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The Dying Earth (The Dying Earth #1)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  3,667 ratings  ·  205 reviews
The stories included in The Dying Earth introduce dozens of seekers of wisdom and beauty, lovely lost women, wizards of every shade of eccentricity with their runic amulets and spells. We meet the melancholy deodands, who feed on human flesh and the twk-men, who ride dragonflies and trade information for salt. There are monsters and demons. Each being is morally ambiguous:...more
Paperback, 159 pages
Published 1981 by Granada Books (first published 1950)
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Algernon

I lived beside the ocean — in a white villa among poplar trees. Across Tenebrosa Bay the Cape of Sad Remembrance reached into the ocean, and when sunset made the sky red and the mountains black, the cape seemed to sleep on the water like one of the ancient earth-gods ... All my life I spent here, and was as content as one may be while dying Earth spins out its last few courses.

cover


Two bright stars on the science-fiction / fantasy firmament have gone to sleep: Jack Vance and Iain M. Banks. I know o...more
Keely
Strange to think that this was the series that inspired Martin and Wolfe in their fantasy endeavors. Going from their gritty, mirthless rehashes of standard fantasy badassery to Vance's wild, ironic, flowery style was jarring--going directly from Anderson's grim, tragic Broken Sword to this was tonal whiplash.

At first I didn't know what to make of it: the lurid, purple prose, the silly characters, the story which jumped from idea to idea with abandon. I mistook it at once for the unbridled pulp...more
Seak (Bryce L.)
I've known for quite a while that George RR Martin thinks highly of Jack Vance and The Dying Earth and last year I had the opportunity to read his anthology, Songs of the Dying Earth, where a number of authors wrote short stories set in The Dying Earth.

I loved it. It remains, and easily so, the best anthology I've ever read. And that only meant one thing, I had to read the original tales.

I'm also very glad I read the anthology, even though one of the stories in The Dying Earth was spoiled a bit...more
Shelly
This was AMAZING. I fell in love with Jack Vance reading this novel and I can not for the life of me understand why I never read any Jack Vance before. I blame myself and the entire world for this oversight and I intend to correct the problem immediately. What an amazing combination of condensed writing and huge amounts of story. I can't believe this is only 156 pages long and yet Vance left no stone unturned as far as telling a complete story. I am off to read more Vance.
Stephen
6.0 stars. One of my "All Time Favorite" novels. Jack Vance is one of the "undisputed" masters of the golden age of science ficiton and this may be his greatest work (though I have not yet read them all). The world Vance creates in this collection of linked stories is as good as it gets and the characters who inhabit it are all fun and original. I was absolutely blown away by it.

HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

Nominee: Hugo (Retro) Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Dying Earth is the first of Jack Vance’s Tales of the Dying Earth and contains six somewhat overlapping stories all set in the future when the sun is red and dim, much technology has been lost, and most of humanity has died out. Our planet is so unrecognizable that it might as well be another world, and evil has been "distilled" so that it's concentrated in Earth's remaining inhabitants.

But it's easy to forget that a failing planet is the setting for t...more
Petertpc
Unbelievable. I read Jack Vance's '"The Star King" and thought I had hit gold. Now I read this and find it even better. This novel is so much fun, I can't stand it. Terrific writing and as imaginative as I think it is possible to get. My only complaint is that it was so short that I was left wanting much more. Completely amazing.
Steve
Jul 16, 2011 Steve rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Aerin
First off, I strongly recommend Aerin's review, since it's her review that lead me to the book. For me, briefly, I pretty much knew, within about 50 pages or so, that Dying Earth was special. You can read oceans of speculative fiction, enjoying a great deal of it, but it's only on occasion that you run across something that strikes you as Original, that exists beyond the time in which it was written. (I would probably liken this reading experience (espicially so with Vance's use of "high languag...more
Ben Babcock
I had never heard of Jack Vance until Subterranean Press announced it would be publishing a tribute anthology containing stories from some of my favourite authors. Apparently Vance is a master fantasist, on par with Tolkien, and his Dying Earth series inspired all of those authors, and many more, in the latter half of the twentieth century. So I ordered the massive volume from Subterranean Press, and then I set about finding a copy of the original book that started it all. Since then, Vance has...more
S.E. Lindberg
Vance's Prismatic Charm of Beautiful, Untiring Adventure

Review Summary: The Dying Earth, is beautiful, pulpy adventure. It is a series of six connected short tales (chapters), each being a mix of (Sword & Sorcery) and (Sword and Planet)...so consider it (Sword & Sorcery & Planet). And, it is an important classic, first published in 1950; Jack Vance's codification of magic items & spells proved influential in RPG-game design.

Dying Earth Series: Tales of the Dying Earth: The Dying...more
Apatt
Meh, what on earth?

I went into the book expecting to like it, and it is nice and short, but after a good start it just went downhill for me. The first couple of stories about a wizard and two identical girls created by magic are great, but the subsequent stories just bored me. The prose is nice and elegant but sometime the extreme eloquence just leave me floundering. Also, in this cynical day and age the Abracadabra! (not to be confused with the more lethal Avada Kedavra) kind of unsystematic ma...more
Jim
I've read a short story in this series & it was OK. I think it was in one of the early "Flashing Swords" anthologies. I don't care for the style of writing. The world is certainly imaginative, but too chaotic & there is no real characterization. Also there are too many weird names to keep track of in the bits & pieces I listen to. Nope, just not going to work for a whole book. Moving on.
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Dying Earth is the first of Jack Vance’s Tales of the Dying Earth and contains six somewhat overlapping stories all set in the future when the sun is red and dim, much technology has been lost, and most of humanity has died out. Our planet is so unrecognizable that it might as well be another world, and evil has been "distilled" so that it's concentrated in Earth's remaining inhabitants.

But it's easy to forget that a failing planet is the setting for t...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Under the deep red sun of a far, far future wizards and sorcerers, sorceresses and creatures, blends of animal and plants, creatures un-thought of wander across an Earth in ruins where pockets of people still live, awaiting the end when the sun goes out.

Sounds dramatic doesn't it? This is considered a classic of it's kind and has been built on since. I found it mildly interesting over all but to be honest by the end I really didn't care much anymore. The blush was off the rose so to speak. From...more
Kirt
I read the original Dying Earth novel by Jack Vance, which is less a novel and more a set of short stories set in the same universe. The universe? The last days of Earth, with a red Sun, where sorcerers are the most powerful thing around, and most people live in an oddly amoral, low-tech way.

There's a certain formality of speech and informality of morals that makes the book utterly charming despite some of the terrible things that happen to people, admittedly in most cases through their own wick...more
David
This collection of short stories set in Vance's Dying Earth is old school fantasy and may suffer from the phenomenon of seeming to be derivative by virtue of being the thing that everyone else has been imitating. It's swords and sorcery mixed with hints of lost technology in a far future age when Earth's sun is going out and magic has replaced science, or perhaps they have simply merged to become the same thing. The red sun, the lands and peoples whose names bear no resemblance to that of our wo...more
Molly Ison
This is a small collection of mostly interrelated stories set in the same world. The stories got progressively more involved, more clever, and in my opinion, better, further into the book. To a large extent, you need to be enjoying Vance's writing style to enjoy the stories, as the characters are mostly not easy to relate to - they have a fairy-tale-like distant amorality - and the endings are often resolved by magic. The language is often beautiful. The one thing that I feel I didn't quite "get...more
Merrilee
What a stinking pile of misogynist crap.
Tim
This 1950's tale of a far-future Earth in which the Sun is old and dying is really a straight-up picaresque fantasy of unlikely creatures and unconnected events. The state of the Sun is irrelevant to the lives of the characters and the events of the story. In fact, the state of everything is largely irrelevant from one chapter to the next, as the tale skips between characters and events.

I have to say that I really didn't get this. The characters were all unpleasant, any trace of plot absent, an...more
Jim
Read this one straight through last night. What a wealthy imagination! I enjoyed the format of interconnected stories that just keep getting better and weirder. Vance delivers the action with a stunning clarity and a delicious darkness. The Dying Earth is a place of careless decadence, surreal beauty, hideous deformity and startling cruelty. As the wizard Pandelume says: "There is evil on Earth, evil distilled by time...Earth is dying and in its twilight..."
Michael
A pretty good book. I would have given it 3.5 stars if I could. The prose style is incredibly interesting and wholely unique for science fiction/fantasy. You would be wise to study the syntactic structures if you happen to be an aspiring writer.

-m
Alex
This was a fascinating look at a shaper in the genre, and I can see so much that evolved from this. Some of that evolution was awful, and things like the Gor series and Blade come to mind.

It seems apparent that they were published chronologically, as they definitely get better as the style evolves and world gels. I was generally unmoved by the first four stories but "Ulan Dhor" and "Guyal of Sfere" will keep me reading the collection. Both of these had the plotting I am more used to, with a beg...more
Jim
A fun little collection that I can't help but compare to greater works by Vance himself and to superior works that have taken heavy inspiration from these stories (namely: Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series).

Here Vance has crafted a fantastical version of a far-future Earth, near the end of the sun's lifespan. Human civilization has waxed and long ago waned, people living in the ruins of once-great cities and uses faint vestiges of apex technology in limited capacities that come across as...more
kaśyap
Set far into the future where the sun is dim red and dying. The great civilizations on Earth have decayed. The human population is thin and scattered.
“There is evil on Earth now, evil distilled by time.”

There are six slightly interconnected stories in this work. We see wizards and sorcerer’s searching for knowledge. Humans grown in vats. Small green men called twk-men riding dragonflies and trading information for salt.

I loved these strange, fantastic stories with dark undertones. I loved the lu...more
Jason
“Earth…a dim place, ancient beyond knowledge. Once it was a tall world of cloudy mountains and bright rivers, and the sun was a bright, blazing ball. Ages of rain and wind have beaten and rounded the granite, and the sun is feeble and red. The continents have sunk and risen. A million cities have lifted towers, have fallen to dust. In place of the old peoples, a few thousand strange souls live. There is evil on Earth, evil distilled by time….Earth is dying and in its twilight.”
This book contains...more
Jeffery
I can't believe it took me all these years to read this book! I've known about it for decades, threatened to read it just as long, and yet have always put it off. The book is actually a collection of the earliest Dying Earth stories. Each tale focuses on a different character for the most part, but they are not the main focus of the book anyway. Not to say that the characterization is not there. It definitely is. Liane the Wayfarer is fleshed out in just so many pages more so than many character...more
Jerry Don
I did not like this book. Initially. The more I read, the more enraptured I became with Jack Vance's strange world of the last days of Earth. The actual dying of the Earth is not the point with this book. It is merely the backdrop for the fantastical characters, peoples, and stories set in a time when the sun is soon to go dark forever.

This is less a novel and more of a series of interconnected short stories, each focusing on a different protagonist, and these protagonists are fascinating, even...more
Simon
This, the first part of the "Tales of Dying Earth" saga, is Vance in his early days as a writer and it shows. It lacks the well-roundedness and maturity that he was to develop later on in his career but it is still most definitely him, his unique writing style and humour plainly evident, even at this early stage.

Unconcerned and unconstrained by the burdens of world building and character development, his imagination is given free reign to express itself. Completely at odds with the fantasy write...more
Victor
The Dying Earth is a surreal mixture of magic, the human will to survive, and the monsters beyond our control. All human vices and virtues are here, amplified by the sad and wonderfulness of a thousand civilizations which have risen and fallen across a million years. Twin threads of development, magic and technology, have left their mark in abandoned utopias, unknown genetics, and forgotten curses. Death or oblivion awaits the unwary who wander outside their village or province of experience. Fo...more
Angela
I really wanted to like this. But I didn't. The characters didn't seem fully fleshed out--especially the women. Because of this, the relationships really didn't seem real. Especially in the first two chapters, women are literally creations of men and the men are relieved of the burden of treating them like real people. There is unique diction and the concept is definitely unique, and interesting when it isn't completely off the wall. Destroying a demon by unraveling it into 60 bobbins of demon t...more
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Fantasy-Faction.com: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance 1 15 Jul 28, 2013 08:44AM  
Beyond Jack Vance: Authors like Jack Vance 6 56 Jul 27, 2013 08:29AM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Dying Earth 14 67 Jul 16, 2013 06:28AM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: April 2013 Short Story nominations 9 32 Mar 26, 2013 07:15PM  
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5376
Aka John Holbrooke Vance, Peter Held, John Holbrook, Ellery Queen, John van See, Alan Wade.

The author was born in 1916 and educated at the University of California, first as a mining engineer, then majoring in physics and finally in journalism. During the 1940s and 1950s, he contributed widely to science fiction and fantasy magazines. His first novel, 'The Dying Earth', was published in 1950 to gr...more
More about Jack Vance...
Tales of the Dying Earth: The Dying Earth/The Eyes of the Overworld/Cugel's Saga/Rhialto the Marvellous Suldrun's Garden (Lyonesse, #1) The Eyes of the Overworld The Green Pearl (Lyonesse, #2) Madouc (Lyonesse, #3)

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