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The Dying Earth (The Dying Earth #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  6,034 Ratings  ·  376 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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Bill  Kerwin

I did not like this book much the first time I read it, but after reading it a second time while visualizing its characters as puppets, I found I liked it much more.

This book—particularly the first three stories—irritated me. I found its wizards to be contemptible creatures, morally inferior products of a degenerate age, capable only of memorizing a few detailed spells and casting them by rote (“Vancian Magic,” which later became a key element of “Dungeons and Dragons”). I was also appalled by t
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Algernon
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

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.

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Two bright stars on the science-fiction / fantasy firmament have gone to sleep: Jack Vance and Iain M. Banks. I know o
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Forrest
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's do some quick math. Jack Vance's The Dying Earth was originally published in 1950. I was born in 1969. I first started playing Dungeons and Dragons, in earnest, in 1979. It is now 2014. On second thought, screw the math. You can plainly see that my reading of The Dying Earth is tardy, given that Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson cited Vance's work as influences on the development of the Dungeons and Dragons game.

And how.

More than an influencer, The Dying Earth is a wholesale supplier of D&D
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Lyn
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jack Vance’s genre defining, fundamentally influential 1950 fantasy novel about swords, sorcery and ancient technology while the red glow of a dying sun spins over a far future earth is a SF/F gem.

A collection of related short stories, Vance’s mastery of the language and his ability to weave a tale has never been better. Imaginative and uniquely original, Vance sets the table for decades of speculative writers since.

The heart of this work is Vance’s characterization. Introducing characters like
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Nataliya
There is some strange depressing morbid fascination in imagining the world - our Earth - an uncountable number of millennia in the future as an unrecognizably changed tired, dying ancient world orbiting the tired, dying ancient red Sun. It's the world in its last breaths, with the knowledge that eventually the life will stop with the Sun.
"Soon, when the sun goes out, men will stare into the eternal night, and all will die, and Earth will bear its history, its ruins, the mountains worn to knoll
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J.G. 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
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Bradley
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
1950, a time of transition from swashbuckling square-jawed heroes with huge brains and spaceships falling headlong into a deep future world where everyone is surrounded by death, old tech indistinguishable from magic, and to make things worse, the sun is dying. This is the last hurrah of Earth and it seems that everyone is trying to make the most out of it, grognak the barbarian style.

What? Isn't this SF? Sure! But it's still pretty much entirely classic Sword and Sorcery. We've got curses and t
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Markus
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Earth,” mused Pandelume. “A dim place, ancient beyond knowledge. Once it was a tall world of cloudy mountains and bright rivers, and the sun was a white 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…”
Shelly
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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.
seak
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2012
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
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Beyond Jack Vance: Authors like Jack Vance 18 161 Oct 05, 2017 08:28AM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance 62 177 Feb 14, 2017 09:30AM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance 3 19 Jan 25, 2017 03:59PM  
Beyond Jack Vance: Translating Jack Vance 1 11 Apr 11, 2015 01:01PM  
Fantasy-Faction.com: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance 1 20 Jul 28, 2013 08:44AM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: This topic has been closed to new comments. April 2013 Short Story nominations 9 35 Mar 26, 2013 07:15PM  
  • The Broken Sword
  • The Pastel City
  • Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance
  • Swords and Deviltry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #1)
  • Nifft the Lean
  • The Return Of The Sorcerer: The Best Of Clark Ashton Smith
  • Jirel of Joiry
  • On Blue's Waters (The Book of the Short Sun, #1)
  • Elric
  • Darkness Weaves
  • Jack of Shadows
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 grea
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More about Jack Vance...

Other Books in the Series

The Dying Earth (4 books)
  • The Eyes of the Overworld (The Dying Earth, #2)
  • Cugel saga
  • Rhialto the Marvellous (The Dying Earth, #4)
“Living creatures, if nothing else, have the right to life. It is their only truly precious possession, and the stealing of life is a wicked theft” 4 likes
“What great minds lie in the dust,” said Guyal in a low voice. “What gorgeous souls have vanished into the buried ages; what marvellous creatures are lost past the remotest memory … Nevermore will there be the like; now in the last fleeting moments, humanity festers rich as rotten fruit. Rather than master and overpower our world, our highest aim is to cheat it through sorcery.” 4 likes
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