Sep 21, 2014

An Alternate Vance

publication year -Buld Reality
In a recent blog post, I provided a list of novels written by Jack Vance. In that list, I tried to show the year of publication for Vance's novels that I have read. When the Vance Integral Edition was constructed, an attempt was made to list the year when Vance wrote his stories. What about his publication history in other Realities?

During the past year, I worked extensively with Ivory Fersoni to make sense of the role that Isaac Asimov played in creating the universe that we live in. Asimov's literary output was somewhat different in each of the Realities leading up to the world as we know it. For example, in an earlier Reality, positronic robots were working to make sure that a positronics industry developed on Earth during the 20th century. In that Reality, Asimov wrote very little science fiction and he was content to be a science journalist, keeping the public informed about the astonishingly rapid pace of technological developments. In the Ekcolir Reality, Asimov split his writing between two domains. He wrote a significant amount of fiction but he was also a crusader for ecological sanity. In that Reality, the people of Earth faced a serious challenge during the 20th century from fossil fuel use, rising atmospheric greenhouse gas levels and rising sea levels.

August 1945 edition in the Ekcolir Reality
John Campbell played an important role in shaping the fiction writing of both Asimov and Vance. In earlier Realities, before Asimov became a time traveler, Campbell died at an early age and he had minimal impact on the writing of Asimov and Vance. Then when he did travel through time, the "older Asimov" from the future arranged to impersonate the dead Campbell, taking over as the editor of Astounding Science Fiction magazine and acting as a mentor for his younger self in the past. In the Buld Reality, the world as we know it, Thomas saved Campbell's life by inserting nanites into his body. Some of those nanites had previously existed inside the time traveling Asimov, so Campbell also was able to provide the Asimov of our Reality with story ideas from previous Realities.

1975 edition: Ekcolir Reality (a blue Kerub)
Similarly, the editorial decisions of Campbell influenced the career of Jack Vance. In the Ekcolir Reality, when Campbell received the first draft of Vance's story "The World-Thinker", he wrote back, agreeing to publish the story in Astounding with modifications. In the Ekcolir Reality, Vance publish his early fiction under the name "John Vance".

In the Ekcolir Reality, Vance published a total of six novels in the Alastor Cluster series:
1) Trullion: Alastor 2262 (1973)
2) Wyst: Alastor 1716 (1974)
3) Yerophet: Alastor 1083 (1975)
4) Kwenslo: Alastor 950 (1975)
5) Marune: Alastor 933 (1976)
6) Pharism: Alastor 458 (1977)

1975 edition: Ekcolir Reality
In An Alternate Reality.....
Four of the novels in the Alastor Cluster series (numbers 2, 3, 4, 6) featured Jantiff Ravensroke. In Yerophet, Jantiff had become a special agent for the Connatic. The planet Yerophet, with a big axial tilt, had severe seasonal variation. Only recently settled by humans, its population was constantly engaged in terraforming activities, often to the detriment of native life forms. Yerophet had a native population of humanoid migratory creatures, the so-called Kerub. Jantiff arrived on Yerophet to investigate the growing conflict between the Kerub and the human settlers. The Kerub were recognized as sentient beings and placed under protection of the Connatic. This story introduced the telepathic Phari, an unseen artificial life form with telepathic abilities that Jantiff found to have established a symbiotic relationship with the Kerub.

As told in Kwenslo and Pharism, Jantiff first searched for and finally visited the world of origin of the Phari. Kwenslo was long ago (soon after humans first reached the Cluster) colonized by humans and the indigenous Pharazen were driven to extinction. Jantiff investigates the ancient ruins of the lost Pharazen civilization.

1977 edition: Ekcolir Reality
Jantiff was only mentioned in passing in Marune (by Ollave) as having recently investigated the Fwai-chi. Jantiff returned as the protagonist in Pharism, completing the series. The planet Pharism had long ago been colonized by the Pharazen and that world had become a center for their scientific research and technology development. The Phari, an artificial life form, were designed and brought into existence on Pharism.

By the time humans settled Pharism, the Phari had spread to most worlds of the Cluster and established symbiotic relationships with all the various sentient species. Jantiff learns that the Merlings of Trullion, the Kerub of Yerophet and the Fwai-chi of Marune are symbiotic hybrids of a native biological species and the nanorobotic Phari. On Pharism, the Phari long ago established a symbiotic relationship with the human settlers, which had not been noticed until Jantiff's investigation. At the end of the story, it is revealed that the Connatic is from Pharism and has a Phari endosymbiont.

Related Reading: more Vance novels in the Ekcolir Reality..... another Reality..... Assignment: Marune
More book and magazine covers.

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