I'm actually trying to find the anthology this short story was part of, but this is the only story I can recall from it. It was written in the 1950s or early 60s.

An up and coming architect is hired by a wealthy patron to make a retro home with flush toilets and such. No one else would take the job because they didn't make this gear any more, but he solves the various problems using several inventive methods.

This gets him in trouble with the union, who revokes his license. He sets up shop building mini-planets in orbit using white dwarf matter. The one I remember was a water-covered planet with little desert islands, built at the request of a famous sailor.

He has cornered the market on the material so the union is left high and dry, but he suggests they can get more from Sirius if they are willing to make the trip.

1 Answer 1


Your synopsis is similar to Jack Vance's "I'll Build Your dream Castle". Astounding Science Fiction September 1947.

The Protagonist finds a superior way to build cheaper and thus reduces the charge to the client. His boss thought he should have saved money for the firm and charged the client the same amount and fires him. the firm starts losing big jobs for wealthy clients and someone investigates and learns what he protagonist is doing with the white dwarf star matter. The Protagonist has filed claims on all the white dwarf star matter asteroids so they would have to go to Sirius to get more.

Apparently there are other versions of the story (1, 2) and you might have read one of those.

Note: In 1962, Vance revised this story to create "Dream Castle", which is longer and with significantly revised wording. It is not clear if this story ever appeared in print prior to Vance Integral Edition in 2005. Vance later revised this story again for Lost Moons published by Underwood-Miller in 1982. Again, the wording was modified from earlier versions, although less significantly than the change between this story and "Dream Castle".

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    The original 1947 Astounding version is available at the Internet Archive.
    – user14111
    May 14, 2017 at 5:11
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    In a foreword to his Lost Moons collection Vance writes: "No single theme unites the stories here included. They have nothing in common except that I was paid very little for all of them. They even lack the distinction of being the worst stories I have ever written. The publishers are saving this group for another volume, THE WORST OF JACK VANCE. The stories included here are only almost the worst. Two (DREAM CASTLES, THE WORLD-THINKER) were so embarrassing that I rewrote a few stand-out passages, a lick-and-a-promise operation rather like putting rouge on a corpse."
    – user14111
    May 14, 2017 at 5:15

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