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New Treasures: Dream Castles: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Two

Sunday, February 10th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Dream Castles-smallI spent this past weekend at Capricon 33, a local Chicago science fiction convention. The panels and readings were excellent, and perhaps the highlight was a Saturday night panel titled “Judging a Book by Page 119.” Steven Silver, Rich Horton, Kelly Strait, and Helen Montgomery read page 119 of some of their favorite novels, and the audience was left to guess the book. Someone in the back row correctly identified Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade, and I was pretty close with Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood trilogy (although I got the exact book wrong), but the panelists  managed to stump us on Iain M. Banks Consider Phlebas, Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, Saladin Ahmed’s The Throne of the Crescent MoonRange of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear, The Little Country by Charles de Lint, and many others.

I can’t spend more than an hour or two at a good convention without realizing I’m not reading enough good books. I scurried to the Dealer’s room first chance I got and spent a few bucks in an attempt to rectify the situation. I found plenty of great treasures, but the real gem of the lot was the sole copy of the out-of-print Dream Castles: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Two, which I stumbled on at Larry Smith’s table.

I’ve been looking for a copy of Dream Castles for nearly a year — ever since I bought the first volume, Hard Luck Diggings. Both were published by Subterranean Press, and both gather early pulp fiction from one of the greatest 20th Century science fiction and fantasy writers.

Dream Castles collects short stories and novellas from Astounding Science Fiction (“I’ll Build Your Dream Castle,” Sept. 1947), Marvel Science Stories (“Golden Girl,” May 1951), and many other pulps — including Fantastic Science Fiction Fantasy, Space Science Fiction, and Orbit Science Fiction. The short novel, “Son of the Tree,” originally appeared in the June 1951 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories.

Jack Vance, who at 96 years old is still with us, is one of the last remaining writers from the Golden Age of Science Fiction (the only other one I can think of is Fred Pohl). He is the author of some of the most celebrated SF and fantasy of the 20th Century, including “The Dragon Masters,” “The Last Castle,” and The Dying Earth novels.

The complete The Early Jack Vance consists of five volumes (so far):

Hard Luck Diggings
Dream Castles
Magic Highways
Minding the Stars
Grand Crusades

Dream Castles: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Two was published April 2012 by Subterranean Press. Like the first volume, it is edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan. It is 365 pages in hardcover, priced at $45; the gorgeous wrap-around cover is by Tom Kidd (click the image above to see the complete art). There is no paperback or digital edition.

19 Comments »

  1. And Jack Vance still can play a mean ukulele.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 11, 2013 12:34 am

  2. > And Jack Vance still can play a mean ukulele.

    So I hear. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 12:36 am

  3. Jack Vance, a true treasure in so many ways. I have something like 40 or more of his books–novels and collections–and though I’ve read maybe 30% of his voluminous output, much to my embarrassment, I have come to cherish his intellect, skill, wit, and imagination. He is one of the Greats among us.

    Met him once at one of the two (can’t recall which at the moment) Kansas City Nebula Awards weekends around the turn of the century, and he was a most gracious, newly anointed Grand Master. Had no idea he was virtually blind.

    I am blessed that I have still to read (sitting on my shelves) another couple dozen of his novels (many reprinted by DAW from the 70s) yet to fuel my dreams.

    Comment by Dave T - February 11, 2013 1:09 am

  4. I’ve been on a Vance kick lately, he’s tremendous. Like Dave I’m pleased to note I still have a large amount of Vance left to explore (just bought ten or so more books, actually).

    I was remarking to a friend the other day that I’ve probably read about 20 Vance novels but I still feel like I am a Vance novice — you can’t say that about a great many authors.

    Comment by Bill Ward - February 11, 2013 8:29 am

  5. > I am blessed that I have still to read (sitting on my shelves) another couple dozen
    > of his novels (many reprinted by DAW from the 70s) yet to fuel my dreams.

    Dave,

    I started with Jack’s later output first, beginning with his 1990 World Fantasy Award winner LYONESSE: MADOUC, and gradually working my way back to THE DYING EARTH.

    I’m still in awe of his short fiction, especially his Hugo Award winners. I read “The Dragon Masters” for the first time last year, and loved it.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 2:43 pm

  6. > I was remarking to a friend the other day that I’ve probably read about 20 Vance novels
    > but I still feel like I am a Vance novice — you can’t say that about a great many authors.

    Bill,

    Indeed! Vance had an enormous paperback output through DAW during my most voracious reading period (1976-1987). It’s odd that I managed to miss virtually all of his novels! Like you, I’ve been playing catch up recently.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 2:49 pm

  7. Once all of his works became available electronically, I kind of stopped getting the SubPress editions. Which I regret because they’re gorgeous, but my shelves thank me for it.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 11, 2013 3:29 pm

  8. Joe,

    I’m just waiting for the Subterranean limited edition Kindle. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - February 11, 2013 3:55 pm

  9. A Kindle with the complete works of SubPress on it would be a wonderful thing indeed.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 11, 2013 8:03 pm

  10. He was one of my dad’s favorite. Those great DAW editions were all over the house. When I read Languages of Pao as a kid I was hooked. Like several others have written, I’ve still got a lot of his books to read. An old Chaosium monster book wit entries for all the dragons in The Dragonmasters made me find that one when I was a kid.

    Comment by the wasp - February 12, 2013 3:10 pm

  11. I was lucky — I seriously discovered Vance (and many other authors) in the early 1990’s when used copies were pretty thick on the ground, at least at Uncle Hugo’s.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 12, 2013 7:20 pm

  12. Used copies are pretty common on ebay as well.

    Plus many of his series have been collected in omnibus editions (planet of adventure, demon princes, lyonesse, dying earth) — The Dying Earth omnibus in particular is a very common find and a good place to start.

    I just got the UK omnibus of the Lyonesse books, which I have yet to read, but apparently it is from the updated/corrected text used for the Vance Integral Editions. Also has nice interior art and decent faux-leather boards, but the binding is more akin to a book club hardback. Still, if my bookclub omnibus of the five demon princes novels didn’t break, I guess I’ll stay optimistic about this one.

    Comment by Bill Ward - February 13, 2013 3:15 pm

  13. > When I read Languages of Pao as a kid I was hooked. Like several others have written, I’ve still got a lot of his books to read.

    I’ve been slowly collecting the DAW editions of his novels. And wow — there are a lot! He’s a collector’s dream that way.

    > An old Chaosium monster book wit entries for all the dragons in The Dragonmasters made me find that one when I was a kid.

    Say what? Seriously?

    That has to be ALL THE WORLD’S MONSTERS. That’s the only Chaosium monster book I can think of at the moment. I don’t own a copy, or I would run off to check!

    Comment by John ONeill - February 26, 2013 12:21 pm

  14. > I seriously discovered Vance (and many other authors) in the early 1990′s
    > when used copies were pretty thick on the ground, at least at Uncle Hugo’s.

    Joe,

    They’re still easy to find. I recently bought a collection of 8 Vance paperbacks on eBay in great shape for about a buck each.

    If used bookstores weren’t virtually extinct, young SF fans would still be discovering Vance today. I guess we’ll find out in 10-20 years if tablets will do the same thing.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 26, 2013 12:24 pm

  15. > Used copies are pretty common on ebay as well.

    What Bill said.

    > Plus many of his series have been collected in omnibus editions (planet of adventure, demon princes, lyonesse, dying earth) —
    > The Dying Earth omnibus in particular is a very common find and a good place to start.

    The Tor omnibus editions are beautiful, and I have them all.

    Um, except for the Lyonesse one. What the heck is that?

    > I just got the UK omnibus of the Lyonesse books, which I have yet to read, but apparently it is from
    > the updated/corrected text used for the Vance Integral Editions.

    Ah, that answers that question. Thanks!

    Comment by John ONeill - February 26, 2013 12:26 pm

  16. […] others. Subterranean Press has published three volumes of The Early Jack Vance (so far), including Dream Castles. And one of my favorite role playing games, the Dying Earth RPG, was published by Pelgrane Press in […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Jack Vance, August 28, 1916 — May 26, 2013 - May 30, 2013 2:23 pm

  17. […] Press ha publicado hasta ahora tres volúmenes de «The Early Jack Vance», incluyendo «Dream Castles». Y uno de los juegos de role preferidos por el FANDOM, la «Dying Earth RPG», fue lanzado por […]

    Pingback by INTROVISION: Un Adiós Desde una Tierra Agonizante | Zothique The Last Continent - June 3, 2013 10:55 am

  18. […] February I wrote about how excited I was to find a copy of Dream Castles: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Two, in the Dealer’s Room […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Travel the Magic Highways with The Early Jack Vance, Volume 3, edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan - March 1, 2014 3:26 pm

  19. […] titles in the series are released every March. I covered Volume Two, Dream Castles, after I unexpectedly found a copy in the Dealer’s Room at Capricon 33 in 2013, and I […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Early Novels of Jack Vance: Grand Crusades: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Five, edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan - January 1, 2015 11:08 pm


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