Todd's Reviews > Tales of the Dying Earth

Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
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Feb 23, 09

Read in January, 2009

Tales of the Dying Earth is an omnibus of four books. I have only completed the first book, The Dying Earth , and am disinclined to read the rest.

The Dying Earth is a collection of loosely-connected short stories, each a quest involving monsters, magic and predictably beautiful women. There are rich descriptive passages, but, as with so much fantasy, psychology and social topography are naively simplistic. The stories contain some exciting flashes of imagination, but much also is familiar. It may be the case that other, later authors have pilfered their ideas from Vance, but a cliché still reads like a cliché, even if you’re reading from the source.

The Dying Earth ’s short stories are reminiscent of Lord Dunsany's but are far less mannered, and, consequently, more readable. Vance’s writing is, however, at times thoroughly over-burdened with bad poesy. You rarely shake off the feeling that you’re reading B-grade pulp. Rare words are frequently used in place of common. Some usages are downright odd. It is as if Vance is writing from a thesaurus without always bothering to check the meanings of the words he discovers. The effect is jarring.

Also jarring is Vance's dialogue, which is always unnaturally formal, sometimes ridiculously so, regardless of the situation.

In this volume, Vance’s women are rarely anything but objects of sexual desire. Something which I can easily abide, which I even enjoyed, but which some female readers might find grating.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the superior Suldrun’s Garden , The Dying Earth was a distinct disappointment.

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Reading Progress

02/12/2009 page 133

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message 1: by Charlene (new) - added it

Charlene Please send me your copy.

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