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Magic Highways: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Three: 3 Hardcover – 31 Mar 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; Deluxe edition (31 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596065605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596065604
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,320,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Manly Reading TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
After Dream Castles, its nice to see an "early Jack Vance" volume which actually collects his early works, published 1946-1956. These are generally pulp tales of the era, without the distinctive Vancian voice in full. They are a mixture of the space opera of the day, and 7 (of the 10 written) Magnus Ridolph stories which are basically space detective stuff, always with a twist or two (these are pretty clearly Vance, but the balance of the volume could - almost - have been written by anyone). But its all great fun to read.

Together with Hard Luck Diggings, The Jack Vance Treasury, and Wild Thyme Green Magic, there is now a "Complete Magnus Ridolph" across the volumes Sub Press has published. The full TOC:

Phalid's Fate
Planet of the Black Dust
Ultimate Quest
Men of the Ten Books
The Planet Machine
Dover Spargill's Ghastly Floater
Winner Lose All
Sabotage on Sulfur Planet
The House Lords
Sanatoris Short-cut (from here all is Magnus Ridolph)
The Unspeakable McInch
The Sub-Standard Sardines
The Howling Bounders
The King of Thieves
The Spa of the Stars
To B or Not to C or to D

There is an introduction to the stories, a few notes about each of them: but several of the stories are referred to by one name in the introduction, and another name in the table of contents and in the introduction itself. Somebody goofed here - not as badly as Haffner Press's "experimental" or "non-traditional" listing of a table of contents wildly inaccurate in the information it conveyed in Terror in the House, but still it's a little confusing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x97fee708) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9800324c) out of 5 stars More early Jack Vance 25 Mar. 2013
By Manly Reading - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After Dream Castles, its nice to see an "early Jack Vance" volume which actually collects his early works, published 1946-1956. These are generally pulp tales of the era, without the distinctive Vancian voice in full. They are a mixture of the space opera of the day, and 7 (of the 10 written) Magnus Ridolph stories which are basically space detective stuff, always with a twist or two (these are pretty clearly Vance, but the balance of the volume could - almost - have been written by anyone). But its all great fun to read.

Together with Hard Luck Diggings, The Jack Vance Treasury, and Wild Thyme Green Magic, there is now a "Complete Magnus Ridolph" across the volumes Sub Press has published. The full TOC:

Phalid's Fate
Planet of the Black Dust
Ultimate Quest
Men of the Ten Books
The Planet Machine
Dover Spargill's Ghastly Floater
Winner Lose All
Sabotage on Sulfur Planet
The House Lords
Sanatoris Short-cut (from here its all Magnus Ridolph)
The Unspeakable McInch
The Sub-Standard Sardines
The Howling Bounders
The King of Thieves
The Spa of the Stars
To B or Not to C or to D

There is an introduction to the stories, a few notes about each of them: but several of the stories are referred to by one name in the introduction, and another name in the table of contents and in the introduction itself. Somebody goofed here - not as badly as Haffner Press's "experimental" or "non-traditional" listing of a table of contents wildly inaccurate in the information it conveyed in Terror in the House, but still it's a little confusing.
Normally I have been torn between 4 and 5 stars for these Sub Press Vance volumes: this time its torn between 3 and 4 (though ultimately its 4, because Magnus Ridolph is just so much fun). I don't know if there will be an Early Jack Vance vol4 - surely the old short stories must be running a little thin by now - but if this is the final volume in the collection, its still worth adding to your shelf
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98006e88) out of 5 stars Early stories, volume 3 1 Jun. 2013
By Kat Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Originally posted at FanLit.

Subterranean Press continues collecting the early works of Jack Vance with Volume 3, titled Magic Highways, which was released last month (the previous editions were Hard-Luck Diggings and Dream Castles). Magic Highways includes a 6½ page introduction by editors Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan and 16 "space adventures" which Jack Vance wrote during the decade from 1946 (when he was 29 years old) to 1956. Seven of these are Magnus Ridolph stories. The stories are:

"Phalid's Fate" -- (Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1946) To get revenge on the aliens who killed his brother, a human man volunteers to have his brain transplanted into an alien body so he can infiltrate their spaceship. So he can fit in, he has the alien visual and language systems grafted into his human brain. This exciting novelette explores one of my favorite Jack Vance themes -- how perception changes when the brain changes.

"Planet of the Black Dust" -- (Startling Stories, Summer 1946) This space story shows us what happens when a dishonest cargo ship captain plans to falsely collect insurance on his cargo. It's exciting, but lacks Vance's characteristic humor.

"Dead Ahead" (aka "Ultimate Quest") -- (Super Science Stories, September 1950) A space captain is taking the first trip to circumnavigate the universe. Unfortunately his financer's son, a new space navigator, is also going, and they have a disagreement about how to stay on a straight course in space. This story explores both the vast awesomeness of space and the delight of a warm safe place at home.

"The Ten Books" (aka "Men of the Ten Books") -- (Startling Stories, March 1951) An explorer and his wife discover a planet of humans who descended from a crashed spaceship 271 years ago. This colony has only ten books which exaggerate (in typical Vanceian style) the accomplishments of their forefathers on Earth.

"The Uninhibited Robot" (aka "The Plagian Siphon" or "The Planet Machine") -- (Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1951) A mechanic is sent to an unknown world to fix a malfunctioning machine which will kill him if its attention is ever unoccupied for more than three seconds. This is one of those stories (actually, it's a novelette) that only Jack Vance could have written.

"Dover Spargill's Ghastly Floater" -- (Marvel Science Fiction, November 1951) A spoiled young man who has inherited his father's fortune decides to buy the moon. This story features one of Jack Vance's typical cleverer-than-he-looks protagonists who outwits those trying to cheat him.

"The Visitors" (aka "Winner Lose All") -- (Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1951) Three different life forms tangle with each other and fight for survival on a newly discovered planet. This one illustrates Vance's talent for creating imaginative worlds and really weird aliens.

"Sabotage on Sulfur Planet" -- (Startling Stories, June 1952) A greedy spaceship captain tries to exploit the resources of a planet of dumb creatures he discovered.

"The House Lords" -- (Saturn, October 1957) Explorers from Earth discover a planet ruled by "House Lords" who speak English but have never heard of Earth. This one has a twist at the end that will make you go back and read the story again.

"Sanatoris Short-cut" -- (Startling Stories, September 1948) Magnus Ridolph is out of money and his creditors are nagging (as usual) so he goes to a casino called the House of Doubtful Destiny. But, of course, Magnus Ridolph is too clever to gamble ("the gambler is one of an inferior lickspittle breed who turns himself belly-upward to the capricious deeds of Luck"). Instead he uses statistics to cheat the casino. And catches a notorious criminal.

"The Unspeakable McInch" -- (Startling Stories, November 1948) Magnus Ridolph must solve a murder on one of Jack Vance's most bizarre and most dangerous planets. But don't worry. As Ridolph says, "I am, so to speak, a latter-day gladiator. Logic is my sword, vigilance is my shield. And also I will wear air-filters up my nostrils and will spray myself with antiseptic. To complete my precautions, I'll carry a small germicidal radiator."

"The Sub-Standard Sardines" -- (Startling Stories, January 1949 In this very weird and amusing story, Magnus Ridolph investigates a bad tin of sardines. There is some imagery in this story that I'll never forget.

"The Howling Bounders" -- (Startling Stories, March 1949) After being cheated in a land deal, Magnus Ridolph tries to recoup his losses. You know he will, it's just a matter of how.

"The King of Thieves" -- (Startling Stories, November 1949) Magnus Ridolph needs money again. To score some coveted telex crystals he goes to visit a clan of thieves and tries to beat them at their own game.

"The Spa of the Stars" -- (Startling Stories, July 1950) Magnus Ridolph is asked to rid a new resort of the dragons, gorillas, and sea beetles that have suddenly started killing the tourists.

"To B or Not to C or to D" (aka "Cosmic Hotfoot") -- (Startling Stories, September 1950) Miners are disappearing every 84 days from an otherwise uninhabited planet, so Magnus Ridolph is hired to figure out what's going on. Can he solve the mystery before he disappears, too?

When you start a story by Jack Vance, you never know what's coming, but you can count on clever characters, dry humor, and a plot that is truly original and usually bizarre. Nobody out-imagines Jack Vance and I know of no SFF author who can so thoroughly delight both my mind and my ear. The stories in Magic Highways are no exception -- they're typical Vance, and that's a very good thing.
Magic Highways has a beautiful cover painted by Tom Kidd, one of my favorite SFF artists. His imagination and Jack Vance's fit perfectly together. It's always a pleasure to see his art on Vance's books.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98008288) out of 5 stars Spaceflight and Alien Planets 1 Sept. 2014
By Arthur W Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Magic Highways (2013) is the third SF & Fantasy collection in the Early Jack Vance sequence, following Dream Castles. The initial volume in this sequence is Hard Luck Diggings. This volume contains an introduction and sixteen stories.

- "Introduction" (original) by the editors expresses the theme for this volume.

- "Phalid's Fate" (Thrilling Wonder, 1946) follows the mind of a human implanted in the braincase of an alien.

- "Planet of the Black Dust" (Starling Stories, 1946) puts a spacer in a tight fix.

- "Dead Ahead" (Super Science, 1950)(AKA "Ultimate Quest") tracks a pair of ultrafast ships trying to circumnavigate the universe.

- "The Ten Books" (Startling Stories, 1951) takes a couple of prospectors to a very nice world.

- "The Uninhibited Robot" (Thrilling Wonder, 1951)(AKA "The Plagian Siphon" & "The Planet Machine") sends a troubleshooter to an alien planet.

- "Dover Spragill's Ghastly Floater" (Marvel, 1951) considers a young man who buys the Moon.

- "The Visitors" (Galaxy, 1951)(AKA "Winner Lose All") brings an intergalactic being and a human ship to a uranium deposit at the same time.

- "Sabotage on Sulfur Planet" (Startling Stories, 1952) teaches caution to a young clerk.

- "The House Lords" (Saturn, 1957) alerts explorers to a delicate situation.

- "Sanatoris Short-cut" (Startling Stories, 1948) is a Magnus Ridolph story. It pits the detective against a crime lord.

- "The Unspeakable McInch" (Startling Stories, 1948) is a Magnus Ridolph story. It sends Ridolph to find a thief and murderer in a multispecies village.

- "The Sub-Standard Sardines" (Startling Stories, 1949) is a Magnus Ridolph story. It involves Ridolph in a cannery problem.

- "The Howling Bounders" (Startling Stories, 1949) is a Magnus Ridolph story. It draws Ridolph into a problem on a plantation.

- "The King of Thieves" (Startling Stories, 1949) is a Magnus Ridolph story. It embroils Ridolph in a society of thieves.

- "The Spa of the Stars" (Startling Stories, 1950) is a Magnus Ridolph story. It engages Ridolph in the problems of a resort on an alien planet.

- "To B or Not to C or to D" (Startling Stories, 1950) is a Magnus Ridolph story. It sets Ridolph within a system problem.

These tales are all science fiction about problems throughout human space, but mostly on the edges of known space. These early stories were not as subtle as the later works, but they were interesting and displayed the author's potential. They foreshadowed Planet of Adventure, The Demon Princes and other works.

Some of the Magnus Ridolph stories were collected in the Ace Double M-141. These were later reprinted in The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph. All the Ridolph stories were included in The Complete Magnus Ridolph.

The next installment in this sequence is Minding the Stars.

Highly recommended for Vance fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of spaceflight, alien planets, and detective stories. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98008150) out of 5 stars Beautiful Book 17 Mar. 2013
By Karl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The constant high standards of Subterranean Press to create such beautiful books is such a welcome breath of fresh air. If you are a Vance fan you have probably read most of these stories. If Not you are in for a fine treat of fantastic writing. Regardless Subterranean Press has created another work of art and book making.
HASH(0x9800806c) out of 5 stars inventive story collection 7 Aug. 2014
By w james - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great collection of stories, including 7 Magnus Ridolph tales. Ridolph is a witty, amusing "detective" sort who investigates various intrigues on different planets. His adventures are always fun to read, and they usually have a twist at the end. As far as sci-fi writers of this period go, I think Vance has a very unique and distinctive voice, and is one of the more entertaining writers. I can detect a certain jaunty Clark Ashton Smith influence, which is very welcome. Another nice production by Subterranean Press.
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