Jack Vance, sorted by year written
show ‘1952’ (clear filter)
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.
A: There are 97 conventions of battle which may be employed: for instance, Code 48, by which we overcame strong Black Glass Tumble, allows the lance to be grasped only by the left hand and permits no severing of the leg tendons with the dagger. Code 69, however, insists that the tendons must be cut before the kill is made and the lances are used thwart-wise, as bumpers.
The guide continued, “The Eastern Shield warriors can be seen coming over the hill...It seems as if they surmise the Ivory Dune strategy and will attempt to attack the flank...There!” His voice rose animatedly. “By the bronze tree! The scouts have made a brush...Eastern Shield lures the Ivory Dune scouts into ambush...They’re gone. Apparently today’s code is 4, or possibly 36, allowing all weapons to be used freely, without restriction.”
Magnus Ridolph made an easy gesture. “I profess an amateur’s interest in military strategy; I will assume responsibility for that phase of the plan.”
Republished in Magnus Ridolph, Spatterlight, 2012.
“It’s catching,” said the pilot vehemently. “Look, kid, I know. I’ve ferried out to all the stations, I’ve seen ’em come and go. Each station has its own kind of weirdness, and you can’t keep away from it.” He chuckled self-consciously. “Maybe that’s why I’m so batty myself...Now take Madeira Station. Gay. Frou-frou.” He made a mincing motion with his fingers. “That’s Madeira. You wouldn’t know much about that...But take Balchester Aerie, take Merlin Dell, take the Starhome ”
When Jean reached the Hotel Atlantide in Metropolis she wore a black dress and black pumps which she felt made her look older and more sophisticated. Crossing the lobby she kept wary look-out for the house detective. Sometimes they nursed unkind suspicions toward unaccompanied young girls. It was best to avoid the police, keep them at a distance. When they found that she had no father, no mother, no guardian, their minds were apt to turn to some dreary government institution. On several occasions rather extreme measures to ensure her independence had been necessary.
Comment: According to foreverness the story was based on an idea of the editor. According to www.isfdb.org Station Abercrombie and Cholwell’s Chickens were revised (fix-up) as Monsters in Orbit, 1965.
Republished in Golden Girl 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.
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