- Hardcover: 186 pages
- Publisher: Underwood--Miller; 1st edition (1976)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000H4667U
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,962,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dying Earth Hardcover – 1976
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The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, illustrated by George Barr. Underwood-Miller, San Francisco, 1976. 1st hardback edition, classic science fiction. Light shelf wear, dust jacket in very good condition.
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It's a collection of interrelated short stories from 1950. The Pocket books paperback you're probably looking at is a reprint from March 1977.
The six stories are interrelated and share many of the same characters.
It's fantasy fiction, with wizards and monsters and so forth. It's a short book, though: 146 pages. One thing that's kind of annoying is that there's one of those heavy card stock cigarette ads right in the middle of the book (for Kent and Newport) that can't be removed. They used to do this with mass market paperbacks in the 70s. Thank God that went out of style.
It's a bit confusing at first: Vance gets right into his world and all the names and allusions can be quite disorienting, especially when you realize that no clarification will ever be forthcoming (e.g., you never get any specifics on why the world is "dying").
However, the writing is superb. If you can get into it, it's quite a feast for the imagination and Vance proves himself a capable wordsmith. I am not alone in my high opinion of this book: in 2001 it won a "retro-Hugo," an award designed to recognize superlative SF that was overlooked or unappreciated at the time of publication.
I actually read this through twice. It's not that it contains a lot of deep, subtle lessons. It's that it's such a pleasure to be in the hands of someone who's got such a disciplined style with English.
Note that Vance's conception about how wizards know and use spells was seminal in the Gygax's conception of them when he created Dungeons and Dragons with Dave Arneson.
The ebook is well formatted with an excellent table of contents and includes information about the author, a link to the Gateway Science fiction website, and a useful list of other books by Vance organized according to the various series to which each work belongs.
This is an excellent buy!
But, it is fun. And different. And a good read and a source of much that is found in role-playing games.
So, I recommend it as a fun piece of pulp and a romp of the imagination.
There's a randomness to the plots and the people. Most stories involve new characters, with little real development and no chance to engage with them, or feel any concern for their well being. Essentially, a flowery hit-and-miss that has not transcended its era.
Maybe best at illustrating this fact is the Martin collection. The only chapter I connected with was the last, by Neil Gaiman, and that was due to the fact that he departed from the fanciful tribute style adopted by every other author and gave a straight-up and totally inspired story. I can't imagine any better 'Dying Earth' material than that. But I have no intention of searching it out anyway.
Most recent customer reviews
For the fantasy enthusiast Jack Vance and his Dying Earth series are one of the...Read more