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.
This volume includes two short novels, previously published separately – the title story, and Nopalgarth (published as The Brains of Earth). The collection is rounded out by two of his best shorter works – “The Gift of Gab” and “The Narrow Land”. “The Narrow Land” was the first of a proposed story sequence which was never completed.
Contents: The Houses of Iszm, The Gift of Gab, Nopalgarth (The Brains of Earth), The Narrow Land
All Jack Vance titles in the SFGateway use the author’s preferred texts, as restored for the Vance Integral Edition (VIE), an extensive project masterminded by an international online community of Vance’s admirers. In general, we also use the VIE titles, and have adopted the arrangement of short story collections to eliminate overlaps.