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Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance

Gardner Dozois
George R. R. Martin

To honor the magnificent career of Jack Vance, one unparalleled in achievement and impact, George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, with the full cooperation of Vance, his family, and his agents, have created a Jack Vance tribute anthology: Songs of the Dying Earth. The best of today's fantasy writers to return to the unique and evocative milieu of The Dying Earth, from which they and so many others have drawn so much inspiration, to create their own brand-new adventures in the world of Jack Vance's greatest novel.

Half a century ago, Jack Vance created the world of the Dying Earth, and fantasy has never been the same. Now, for the first time ever, Jack has agreed to open this bizarre and darkly beautiful world to other fantasists, to play in as their very own. To say that other fantasy writers are excited by this prospect is a gross understatement; one has told us that he'd crawl through broken glass for the chance to write for the anthology, another that he'd gladly give up his right arm for the privilege. That's the kind of regard in which Jack Vance and The Dying Earth are held by generations of his peers.

This book contains original stories from George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Dan Simmons, Elizabeth Moon, Tanith Lee, Tad Williams, Kage Baker, and Robert Silverberg, along with fifteen others--as well as an introduction by Dean Koontz.

Table of Contents:

  • Thank You, Mr. Vance - (2009) - essay by Dean R. Koontz
  • Preface - (2009) - essay by Jack Vance
  • The True Vintage of Erzuine Thale - (2009) - novelette by Robert Silverberg
  • Grolion of Almery - (2009) - novelette by Matthew Hughes
  • The Copsy Door - (2009) - novelette by Terry Dowling
  • Caulk the Witch-Chaser - (2009) - shortstory by Liz Williams
  • Inescapable - (2009) - shortstory by Mike Resnick
  • Abrizonde - (2009) - novelette by Walter Jon Williams
  • The Traditions of Karzh - (2009) - novelette by Paula Volsky
  • The Final Quest of the Wizard Sarnod - (2009) - novelette by Jeff VanderMeer
  • The Green Bird - (2009) - novelette by Kage Baker
  • The Last Golden Thread - (2009) - shortstory by Phyllis Eisenstein
  • An Incident in Uskvosk - (2009) - shortstory by Elizabeth Moon
  • Sylgarmo's Proclamation - (2009) - novelette by Lucius Shepard
  • The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or The Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee - (2009) - novelette by Tad Williams
  • Guyal the Curator - (2009) - novelette by John C. Wright
  • The Good Magician - (2009) - novelette by Glen Cook
  • The Return of the Fire Witch - (2009) - novelette by Elizabeth Hand
  • The Collegeum of Mauge - (2009) - shortstory by Byron Tetrick
  • Evillo the Uncunning - (2009) - novelette by Tanith Lee
  • The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderoz - (2009) - novella by Dan Simmons
  • Frogskin Cap - (2009) - shortstory by Howard Waldrop
  • A Night at the Tarn House - (2009) - novelette by George R. R. Martin
  • An Invocation of Incuriosity - (2009) - shortstory by Neil Gaiman

The Green Bird

Dying Earth

Kage Baker

We hope you enjoy this complete story from Songs of the Dying Earth, about, in author Kage Baker's words, "a liar and thief in a doomed world of liars and thieves."

This story originally appeared in the George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois anthology Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance (2009).

Read the full story for free at

Sylgarmo's Proclamation

Dying Earth

Lucius Shepard

This short story originally appeared in the anthology Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honour of Jack Vance (2009), edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and was reprinted in Subterranean Online, Spring 2009. It can also be found in the anthology The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2010, edited by Rich Horton.

Read the full story for free at Subterranean.

Tales of the Dying Earth

Dying Earth

Jack Vance

One of Jack Vances enduring classics is his 1964 novel, The Dying Earth, and its sequelsa fascinating tale set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever. This volume comprises all four books in the series, The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugels Saga and Rialto the Magnificent.

The Bagful of Dreams

Dying Earth

Jack Vance

WFA nominated novelette. It originally appeared in the anthology Flashing Swords! #4: Barbarians and Black Magicians (1977), edited by Lin Carter. The story can also be found in the anthologies The Year's Finest Fantasy (1978), edited by Terry Carr, and Masterpieces of Fantasy and Wonder (1989), edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. It is included in the collection The Jack Vance Treasury (2007). A limmited edition chapbook also appeared in 1979.

The Dying Earth

Dying Earth: Book 1

Jack Vance

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: The evil are charming, the good are dangerous. All are at home in Vance's lyrically described fantastic landscapes like Embelyon where, "The sky [was] a mesh of vast ripples and cross-ripples and these refracted a thousand shafts of colored light, rays which in mid-air wove wondrous laces, rainbow nets, in all the jewel hues...." The dying Earth itself is otherworldly: "A dark blue sky, an ancient sun.... Nothing of Earth was raw or harsh-the ground, the trees, the rock ledge protruding from the meadow; all these had been worked upon, smoothed, aged, mellowed. The light from the sun, though dim, was rich and invested every object of the land ... with a sense of lore and ancient recollection." Welcome.

alternate title: Mazirian the Magician

The Eyes of the Overworld

Dying Earth: Book 2

Jack Vance

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. Through cunning and dumb luck, the relentless Cugel survives one catastrophe after another, fighting off bandits, ghosts, and ghouls-stealing, lying, and cheating without insight or remorse leaving only wreckage behind.

Betrayed and betraying, he joins a cult group on a pilgrimage, crosses the Silver Desert as his comrades die one by one and, escaping the Rat People, obtains a spell that returns him home. There, thanks to incompetence and arrogance he misspeaks the words of a purloined spell and transports himself back to the same dismal place he began his journey.

Alternate title: Cugel the Clever

Cugel's Saga

Dying Earth: Book 3

Jack Vance

The roguish Cugel the Clever is stranded on a shore on the other side of the world by the Laughing Magic and must fight, bluff, and connive his way back to Almery to take vengeance on the wizard.

Alternate title: Cugel: The Skybreak Spatterlight

Rhialto the Marvellous

Dying Earth: Book 4

Jack Vance

Jack Vance is one of the most remarkable talents to ever grace the world of science fiction. His unique, stylish voice has been beloved by generations of readers. One of his enduring classics is hisThe Dying Earth series, fascinating, baroque tales set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever.

Rhialto the Marvellous contains three linked novellas about the adventures of the wizard Rhialto across the decadent landscape of the Dying Earth, under its swollen red sun.