The Vance Phile

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Issue 2 Parm Press

* copyright 1993 Gregg Parmentier *
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Hello, Vance Fans:

Well, here is issue #2. A bit later than I would have liked since I've been delayed getting those elusive reprint rights (as well as remodelling my kitchen), but I've been able to do a lot more intricate layout as I've learned a bit more about AmiPro (tm). Those of you who only received the electronic ascii version should see what you're missing. I suppose next issue I may experiment with fonts a bit.

I hope to get more articles, introductions, and commentaries into future issues. One thing I especially want to do is get the rights to reprint the Captain Video scripts from the early fifties. If anyone can tell me where to get copies, I would be very pleased. And if you can direct me where to get reprint rights I'd be even more pleased.

I went to Minicon this year and I learned a lot of interesting things about fanzines from some of the people there. I had a nice little talk with Garth Edmond Danielson, and went to a panel on fanzines which included Don Fitch, Terry Garey, and Jeff Schalles.

Among other things, I'll be using mimeograph equipment instead of photocopying for hard copies as soon as I find the equipment. This will save me money in the long run and also make the fanzines hold up better over time. I hope to be able to keep the cost down far enough to not need to charge for subscriptions. This doesn't mean I won't take contributions if any of you feel like sending any. I don't mind spending my own money spreading Vancian information, but there are limits.

I'd also like to encourage people to send letters regarding anything in The Vance Phile or anything about Vance, and I'll print them. Nothing formal here, just a way to communicate with fellow Vance fans with the fanzine as a vehicle. You might also get fanzines of a more general nature from other fanzine editors who see your letters.

I've been able to secure reprint rights to Larry Tritten's parody of Vance, The Star Sneak, which was published in the July 1974 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Many thanks to Edward L. Ferman, the publisher of F&SF and, of course, to Larry Tritten, for allowing me to reprint it here. I laughed almost as much rereading it as I had when I first read it.

In this issue I also have an article sent to me by Leon J. Janzen which he calls The Elusive Volumes of Jack Vance. To use his own words:

"I envision it ... maybe ... as the first of a series, and the intent is to try to include some of Vance's esmeric ... the idea that his early stories are 'lost' ... antique, hard to get, sort of stored away in the dusty crypt of a dying world ... and as we discuss them, we try to work in a little Vancean feel."
What he sent me was meticulously laid out with color reproductions of covers which I'm not capable of reproducing with my production methods, though I wish I could so you could see it as well. Such enthusiasm is wonderful and I look forward to number two in the series.


The Star Sneak

a Jack Vance Parody

by Larry Tritten

copyright 1974 by Mercury Press, Inc.

Reprinted from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (July 1974, Vol. 47, No 1)


Learning of rumors to the effect that Vulgare Hokum had undertaken certain mercantile enterprises among the highland folk to the east of the city of Astropolis, on Tristan, Garth Curson chartered a star vessel and hurried to the planet. His errand: observance of his vow to enact venegeance upon each of the five Demon Pranksters who had ventured the temerity to address him in colloquial terms - one of whom was Vulgare Hokum.

Curson landed at the Astropolis Spaceport, from which he immediately repaired to seek lodging in a nearby hostel, a melancholic five-story structure of uremic yellow planking and gravy-colored stone. Along the walls of the great lobby, displayed in glass cases, were the bones and preserved pelts and derma of guests who had failed to recompense their accounts. Curson observed these for some time and then, making a meticulous count of his funds, withdrew to the dining hall. The menu offered a single rude Tristanese meal - and acrid salad of native herbage, a steamed and sugared musk frog, and a pannikin of spiced broth - yet Curson's appetite was large and he ate with relish, doing his best to ignore the itinerant evangelist who practiced devotional tumbling under his table. At length, he summoned a barrow and was jounced through the sinister back alleys of Astropolis to the native bazaar, where he intended to procure banes and balms to protect him on his trek to the highlands.


Curson found the repertorium he sought, a sturdy shed of russet thatch and umber lumber, and entered. Within, in the tremulous light of a single candle flickering in a carved stone flambeau, a man whose cheeks were tatooed with talismanic graffiti stood behind a counter.

Curson made a debonair gesture. "I wish to examine effectuants to insure me against brigandage on a journey into perilous regions."

"Excellent!" exclaimed the keeper, and began to bring forth articles. "What do you seek? This splendid poison, perhaps?" He exhibited a coarse-textured purple powder. "When introduced into the food or drink of an enemy, it causes instant death by implosion of the internal organs. Or - here: this useful toxin compels its victim to walk askew, as though he were the wearer of uncomfortably tight underlinen. The result is obloquy! A related substance induces constant vulgar eructation, a certain woe to all who enjoy convivial discourse. What else can I recommend? Ah, this. An amulet which reverses natural dispositions. Observe!" And the keeper displayed a cage containing a brooding hyena, a sloth with a nervous condition, and a ground-rodent which was said to be claustrophobic.

Curson shrugged. "None of these items seem to be exactly what I seek."

"And yet," replied the keeper, frowning gravely, "I must caution you to purchase all. I am prepared to waft tox mephis at you, a potion which will distort the lucidity of your speech, causing you to express yourself in slang and monosyllables!"

Curson made his purchases and departed hastily.


At dawn Curson joined a company of pilgrims who were bound east toward the highlands. All day the pilgrims marched along the river Zag, singing raffish songs, engaging in affable chatter and bandinage, and playfully thrusting one another into bogs. In the dying afternoon an armada of thunderclouds edged with wan light sailed across the darkening sky, threatening deluge.

Shelter was sought in a cave. Here sobriety replaced casual banter, and discussions of a metaphysical and philosophical tone ensued.

One called Fragon, an extreme cynic, professed a unique cosmology: he maintained that the celestial bodies were ordure produced by a great deity, offering in conclusion: "...and, as it is well known that a variety of vermin spawns in such matter, thus were the races of the universe born."

"This is impiety!" retorted Hakule, a tall muscular man with flashing eyes like black gems. "Such a creed makes jest of the Devine Artificer. In accordance with the teaching of the holy sage Whilom, I attest the doctrine which fully acknowledges the essential nature of our creator - sweetness: the heavenly spheres are various sorts of comfits, bonbons, and the like, the work of the Cosmic Confectioner. The races of the universe are analagous to animalculae partaking sustenance."

"Bah!" cried another cynic. "If anything, the cosmos is the effect of a deity who specializes in the art of caricature. How else explain the sorry state of things in relation to what they might ideally be?"

At length, Curson was called upon to expound his own creed. He chose to do so by object lesson, producing a small knife and easing the pilgrims of their valuables, then slipping quickly from the cave to continue his journey alone.


The following day Curson toiled the the crest of a high barren hill where he crouched behind the jutting bulk of a large crag, gazing down at the terrain far below: the entire valley was filled with orchards of gray-brown pod-bearing stalks, thousands upon thousands of them, stretching far away over a series of rolling hillocks into the blue-hazed regions of the north. Even as Curson watched, a large aggregation of harvesters appeared and began picking the pods; these harvesters were a motley throng - outworlders all: there were obese, omnivorous anthropoids from Viand, clad in edible tunics and pantaloons ... Capellan bird-fellows, now fluttering, now stepping ... complaisant automatons from Mao's Planet, Earthmen, Alderbaranese like orange stucco gorillas, others of all shapes and origins.

Interplanetary braceros, thought Curson. So these were Vulgare Hokum's employees! But what was the nature of the enterprise? And where might Vulgare Hokum himself be found?

The sun was a wound, the horizon to the west a blood-drenched swath by the time Curson had descended from the heights. Disguised in a monk's hooded cloak, he approached a harvester, a solemn, industrious Earthman working alone at the edge of one of the orchards. When near enough for contact, he flourished his knife and pressed it to the man's collarbone.

"Satisfy my queries, or I carve expletives on your visage!" snapped Curson. "First, state where Vulgare Hokum may be found - then explain the import of these pods!"

The man blanched with fear, evinced a gasp of supplication. "Forbear! Candor is my ethic! Vulgare Hokum may be sought yonder -" he pointed a trembling finger vigorously "- in his office-shed. As for the pods, these are to be gathered, dried, cured and shipped to a cereal manufactory in Battle Creek, Michigan, at which point they will be processed into flakes to be packaged with charms and sold as a breakfast treat known as Polykrisps. The aim of the undertaking is thus: the plant has a narcotic effect, and Vulgare Hokum intends to distribute samples, addict the galaxy, and administer a reign of ribaldry."

Curson pondered the explanation for a moment, then nodded slowly. "I give you your life," he murmured, and struck the man unconscious with the haft of his blade.


Now the moment of denouement was at hand. Curson strode to the door of Vulgare Hokum's office-shed, turned the knob, pushed, and sprang inside with a loud cry. Vulgare Hokum, aghast, lurched to his feet behind a metal desk, dropping a small bouquet of stimulative blooms he had been sniffing; he stood transfixed, a lank, full-beardedrogue attired all in black - a tailored suit and a stylish cape emblazoned with the emblem on an ancient epicurean cult; profiled head of white hare with bow tie.

Curson raised an admonitory finger. "Now you must answer for your peccancies, villain!"

"What th' hell's peccancy?" came the surly retort; then, "You ain't gettin' me! I'm gettin' out -" In midsentence, Vulgare Hokum primed himself, made a dramatic leap for a nearby window; but Curson was upon him at once, knife flashing. There was a brisk scuffle, a violent embrace and falling away.

Before he drew his last breath, Vulgare Hokum, prostrate on the floor, grimacing sourly, addressed a fusillade of Pig Latin at Curson.

Then Curson left to assume his new role as enterpreneur and supervise the harvesting of his pods.

Comparative Reviews: Demon Princes

I recently decided to read some serialized versions of Vance's work. I did not do a rigorous comparison between versions, but whenever I thought something different I compared them with the Underwood-Miller editions. Here are the differences which I noticed:

The Star King

Serialized December 1963 and February 1964 in Galaxy.

The name of the first Demon Prince was Grendel (the Monster) in the serialization, rather than Attel Malagate (the Woe).

Kirth Gersen's grandfather was Rolf Harpit Gersen in Galaxy and Rolf Marr Gersen in the book.

Much of the discussion between Gersen, Warweave, Detteras, and Kelle as to who is to go to the planet discovered by Lugo Teehalt, and when they are to leave, was not in the serialization. The text added to the discussion made that area much less abrupt. The magazine text is:

Gersen made a last ditch protest.   "My boat is small for four.
Better if only one went with me."

Detteras threw his hands into the air, turned to the screen,
called his secretary.  "Cancel all my appointments.  Urgent
business is taking me out of town.  We'll take the departmental

The book has slightly over a page between those paragraphs, with discussion of when they would leave and how it would disrupt schedules.

The Palace of Love

Serialized October 1966, December 1966, and February 1967 in Galaxy. (The Killing Machine was not serialized, nor were the last two books which came out much later).

All of the text of the novel up to chapter three is not in the serialized version. This is the part on Sarkovy, where Gersen and Alusz Iphigenia part company. In it's place is a page of discussion with Kirth Gersen as to how he lives his life and his attitudes about his goals. Given Gersen's motivations and methods it seems ludicrous to have this kind of lead-in. Gersen would not have talked about his motivations even were his quest known or discovered.

None of the chapter lead-ins, the parts that are excerpts of fictitious books, are in the serialized version. I assume this is because of length, because the editor of Galaxy when both were printed was Frederik Pohl. Also missing are the footnotes.

The first part of the serialization has a sentence added at the end. This is just after Gersen fails to kill Viole Falushe at the party arranged by Narvath. It's just a teaser,

"His quest had begun badly . . . but he had all the time in the world."

The Elusive Volumes of Jack Vance

by Leon J. Janzen

"I know I'm writing for people to read, but long ago I decided I wouldn't make consessions to the low end of the readership ... I wouldn't condescend ... because that's no fun." - Jack Vance to interviewer Jack Rawlins, Demon Princes, Borgo Press, 1986

That description of his work, in Vance's own words, explains why his stories seem so unique to those of us who have discovered them ... and why we search for them, collect them, and reread them. It also explains why most of his books (especially the earlier editions) are so difficult to explain. It seems certain to those of us trying to assemble the complete works of Jack Vance that the paperback (and occasional hardbound) first appearances of his books are among the rarest in the Science Fiction genre. The problem is not in the variety and number of titles ... Jack Vance has been in print almost constantly (thank goodness) in the pulps, the digests, in paperback anthologies, and novels for over forty years. It seems apparent that the small print runs and minimal distribution of these books always made finding a new Jack Vance edition difficult ... and created a book-search nightmare for collectors in later years.

Those masters of the small press, Underwood-Miller, have just offered a beautiful limited hardback edition of one of these elusive volumes of Vance... The Five Gold Bands. One of Vance's first novels, it's an example of good old 50's space opera, and is just what you'd expect within the lurid pages of Startling Stories where it first appeared. As we read it from today's perspective, there are many discernable examples of that special Vance flavor we've come to depend on in his later books. Here are strange beings, unsympathetically described, like the Kudthu guards with their "purple skins ... desexed nearly mindless creatures produced by surgery and forced feeding ... huge muscular creatures with tumescent red wattles like cocks." The hero, Paddy Blackthorn, is presented as a simple two-fisted adventurer, but his Jack Vance derivation is soon obvious as he translates for his captors, the ominous five Sons of Langtry. Paddy puts his own 'spin' on their meanings, hoping to influence the proceedings while escaping the consequences. Then, suddenly ... death, "defilement of holy places", and "the most apalling crime in the history of space..." Many new settings unfold as Paddy pursues the secret of space-drive and the Vance word paintings are there: "Two flights down and the stairs opened into the basement below the clothing store, a long low room dug into the ground, lit by antique glow-tubes. Old cases, dusty furniture cast tall black shadows - junk brought accross the mindless miles of space to rot and smoulder in a basement."

The color dustjacket of the new edition of The Five Gold Bands uses the artwork from the original November, 1950 Startling Stories'. This painting, of Vance's Earther woman "performing an exotic dance, sinuous as running water" was done by veteran artist Earle Bergey, even though U/M credits the jacket design to Arnie Fenner [ed's note: I'm not sure that jacket design is supposed to be an artist credit ]. The great old pulp magazine headlined the Vance novel on the cover and at the front of the book from page 11 to page 77. There are several interior illustrations ( by Orban... ) including cameos of Paddy and Fay Bursill, and ( true to the 50's genre ) another of the dancing girl. Copies of 'Startling Stories', and the companion title Thrilling Wonder, are readily available from specialty magazines dealers for about $10, although you'll pay more for nice condition.

Several years later this novel was published as The Space Pirate, in 1953 by Toby Press, and this is truly one of the elusive volumes. It's an attractive digest-type paperback with a color illustrated cover and no interior artwork on its 128 pages. Printed on pulp paper, this edition is much like the digest science fiction magazines (Galaxy, If, Worlds Beyond, etc.)which had begun to sway the market away from the larger, cruder pulps. The title page states that it is complete and unabridged, and the back cover informs us that it's "a story of the world of the not-so-distant future, in which a descendant of yours, dear reader, may well be playing the role of Paddy - Space Pirate." This first edition of Vance's second published novel was thinly bound in paper cover stock ( like a digest ) and is less durable than a true paperback book. If you've got one, you're a collector both persistant and lucky.

This story next appeared 10 years later, in 1963, as a part of an Ace Double novel (F-185) ... back to back with an all-time favorite, The Dragon Masters. Once again called The Five Gold Bands, it unrolls this time in 122 pages. The cover painting is quite modern and NASA-like, showing Paddy chained in place with five silver missiles in the background. Ace re-released this double volume in 1972 (#16640) in a taller format, with The Five Gold Bands being recovered by our hero in 146 pages this time. Ace was the source for most of the Jack Vance science fiction novels we enjoyed during the 60's, and their double novels were a successful marketing idea. These editions are both readily available and very collectable today.

The Five Gold Bands is a satisfying, enjoyable example of the earlier work of Jack Vance. The book has a happy, romantic ending for Paddy and Fay belied by this announcement on Paddy Blackthorn's receiver: "Paddy Blackthorn, the convict and assassin, has been killed on a dead-planet hide-out by a Koton patrol ship. No further details have been released. Thus the greatest manhunt in the history of space comes to an end and interstellar traffic returns to normal."

Thanks, Jack.

Please send any changes, additions, corrections, etc. related to the Jack Vance bibliography to Requests for copies of the bibliography should go to me at:

Hans has to pay for outgoing email, so will not be able to accept requests. Hans makes sure that I always have the latest version of the bibliography.

Hans Verkuil's Bibliography has been left out of this html-document since you can already get in on this archive.