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The stories here, all of them written between March of 1972 and November of 1973, mark a critical turning point in my career. Those who know the three earlier volumes have traced my evolution from a capable journeyman, very young and as much concerned with paying the rent as he was to advancing the state of the art, into a serious, dedicated craftsman now seeking to leave his mark on science fiction in some significant way. Throughout the decade of the 1960s I had attempted to grow and evolve within the field of writing I loved--building on the best that went before me, the work of Theodore Sturgeon and James Blish and Cyril Kornbluth and Jack Vance and Philip K. Dick and half a dozen others whose great stories had been beacons beckoning me onward—and then, as I reached my own maturity, now trying to bring science fiction along with me into a new realm of development, hauling it along even farther out of its pulp-magazine origins toward what I regarded as a more resonant and evocative kind of visionary storytelling.

--Robert Silverberg, from his introduction

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