A novella. First published in book form as half of an Ace Double (with The Five Gold Bands) in 1963. Separate edition in 1965.
Hugo Award for Best Short Story 1963.
Men have been at war for centuries with the reptilian race called "Basics." As conquerors always have, the winners of each bloody encounter have made slaves of the losers – but in this far-future war, each side has improved upon its slaves with genetic engineering.
And so at last there came to be two neighboring worlds: Aerlith, where men have raised a race of fearsome dragons to be their servants, and nearby Coralyne, where the descendants of those very dragons are served by strong, savage mutants who once were human. Inevitably, those two worlds would meet in one final contest...
John Holbrook "Jack" Vance (1916–2013) was an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction writer. Though most of his work has been published as by Jack Vance, he also wrote 11 mystery novels using his full name John Holbrook Vance, three under the pseudonym Ellery Queen, and once each using the pseudonyms Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse.
Vance won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and he was a Guest of Honor at the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention in Orlando, Florida. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America made him its 14th Grand Master in 1997 and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted him in 2001, its sixth class of two deceased and two living writers.