A collection of six linked short stories.

Publication year: 1950
Format: Audio
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Narrator: Arthur Morey
Running Time: 6 hrs and 42 minutes

The audio book has six short stories. Four of them are linked to each other by characters but the last two are separate except that they happen in the same setting.

In the first story, ”Turjan of Miir”, Turjan is a scientist-magician whose artificial vat humans don’t have as much intelligence as he would like them to have, so Turjan quests for the knowledge to bring them true intelligence. We also meet several other main characters in this story.

The stories are told in a very classic, Conan type style where the women are beautiful and the men manly. Thankfully, most women are also competent although clearly no match for the men. T’sais, for example, is a fighter although she fights because there’s something wrong with her mind.

The setting is a future Earth which is dying. The Earth is full of ancient ruins and mysterious artifacts which no-one can use anymore. The humans have fragmented into smallish tribes with somewhat different customs. For example, one tribe’s religion denies the existence of any other humans so all other humans must be demons or other creatures. The magicians rely on science as much as working magic. I found it more that a little creepy that the male magicians want to grow women in their vats. Even though the setting is a dystopia and many of the characters are ruthless, the stories have an adventurous feel instead of despair or hopelessness.

The main characters are on a quest to find something. T’sais, an artificial woman, is looking for love and beauty because her mind was created wrong and so she can’t see beauty. Ruthless Mazirian is looking for power and knowledge and imprisons another character to force him to tell Mazirian what he knows. Guyan is simply looking for more knowledge and answers to all of life’s questions.

Perhaps because of short format, the characters often remain pretty distant. Some of them also quite unlikable and looking only for their own advantage.

As a long-time table top roleplayer it was interesting to listened to the stories which inspired the D&D magic system.