Magic Highways: The Early Jack Vance, Volume Three (book review).

Given the events of a week back, how I could possibly give this collection a bad review? The legendary author Jack Vance passed away earlier last week and has left behind an outstanding legacy within Science Fiction and fantasy.


A big part of this legacy is his prolific nature. Determined to be known as a ‘million words a year’ man, Vance had a work-rat that would make Stephen King feel like a slacker. In this volume, there are just some of the stories he wrote in the late forties and early fifties, representing a tiny portion of his work.

Seven of the stories collected here involve outer space detective Magnus Ridolph. While I would question the logic of placing so many of them in one volume as they do get a bit repetitive, they are nonetheless tremendous fun. It’s also interesting to see the influence it has had on the genre with TV series ‘Firefly’ reminding me of the world Vance has created.

Another noteworthy entry in this collection is ‘Dover Spargill’s Ghastly Floater’ which involves a young businessman looking to the future and eschewing profit for real growth. Some of the stories can take a little while to get into, which is unfortunate as they’re only short tales but then they are all at least 16 pages long so there is some opportunity to get involved.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Jack Vance until this week when you saw his obituary. If this is the case, pick up this or one of his other volumes to see what you’ve been missing all these years. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Aidan Fortune

June 2013

(pub: Subterranean Press. 333 page deluxe hardback. Price: $45.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-560-4)

check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com


Once called a "fountain of useless pop culture knowledge", Aidan is an unashamed geek, grateful that he is allowed share his opinions on a global scale. A journalist by trade, Aidan is a massive fan of comics and recently set up a comics group in Brighton in order to engage more with like-minded people. His home is subject to a constant battle of vintage paraphernalia and science fiction & fantasy toys.

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