The stories in The Dying Earth introduce dozens of seekers of wisom 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: The evil are charming, the good are dangerous. All are at home.
"A Decadent and Hopeful Dying Earth"
Stranded on the distant planet Tschai, young Adam Reith is the sole survivor of a space mission who discovers the world is inhabited - not only by warring alien cultures but by human slaves as well, taken early in Earth's history. Reith must find a way off the planet to warn Earth of Tschai's deadly existence.
"Dated, but still fun."
Though Vance puts himself in tradition of popular fantasy writers, one might assume that he had also grown up with Ovid and Herodotus, Homer’s Odyssey, Don Quixote, and Candide. The Cugel tales lack some of the scope and pathos of the great adventure yarns, but, in the 21st century, they may be as close as one gets to the celebration of epic human perseverance.
"Witty, refreshingly different"
The Eyes of the Overworld is the first of Vance’s picaresque novels about the scoundrel Cugel. Here he is sent by a magician he has wronged to a distant unknown country to retrieve magical lenses that reveal the Overworld. Conniving to steal the lenses, he escapes and, goaded by a homesick monster magically attached to his liver, starts to find his way home to Almery. The journey takes him across trackless mountains, wastelands, and seas.
"Literary equivalent of a Terry Gilliam film"
The Elder Isles, located in what is now the Bay of Biscay off the coast of Old Gaul, are made up of 10 contending kingdoms, all vying with each other for control. At the centre of much of the intrigue is Casmir, the ruthless and ambitious king of Lyonnesse. His beautiful but otherworldly daughter, Suldrun, is part of his plans. He intends to cement an alliance or two by marrying her well. But Suldrun is as determined as he and defies him.
"Starts slow,,,gets really fun later on"
Gavin Waylock had waited seven years for the scandal surrounding his former immortal self to be forgotten and had kept his identity concealed so that he could once again join the ranks of those who lived forever. He had been exceedingly careful about hiding his past. Then he met the Jacynth. She was a beautiful 19-year-old, and Gavin wanted her. But he recognized that a wisdom far beyond her years marked her as one who knew too much about him to live.
"Classic Vance at his best"
In the interlocking Tales of the Dying Earth Vance explores the world at the end of time when sun is guttering. Light itself is different and Vance’s landscapes —described in language that is lyrical, seductive, and partly self-invented —are wild and surreal, full of opportunity and danger. On the Dying Earth, the rules of physics as we know them have been amended and replaced by magic. The laws of evolution have spun out creatures that are humanoid, hybrid, and often terrifying.
"Dark and Wonderful"
The World Fantasy Award-winning third volume of the Lyonesse trilogy brings attention to the faerie changeling Madouc. Where princess Suldrun once meekly endured the proprieties of Castle Haidion, Madouc defends herself with rotten fruit. Vexed, King Casmir arranges a contest to marry her off, but Madouc has other ideas, and enlists the stableboy "Sir Pom-pom" on an impromptu quest to find her father.
"A must read"
When someone sent distress signals to outer space from the planet Tschai, it was Adam Reith's misfortune to be sent from Earth to investigate. Because when his ship came close to Tschai, it was torpedoed - and Adam escaped to the surface with his life and nothing else.
In The Green Pearl, King Aillas of Troicinet defends the peace of the Elder Isles against both the Ska marauders who once enslaved him and the wicked King Casmir. While organizing the unruly barons in the frontiers of his land, Aillas goes out of his way to capture the lovely Ska noblewoman who once stung him with her disregard.
Two vintage stories from the 1950s by science-fiction Grand Master Jack Vance, who wrote stories of adventure, detection, horror, and humor.
"Oddities from Jack Vance"
Marooned on the strange planet Tschai, Adam Reith agreed to lead an expedition to return the princess Ylin Ylan, the Flower of Cath, to her homeland halfway around the globe. Monsters of land and sea lay before them, as well as beings both human and alien who might rob, kill, or enslave them. Tschai was a large planet - an ancient planet - where four powerful alien races struggled for mastery while humans were treated as pawns; nothing would be easy for Reith on this journey.
"Planet of Adventure"
Tonight on the program, J.D. Vance discusses his book "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis."
We continue with a look at the play "The Front Page" with director Jack O'Brien and actors Nathan Lane and John Goodman.
We conclude with Alexandra Lebenthal, president and C.E.O. of Lebenthal & Co., and Dr. Michael Kaplitt, neurosurgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian.
Getting back to Earth from the planet Tschai involved either stealing a spaceship or having one built to order - for Tschai was home to several intelligent star-born races, and so they had spaceyards. But Adam Reith's problem was not so simple. He'd already been lucky to escape the Chasch and the Wankh and a dozen different types of humans, and now his course led directly to the Grand Sivishe Spaceyards in the domains of the Dirdir.
On the planet Glory, missionaries live in a constant unpredictable environment. Sister Mary and her husband, Brother Raymond, try to contend with the flits, which live satyr-like existences. The missionaries are exasperated with this world's disregard for cause and effect. The only constant is the clock that they brought with them. And therein lies the problem.
"Jack Vance - cultural critic out of time"
The Pnume were an ancient race of the planet Tschai, living underground in a vast network of caverns with their human slave species, the Pnumekin. The Pnume were the historians of Tschai, collecting its past with ruthless and scholarly dedication. Surface dwellers never saw the Pnume - if they were lucky. Adam Reith was not so fortunate. The Pnume had heard rumors of a strange man claiming to have come from the planet Earth, and they wanted him for Foreverness, the museum of Tschai life.
The four of them had only two things in common - their name and a love for the ladies. John Boce was a no-account accountant who lusted after food, drink, cars, and women. John Thompson was a secretive librarian who liked his books and his women well-stacked. John Viviano was a fashion photographer with a great feel for a body - any body! And John Pilgrim was a poetic bum who had the girls hanging on his every stanza. All of them wanted the same woman, but which one wanted her enough to kill?
"Well written but undramatic"