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The Moon Moth Paperback – May 22, 2012
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“Honored as one of science fiction's Grand Masters, Vance demonstrates his rich vocabulary and skill at depicting unfamiliar cultures in this classic SF story from the 1960s.” ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Jack Vance, born John Holbrook Vance in 1916, was one of the greatest masters of fantasy and science fiction. He was the winner of many awards for his work and career: the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. Among his awards for particular works were the Hugo award in 1963 for The Dragon Masters, in 1967 for The Last Castle, and in 2010 for his memoir This is Me, Jack Vance! He won a Nebula Award in 1966 for The Last Castle. He won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1990 for Lyonesse: Madouc. . He also won an Edgar for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for The Man in the Cage.
Vance published more than 60 books in his long career, sometimes under pseudonyms. Among them were 11 mystery novels, three of them as Ellery Queen. He wrote some of the first, and perhaps best, examples of "planetary adventures", including a novel called Big Planet. His "Dying Earth" series were among the most influential fantasy novels ever written, inspiring both generations of writers, and the creators of Dungeons and Dragons.
Vance's series from Tor include The Demon Princes, The Cadwal Chronicles, The Dying Earth, The Planet of Adventure, and Alastor. Vance's last novels were a series of two: Ports of Call and Lurulu.
Jack Vance was a sailor, a writer, an adventurer, a music critic, and a raconteur. He died in May 2013.
Humayoun Ibrahim lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Moon Moth is his first graphic novel.
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Top Customer Reviews
Vance's story involves a cleverly conceived culture in which status or prestige is paramount, and communication depends upon mastery of several musical instruments. To fit in on Sirene, a visitor from Earth needs to procure a mask, a houseboat, and some slaves.
Thissell, the new consular representative to Sirene, is given little of the information he needs to survive. After three months on the job, however, he's notified that an assassin has arrived on Sirene. He is ordered to kill the assassin, but finding him is difficult in a culture where everyone wears a mask. The story eventually turns into a mystery: has the assassin killed an offworlder and assumed that person's identity, and if so, which mask conceals the assassin?
Vance has always been a good storyteller. "The Moon Moth" showcases his skill as a writer of mysteries and science fiction. The ending is wonderfully ironic. On the basis of the story alone, I would give "The Moon Moth" 4 or maybe 4 1/2 stars.
A couple of things bothered me about this graphic adaptation that have nothing to do with Vance. The lettering is of inconsistent quality. Of much greater importance, the art is just too cartoonish to carry a serious story. The artist probably picked this story because he does a better job rendering masks than faces. On the basis of the art alone, I would give "The Moon Moth" 2 stars. Combining the art with the story, I wind up at 3, maybe 3 1/2.
The forward, however, was fascinating, and well worth a read for any who love Vance.
Before buying this book, look at the preview and determine whether you are happy with the art.
If you want to read a great story, look for the original in one of the many Vance stories collections which contain it. I recommend this one:
As it contains a number of excellent stories in addition to The Moon Moth including Sail 25 and The Last Castle.
In the forward to the book by Carlo Rotella (the director of American Studies at Boston College), Rotella writes that Vance, in his fiction,
"[A]rtfully recombines recurring elements: the rhythms of travel; the pleasures of music, strong drink and vengeance; touchy encounters with pedants, mountebanks, violently opinionated aesthetes and zealots, louts, bigots of all stripes and boyishly slim young women with an enigmatic habit of looking back over their shoulders. His stories sustain an anecdotal forward drive that balances his digressive pleasure in imagining a world and the hypnotic effect of his distinctive tone, which has been variously described as barbed, velvety, arch and mandarin... Reading Vance leaves you with a sense of formality, of having been present at an occasion when, for all the jokiness and the fun of made-up words, the serious business of literary entertainment was transacted."
This recitation perfectly sums up what goes on in The Moon Moth. This is a complex tale of identity, social customs, and communication wrapped up in a murder mystery using the cover of "high-concept science fiction." If you have never read the story, it is brilliant -- literary and accessible, engaging and thought-provoking. Ibrahim's adaptation stays blessedly true to all these aspects of the story.
By presenting it as a graphic novel, though, Ibrahim adds another layer of complexity to the tale. In a visual medium, much of Vance's descriptive passages are rendered redundant, as the art is used to convey the scenes and personalities. Ibrahim does a wonderful job of this, especially given the fact that this is his first graphic novel. His clean lines, evocative color palette and inventive styling all add to the rhythm of Vance's story and enhance the pacing of the tale. There are a few times where the choices Ibrahim makes in terms of panel layout are a little odd, but the overall effect of his art is spot-on and reinforces Vance's themes.
This is a wonderful story which is certainly augmented by its presentation as a graphic novel. Hopefully its publication will lead to a wider audience for Vance's writing, as well as pave the way for further adaptations of his work, both as graphic novels and even film.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story is about living in America, on...Read more
This is the adaptation of a short story by Jack Vance and since I had not read the story in question I first...Read more