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Tales of the Dying Earth (2000)

av Jack Vance

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: The Dying Earth (Omnibus 1-4)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,853389,085 (3.91)65
Here, in one volume, is Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author Jack Vance's classic Dying Earth saga comprising The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous. Travel to a far distant future, when the sun bleeds red in a dark sky, where magic and science is one, and the Earth has but a few short decades to live.… (mer)
  1. 10
    The Hyperion Omnibus [2-in-1] av Dan Simmons (LamontCranston)
  2. 00
    Xiccarph av Clark Ashton Smith (Z-Ryan)
  3. 00
    Hero of Dreams av 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
    Lord Valentine's Castle av Robert Silverberg (LamontCranston)
  5. 00
    Mordew av Alex Pheby (tetrachromat)
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engelska (36)  grekiska (1)  nederländska (1)  Alla språk (38)
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The book (or, series of books) has a pull. Vance is able to use description and flowing language to pull you in. He buries little jokes and jibes, e.g.
[He] plied her with all gallantry, but she failed to respond, merely looking at him in disinterested silence, until [he] wondered if she were slack-witted, or possibly more subtle than himself. Either case made him uncomfortable...


That, and its influence on D&D, sword and sorcery fantasy, and beyond (it is really easy to see e.g. Flash Gordon in these pages) make these "seminal" stories.

But, man, there are some... outdated... portrayals of women. Even if taken in the sense that the end era of Earth is a degenerate time. And that is the other thing. Every character is unlikable, disgusting, even just "evil." There are no protagonists anywhere.

The writing itself is 80% description. Good description (as said above), but it gets old after a while. And, granted this is after ~750 pages, it just runs on and on and on.

All in all... 2 stars, but a bonus star for the fact that this did have so much impact. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Aug 12, 2023 |
Cugel the Clever, protagonist of “The Eyes of the Overworld”, is one of the finest characters in SF. The prose is also marvellous. Cugel hugely entertaining and immoral character and seeing him get his comeuppance when his plans fail is always fun.

The following comes from the sequel, titled “Cugel’s Saga”, but gives an idea of the tone:

‘Faucelme returned, shaking his head in puzzlement. He seated himself in his chair and resumed his reading. Cugel came up behind him, looped the rope around his chest, again and again, and it seemed as if the rope would never exhaust the coil. Faucelme was presently trussed up in a cocoon of rope.

At last Cugel revealed himself. Faucelme looked him up and down, in curiosity rather than rancor, then asked: "May I inquire the reason for this visit?"

"It is simple stark fear," said Cugel. "I dare not pass the night out of doors, so I have come to your house for shelter."

"And the ropes?" Faucelme looked down at the web of strands which bound him into the chair.

"I would not care to offend you with the explanation," said Cugel.

"Would the explanation offend me more than the ropes?"

Cugel frowned and tapped his chin. "Your question is more profound than it might seem, and verges into the ancient analyses of the Ideal versus the Real."

Faucelme sighed. "Tonight I have no zest for philosophy. You may answer my question in terms which proximate the Real."

"In all candour, I have forgotten the question," said Cugel.

"I will re-phrase it in words of simple structure. Why have you tied me to my chair, rather than entering by the door?"

"At your urging then, I will reveal an unpleasant truth. Your reputation is that of a sly and unpredictable villain with a penchant for morbid tricks."

Faucelme gave a sad grimace. "In such a case my bare denial carries no great weight. Who are my detractors?"

Cugel smilingly shook his head. "As a gentleman of honour I must reserve this information."

"Aha indeed!" said Faucelme, and became reflectively silent.’

“I understand the gist of your speculation,' said Rhialto. 'It is most likely nuncupatory.”



in "Rhialto the Marvellous" by Jack Vance



Vance is a peerless creator of genuinely unearthly mindscapes. “The Dying Earth”, whilst wonderful and much more thoroughly developed, owes a fair amount of basic inspiration to Clark Ashton Smith's “Zothique”, (not a book so much as a setting for a number of his short stories) also set at the end of time amid feuding magicians and a red sun (if I recall correctly). Smith was a poet who wrote horror/fantasy during the depression to make ends meet, his prose is highly stylised and may be hard to take for some contemporary readers (though not to the same extent as Hodgson's “The Night Land” - I would recommend anyone interest in but unfamilar with Hodgson's trying his classic “House on the Borderland” first), but will be enjoyably different for others.

Vance was my main excuse for spending so much time, and surprisingly little money, in dusty bookshops as a teenager. I still have a dog-eared 'Cugel's Saga' (could not find it for this post though; above the picture of my 2000’s edition from the Fantasy Masterworks Series), a great delight after many re-reads and I'm glad to see Vance getting some praise in this day and age of fast food novels. “Cugel's Saga” should be compulsory just for the style and use of language.

If one wants to summarise this work, imagine that your world is dying. Without authority, valid and morally true, the human response to global environmental change will be too little, too late. And then there will be the next war. It is a social dilemma, a problem of collective action. A lack of global soul. Starting to see where we're headed...?

I hope I am not saying anything new by saying that this satirical humor classic is a true masterpiece of anti-heroic fantasy. In the last days of the world of “The Dying Earth”, people have no purpose in life, they just want to pursue pleasure and live comfortably until the sun goes out (which could happen literally any minute). Among the ruins of ancient civilizations, no one needs to be without wherewithal. And the richest in the declining world are those who possess the magical objects of the ancestors(*). Cugel's goal is no other than to acquire such a collection. As a result, he must go half way around the world. The traveler - who is usually driven to this tiring and dangerous occupation by compulsion - can come across isolated communities following grotesque customs all over the world, which are not labeled as "exotic", rather they should be called unearthly bizarre. And this is perfectly suited for the author to juxtapose the wildest ideas in a picaresque manner. It's also part of Vance's style that virtually every single one of his characters is ridiculously obnoxious. Magnificent, hypocritical characters try to deceive each other in the middle of uplifting speeches, but they get themselves into tragic situations more than once. In short, this omnibus edition should be read quite differently from either old or contemporary epic fantasy novels, but in any case it’s still much better than most of the crap being published nowadays.

Across all the worlds of Vance, from Tschai with its mix of incomers, the insectoid Chasch, the aquatic Wankh (oh how I laughed), and the feral Dirdir, and not forgetting the indigenous and antic Pnume to Maske: Thaery where Jubal Droad sought his fortune as a Thariot spy. From Cadwal with its Conservancy, its strictly controlled numbers, and its fecund and furious wildlife to Sarkoy with its steppes and its nomads, poisoners and shamans worship Godogma, who carries a flower and a flail and walks on wheels, no plant is a s strange as Old Earth, as the dying Earth.

Old Earth where Wayness sought the original Charter from the cities and manses of Europe to the windswept towns of Patagonia pursued by Benjamin a Yip with rape and murder on his mind. Od Earth where Lyonesse lay in warmer southern waters and magicians and witches and malign green pearls were found. Old Earth, a dying Earth with red and flickering sun. The home of Rhialto and lIdefonse, both magicians, of Shrue, a diabolist, of Vermoulian the Dream Walker, and Mune the Mage. But also of the Murthe, a witch, whose ensqualmation was turning men into women and boys into girls.

But there is an emergency on Old Earth! So Cugel the cliometrician, the chaotist and catastrophist, has crawled out of his slumber, woken from his coma, and taken up his trade again. He has strung his fiaps and called his cantrips, raised the dead as he is himself but a ghost. By the power of Gwydion and of Math in all his forms, computationally and cognitively, embodied and entangled. Using both strangeness and charm he will work his weird way and try and answer nature's call.

The great thing is that Vance has been so bloody prolific it takes years to read through his stuff, though happily most of it comes in bite-sized pieces. I too will never be able to afford the Vance Integral Edition, but there is a lot of pleasure to be had collecting the old 1960s pulp editions for mere pennies.

Jack Vance is one of the most influential of fantasy masters with a chilling ability to hide cruelty and horror behind an amusing or bizarre phrase. A brilliant and funny prose stylist. Wodehouse and Twain fit in there somewhere, but Vance is still unique. In a funny sort of way I am pleased that he will remain a minority interest.

NB(*): In role-playing games, the wizard of Vance, who memorizes spells and then completely forgets them after saying them, is a kind of commonplace, but this work is not primarily about that. In the Dying Earth, anyone can become a wizard if they collect enough magic items and magic books. Whether he can use these treasures wisely is another question... as Cugel will find out.



Book Review Jack Vance SF = Speculative Fiction Vance ( )
  antao | Sep 27, 2022 |
The first book, "The Dying Earth," is a collection of short stories. I found these less entertaining. They were quirky and fun, but not really gripping. I wasn't sure I wanted to continue reading until it turned out that the next books in the collection were novels. I enjoy Vance more when he's telling an extended narrative. The next two books (Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel's Saga) follow the adventures of--you guessed it--Cugel. I'm almost done with Cugel's Saga right now and I'm loving it. It's fast paced and full of that unusual humor and fast turns of fate characteristic of Vance. Cugel is becoming one of my favorite Vance characters. He's sort of a self-interested jerk who styles himself "Cugel the Clever" though he's always making choices that are anything but. A more entertaining anti-hero than most I've come across, though the rest of the world he explores is full of such villainy you can't help but root for him.

On a more general note--while this is called "Science Fiction" and is supposed to be set in the future on Earth in its final days before the sun blinks out of existence--I don't find it much different than Vance's so-called "Fantasy." The Earth and sun bit are the only parts that are at all "science-y" or vaguely realistic--the characters and bizarre situations and magic are so out there that they feel like they could just as well be taking place in Vance's fantasy world "Lyonesse". Perhaps this is just the Vance style, in which case, I suspect I will be nearing the end of my interest in his work. As fun as he is, the style just doesn't vary enough to hold my attention, though for a beach read or fast-paced travel companion, Vance is excellent! ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
The first book, "The Dying Earth," is a collection of short stories. I found these less entertaining. They were quirky and fun, but not really gripping. I wasn't sure I wanted to continue reading until it turned out that the next books in the collection were novels. I enjoy Vance more when he's telling an extended narrative. The next two books (Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel's Saga) follow the adventures of--you guessed it--Cugel. I'm almost done with Cugel's Saga right now and I'm loving it. It's fast paced and full of that unusual humor and fast turns of fate characteristic of Vance. Cugel is becoming one of my favorite Vance characters. He's sort of a self-interested jerk who styles himself "Cugel the Clever" though he's always making choices that are anything but. A more entertaining anti-hero than most I've come across, though the rest of the world he explores is full of such villainy you can't help but root for him.

On a more general note--while this is called "Science Fiction" and is supposed to be set in the future on Earth in its final days before the sun blinks out of existence--I don't find it much different than Vance's so-called "Fantasy." The Earth and sun bit are the only parts that are at all "science-y" or vaguely realistic--the characters and bizarre situations and magic are so out there that they feel like they could just as well be taking place in Vance's fantasy world "Lyonesse". Perhaps this is just the Vance style, in which case, I suspect I will be nearing the end of my interest in his work. As fun as he is, the style just doesn't vary enough to hold my attention, though for a beach read or fast-paced travel companion, Vance is excellent! ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
I had been looking forward to delving into Vance's work for a while and I have to say I was kind of disappointed. It's interesting in an "early science fiction/fantasy" way (you can really see where the bones of a lot of Dungeons and Dragons came from), but by the end it feels like a death by a thousand cuts, among them: Vance's female characters (dated chauvinist caricatures at best, what feels like poorly-veiled misogyny at worst), Vance's grandiloquent writing voice (every character talks like the same pontificating wizard), Vance's often bizarre plotting (I understand Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel's Saga were written years apart, but the transition from the ending of Eyes to the beginning of Saga made me want to scream)...I could go on but I'm tired of thinking about this book.

Overall, this feels interesting and imaginative, like a peek into an alternate timeline where the Lord of the Rings was never written (in a way it kind of is), but it also feels like something that's been done in a more interesting (or maybe just more palatable) way by people like Gene Wolfe. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
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Taylor, GeoffOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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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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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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Here, in one volume, is Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning author Jack Vance's classic Dying Earth saga comprising The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous. Travel to a far distant future, when the sun bleeds red in a dark sky, where magic and science is one, and the Earth has but a few short decades to live.

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