/ cool sf novel

"Big Planet" (nv)
(Big Planet series)
© Startling Stories, Sep 1952
novel: Avalon Books, 1957
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"Brain Of The Galaxy"
(also as "The New Prime")
© Worlds Beyond, Feb 1951
Eight Fantasms and Magics, 1969
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

----------------------------------------------



"Brains Of Earth" (nv)
(also as "Nopalgarth")
(Nopalgarth series)
© Ace Double, 1966
also - DAW Books, 1980
--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: para-cosmos
--/ shock value

This is a small pop-art masterpiece with some psychedelic overtones. It feeds on paranoid ideas of the Fifties (aliens possessing our brains), embellishes it with cool descriptions of psychological and aural warfare (reminds me of "Final Fantasy" ghostly doppelganger entities), and reads like a gaudy poster in its simplicity of idea and plot. I often skipped many pages, to arrive sooner at the bizarre parasitic "brain" warfare sequences, which make this book stand out from other invasion fare, and from everything else Vance has written.
review: 10-Sep-06 (read in 2003)

----------------------------------------------

"Cholwell's Chickens"
(also as part of "Monsters in Orbit")
(Jean Parlier series)
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Aug 1952
Monsters In Orbit, 1965
--/ cool sf story

"Chasch" (nv)
(Planet Of Adventure # 1)
(also as"City Of The Chasch")
© 1968, Ace Books
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award

"Chateau D' If"
(also as "New Bodies For Old")
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Aug 1950
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"City Of The Chasch" (nv)
(Planet Of Adventure #1)
(also as "Chasch")
© 1968, Ace Books
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award

"Coup de Grace"
(also as "Worlds of Origin")
(Magnus Rudolph series)
© Super Science Fiction, Feb 1958
The Many Worlds of Magnus Rudolph, 1966
--/ cool sf novella

"The Devil on Salvation Bluff"
© Star Science Fiction # 3, 1954
The World Between and Other Stories, 1965
--/ cool sf story

"Dodkin's Job"
© Astounding, Oct 1959
Future Tense, 1964
Dust of Far Suns, 1981
--/ cool sf story

"D.P.!"
© Avon SF&F Reader, Apr 1953
--/ cool sf story

"The Dragon Masters" (nv)
© Galaxy, Aug 1962
book : 1965, Ace Double
--short fiction : 1963 Hugo W
--novella : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /29 (tie)
--foreign novel : 1977 Seiun W

--/ fourth place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award


"Dream Castle"
(also as "I'll Build You a Dream Castle")
© Astounding, Sep 1947
Lost Moons, 1982
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award


"Dust of Far Suns"
(also as "Gateway To Strangeness")
(also as "Sail 25")
© Amazing, Aug 1962
Future Tense, 1964
Dust of Far Suns, 1981
--/ fourth place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"Ecological Onslaught"
(also as "The World Between")
© Future Science Fiction, May 1953
The World Between and Other Stories, 1965
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: terraforming wars
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale

"The Eyes Of The Otherworld" (nv)
(Cugel Saga)
© 1966, Ace Books

"The Five Gold Bands" (nv)
(also as "The Space Pirate")
© 1950, Startling Stories
1953, Toby Press, as "Space Pirate"
novel : 1963, Ace Double
--/ third place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


"Freitzke's Turn"
(Miro Hetzel)
© Triax, ed. R. Silverberg, 1977
Galactic Effectuator, 1980
--/ cool sf novella

"Future Tense" (coll)
© Ballantine Books, 1964
--/ fourth place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"Gateway To Strangeness"
(also as "Sail 25")
(also as "Dust of Far Suns")
© Amazing, Aug 1962
Future Tense, 1964
Dust of Far Suns, 1981
--/ fourth place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"The Gift Of Gab"
© Astounding Stories, Sep 1955
Future Tense, 1964
--/ third place planetary sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award: fishing
--/ idea: alien linguistics
--/ style award

"The Gray Prince" (nv)
(Gaean Reach series)
© 1974, DAW Books

"Green Magic"
© F&SF, Jun 1963
Green Magic, 1979
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"Guyal Of Sphere"
(The Dying Earth)
© The Dying Earth, 1950
Eight Fantasms and Magics, 1969
--all time fantasy novel : 1987 Locus All-Time Poll /16
--series fantasy novel: 1998 Locus All-Time Poll /15
--novel : 2001 Retro Hugo

--/ fourth place sf novella
--/ wonder award

"The Houses of Iszm" (nv)
(Nopalgarth series)
© Startling Stories, Spr 1954
novel: Ace Double, 1964
--/ third place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: alien bio-grown houses
--/ adventure award
--/ style award

"The Howling Bounders"
(Magnus Rudolph series)
© Startling Stories, Mar 1949
The Many Worlds of Magnus Rudolph, 1966
--/ fourth place planetary sf story
--/ wonder award

"I'll Build You a Dream Castle"
(also as "Dream Castle")
© Astounding, Sep 1947
Lost Moons, 1982
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award


"The Killing Machine" (nv)
(Demon Princes series)
© 1964, DAW Books
--/ cool sf novel

"The King of Thieves"
(Magnus Rudolph series)
© Startling Stories, Nov 1949
The Many Worlds of Magnus Rudolph, 1966
--/ cool sf story

"The Kokod Warriors"
(Magnus Ridolph series)
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Oct 1952
The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph, 1966
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"The Languages of Pao" (nv)
© Satellite Science Fiction, Dec 1957
novel: Avalon Books, 1958
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: alien linguistics

"The Last Castle" (nv)
© Galaxy, Apr 1966
The Last Castle, 1968
--novelette : 1967 Hugo W
--novella : 1967 Nebula W
--novella : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /25

--/ third place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award


"Lyonesse" (nv)
(Lyonesse series)
© 1983, Berkley Putnam
--novel : 1984 Nebula
--novel : 1984 World Fantasy
--fantasy novel : 1984 Locus /4

--/ third place f novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award


"The Many Worlds of Magnus Rudolph" (coll)
(Magnus Rudolph series)
© Ace Double Books, 1966
--/ cool sf collection
--/ wonder award

"Maske: Thaery" (nv)
(Gaean Reach series)
© 1978, DAW Books
--novel : 1977 Locus /12
--/ cool sf story

"The Masquerade on Dicantropus"
© Startling Stories, Sep 1951
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"Men Of The Ten Books"
(also as "The Ten Books")
© Startling Stories, Mar 1951
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Men Return"
© Infinity Science Fiction, Jul 1957
The World Between & Other Stories, 1966
--/ second place apocalyptic sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: liquid rocks, solid air
--/ style award
--/ awesome scale

"The Miracle Workers"
© Astounding, Jul 1958
Eight Fantasms and Magics, 1969
Green Magic, 1979
--novelette : 1959 Hugo
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Mitr"
© Vortex Science Fiction # 1, 1953
Green Magic, 1979
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"Monsters in Orbit" (coll)
(also as "Abercrombie Station"
and "Cholwell's Chickens")
(Jean Parlier series)
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, 1952
Ace Double, 1965

"The Moon Moth"
© Galaxy, Aug 1961
The World Between and Other Stories, 1965
The Worlds Of Jack Vance, 1969
Green Magic, 1979
--novella : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /16 (tie)
--/ third place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award


"The Moon Moth and Other Stories" (coll)
(also as "The World Between and Other Stories" UK)
© Ace Double, 1965
--/ fourth place sf collection
--/ wonder award

"The Narrow Land"
(Narrow Land series)
© 1967, Fantastic Stories
Green Magic, 1979
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ cool sf novella
--/ wonder award

"The Narrow Land" (coll)
© Daw Books, 1982
--/ cool sf collection
--/ wonder award

"New Bodies For Old"
(also as "Chateau D'If")
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Aug 1950
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"The New Prime"
(also as "Brain of the Galaxy")
© Worlds Beyond, Feb 1951
Eight Fantasms and Magics, 1969
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"Noise"
© Startling Stories, Aug 1952
Eight Fantasms and Magics, 1969
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea: planetary music
--/ style award

----------------------------------------------



"Nopalgarth" (nv)
(also as "Brains Of Earth")
(Nopalgarth series)
© Ace Double, 1966
also - DAW Books, 1980
--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: para-cosmos
--/ shock value

This is a small pop-art masterpiece with some psychedelic overtones. It feeds on paranoid ideas of the Fifties (aliens possessing our brains), embellishes it with cool descriptions of psychological and aural warfare (reminds me of "Final Fantasy" ghostly doppelganger entities), and reads like a gaudy poster in its simplicity of idea and plot. I often skipped many pages, to arrive sooner at the bizarre parasitic "brain" warfare sequences, which make this book to stand out from other invasion fare, and from everything else Vance has written.
review: 10-Sep-06 (read in 2003)

----------------------------------------------

"The Palace Of Love" (nv)
(Demon Princes series 3)
© 1966, Galaxy
DAW Books, 1974
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Pilgrims"
(Cugel series)
(Dying Earth series)
© F&SF, Jun 1966
The Eyes of the Overworld, 1966
Green Magic, 1979
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"Rumfuddle"
© Three Trips In Time And Space, ed. R. Silverberg, 1973
The Best of Jack Vance, 1976
--novella : Locus Poll 1974
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea: infinite universes

"Sail 25"
(also as "Gateway To Strangeness")
(also as "Dust Of Far Suns")
© Amazing, Aug 1962
Future Tense, 1964
Dust of Far Suns, 1981
--/ fourth place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"The Seven Escapes From Bosz"
© 1950, Space Stories
The Rhodomagnetic Digest, 1952
Lost Moons, 1982
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"Son Of The Tree" (nv)
(Nopalgarth series)
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Jun 1951
novel: Ace Double, 1964
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Sorcerer Pharesm"
(Cugel series)
(Dying Earth series)
© F&SF, Apr 1966
The Eyes of the Overworld, 1966
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"The Spa Of The Stars"
(Magnus Rudolph series)
© Startling Stories, Jul 1950
The Many Worlds of Magnus Rudolph, 1966
--/ third place planetary sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ humour award
--/ rare find

"The Space Pirate" (nv)
(also as "The Five Gold Bands")
© 1950, Startling Stories
1953, Toby Press, as "Space Pirate"
novel : 1963, Ace Double
--/ third place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


"The Ten Books"
(also as "Men Of The Ten Books")
© Startling Stories, Mar 1951
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"Space Opera" (nv)
© 1965, Pyramid Books

"Telek"
© Astounding Stories, Jan 1952
Eight Fantasms and Magics, 1968
--/ cool esp sf novella

----------------------------------------------




Jack Vance
"To Live Forever" (nv)

© 1956, Ballantine Books
--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award

This was the first full-length novel for Jack Vance, published by the prestigious Ballantine company, with a neat Richard Powers cover. It deals with the fascinating subject of achieving immortality before the individuals (and the decadent society) are ready for it. Something desirable and (almost) holy turns into a nightmare of Dante's proportions, where every individual must play the "merit" game, to advance in the "works" system - which of course is corrupt and totalitarian in nature. Plus, those who fail to play the game are euthanized - quite spooky and daring social extrapolation stuff for 1956, bringing to mind the main thesis of communism: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". It does sound like the opposite of "works" system, but we all know it's not the "grace" system either. Nick Gevers said it best: "(the novel) tells in sumptuous claustrophobic detail just how alien--and alienated--a human society might become, portraying a mighty far-future city state driven by absolute standards of meritocracy turning against itself in hysteria and bloodshed"

Besides interesting idea developments, this book boasts wonderfully lively descriptions of a future urban environment. This is Jack Vance at the top of his form, building visual vistas of futuristic skyscrapers and sky highways. Soaring architecture almost reflects the main character's strive for the lofty heights of immortality. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if I was spooked by its cold and uncaring dystopian society. Highly recommended.
review: 01-Feb-08 (read in 2006)

----------------------------------------------



"Ullward's Retreat"
© Galaxy, Dec 1958
Future Tense, 1964
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion: stuck-up aristocracy

Can you imagine a "real estate spiel", a multi-colored brochure - how only Vance could write it? Of course the piece of a real estate described here is gorgeous, in a prime location on another planet (Vance also throws in descriptions of planet ecology, landscapes, etc). However, visuals aside, this story is about the aristocratic, "stuck-up" attitude of one upper-class family, displaying a kind of sophisticated bored indifference. I would recommend this story to anyone considering moving up in the world - to dwell on consequences of acquiring just such an attitude. Overall, quite enjoyable novelette.
review: 06-Jul-06 (read in 2006)

----------------------------------------------

"The Unspeakable McInch"
(Magnus Ridolph series)
© Startling Stories, Nov 1948
The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph, 1966
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"When the Five Moons Rise"
© Cosmos Science Fiction, March 1954
Eight Fantasms and Magics, 1969
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award: phantoms
--/ emotion award
--/ romance award
--/ style award
--/ rare find

"Where Hesperus Falls"
© Fantastic Universe, Oct 1956
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ cool sf story

"Winner Lose All"
© Galaxy, Dec 1951
Lost Moons, 1982
--Groff Conklin's story selection
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find

"The World Between"
(also as "Ecological Onslaught")
© Future Science Fiction, May 1953
The World Between and Other Stories, 1965
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: terraforming wars
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale

"The World Between and Other Stories" (coll)
(also as "The Moon Moth and Other Stories" UK)
© Ace Double, 1965
--/ fourth place sf collection
--/ wonder award

"The World Thinker"
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Sum 1945
Lost Moons, 1982
The Narrow Land, 1982
--/ fourth place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"Worlds of Origin"
(also as "Coup de Grace")
(Magnus Rudolph series)
© Super Science Fiction, Feb 1958
The Many Worlds of Magnus Rudolph, 1966
--/ cool sf novella

-------------------------------------------

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EXPLANATION OF THE RATING SYSTEM:

"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.


All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)
ALL "BEST OF" LISTS ARE LOCATED HERE

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.