a review by Rich Horton
|(Cover by Wayne Barlowe)|
Perhaps most interesting is Vance's very first published story, "The World-Thinker", from the Summer 1945 Thrilling Wonder Stories. This is a striking story, quite Vancean (much more so than lots of early Vance, such as the weaker Magnus Ridolph stories), certainly rather clumsy in some ways but still effective. More to the point, perhaps, it really shows certain of Vance's career long characteristics, particularly the odd (or perhaps not so odd) mix of hints of misogynism with the depiction of the major female character as strong and independent.
One of the '60s stories is the title piece, about the coming of age of an alien in a strange environment. (The environment, I believe, is intended to be the terminator of a tide-locked planet: hence "The Narrow Land", though that is never made explicit.) The alien, a creature called Ern, grows up among similar beings, who nonetheless are different from him -- eventually he learns the truth about his nature (which is tied up interestingly with the species' life cycle). The other later story is "Green Magic", in my opinion one of Vance's best short fantasies, about a man who after much effort learns the secret of entry to the "green" plane of magic.
|(Cover by George Underwood)|
All in all, quite a good story collection, and I find it odd that stories as good (though not great) as these were uncollected by 1980.