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Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
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Tales of the Dying Earth (original 2000; edition 2000)

by Jack Vance

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1,284286,108 (3.91)50
Member:shabacus
Title:Tales of the Dying Earth
Authors:Jack Vance
Info:Orb Books (2000), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 752 pages
Collections:Your library, Shawn's, To read
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, science fiction, compilation

Work details

Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance (2000)

  1. 00
    The Hyperion Omnibus [2-in-1] by Dan Simmons (LamontCranston)
  2. 00
    Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg (LamontCranston)
  3. 00
    Hero of Dreams by Brian Lumley (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Pleasing and sardonic stories of adventure, under the shadow of an expiring cosmos (the Earth for Vance, the dreamers for Lumley).
  4. 00
    Xiccarph by Clark Ashton Smith (Z-Ryan)
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English (26)  Dutch (1)  Greek (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I've read the first two books in this omnibus and at this point, I'm going to set it down. Not sure if I'll ever return to it. Here's what I think so far:

The Dying Earth - This is really a collection of shorts revolving around different characters who all live in the same world. There were two characters that crossed from one short to the next, but after that, none of the characters came across each other, so I'm not even sure if all the characters in this book are living in the same time period. I didn't really get a great sense of the world (except that Earth is dying and the sun is expected to go out someday, because in almost every story they talk about this). Characters typically just fought one another or went on quests for magical items. But the lack of detail regarding the world, character development and plot made these feel more like reading greek legends or myths than actual stories.

Overall the book felt more like a fantasy novel than a sci-fi, as there's a lot of magic and strange creatures, but very little emphasis on technology. One thing that's clear is that this book was written in the 1950s because it is different than any other sci-fi I've read and does have an "old" feel to it, though I'd be hard-pressed to clearly explain why I feel that way. One thing that does stand out though, is Vance's portrayal of women. They're merely beautiful accessories to men. Even if they're strong (though most are borderline helpless to straight up possessions men use at their leisure), they're strong because of a man. Not a viewpoint I'm used to reading, at least not so glaringly.

The Eyes of the Overworld - Or as I like to think of it, Cugel is an Asshole. Cugel is a magician of sorts, though more someone who sells magical wears. Another, more successful, magical merchant hints that Cugel could steal from a powerful wizard while he's away from his home. So he does, and he's caught. Cugel is punished and sent on a wild quest by the magician to retrieve an artifact he needs. Cugel vows revenge, as he feels that the wizard is in the wrong for punishing him so. Through his travels he meets and takes advantage of various people, gets into further trouble and gets himself back out of it again. He even ends up on a couple quests within his quests.

Cugel was incredibly unlikeable and I'm not sure if that was on purpose or not. He's a complete tool and does his best to take advantage of everyone he can and when he screws up, he faults others rather than himself. Like in the previous book, he treats women like dirt too. The only comfort I took was that at the end, when he tried to pull one over on the wizard and the merchant, rather than exact his revenge, his plan backfired and he was again sent to the far corners of the world.

The next book is called Cugel's Saga and since I can't stand that prick, I'm going to take a hiatus from this book. The only major plus to reading these books was that I learned quite a few new vocab words. I do have a collection of shorts by various writers (including Tanith!) that were inspired by Vance's dying earth universe, and I think I'll pick that up. I'm hoping the voices of other writers might lend some life to this universe. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Jan 23, 2016 |
I've reviewed each book separately, which you can find here on Goodreads, or all together at FanLit's Jack Vance page. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
This really scared me at first. I had always heard it was great. Then I started listening to it. The narrator sounded kind of strange but it wasn't only him. The dialogue was so B movie, I just kept thinking this sounds like very 15-year-old role player trying to do serious role-playing. It was SOOOOO bad. I thought I might give up.

Then it started to grow on me and I think it got better too. THEN it got great. Vance has a vocabulary topped by none in the sci-fi field. He strings together 10 words you've never heard used before and the shocking thing is that you know what he meant at the end. It's not like Shakespeare where you're just left clueless and have to read it over 12 times to get 65% comprehension. This is the real deal.

I'm not saying that I would want all sci-fi fantasy to read like this but it's an incredible achievement that I would think even the most accomplished writers would have trouble duplicating.

The funny thing is that it really reminded me of the movie Heavy Metal. So if you wrote Heavy Metal as a novel this would be it. Even down to the "many short stories with a kind of common theme/setting". I do have a soft spot for the Heavy Metal movie (it had cartoon boobs, that may have been part of it).

Anyway, the moral of this story/review is: Don't give up. It gets better. Or at least it did for me. ( )
1 vote ragwaine | Jan 12, 2014 |
Great fantasy, I love the Dying Earth, and its bizaare characters. ( )
  questbird | Oct 7, 2013 |
TBR
  Ebeth.Naylor | Sep 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Vanceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vance, JackAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Turjan sat in his workroom, legs sprawled out from the stool, back against and elbows on the bench. (The Dying Earth)
On the heights above the River Xzan, at the site of certain ancient ruins, Iocounu the Laughing Magician had built a manse to his private taste: an eccentric structure of steep gables, balconies, sky-walks, cupolas, together with three spiral green glass towers through which the red sunlight shone in twisted glints and peculiar colors. (The Eyes of the Overworld)
Iocounu (known across Almery as 'the Laughing Magician') had worked one of his most mordant jokes upon Cugel. (Cugel's Saga)
These are the tales of the 21st Aeon, when Earth is old and the sun is about to go out. (Rhialto the Marvellous)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Disambiguation notice
Omnibus of the four Dying Earth books: "The Dying Earth", "The Eyes of the Overworld", "Cugel's Saga", and "Rhialto the Marvellous".
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Book description
Omnibus of the following novels:

The Dying Earth
The Eyes of the Overworld
Cugel's Saga
Rhialto the Marvellous
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312874561, Paperback)

Jack Vance is one of the most remarkable talents to ever grace the world of science fiction. His unique, stylish voice has been beloved by generations of readers. One of his enduring classics is his 1964 novel, The Dying Earth, and its sequels--a fascinating, baroque tale set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever.

This omnibus volume comprised all four books in the series, The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rialto the Magnificent. It is a must-read for every sf fan.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:42 -0400)

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