The Houses of Iszm
Cover of 1964 Ace Double edition
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
The Houses of Iszm is a science fiction novella by Jack Vance, which appeared in Startling Stories magazine in 1954. It was reissued in book form in 1964 as part of an Ace Double novel, together with Vance's Son of the Tree . The story published in Startling Stories is about 22,000 words while the version that appears in the Ace Double still less than novel length at about 30,000 words. The Houses of Iszm was re-published as a stand-alone volume in 1974 by Mayflower.
The inhabitants of a planet called Iszm, a species known as the Iszic, have evolved the native giant trees into living homes, with all needs and various luxuries supplied by the trees' own natural growth. The Iszic maintain a jealously-guarded monopoly, exporting only enough trees to keep prices high and make a great profit. The protagonist, Ailie Farr, is a human botanist who goes to Iszm (like many others before him, of many species) to steal a female tree, which might allow the propagation of the species off world and break the monopoly.
The Houses of Iszm exhibits some of the stylistic elements that would come to characterize many of Vance's later works: a picaresque protagonist who unintentionally achieves the greater good in spite of himself, highly exotic locales populated by equally exotic sentient species, and the theme that more advanced sentient species are withholding vital technology or information in order to keep humanity in a subservient status.
- New York: Ace Books, 1964, Paperback (Ace Double F-265 bound with Son of the Tree)
- London: Mayflower, 1974, Paperback (first separate edition)
- Underwood, Tim; Chuck Miller (1980). Jack Vance. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company. p. 228. ISBN 0-8008-4295-2.