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"SF is a controlled way to think and dream about the future."
- Gregory Benford

House Trees  
  Living trees grown as houses; large hollow pods serve as living spaces.  

The dwelling spaces are actually hollow pods supported by branches, and connected by hollow boughs; the Iszic don't live inside tree-trunks. Ordinary workers live in three-pod or four-pod houses with minimal amenities; the wealthy live in enormous trees supporting dozens of pods with specialized functions, including food supply. The trees have limited motility and awareness, enough to require training and to allow Iszics to feel not merely pride of ownership, but actual emotional relationships with their homes.

...[There were] houses with buttressed pods for the high-gravity worlds of Cleo 8 and Martinon's Fort, and loose complex houses with pods like balloons for Fei, where gravity was only half that of Iszm. There were trees comprised of a central columnar trunk and four vast leaves, arching out and over to the ground to form four domed halls illuminated by the pale green transmitted light. There was a tough-trunked tree supporting a single turretlike pod, with lanceolate foliage spiking outward at the base: a watch-tower for the feuding tribesmen of Eta Scorpionis.
From The Houses of Iszm, by Jack Vance.
Published by Better Publications in 1954
Additional resources -

To put it crudely, the Iszic see a dwelling tree not as an object that you furnish and use, but as a companion creature that happens to provide shelter.

The sphincter expanded and Farr stepped dubiously into the chamber…the pod was thirty feet long, opening on a balcony with a waist-high balustrade. The walls and domed ceiling were tufted with trefoils of a silky green fibre; the floor was heavy with plum-coloured moss; quaint lamps grew out of the wall. There were four magenta pod-chairs against one wall. In the middle of the floor stood a tall cylindrical vase containing water, plants and black dancing eels. …

Farr lowered himself upon one of the frail magenta bladders. The smooth skin stretched and fitted itself to his body.

The House Trees were at the center of the novel's plot; it centers around attempts to steal the seeds for House Trees and take them off-planet to destroy the Iszic monopoly. This same theme of tree theft breaking a monopoly is found in Clifford Simak's 1944 story Ogre.

Zhde Patasz’s eyes snapped. “But this is crudity! You understand, do you not? A dwelling must be all of a unit—the walls, the drainage, the decor grown in! What use is our vast lore, our two hundred thousand years of effort, otherwise? Any ignoramus can paste up green floss, only an Iszic can grow it!”

“Yes,” said Farr. “I believe you.”

Zhde Patasz continued, passionately waving his viewer. “And if you stole a female house, and if you managed to breed a five-pod house, that is only the beginning. It must be entered, mastered, trained. The webbings must be cut; the nerves of ejaculation must be located and paralyzed. The sphincters must open and close at a touch.

“The art of house-breaking is almost as important as house-breeding. Without correct breaking a house is an unmanageable nuisance—a menace.”

“K. Penche breaks none of the houses you send to Earth.”

“Pahl Penche’s houses are docile, spiritless. They are without interest. They lack beauty, grace.” He paused. “I cannot speak. Your language has no words to tell what an Iszic feels for his house. He grows it, grows into it. His ashes are given it when he dies. He drinks its ichor; it breathes his breath. It protects him; it takes on the color of his thoughts. A spirited house will repel a stranger. An injured house will kill. And a Mad House—that is where we take our criminals.”

Farr listened in fascination. “That’s all very well—for an Iszic. An Earther isn’t so particular—at least, a low income Earther. Or as you would put it, a low-caste Earther. He just wants a house to live in.”

A sly story that made use of the idea that a tree could produce everything you might need The Pork Chop Tree (1965), a very clever story by James Schmitz that describes a tree that gives you just what you want - and makes you want to stay around.


(Pork Chop Tree by James Schmitz)

"...almost every part of the tree has a high nutritional value for the human organism..."

"And if you're thirsty," Trigger said, "you can drink sap from the creepers. Then, every few days, there's something new coming out, so you could get your meals from one tree all your life and never get tired of the diet!"

Mantelish grinned, said, "There are also other attractions."

"Yes. It's very decorative. It makes temporary hammocks out of its leaves for you, and the big trees even have cubbyholes in the trunk where you can sit when it's raining too hard outside..."

Thanks to writer and editor Dominic Brown for contributing the original quote for this item. (I've included another excellent quotation in the comments.

The Iszic see themselves as part of a long line of house-breeders:

We are Iszic and house-breeding is in our blood, a basic instinct. The line of planters began two hundred thousand years ago when Diun, the primordial anthrophib, crawled out of the ocean. With salt-water still draining from his gills he took refuge in a pod. He is my ancestor. We have gained mastery over houses; we shall not dissipate this accumulated lore, or permit ourselves to be plundered.”

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Houses of Iszm
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Houses of Iszm
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

House Trees-related news articles:
  - Fab Tree Hab And The Houses Of Iszm
  - TREETENTS And House Trees
  - Urban Cactus Architecture
  - Grow Your Own Furniture
  - Treepee Crude By Iszic Standards
  - Terminator Seeds Deployed To Iraq
  - Yellow Treehouse Cafe - A Tree House Restaurant
  - Arena Salix Pavillion Willow Architecture
  - Gold Nanoparticles To Make Trees Into Street Lights?
  - Baubotanik - Construction Botany - Builds Bridges
  - Living Bridges Grown From Trees
  - Living Root Bridges Of India
  - The Living Tree House
  - Chinese Steal American Seeds From Our Fields

Articles related to Living Space
Solar House Concept Unfolds Solar Panels Like A Flower
San Fran's Tiny Homeless
Rotating House in Bosnia
Voyager Luxury Space Hotel Launches In 2023

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