Author: Jack Vance
Pages: 333 pages
Published: March 31st 2013
The third of three volumes. The Ultimate Grandeur. Fantasy and Science Fiction Grandmaster Jack Vance is very much a writer of the Space Age. His time 'traveling' the magic highways of his imagination spans the period bracketed by the final years of World War II and the Cassini Huygens probe reaching Saturn space in late 2004, the year he brought his magnificent career to a close.
In those first thrilling, dangerous, heady days, science did seem to promise all the answers, and it was in a 'double' universe of the familiar workaday world and the utterly unlimited one of the imagination that the ever-practical yet romantic, diligently physics-savvy yet as often wildly improvisational Jack Vance worked.
Even as he wrote tales set in the far future of his acclaimed Dying Earth, even as he produced mysteries and suspense stories of a much less fanciful kind, Jack's determined quest to become a 'million words a year' man saw him ranging a universe criss-crossed with busy interstellar highways: a network of flourishing trade and tourist routes leading to new frontiers, far-flung colonies, alien worlds, with ample room for exotic races, travelers, traders and scoundrels, even space pirates, ample opportunity for grand schemes of every kind.
Magic Highways gathers sixteen of those early space adventures from that exciting first decade, spanning the years 1946 to 1956. In these frequently inventive, often surprising space operas, Jack takes us to vivid destinations along the vast interstellar highways of a future where anything is possible.
Contents, 16 stories:
Introduction: The Ultimate Grandeur • essay by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan;
Phalid's Fate (1946); --
Planet of the Black Dust (1946); --
Dead Ahead (variant of Ultimate Quest 1950) (1986); --
The Ten Books (1951); --
The Uninhibited Robot (variant of The Plagian Siphon) (1951); --
Dover Spargill's Ghastly Floater (1951); --
The Visitors (variant of Winner Lose All) (1951); --
Sabotage on Sulfur Planet (1952); --
The House Lords (1957); --
Sanatoris Short-Cut [Magnus Ridolph] (1948); --
The Unspeakable McInch [Magnus Ridolph] (1948); --
The Sub-Standard Sardines [Magnus Ridolph] (1949); --
The Howling Bounders [Magnus Ridolph] (1949); --
The King of Thieves [Magnus Ridolph] (1949); --
The Spa of the Stars [Magnus Ridolph] (1950); --
To B or Not to C or to D [Magnus Ridolph] (1950).
Cover illustration: Tom Kidd.