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The most beautiful fantasy novel series: The Dying Earth


Books

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

As some folks here know, I write an occasional series of columns called "The Most Beautiful Things". Somehow, in a year of writing this, I never wrote anything about fiction. So today I just posted about the most beautiful fantasy novel series, which I think is Jack Vance's Dying Earth series. Feel free to post your agreement or disagreement there if you like.

Mike

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

100% agreed.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Erik Mona wrote:
100% agreed.

Well, it's settled, then. Everyone go out and get a copy by tomorrow.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

If only there was a Planet Stories version of it that was actually in print :)

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Zaister wrote:
If only there was a Planet Stories version of it that was actually in print :)

Until that happens (and it should), it seems plenty available new on Amazon.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Thanks, I must have overlooked that edition somehow!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I never got to read these...and Mike's endorsement just tops off the enormous dog-pile. So now it's my turn: any chance we'll ever see these in a Planet Stories edition(s)?

Man, that Orb edition doesn't look near as attractive as the old paperbacks.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I can't believe I never saw this collection before; thanks for bringing it up. I have several of the old ¢15 paperbacks, and even some doubles (two novels in one--you read the first book, then flip the paperback over and read the second one), but they are guarded by Canis Tindalos, and may no longer be touched by mortal hand.

Great website, too; I wish it had an RSS feed. Haven't figured out why my office has it blocked.

Cheliax

Andrew Turner wrote:

I can't believe I never saw this collection before; thanks for bringing it up. I have several of the old ¢15 paperbacks, and even some doubles (two novels in one--you read the first book, then flip the paperback over and read the second one), but they are guarded by Canis Tindalos, and may no longer be touched by mortal hand.

Great website, too; I wish it had an RSS feed. Haven't figured out why my office has it blocked.

[offtopic]Since D&D magic is referred to as Vancian Magic....Where is the best place to start reading Vance to get a feel for why he picked the route he did?[/offtopic]

And in the UK


I have to respectfully disagree. I just finished it for the first time. I liked the first protagonist and I thought Rhialto and the goings-on of the council pretty entertaining when they weren't being unbelievably childish rakes. It takes 40 years of training just to become an apprentice and it produces nothing but this load of douchery? I know it's swan-song time for earth, but come on! If people had run this far from their empathy, they would just be offing themselves, not taking on decades-long study to become guys who's major goal seems to be to go around to cocktail parties and pick up the hottest chick.

Most of all though, I despised all things Cugel. It was a struggle to get through most of his section of the series. However, much like Lord Foul's Bane, it's all buy impossible for me to root for a rapist.

Side note, if you're picking the most beautiful fantasy series, my vote is for the Death Gate Cycle.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Lefty X wrote:
Most of all though, I despised all things Cugel. It was a struggle to get through most of his section of the series. However, much like Lord Foul's Bane, it's all but impossible for me to root for a rapist.

I think you may have taken this series more seriously than Vance intended. It's all farce to him, and certainly none of the characters are worth rooting for. Anybody who has any good in them is ruined by the actions of the other characters. That doesn't make it less funny; in fact, it may make it more funny.

Covenant is different. He's an awful person. That doesn't make him less fascinating as a protagonist to me, but I could see why others would feel like staying away.

Mike

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Andrew Turner wrote:
Great website, too; I wish it had an RSS feed. Haven't figured out why my office has it blocked.

If somebody were to tell me how to make an RSS feed happen, I would happily do so.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Man, that Orb edition doesn't look near as attractive as the old paperbacks.

I have no idea why that book has the cover it does. Nothing like that floating city ever appears in the stories.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

A Planet Stories edition is unlikely, as the tales are in print with Orb at the moment.

The fact that so much quality Jack Vance material was completely out of print (including The Dying Earth) about 10 years ago that got me thinking of the idea that became Planet Stories, and I'd love to include a Jack Vance book at some point in the future.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
Andrew Turner wrote:
Great website, too; I wish it had an RSS feed. Haven't figured out why my office has it blocked.

If somebody were to tell me how to make an RSS feed happen, I would happily do so.

What program did you use to construct the website?

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Andrew Turner wrote:
What program did you use to construct the website?

It's a LiveJournal blog, which might explain why your office blocks it.


As much as I loved the Dying Earth books, for Vancean fantasy I think I prefer the Lyonesse series. The poster who so despised Cugel will find a great deal to admire in Aillas of Troicinet.

Andoran

Agree on behalf of the original Dying Earth short stories, and on the first of the Cugel books. However, the later ones were a bit much. Rhialto was good, though.

Plus, Jack Vance is one wicked banjo player.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

The Eldritch Mr. Shiny wrote:
Agree on behalf of the original Dying Earth short stories, and on the first of the Cugel books. However, the later ones were a bit much. Rhialto was good, though. Plus, Jack Vance is one wicked banjo player.

Yeah, I can't tell them apart, quality-wise. I read them all in one swing, so they don't have these massive decade-plus gaps for me. They seem pretty seamless, like they were written in just a couple years.

Mike


I enjoyed THE DYING EARTH series a great deal (I reviewed the omnibus here).

I assume you know about the book SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, coming out in a couple of months with new DYING EARTH fiction from writers such as GRRM, Dan Simmons, Neil Gaiman, Tad Williams and Robert Silverberg? All approved by Jack Vance (who is still going strong at the age of 94, although alas his eyesight problems prevented him from contributing a story). It looks very good indeed.


Werthead wrote:
I assume you know about the book SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, coming out in a couple of months with new DYING EARTH fiction from writers such as GRRM, Dan Simmons, Neil Gaiman, Tad Williams and Robert Silverberg?

Meh. I'd much rather read Jack Vance than read a bunch of (in my opinion, lesser-talented) people pretending to be Jack Vance.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Werthead wrote:
I assume you know about the book SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, coming out in a couple of months with new DYING EARTH fiction from writers such as GRRM, Dan Simmons, Neil Gaiman, Tad Williams and Robert Silverberg?
Meh. I'd much rather read Jack Vance than read a bunch of (in my opinion, lesser-talented) people pretending to be Jack Vance.

Fair enough, although I'm not sure you'll get a lot of agreement that Simmons, Martin and Gaiman - three of the most critically-lauded modern genre authors - are 'lesser-talented' writers than Vance, especially since Vance oversaw the project. They almost got Gene Wolfe as well, but unfortunately he was too busy to contribute. Since Gene Wolfe arguably perfected the Dying Earth subgenre with his BOOK OF THE NEW SUN series in the early 1980s, seeing him do something in his inspirational setting would have been really something else.


Admittedly, I'm a die-hard Vance fan (in case my screen name didn't give it away!), but I have the same problem with the "prequel" Dune books, the "prequel" Amber books, the "New" Godfather books, all of the James Bond books that Fleming didn't write, etc. If someone is talented, they can go and make their own lasting mark (as Martin would almost certainly do if he'd ever finish Ice and Fire), rather than piggyback on the fruits of other authors' imaginations.

I read with interest that Steven Brust flat turned down the Amber project when it was offered to him -- both because he wanted to be remembered for his own stuff, and because he felt Zelazny wouldn't have approved. I also note that Susanna Clarke*, an exceptionally gifted (if far from prolific) contemporary fantasy author who learned a great number of "tricks" from Vance (extended footnotes, expanded use of obscure English vocabulary, inclusion of amusing past anectdotes that have no bearing on the story being told, etc.), has nothing to do with this new project.

* Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, The Ladies of Grace Adieu. Neil Gaiman, upon reading a draft of her work, remarked "It was terrifying from my point of view to read this first short story that had so much assurance ... It was like watching someone sit down to play the piano for the first time and she plays a sonata." Will Gaiman's own current fandom translate into a lasting impression? Time will tell.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Admittedly, I'm a die-hard Vance fan (in case my screen name didn't give it away!), but I have the same problem with the "prequel" Dune books, the "prequel" Amber books, the "New" Godfather books, all of the James Bond books that Fleming didn't write, etc. If someone is talented, they can go and make their own lasting mark (as Martin would almost certainly do if he'd ever finish Ice and Fire), rather than piggyback on the fruits of other authors' imaginations.

In fairness it is a slightly different situation. All of the other series you mention were continued without permission after the original author's death. Jack Vance is still alive and gave the thumbs-up to this project and approved each story as it came in. In fact, he enjoyed Simmons' story so much he asked for a longer version, which Simmons provided and is now the centerpiece of the volume. The anthology is also billed as a 'tribute' project designed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first book and get Jack Vance's name mentioned in the genre press again and buoy up sales of his own books. Also, the people who continued those earlier series are mostly unknowns desperate for success or people not very well-regarded in the genre to start off with (like Kevin J. Anderson), whilst with this project Neil Gaiman's name on the cover alone will ensure it's a success. Authors like Williams, Martin and Gaiman have outsold Vance's entire life's work several times over, so they didn't do this because they had anything to gain from it, but because it was a project they very much wanted to do as a tribute to an author whose work they enjoyed and wanted to bring to others' attention.

Certainly I would heavily advise anyone against touching the 'new' DUNE books with a fifty-foot bargepole, and am deeply suspicious of the 'new' HITCH-HIKER's book due out later this year as well :-(


Werthead wrote:
In fairness it is a slightly different situation.

Understood, and yes, on greater reflection I agree there's a huge difference between this and the horrid "Dune" or "Amber" prequels. Still, I'm a fan of Poul Anderson, but I didn't really enjoy reading his "Magic Goes Away" story in the anthology that Larry Niven approved (one that's exactly analogous to this Vance endeavor). So I'll still probably take a pass.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Werthead wrote:
In fairness it is a slightly different situation.
Understood, and yes, on greater reflection I agree there's a huge difference between this and the horrid "Dune" or "Amber" prequels. Still, I'm a fan of Poul Anderson, but I didn't really enjoy reading his "Magic Goes Away" story in the anthology that Larry Niven approved (one that's exactly analogous to this Vance endeavor). So I'll still probably take a pass.

Fair enough. Always good to talk to another Vance fan :-)


Kirth and Wert:

I don't suppose either of you could give me a synopsis.

I am trying to get back into reading again as i have gotten a little out of the habit. I haven't really come across Vances work so it would be cool to get an idea it it might be something i'd like.


Zombieneighbours wrote:
I am trying to get back into reading again as i have gotten a little out of the habit. I haven't really come across Vances work so it would be cool to get an idea it it might be something i'd like.

In his sci-fi stuff, Vance tends to create intensely pragmatic characters who overcome large conspiracies and/or larger-than-life enemies through cunning, competence, perseverence, and sheer force of will. In many of the "Dying Earth" stories (particularly the Cugel ones), he turns that on its head, and instead presents us with a cast of amusingly selfish, weak-willed characters who are all trying to out-scheme, out-connive, and out-swindle each other.

In any case, he tends to gorgeously-conceived settings on a multi-world scale, sociological observations and local customs ranging from realistic to absurd, and an expanded use of the English language that leaves a lot of readers reaching for the dictionary every couple of sentences.

Alas, most of his stuff is out of print. He produced a vast body of work over the course of a very long career, some of which is a lot better than others. My personal favorites are the "Demon Princes" series (from whence came my screen name here) and the Tschai/"Planet of Adventure" tetralogy. Fantasy-wise, all of the Dying Earth stories are marvellously fun to read; his Lyonesse trilogy is excellent as well.


Zombieneighbours wrote:

Kirth and Wert:

I don't suppose either of you could give me a synopsis.

I am trying to get back into reading again as i have gotten a little out of the habit. I haven't really come across Vances work so it would be cool to get an idea it it might be something i'd like.

Agreed with Kirth's comments.

In his fantasy Vance has a whimsical sense of humour fused to a command of the English language most other authors would kill for. I'd recommend The Dying Earth series as, among other things, it had more of an impact on D&D and thus modern roleplaying than any other book (probably even LotR). A lot of his work is out of print, but The Dying Earth is available in omnibus.

The Lyonesse Trilogy is also excellent.

Interesting trivia: my friend's brother set up Pelgrane Press, which publishes the Dying Earth RPG. I got a bunch of early pre-release game products and I have to say it's the most daunting RPG I've ever seen, not from a rules perspective (it's very streamlined) but simply because it encourages your players to all talk like Jack Vance characters, which would frankly be beyond some groups' abilities :-O


Zombieneighbours wrote:

Kirth and Wert:

I don't suppose either of you could give me a synopsis.

I am trying to get back into reading again as i have gotten a little out of the habit. I haven't really come across Vances work so it would be cool to get an idea it it might be something i'd like.

Or I could just lend you the fricking book on Monday. That's what I get for not paying attention to who's written the post :-P


Werthead wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:

Kirth and Wert:

I don't suppose either of you could give me a synopsis.

I am trying to get back into reading again as i have gotten a little out of the habit. I haven't really come across Vances work so it would be cool to get an idea it it might be something i'd like.

Agreed with Kirth's comments.

In his fantasy Vance has a whimsical sense of humour fused to a command of the English language most other authors would kill for. I'd recommend The Dying Earth series as, among other things, it had more of an impact on D&D and thus modern roleplaying than any other book (probably even LotR). A lot of his work is out of print, but The Dying Earth is available in omnibus.

Ah...So that is where vancian spell casting comes from?

Werthead wrote:


but simply because it encourages your players to all talk like Jack Vance characters, which would frankly be beyond some groups' abilities :-O

All i have to say to that is 'in the face...'


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Zombieneighbours wrote:
Ah...So that is where vancian spell casting comes from?
Jack Vance wrote:
Mazirian made a selection from his books and with great effort forced five spells upon his brain: Phandaal's Gyrator, Felojun's Second Hypnotic Spell, The Excellent Prismatic Spray, The Charm of Untiring Nourishment, and the Spell of the Omnipotent Sphere.

--from "Mazirian the Magician" (1950)


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
Ah...So that is where vancian spell casting comes from?
Jack Vance wrote:
Mazirian made a selection from his books and with great effort forced five spells upon his brain: Phandaal's Gyrator, Felojun's Second Hypnotic Spell, The Excellent Prismatic Spray, The Charm of Untiring Nourishment, and the Spell of the Omnipotent Sphere.
--from "Mazirian the Magician" (1950)

See this is what i get for having spent most of my roleplaying career playing Modern occult horror and cyberpunk rather than DnD :P


Agreed

Lyonesse as well, particularly the faeries


One of the stories from Songs of the Dying Earth, 'Sylgarmo's Proclamation' by the multi-award-winning Lucius Shepard, can now be read for free on Sub Press' website.

Seems to be pretty good. Shepard is an exceptional writer and seems to do a good job here of fusing his own unique style with a more Vancian style of diction. Bodes well for the full project.


The New York Times has an article/interview with Jack Vance here. The Dying Earth comes up a few times.

Andoran

Has anyone tried the Dying Earth RPG?

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor

stardust wrote:
Has anyone tried the Dying Earth RPG?

I bought it, but haven't played it. Interesting read.


stardust wrote:
Has anyone tried the Dying Earth RPG?

I haven't played it, but as mentioned earlier my friend's brother is one of the cofounders of Pelgrane Press. I've got an early draft of the RPG knocking around somewhere.

It is a hardore roleplaying-heavy game, much more based around conversation, plot and character, like the books. Combat is discouraged, although colourful and inventive spell use is a key part of the game.

With the right group of players in the right frame of mind, it should be an absolute blast.


This is going to be a long one:

Quote:

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, Tales of the Dying Earth) 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. With a lot of ground to cover, let's get straight into it:

'The True Vintage of Erzuine Thale' by Robert Silverberg sees a melancholic wine-drinker confronting a problem. An interesting little story, if a tad predictable.

'Grolion of Almery' by Matthew Hughes is excellent. A man seeks shelter at a house and falls into the complex schemes of the house's caretaker, with destructive results. This story throws together elements of humour and horror. The Dying Earth meets Little Shop of Horrors by way of Cthulu. Funny, clever and a great last-minute twist.

'The Copsy Door' by Terry Dowling is likewise superb, featuring the mage Amberlin the Lesser, cursed by a particularly annoying form of magic, inadvertently getting into a contest of wills with other mages to unexpected results.

'Caulk the Witch-Chaser' by Liz Williams is somewhat unremarkable. A witch-chaser is employed to hunt down some witches in the marshes, but is unhappy with the process by which he was hired. Williams tries to hit the Vancian mode of speech and doesn't quite nail it. That said, the end is nicely dark and twisted.

'Inescapable' by Mike Resnick sees city watchman Pelmundo become bewitched by a woman and end up getting in over his head. This is another strong story and the ending will likely provide long-term readers of the Dying Earth series with a big grin.

'Abrizonde' by Walter Jon Williams is a highlight, featuring the besieged castle of Abrizonde and charting the fortunes of the hapless Vespanus who is trapped within. This is a great story, tense and dramatic with an amusing finale.

'The Traditions of Karzh' by Paula Volsky sees Farnol of Karzh become of age and stand ready to inherit his family home and fortune, but his lack of magical aptitude is a disgrace to the family's honour. His attempt to make amends leads to a dubious encounter with a particularly persistent pelgrane. An extremely good story, with a slice of dark vein and a particularly satisfying conclusion.

'The Final Quest of the Wizard Sarnod' by Jeff VanderMeer is the weakest story in the collection. The writing is turgid and does not flow well at all, and the failure of the story is all the more irritating as it attempts to resolve the T'sais/Sarnod story from The Dying Earth itself. Disappointing.

'The Green Bird' by Kage Baker similarly invokes Cugel the Clever, the antihero of the second and third Dying Earth books, but to a far more successful end. Cugel learns of the existence of a bird whom has memorised many key spells and sets out to capture it, with typically disastrous results.

'The Last Golden Thread' by Phyllis Eisenstein is one of the more interesting stories in the book. The author does not attempt to match the Vancian mode of speech, and instead tells a melancholic and quiet story about ambitions and desires at the end of time. Affecting and thought-provoking.

'An Incident at Uskvosk' by Elizabeth Moon is a funny little story about a day at the races which ends up being a lot more complicated than it should be.

'Sylgarmo's Proclamation' by Lucius Shepard sees Thiago Alves and Derwe Coreme join forces to track down the troublesome Cugel, with amusing results. A solid if not outstanding story.

'The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or The Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee' by Tad Williams is another highlight of the book. Fake wizard Lixal Laqavee, having tired of his life as a conjurer in a circus, decides to learn some real magic, with troublesome results that force him into a highly hazardous alliance with a deodand of dubious reliability and a ravenous hunger for human flesh. Simply put, brilliant.

'Guyal the Curator' by John C. Wright sees Manxolio Quinc, Chief Invigilator of Old Romarth, investigating the arrival of a stranger in the city suffering from amnesia. Their investigation of his origins sees them running afoul of the ill-tempered titan Magnatz. This another successful story, with a startling ending. The only problem with this tale is that the Dying Earth seems to have unexpectedly re-acquired its Moon (which, as previous stories had established, had wandered out of Earth's orbit millions of years earlier).

'The Good Magician' by Glen Cook reacquaints us with Ildefonse the Preceptor, Rhialto the Marvellous and the rest of their ill-assorted circle of allied mages. An amateur wizard, Alfaro, stumbles across a long-held secret which threatens the stability of the Dying Earth. I must admit that whilst the story here is fine, the writing is not very strong and the story is overlong.

'The Return of the Fire Witch' by Elizabeth Hand sees 'good' witch Saloona Morn recruited by her neighbour Paytim Noringal on a mission of wanton slaughter and destruction, to Saloona's distress. This is an oddball story, quite interesting and well-characterised, but one where the author's point seems to have gotten lost in the writing somewhere.

'The Collegeum of Mauge' by Byron Tetrick sees young Dringo joining a magical college to seek out his missing father. The story is quite good, twisting and turning as it goes and with an open-ended conclusion that could be quite interesting to follow up on one day.

'Evillo the Uncunning' by Tanith Lee is another highlight of the collection, as the young orphan Evillo decides to venture into the wilder world and seek his fortune, soon becoming an ally of the sentient snail Khiss along the way. The story is quite bonkers, even by Dying Earth style, complete with a recurring story point highly reminiscent of a recurring storyline in Family Guy (seriously). It's also brilliantly funny.

'The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz' by Dan Simmons is the longest story in the collection, a rich, detailed novella which sees Shrue the Diabolist allying with the redoubtable Derwe Coreme to find the greatest library in all the world, aided by a demonic entity known as KirkriK and involving a lengthy airship chase. Possibly the best story in the book, given room to breathe by its length, Simmons knocks it out of the park with a story that is funny, tender and dramatic by turns.

'Frogskin Cap' by Howard Waldrop is, on the other hand, the shortest story in the collection, a short mood piece with some funny lines and a lack of mortal peril.

'A Night at the Tarn House' by George R.R. Martin sees several folk of mixed repute take shelter at the inn known as the Tarn House (known for its hissing eels) for the night, only for total mayhem to result. GRRM, in only his second non-Song of Ice and Fire-related piece of fiction written in fifteen-odd years, delivers a characteristically sharply-written piece laden with very dark humour and a thought-provoking final line.

'An Invocation of Incuriosity' by Neil Gaiman is a coda not just to the collection but to the whole Dying Earth universe. So, what happens when the Sun finally does go out? Gaiman delivers the haunting answer.

Songs of the Dying Earth (****½) is an exceptionally strong collection, a rich and sumptuous banquet of tales from the end of time. The weak links here are not enough to dilute the impact of the best stories in the collection, and the best stories are thought-provoking, memorable and sharply funny. The book is available now from Subterranean Press in the USA and will be published by HarperCollins Voyager in the UK on 1 October 2009.

The collection is preceded by a foreward by Dean Koontz in which he warbles on about not much in particular for way too long. Not sure why it's there, to be honest. There's also a second forward by Jack Vance himself (still going strong at 94) in which he expresses his approval of the stories in the collection and gives an account of how he created the Dying Earth setting to stave off boredom whilst shuttling backwards and forwards in boats across the Pacific. Very interesting stuff.


Thanks, can't wait to read this. Stories with Cugel, the deodand, Rhialto and when the sun finally dies out are particularly interesting.


I own the Dying Earth RPG and the Kaiin Player Guide, the Complete Dying Earth Series and "Songs of the Dying Earth". I read the Lyonesse-Triology as well (but the last one only in a german translation). I love the feel and the language of the dying earth, although my vocabulary is somewhat lacking.

I would love to someday play the RPG, but chances are almost nill this will happen, here in Cologne.

I wonder how a pathfinderized version of the dying earth would look like, or if it would be possible at all.

At least there is no problem with wizards being a very mighty class, because in the dying world, they are.

I'd probably rule that noone can begin play as a wizard. Sorcerers and witches would be NPCs (antagonists in the story). There seems to be no divine power in the stories, so no clerics and oracles (rangers? druids? - rather not). Magi seem to be valid. There probably is curative magic, but it is rare and arcane.
Standard adventures seem to be rogues that later might become wizards if they are fortunate.

My name is also derived from a character in the dying earth series. I just did not remember correctly: Turjan of Miir.


You might give Talislanta RPG a look over as well for the feel of Vance stuff.

Not even certain how I could have missed this thread, back when it was active. Vance novels and short stories have always been my favorites.

But strangely, I never cared for the Lyonesse stories. In Kingmaker, my cohort is named Rhialto, and seems to share the many of the same tastes. In Carion Crown, my inquisitor has the name Reith, after Adam Reith of the Tschai stories. I won't say what happened to my original collection of Vance novels, many fans would string me up. But, I am still searching to complete it once again. Even if it is reprints of reprints.

Told all my friends, If I win the lotto big, expect to see a webfan series of Magnus Ridolph stories. Vance and Niven both seem to do the best sci fi detective stories, even with vastly different styles.

My particular order of favorites:

Tschai Planet of Adventure
Dying Earth series ( the compendiums all seem to follow the best way of reading them)
Demon Princes series ( read them in order, I didn't :( )
Durdane novels ( REALLY HARD TO FIND!)
And then any novels dealing with Alaster Cluster or Gaen Reach

Mix in the various short stories (Sail 25 a particular fave)...

Nevermind. The list is useless. Find something, read it. If you like it find more. If you don't, try one other and if still do not. STOP.

Vance is not for everyone. None of my friends can stand his work. And yet, I reread the novels and shortstories on a regular basis.

The post is over, I am done.

Greg


Greg Wasson wrote:
Vance is not for everyone. None of my friends can stand his work. And yet, I reread the novels and shortstories on a regular basis.

I'm obviously a fan...


Kirth Gersen wrote:
As much as I loved the Dying Earth books, for Vancean fantasy I think I prefer the Lyonesse series. The poster who so despised Cugel will find a great deal to admire in Aillas of Troicinet.

Agreed. Also,

I always have trouble declaring one thing better then another, but I wouldn't hesitate to say that Lyonesse is "The Most Beautiful".


Cugel the Clever is the shiznit!

Or he is a shiznit. I'm not sure which.


He is definitely one bastard swordsman.

I love the character, but if he would definitely be flagged "hostile" if ever in a game I was playing.

Kingmaker SPOILER!:
There is an NPC adversary bard played by the DM I thought reminded me much of Cugel

Greg

Andoran

From what I've read (Dying Earth, Lyonesse, Demon Princes, some short stories) everything he writes is high quality. I tried to read Songs of the Dying Earth for a year or two, stuck at that story about the witch.


Numerian wrote:
From what I've read (Dying Earth, Lyonesse, Demon Princes, some short stories) everything he writes is high quality. I tried to read Songs of the Dying Earth for a year or two, stuck at that story about the witch.

I read it... and it was as disappointing as I expected. Though, Neil Gaiman's story felt "right". None of them can really capture Vance's style. Most folk either love or hate him.

I mean, for me, Space Opera just starts off with a hilarious concept. The adventures of an opera company touring different worlds to share Earth culture. Had a buddy read it after he heard me laughing so much while reading it. Handed back to me twenty minutes later saying it was SOOOOOOoooooo boring. *shrugs*

Greg

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