I 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 Moon, Range 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):
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.