Sjambak: A Classic Science Fiction Adventure
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Wilbur Murphy sought romance, excitement, and an impossible Horseman of Space. With polite smiles, the planet frustrated him at every turn - until he found them all the hard way! A classic science fiction story originally published in the "If Worlds of Science Fiction" in July, 1953. Includes a detailed "About the Author" and a selected bibliography.
miles out, aren’t we?” “About fifteen thousand, sir.” “Sidereal Cavalry! What an idea! I wonder how Wilbur’s making out on his superstition angle?” Sam Catlin, watching out the window, said in a tight voice, “Why not ask him yourself?” “Eh?” “Ask him for yourself! There he is—outside, riding some kind of critter. . . .” “It’s a ghost,” whispered Frayberg. “A man without a space-suit. . . . There’s no such thing!” “He sees us. . . . Look. . . .” Murphy was staring at them, and his surprise seemed
dances?” asked Murphy. “No fire-walkers, snake-charmers—voodoo?” The Sultan smiled patronizingly. “We came out here to Cirgamesç to escape the ancient superstitions. Our lives are calm, orderly. Even the amoks have practically disappeared.” “But the sjambaks—” “Negligible.” “Well,” said Murphy, “I’d like to visit some of these ancient cities.” “I advise against it,” declared the Sultan. “They are shards, weathered stone. There are no inscriptions, no art. There is no stimulation in dead stone.
man might just barely spot ’em. You can’t catch the real ones. They’re woven into the cloth—pressure-sensitive wires.” Murphy looked critically at the cloth walls. “Don’t let it worry you,” said Trimmer. “They listen more out of habit than anything else. If you’re fussy we’ll go for a walk.” The road led past the palace into the country. Murphy and Trimmer 18 | JACK VANCE sauntered along a placid river, overgrown with lily pads, swarming with large white ducks. “This sjambak business,” said
figures. They all wore space-suits. This man here . . . A sjambak? A wizard? A hallucination? THE CREATURE rose to his feet, strode springily toward Murphy. He carried a crossbow and a sword, like those of Murphy’s fleet-footed guards. But he wore no space-suit. Could there be breathable traces of an atmosphere? Murphy glanced at his gauge. Outside pressure: zero. Two other men appeared, moving with long elastic steps. Their eyes were bright, their faces flushed. They came up to Murphy, took his
is enough that I will it. Again, I beg of you . . .” He indicated the table. Murphy laughed. “I’ve got myself in a fine mess. Suppose I don’t make this weapon for you?” “You’ll remain until you do, under increasingly difficult conditions.” “I’ll be here a long time.” “If such is the case,” said Ali-Tomás, “we must make our arrangements for your care on a long-term basis.” Ali made a gesture. Hands seized Murphy’s shoulders. A respirator was held to his nostrils. He thought of his camera, and he