Twelve tales, most from the early/mid 1950's, previously uncollected in hardback, though all but two have appeared in paperback collections. Beware, also, of familiar tales wearing unfamiliar headgear: the marvelous space cadet test-of-character, factitiously retitled ``Dust of Far Suns'' (aka ``Sail 25''); ``The New Prime,'' a selection test for a new galactic ruler (aka ``Brain of the Galaxy''); ``Men of the Ten Books'' (aka ``The Ten Books''); and the unnecessarily retitled ``Ecological Onslaught'' (aka ``The World Between''), which describes ecological warfare and was written long before ecology became fashionable. Elsewhere, the brilliantly fanciful alien evocation ``Noise,'' and the eerie science-fiction/horror title piece, illustrate why the genre had to invent the odd-sounding but curiously apt term ``science fantasy'' to describe much of Vance's work. Also on display: a definitive eternal triangle yarn in an alien setting; two classics (``Ullward's Retreat,'' a pointed commentary on human perversity, and ``Dodkin's Job,'' a humorous and elegant satire on bureaucracy); an immortal man's dilemma; ``Telek,'' a long out-of- print telekinesis yarn and savagely funny deconstruction of rigid mentalities. Dazzling inventiveness, barbed wit, the renowned prose style combining spareness of detail with extraordinary visual richness: that Vance does not top popularity polls and win critical acclaim is the most intractable and perplexing of all science-fiction mysteries.