Although "Space Lords" contains only five of Cordwainer Smith's many fantastic science-fiction short stories, each story is a masterwork of language and imagination. A story by Cordwainer Smith reads like nothing else ever written; there is no way you could mistake him for another writer. His weird and wonderful future universe is entirely his own, and these key short stories illuminate various important points and events in its unfolding history. "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons" shows the reader, by truly horrific example, why it is a very bad idea to try and rob the richest planet in the galaxy. The story of Joan of Arc is retold in "The Dead Lady of Clown Town" from a point of view taking place several centuries after the actual incident, so that the reader may compare famous paintings and poetic reconstructions with the real events. In "Drunkboat" a young man travels through the terrible poetry of Space-3 to reach the planet where his love lies dying; "A Planet Named Shayol" is about hell and people and the drug known as super-condamine. "The Ballad of Lost C'mell" is my single favorite piece of science fiction, so anything I say about it is going to be biased: read it for yourself. All five stories can be found in collections of Smith's work, such as "The Rediscovery of Man" or "The Instrumentality of Mankind," but "Space Lords" has an added bonus: a preface and afterword by Cordwainer Smith himself. As he died in 1966-far too early, by this reader's reckoning!-it's a strange sensation feeling that the author is speaking directly to his audience. But it's great. Read "Space Lords" if you can find it, both for its stories and for its glimpse into Cordwainer Smith the writer (it's a pseudonym, of course, but that's not the point) and his own comments on his writing. If not . . . find anything by Cordwainer Smith and read it! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.