cover image The Augmented Agent and Other Stories

The Augmented Agent and Other Stories

Jack Vance. Underwood Books, $20 (237pp) ISBN 978-0-88733-020-9

In the early '70s Tiptree (the pseudonym of clinical psychologist Alice B. Sheldon), made a big splash in SF with a series of powerful, convoluted and misanthropic stories. The three recent tales included in this small, illustrated collection, however, show a certain mellowing. They are touristy romantic fantasies, all set in a Mayan region of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Quintana Roo. The heavy psychological freight that weighed down the earlier work remains, but the Mayans have been tritely cast in place of Tiptree's inscrutable aliens. In fact, her self-proclaimed ""Mayaphilia'' turns the Indians into one-dimensional objects of uncritical worship. Finally, these ghosts, gods incarnate and oceanic apparitions are pallid inventions with less impact than the unpleasant drawings that accompany them here. (May 15)