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Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Dan Simmons , George R. R. Martin , Gardner Dozois
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: 26.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Kindle Edition 4.05  
Hardcover 25.00  
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Audio, CD, Audiobook 9.76  
Audio, CD, Audiobook, 15 Nov 2009 26.00  
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Book Description

15 Nov 2009

Return to the unique and evocative world of The Dying Earth in this tribute anthology featuring the most distinguished fantasists of our day.

A dim place, ancient beyond knowledge. The sun is feeble and red. A million cities have fallen to dust. Here live a few thousand souls, dying, as the Earth dies beneath them. Just a few short decades remain to the long history of our world. At the last, science and magic are one, and there is evil on Earth, distilled by time … Earth is dying.

Half a century ago, Jack Vance created the world of the Dying Earth, and fantasy has never been the same. Now, for the first time, Jack has agreed to open this intriguing and darkly beautiful world to other fantasists, to play in as their very own.

The list of twenty-two contributors eager to honour Jack Vance by writing for this anthology includes Neil Gaiman, Tad Williams, Elizabeth Hand, Tanith Lee, Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg, and George R.R. Martin himself.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Corporation; Unabridged edition (15 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441807004
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441807007
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 13.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,385,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘The Dying Earth is one of the best and most influential fantasy works of the twentieth century’ Terry Pratchett

‘The world that Vance created ranks with Tolkien’s Middle-earth and Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age as one of fantasy’s most unforgettable and influential settings.’ George R R Martin

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

George R.R. Martin is the author of the bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series and award-winning writer of books and screenplays.
Gardner Dozois is a science fiction writer and editor who has won a record fifteen Hugo Awards for his work. He was the editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine from 1984 to 2004.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Millions of years hence, the Sun has grown old, bloated and red and is about to go out. In these dying days humanity, now capable of great feats of magic, shares the much-changed Earth with hostile races such as the deodands and pelgranes. This is the vivid setting of Jack Vance's Dying Earth series, four books (now usually published in one volume) which now stand as one of the cornerstones of modern fantasy.

Songs of the Dying Earth is an all-star 'tribute album' by some of the biggest names in modern SF and Fantasy, featuring twenty-three stories set in the Dying Earth setting. Some of the authors employ existing characters (Cugel makes several appearances and is central in Kage Baker's The Green Bird, whilst Rhialto plays a strong supporting role in Glen Cook's The Good Magician), whilst most create their own characters to explore various stories and ideas. Robert Silverberg's entry deals with a peculiar form of maudlin depression brought about by the imminent end of eternity, whilst Matthew Hughes' Grolion of Almery is a crazy mash-up of the Dying Earth and Cthulu with a bit of Little Shop of Horrors chucked in for good measure. Some of the stories are extremely funny, others are tragic or very dark in tone.

One thing that stands out about the collection is its very high quality. The weakest stories in the collection are the ones where the writer tries to evoke Vance's language and fails - 'Caulk the Witch-Chaser' by Liz Williams and Jeff VanderMeer's 'Final Quest of the Wizard Sarnod' are notable examples - but even they successfully capture some of the setting's tone and feel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy tribute 16 Aug 2010
Jack Vance's Dying Earth setting is one of my favourite of all fantasy settings. It's an Earth so far in the future that the Sun is pale and red and ready to sputter and die at any moment, all of which tends to lend the characters who inhabit the world a certain inevitable melancholy. Add to this peculiar setting Vance's own eccentric turn of phrase and you get a truly glorious fantasy sequence.

Influential too, and not just in fantasy literature. The D&D magic system was based on that in the Dying Earth and Cugel the Clever, the cunning and amoral anti-hero of 'The Eyes of the Overworld' and 'Cugel's Saga' has been identified by Gary Gygax as the model for the D&D thief class.

Vance is still with us, but he's in his nineties now. It's nice that this tribute anthology was published now and not too late for him to see.

And what an impressive anthology. I don't know who it was who assembled the authors (22 in all) who each contributed a Dying Earth short story, but there are some very good writers here (including genuine A-listers like George R R Martin, Robert Silverberg and Neil Gaiman).

Some of the authors have used existing Dying Earth characters. Some (but not all) have attempted to write in something approaching Vance's style - a tough challenge for any fantasy author I would imagine. They all, without exception, manage to capture that strange end of days melancholy that is such an important part of the original stories.

Incidentally, if you haven't read The Dying Earth, read Vance's stories first, even if you are tempted to read a short story here by your favourite author. Trust me, you will get so much more out of reading in that order.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This anthology of twenty-two original new stories is written by top quality authors as tributes to the weird and wonderful Dying Earth created by the late Jack Vance.

George R R Martin and Gardner Dozois are co-editors of the anthology with Martin contributing one of the stories. Dean Koontz leads off with an interesting introduction, and Jack Vance himself offers a page of appreciation to all those who wanted to add another tale to his magical world of the future.

Each of the twenty-two stories has a preface introducing its author and outlining its relevance in the fading times of the Dying Earth, and finishes with an appropriate afterword from its author. Some of the tales are stronger than others, some offer a much more accurate emulation of the unique Vance style than others, but all are well worth while reading, all strongly evoke the memories of Vance's unique future vision, and the anthology would be weaker without them.

But best of all as a long-time fan of Jack Vance with almost a complete collection of his works, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to re-visit old `friends' and their adventures (or perhaps with Cugel, mishaps) in brand-new stories. Now I feel the overpowering urge to revisit all of Vance's books again...
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Anthology 28 Oct 2009
Songs of the Dying Earth is a magnificent anthology of 22 tales authored by established writers in expressed tribute to Jack Vance's remote future Dying Earth ("DE"). Jack Vance is widely lauded as that rare writer's writer, and his unique style reaches near inimitability, so that replication is a very tall order indeed. Yet to be able to write Vancian is no sole criterion for evaluating an homage, (though if an obvious attempt is made to "sound" like Vance it is fair game for assessment). Some authors stick to their own voice, thus their tribute to Vance's DE can be adjudged on factors, such as faithfulness to Vance's DE conceptions and themes, or contributing advancements to his fantasy creations.

Seven entries are absolutely outstanding and alone make this book WORTH BUYING, so that among all 22 entries, 7 are BEST, 11 are really quite GOOD, 3 are MIXED, and 1 is WEAK. Reviews given below describe these BEST, sequenced solely by chapter order, followed by brief comments on selected GOOD, followed last by the 3 MIXED & 1 WEAK and reasons thereof.

Story 3 by Terry Dowling. Wins "Most Faithful" Award for conscientious employment of many DE allusions, all lending to the story's DE ambience and authenticity. It offers wonderful Vance-like names (Eunepheos, Sarimance), and hosts a fantastical spell competition that is marvelously visualized. The ending is suitably ironic.

Story 6 by Walter Jon Williams. The writing is stylistically quite Vancian. Great sounding neologisms, a hard-to-imitate talent Vance was renown for. Delightful throw-away digressions, something again Vance's prolific imagination was famed for. Colorful Vancian characters, all with creative Vancesque names (even Twest the donkey). Dialogue echoes the Vance quality of urbane, archaic politeness.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great writers
Great writers paying homage to a great book! What more can you ask for? Gave it 4 stars as not all stories will be to everyone's taste but something in there for most SF fans.
Published 2 months ago by anita culley
5.0 out of 5 stars Not yet read but just what I was looking for
Yes I'm an avid Game of Thrones fan and have all of the books which my husband has now read. I haven't yet but instead wanted something different from George R R Martin, hence this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. Angela Sefton
5.0 out of 5 stars better than it had any right to be.
As a life long fan (mine not his) of Jack Vance I shied away from this book for many reasons. Finally deciding that impersonation is the sincerest form of flattery and thus assured... Read more
Published 3 months ago by hoggster
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked Jack vance
then you would love this book! some of the stories are hit and miss for me but overall I feel that this is a great read and worth your attention.
Published 6 months ago by Ibrahim
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent collection
An excellent collection of various tributes to Jack Vance. Most of the authors did a great job echoing the style of Vance, and managed to make the stories unique and entertaining. Read more
Published 9 months ago by w james
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Honour to Vance's World
I am a huge fan of Jack Vance and have always felt that his Tales of the Dying Earth novels have been scandalously overlooked. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Brian Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars Took me back to the original stories
Many years ago, when I was still a moody teenager, I was browsing in a local used book store. I read a lot in those days – still do, but sadly not as much as when I was a teen, as... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Alen B Curtiss
4.0 out of 5 stars did no hum this song
songs of dying earth
picked this up thinking it was an anthology of sci fi tales set in a ravaged future of no ozone and technofailure very 1990s
turned out to be... Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2012 by mark1000
5.0 out of 5 stars Facsimiles in praise of Vance
An excellent compendium of short stories after the style of Jack Vance's 'Dying Earth' series. Most are so good that they could have been from the master himself. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2011 by Derek Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars a fitting tribute
Like the various contributors, I also was captured by Vance's prose style when it first came to my attention. Read more
Published on 6 Nov 2010 by A. G. L. Williams
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