Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance Audio CD – Audiobook, 27 Aug 2013
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‘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 Paperback 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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...
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I just had nothing better to do on that particular day. Nothing had caught my fancy on any of the many shelves, so I turned my attention to the cheapest of the cheap books, piled in wooden boxes set on the floor. And there it was – Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth. At the time, I’d never heard of Jack Vance, didn’t know what he wrote, didn’t know if he was any good. But the title had caught my attention. In the midst of my depressing and negative teenage angst, the Earth dying had a certain appeal to me. I paid a few coins for the dog-eared paperback and ambled off home.
Hours later, bleary eyed and yawning, I read the final page and closed the cover. Although tired, with a slight headache from reading for too long in poor light, I was ecstatically happy and grinning like a loon. What I had just read, just experienced, was, for me, nothing short of amazing. Pure brilliance. That world, under it’s fading red sun. Those people, in their crumbling cities. The magicians, sorcerers, thaumaturges, with their spells. Spells so vast many years were needed to memorise just one. The creatures, the demons, the created beings. And the stories! Oh, what imagination, what creative genius! I fell asleep a very happy teenager.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliantly written in the style and spirit of the original stories. If you liked them you will like this!Published 6 months ago by Powl
I have to concur with the other reviews that this is a mixed-bag. However even the bad stories are readable and the better ones are worthy of the great JV himself. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lycanthrope
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 on 9 May 2014 by anita culley
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 morePublished on 18 April 2014 by Mrs. Angela Sefton
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 morePublished on 16 April 2014 by hoggster
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 on 1 Jan. 2014 by Ibrahim
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 morePublished on 21 Oct. 2013 by w james
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 morePublished on 21 Oct. 2013 by Brian Hamilton