Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance – George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois

Songs_of_the_Dying_Earth_–_Stories_in_Honour_of_Jack_Vance_-_George_RR_Martin_,_Gardner_Dozois_cover

A collection of Dying Earth stories in tribute to Jack Vance.

I’m thrilled that so many good authors came together to honor one of my own favorite writers. It’s an especially nice tribute as I read it after Vance’s death this year.

Wisely, most of the authors here emulate Vance or make use of his world, but don’t try to imitate him. Many acknowledge that it may not be possible to imitate him successfully (as those few who have tried have I think demonstrated). That last is also part of the problem with the anthology – it’s Vancian, but it’s not Vance. Good as they are, most of these writers are not as good as Vance – at least in doing what he did so well.

Still, the stories are fun and very readable, and it’s entertaining to go through the Dying Earth from a slightly different angle, and to see the possible fate of some of that world’s characters.

Unfortunately, the good writing and fun stories are slightly marred by poor copy-editing. There is a fair sprinkling of typos and some missed words that surprised me in an otherwise carefully put together book.

To my taste, the best stories were:

“The Copsy Door” by Terry Dowling

“Inescapable” by Mike Resnick (mostly for the plot, which ties back to the Dying Earth story that struck me most when I was young)

“The Traditions of Karzh” by Paula Volsky

“The Last Golden Thread” by Phyllis Eisenstein (one of the best in the book, and by an author who I wish would write more)

“The Good Magician” by Glen Cook (one of the stories that most captured the feel of a Vance story)


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