cover image Chateau D'If and Other Stories

Chateau D'If and Other Stories

Jack Vance. Underwood-Miller, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-88733-098-8

The five novella-length stories in this collection amply indicate the range of SF subgenres at which Vance ( The Dragon Masters ), an accomplished story teller, excels. ``Abercrombie Station'' and ``Cholwell's Chickens'' together make up the space opera equivalent of a gothic: orphaned heroine Jean Parlier braves the dangers of an isolated space station--owned by an inbred family complete with demented relatives--to obtain the funds necessary to search for her own family. The title story extends H. G. Wells's ``The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham,'' whose subject sought immortality by trading bodies with healthy young men; Vance's villain sells this service to the rich and the poor. ``The Gift of Gab'' is straight SF, its technical problem and resolution revolving around the question of what constitutes intelligence, while the allure of infinite power and the pitfalls of dealing with infinity as if it could be contained are described in ``Runfuddle.'' (Aug.)