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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An answer to a prayer
I have an original Pocket paperback of Agent of Vega. It came out in 1962, which makes my copy more than seven years older than I am. I found it on the shelf of a mechanic's office in Pickens, Mississippi, while waiting with my father for the overhaul of some cotton picker parts. I was 8 or 9. I started reading the book, and then begged to have it. My father was...
Published on January 29, 2003 by sdixonsf

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many conspiracies.
The stories in the universe of "Agent of Vega" are passable, but I found that the author likes conspiracies a little too much. Some of them, like in "Gone Fishing" are both inherently creepy and presented as protagonists, which if frankly disturbing. The stories, with the exception of a horror-short "Greenface" are very convoluted and strongly based on revelations that...
Published on October 24, 2010 by Thorn


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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An answer to a prayer, January 29, 2003
This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
I have an original Pocket paperback of Agent of Vega. It came out in 1962, which makes my copy more than seven years older than I am. I found it on the shelf of a mechanic's office in Pickens, Mississippi, while waiting with my father for the overhaul of some cotton picker parts. I was 8 or 9. I started reading the book, and then begged to have it. My father was angry, but the mechanic was amused and let me have it.
That book has been loved. Not only by me, but I have loaned it to many people.
If this volume was nothing but a reprint of that earlier one, it would be enough for me to jump with joy and give copies to all my friends who love science fiction. But it is better than that. The four stories that comprise Agent of Vega are only about one third of this volume. The other two thirds are stories I have NEVER seen before.
Schmitz was one of THE most popular SF writers of his time. Unfortuantely for posterity, his work was mostly at shorter lengths. Even his only full length novel, the wonderful Witches of Karres, was an expansion of an earlier novella.
Kudos to Baen for reissuaing in seven volumes the complete works of this master. Schmitz was one of the first SF writiers to have female characters who not only solved their problems without male assistance, but were "total badasses" on their own.
Which brings me to my favorite story in this book, called "The Second Night of Summer." Not only is the undercover galactic agent female, not only is she unflaggingly competent, she is also old enough to be a grandmother. How many SF writers even now would risk this, let alone in the fifties when the story was written?
If you are a fan of classic science fiction, you owe it to yourself to check out these reissues of one of the masters.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Ever, November 10, 2001
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This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
I haven't bought this book yet, and so don't know what other stories it has other than the four "Agent of Vega Stories". It doesn't matter. These four stories (collected in 1960 and issued as a book called "Agent of Vega"), constitute my favorite science fiction book of all time. I own all of the pulp stories and the First Edition and all paperback editions of this collection. It's utterly spectacular.
This is not a novel; but four separate stories about these future galactic secret agents known as "Galactic Zone Agents". They all possess "psi" (telepathic) powers and communicate mentally with their robot ships; each agent having a ship which is to some extent bonded with the agent's mind.
In these stories Schmitz displayed, 50 years ago, a concept which would dominate his writing; the hero who is female. He was soundly critized for this, in those sexist days, but as a male I accepted them wholeheartedly and immediately. They are magnificent, deadly, intelligent, and ruthless.
The third story, "The Truth About Cushgar", is my favorite story in all of science fiction.
The imagination and descriptive prose Schmitz displays in these stories is incredible, and the excitement and characters unforgettable.
I picked up a paperback of this book in 1962, when I was 15, and nothing has ever compared to this work of science fiction for me. Most famous for his Telzey Amberdon stories, and his "Witches of Karres" novel (my favorite Sci-fi novel); Schmitz created these Agent of Vega stories in the span of a few years around 1950, and never again returned to this "universe" or these amazing creations. I've always lamented this, though a jewel is often more brilliant for its rarity.
The first story has a male hero, but soon we are introduced to a young female humanoid alien known as "Pagadan", who has feathers for hair. She is in the first three stories, and stars in the second one. In the third story we meet "Zamm", a different type of humanoid alien female who is the most ruthless killer of all the Zone Agents. In the fourth we meet a harassed old woman on a primitive world known as Grandma Wannatel; but she also happens to be a Zone Agent, and she is something tough.
The villains are fascinating, and the technology spectacular in these books, which are as good today as they were half a century ago. Battles and weapons and mental contests abound in these stories.
I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough, and will soon buy it. Even without the additional non-Vegan stories, this book is priceless.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sense of Wonder again, October 27, 2001
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This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
For golden age galactic space opera this is simply as good as it gets. Memorable, larger than life characers, awesome intrigues and really alien aliens. I loved the maverick agent with the yellow eyes and special ship the most. Don't miss these stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars some of the best sci-fi stories ever, March 23, 2007
This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
I'm a long-standing fan of the writings of James H. Schmitz, the author of a number of remarkable science fiction novels and stories originally published between 1960 and 1974. I enjoy them for their bold female characters (surprising even by today's standards), for the author's deft handling of psionics, and for his surprisingly accurate forsight of certain technologies such as cell phones.

Many of Schmitz' writings fall into one of two universes and have many interlocking characters. He wrote one set of tales set in the universe of the "Agent of Vega" series (the one in this book). He created a different universe in the "Federation of the Hub" series which includes over two dozen stories and novels. His writings exist as eight novels and fifty-odd stories in several collections, most of which have thankfully been reprinted by Baen books.

Agent of Vega was originally published as a book-sized collection of four stories based on material originally published 1949-51 in Astounding Science Fiction Magazine. It was subsequently published as a book several times. The four stories in the original book were Agent of Vega, The Illusionists, The Truth about Cushgar, and The Second Night of Summer.

Those of us who had treasured flea-bitten old copies of the original books were thrilled when Baen books republished these stories.

MILD SPOILERS:

The first three stories center around Iliff, a seasoned Zone Agent who is an expert trouble-shooter in the employ of the powerful but over-extended Psychology Service. His assignments are doled out by the Third Coordinator, a highly competent boss whom Iliff loves to despise. The Third Coordinator sends Pagadan, a representative of a new species, to apprentice with Iliff. And when she arrives, Iliff finds himself trailing after his old nemesis, U-1. Iliff is extremely well-balanced mentally about everything except U-1, who once defeated him and left him for dead. The Third Coordinator has evaluated, and uses, Iliff's sensitivity about this humiliation. Iliff knows how he is being manipulated and hates it, but he hates U-1 enough to endure it.

Zone Agent Iliff's disgruntled cynicism, and the razor-sharp dialogue between him and his boss, the Third Coordinator, make this a very fun read. The situations which the Zone Agents investigate are also quite intriguing. These are "good" psi cops chasing "very bad" runaway psi's who are menacing those around them and could only be stopped by other psi's. The bad gize have to get very bad indeed before the Psychology Service gets motivated to send someone after them. As usual, Schmitz' plots become very creative yet stay within rational boundaries.

I found the first three stories very rewarding, and the last one a little less so. The last one deals with a different Zone Agent who is not quite as captivating as Iliff.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Super Reader, April 10, 2008
This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
An earlier series of stories by James Schmitz, with a compilation of other tales that Baen's head compiler of old SF, Eric Flint has decided to include in this particular volume. Some of these are from the 50s (Vegan Agent stories, for example), and even one from the 40s.

There's an introduction by Mercedes Lackey, clearly a fan:
"So, thanks to James Schmitz, I became an author'first an under-the-bed author (who hid my notebooks full of illustrated stories under the bed where my brother wouldn't find them), then turning in my stories to high-school literary contests, then writing as a hobby in college'then writing fanfic and actually getting published (!!!)."

You can certainly see some of the more polished style of later work showing its face in some of these earlier stories.

More fun stuff, indeed.

Agent of Vega : 01 Agent of Vega - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 02 The Illusionists [Space Fear] - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 03 Second Night of Summer [Vegan Agents] - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 04 The Truth About Cushgar [Vegan Agents] - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 05 The Custodians - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 06 Gone Fishing - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 07 The Beacon to Elsewhere - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 08 The End of the Line - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 09 Watch the Sky - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 10 Greenface - James H. Schmitz
Agent of Vega : 11 Rogue Psi - James H. Schmitz

A new operative for an alien telepathic race uses her favored status to call in a Zone Agent to help. Space Pirate leaders and bodysnatching aliens await.

Not to mention some action any Lensman would be happy to take a crack at.

3.5 out of 5

Pagadan is now a horribly cheerful and sure of herself Zone Agent, breaking in some large newbies while fighting the bad guys.

3.5 out of 5

Grandma has a pony. All the better to help her defeat alien invastions.

4 out of 5

An unexpected victory thanks to a star Zone Agent.

3.5 out of 5

An asteroid housing some surprising research is raided by a pair, including an alien with some nasty built-in hunter-killer weaponry.

3 out of 5

Transport tube con extrasolar psych experiment.

4 out of 5

A few geniuses and their illegal time travel experiment turn up some aliens and surprising side effects, after a solar police investigation.

3 out of 5

Wild Variant humans prove a little surprising for all involved, Dominator or commander.

4 out of 5

Interstellar war records.

2.5 out of 5

Almost getting too big to toast.

3 out of 5

"Sending the best of our game telepaths after him was like setting spaniels on a tiger."

3.5 out of 5

3.5 out of 5
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5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Sci-Fi author is available again! Sigh..., April 5, 2010
By 
Dawn S. Emerson (Bay Point, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
It gives me great joy that Schmitz's books are being released again for a new generation to ohh and ahh and chuckle over. I purchased mine at the same time as I landed a hardback library copy of "A Nice Day For Screaming and Other Tales of the Hub", and believe me, my poor copies been revisited until they are horrendously tattered.

Schmitz was light-years ahead of his time; his heroes are often thinking-persons' heroines, with the most 'normal' male hero-figures (at least per the male-dominated writing formulas of that era) being relegated to the support roles in the stories and books. His prose was insightful, exciting, AND suspenseful without being over-wrought, and all the while very much character driven. I cannot recommend this author highly enough. His characters may be talented, but mostly they are ethical and intelligent folks doing their best under circumstances that are pretty heart-thumping.

This is not perhaps the greatest of his works, but I still want a Tee shirt with "GO GRANNY WANATEL" on it, so we can put it out to the universe that even if you aren't young and pretty any more, you can STILL kick some serious ass!

Horrible cover. Ignore it, and just read and let your imagination supply the graphics for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great classic Sci Fi!, February 3, 2011
This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
Remember when SF was not as 'literary' as it is now?

Remember when stories had character and plot?

Remember when stories ended not with a whimper, but with a very satisfying bang?

Remember when something actually happened in stories?

Remember stories about something other than angst, ennui and psychology?

Well, if you do, this book is for you. You can buy a used copy or read it free at baen free library online.

And don't miss: Telzey Amberdon (Telzey Amberdon (Baen))
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too many conspiracies., October 24, 2010
By 
Thorn "thornsilver" (Forest Hills, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Agent of Vega & Other Stories (Mass Market Paperback)
The stories in the universe of "Agent of Vega" are passable, but I found that the author likes conspiracies a little too much. Some of them, like in "Gone Fishing" are both inherently creepy and presented as protagonists, which if frankly disturbing. The stories, with the exception of a horror-short "Greenface" are very convoluted and strongly based on revelations that the characters are not privy to, which make them difficult to be involved with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars James Schmidt has written some of the best sci fi stories ever, December 30, 2014
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James Schmidt has written some of the best sci fi stories ever. The characters are real, speak well and not artificially, as so many writers today do.
The critiques accompanying these stories say it better than I can. Telzey, Trigger and Nile are some of the very best female characters in Science Fiction, although I believe today's genre of Fantasy is a better description.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another one of James Schmitz's sucesses., February 6, 2014
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A book plot of an alien who becomes a confederation secret agent who is sent to trouble spots. Good book, a little slow, but a good read.
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Agent of Vega & Other Stories
Agent of Vega & Other Stories by James Schmitz (Mass Market Paperback - October 30, 2001)
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