cover image Hard-Luck Diggings: The Early Jack Vance

Hard-Luck Diggings: The Early Jack Vance

Edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan, Subterranean (, $40 (296p) ISBN 978-1-59606-301-3

This collection assembles 14 stories published by celebrated SFWA Grand Master Vance between 1948 and 1959. Even these early tales make it clear why Vance is still one of the most revered, read, and taught of science fiction authors, highlighting his blending of genres, forward-thinking and prophetic science, and careful craft. In the title story, a problem solver applies Holmes-like logic. “The Masquerade of Dicantropus” invokes psychoanalysis, while in “Abercrombie Station,” a strong female lead encounters an unusual subculture. “Shape-Up” is a classic locked room mystery, and “The Phantom Milkman” is pure horror. Each tale, though occasionally dated, is as fun to read today as it was 50 years ago, and longtime fans will especially enjoy the accompanying excerpts from Vance’s autobiography and a 1995 interview. (July)