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Dying Earth binge - Input Junkie
January 27th, 2012
06:42 am

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Dying Earth binge
I started reading Songs of the Dying Earth (stories by other authors (mostly big names) set in Vance's Dying Earth, and liked the first few so much that I decided to Read All the Dying Earth.

I've got Tales of the Dying Earth, an omnibus with The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga, and Rialto the Magnificent, and Shea's Incompleat Nifft (Nifft the Lean and The Mines of Behemoth), The A'rak, and A Quest for Simbilis. Am I missing anything? I'm not counting McHugh-- his work is strongly influenced by Vance, but so far as I know, not actually set on the Dying Earth.

I've started reading the Vance, and so far, his prose is better than what I'm seeing in Songs-- it's simpler and more efficient, not words you'd usually apply to Vance, but it's not very surprising that imitators are likely to overdo distinctive features. I'm especially thinking Robert Silverberg, even though his story went quite well once I got past the overworked thesaurus.

I'll probably finish up with Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. I've read the beginning, and liked it so much that I've been putting the book off so as not to use it up. Not the worst idea, but I wouldn't want to overdo it. In any case, the sense of humor has some overlap with Vance's-- there's delicate snark at the way characters kid themselves.

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From:madfilkentist
Date:January 27th, 2012 02:33 pm (UTC)
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Sounds interesting. The title must be a play on Clarke's Songs of Distant Earth.
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From:bondo_ba
Date:January 27th, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
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One of my favorite short stories ever is from this cycle (Lianne the Wayfarer). I just love Vance's writing, and am unsurprised that you find it better than the modern tribute book - there's a reason people pay homage to this guy, after all!
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From:andrewducker
Date:January 27th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
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I didn't realise the Nifft books were based in the Dying Earth. I loved Nifft the Lean, and I've not read any Vance.
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From:nancylebov
Date:January 27th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
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You haven't read any Vance? I'm not sure whether to envy you or pity you.

The Dying Earth has a lot of good stuff (I may have more specific recommendations when I've reread it). Emphyrio is excellent, "Green Magic" is one of my favorites of his short stories, and Planet of Adventure one of the best uses of plot coupons (with odd cultures and extreme cleverness along the way) in sf.

A discussion of Vance's best-- it reminds me that I neglected to mention his "The Moon Moth", another favorite of mine.

Edited at 2012-01-27 06:09 pm (UTC)
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From:dcseain
Date:January 27th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
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I had to look up "plot coupon" found it the same as "plot device", and in the process learned what a macguffin is.
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From:andrewducker
Date:January 29th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, I've added this to my things to read list!
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From:subnumine
Date:January 28th, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
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Neither of these is the same universe, but you could round this out with Traveller in Black by John Brunner (the 1986 Complete Traveller has another story), and Zothique by Clark Ashton Smith. They have much the same feel.

The Smith has the usual problem with Klarkash-Ton: his collections keep shuffling stories around. Only Ballantine (and probably the recent Collected Fantasies by Night Shade) has the complete series.
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From:nancylebov
Date:January 29th, 2012 06:03 am (UTC)
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It's too long since I've read any Clark Ashton Smith to have an opinion, but The Traveller in Black had a completely different feel for me. The stories end in clear utilitarian victories, and that's not what I'd call the pure Dying Earth experience.
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