This volume collects three of Cordwainer Smith's finest tales: "Scanners Live in Vain," "The Game of Rat and Dragon," and "Mark Elf."
Cordwainer Smith was the pseudonym used by Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (1913-1966) for his science fiction works. Linebarger was a noted East Asia scholar and expert in psychological warfare.
Linebarger also employed the literary pseudonyms "Carmichael Smith" (for his political thriller Atomsk), "Anthony Bearden" (for his poetry) and "Felix C. Forrest" (for the novels Ria and Carola).
"Scanners Live in Vain" was Linebarger's first published SF story as an adult (his short story "War No. 81-Q," which he wrote at age 15 was published in his high school magazine), and the first appearance of the Cordwainer Smith pen name. It was written in 1945, and had been rejected by a number of magazines before its acceptance and publication in Fantasy Book in 1950. It was in that obscure magazine that it was noticed by SF writer Frederik Pohl who, impressed with the story's powerful imagery and style, subsequently re-published it in 1952 in the more widely read anthology Beyond the End of Time.