Tales of the Dying Earth

Jack Vance
Tales of the Dying Earth Cover

Tales of the Dying Earth

Aaron Singleton

Most of the time when someone recommends Vance, they invariably also recommend beggining with this book, The Dying Earth (TDE). I love this book. It is charming, shocking, inventive, very well-written, if verging on purple here and there. Even so, I would not suggest to a Vance virgin that she or he start with TDE. In my opinion, one should begin elsewhere and read TDE after gaining appreciation for Vance's... Vancishness.

Anyway, this book consists of several interrelated chapters or short stories. There is a good amount of crossover with the characters. There are good guys, bad guys, in-between guys-- there are monsters, ruins, ancient technology... Incredible fuel for the imagination; asamatteroffact, another favorite writer of mine, Mr. Gene Wolfe, drew inspiration for his excellent quartet, The Book of the New Sun, from this very book by Mr. Vance. This book is a fun read, its setting is rich and complex, its characters eccentric, its words intoxicating. But please, go back and read a couple of Vance's other works then come back and relish this one. Or not. Your choice. Either way, enjoy it.