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The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz Hardcover – 30 Jun 2013

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 118 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; Deluxe edition (30 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596065419
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596065413
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent quality book that makes me quite nostalgic! Love the story! And I love Dam Simmons! I think I shall endeavour to acquire his whole collection!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9ceda180) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d47bcfc) out of 5 stars 3.5 stars 19 Jun. 2013
By Katherine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
3.5 stars
Originally posted at FanLit.

A few years ago Subterranean Press published what has ever since been my favorite anthology of all time -- Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance. It's a hefty collection of stories written by 22 authors who consider Jack Vance an influence on their own work. Each wrote a story set in Vance's DYING EARTH universe and many of them attempted -- often quite successfully --Vance's trademark style. Each also wrote an afterward which explains how Vance influenced them personally. I've reviewed that anthology here.

This month Subterranean Press is releasing Dan Simmons' contribution to that anthology as a hardcover stand-alone novella. It has previously been released on Kindle. The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderōz takes place in what seems to be the very last days of the dying earth when the sun is dim and sputtering and hardly seems to manage to heave itself into the sky most days. Many people have fled the earth, but Shrue the diabolist is staying because he wants to see what happens.

One day Shrue's avian spies inform him that the powerful magician Ulfänt Banderōz lies dead in the Ultimate Library and Final Compendium of Thaumaturgical Lore, a place that Shrue has been trying for years to infiltrate. Immediately Shrue and KirdriK, his scary servant, set off to see if they can get into the library before any other magicians show up to loot it. Along the way they meet up with a fierce warrior maiden named Derwe Coreme who Vance fans will recognize as the girl that Cugel used so treacherously in The Eyes of the Overworld (aka Cugel the Clever). (As an aside, I find it interesting that Simmons chose her as Shrue's companion -- I wonder if he, like me, felt sorry for the girl and hoped for a brighter future for her). Shrue, KirdriK, and Derwe Coreme meet many strange creatures and have several bizarre adventures before their quest is done.

Several of the authors who wrote stories for Songs of the Dying Earth wrote a pastiche, and I noticed that those tended to be my favorite stories in the anthology because they captured not just Jack Vance's world, but some of the elements I love most about his work, namely his vocabulary, prose style, dry wit, and droll dialogue. Simmons' story, in contrast, is homage rather than a pastiche. It's clearly set in the dying earth with landscapes and characters and creatures and even magic spells that we already know or that sound like they belong there. For example, we encounter pelgranes and demons, a city named Xeexees, a magician named Hrestrk-Grk, creatures from vats, and the familiar spell called Phandaal's Excellent Prismatic Spray.

But Simmons doesn't emulate Vance's style. The vocabulary isn't quite right (though he does use the words "efulged," "sublimation" and "ichor") and he throws in a few things that don't quite fit such as a ritual called the Scaumish Rite of Multiple Erotic Connections (which has the right rhythm if not the right tone for a Vance story), a Conan the Barbarian allusion, the words "crap" and "s***," the phrases "whatever the hell" and "ass-end of nowhere" and some sexual situations that are less obfuscated than Vance would have written. I think most noticeable, though, was when, after one of the characters says "Hand over the Nose," Simmons writes "Something about the phrasing of that demand made both Shrue and Derwe Coreme laugh." It may seem like such a petty nitpick, but Jack Vance never points out his jokes or cues us to laugh, so that felt out of place. In general I felt that Simmons missed the subtle humor that is such an important part of Vance's style.

So, overall, I have to say that while I enjoyed spending time with Dan Simmons in Jack Vance's world, and while I especially liked how he redeemed Derwe Coreme, his story was not one of my favorites from the anthology. I don't know if Subterranean Press plans to release the other stories as stand-alones, but if they do I'll be sure to point out my favorites in future reviews. (Though I think you should buy the complete anthology.)

This 120 page volume is gorgeously illustrated by Tom Kidd who, as far as I know, does all of the Jack Vance-related art for Subterranean Press. I love his work and the best part is that he must get his artwork in early because, though usually Sub Press sends me review copies without art, all the Jack Vance review copies have the art, which I'm always thrilled about. I'm including a larger cover here so you can see how awesome it is.

At the end of The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderōz is a sweet afterward in which Simmons' talks about reading Jack Vance when he was a boy in the summer of 1960. As soon as I finished, I pulled out my own copy of The Dying Earth and presented it to my son. I want him to have memories like that.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d47bd50) out of 5 stars Riveting Short Story! 15 April 2013
By David T Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this short story to be very well written, and it kept me riveted from start to finish. This story easily could have been developed out to a full-length novel, with an interesting story line, complex characters, and tackles interesting, complex subjects. This story was very "unique", and I highly recommend it for fans of both SciFi and Fantasy genres.
HASH(0x9e3fd168) out of 5 stars A great story by Simmons set in Vance's Dying Earth and written in Vance's unique style 8 Nov. 2013
By Robert B. Reese - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hurray for Dan Simmons and Jack Vance!!!!! Very entertaining story by Simmons in Jack Vance's unique style as a homage to him set in one of Vance's most interesting places, the Dying Earth. If you read this novella and enjoy it, and do not know who Jack Vance is, then search as fast you can for Jack Vance and Dying Earth and be prepared for pure reading bliss (and not just Vance's Dying Earth series, almost anything by Vance is wonderful). Jack Vance has departed for a better place, but he lives on in his books.
HASH(0x9d79ec6c) out of 5 stars Return to an intriguing and fascinating world 10 April 2015
By Vagrant Turtle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ok this was a very fun journey through one of the most fascinating worlds in all of science fiction and fantasy. It is definitely worth reading. I will say though that it is not quite on the same level as Matthew Hughes Archonate (Hengis Hapthorn etc.) novels and stories but as a homage to Vance it works out very well. It is a fun and quick read.
HASH(0x9ea49af8) out of 5 stars Good tribute to Jack Vance 6 Jun. 2015
By woodrow locksley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book by Dan Simmons is a short novel that takes place in the Dying Earth world of Jack Vance. It is a quick read and written at a high level stylistically and is a good tribute to Vance and the world he created It has plenty of action and also some humor and though it is not the equal of the best of Vamce's work it is a worthwhile read
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