cover image Minding the Stars: The Early Jack Vance, Vol. 4

Minding the Stars: The Early Jack Vance, Vol. 4

Edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan. Subterranean (, $45 (368p) ISBN 978-1-59606-645-8

Rational explanations of psychic and paranormal phenomena like ghosts, telepathy, and ESP have been an interest of post-WWII science fiction since legendary editor John W. Campbell coined the term “psionics.” This collection of eight stories by SF grandmaster Vance displays his fascination with such topics. In the short novel “Nopalgarth,” Earth is the source of psychic parasites that threaten another world. “Telek” considers a future in which a genetic elite develops telekinetic abilities. “Parapsyche” takes on a search for the afterlife via mediums and medically induced death. Even with occasional dated attitudes (from “I’m a little colored girl” to “all beautiful women are vain”) and plots that recall The Twilight Zone, as when rain-soaked neighbors rush for safety aboard “Alfred’s Ark,” Vance manages to bring a dry, satiric wit to bear on human foibles and prejudices, forcing these otherwise invisible mental matters into plain view. (Apr.)