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Engineer Al's Sci-Fi Library: Jack Vance

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16 Jun 2015 09:00 #204412 by engineer Al

Engineer Al shares his love of Sci-Fi literature.

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16 Jun 2015 12:23 #204413 by iguanaDitty
Thanks Al!
I have a lot of catching up to do, having never read...any of these. I may have seen one or two on the library shelves growing up, but as with so many of the great sf writers a lot of stuff is just buried unless you know to look for it.

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16 Jun 2015 13:42 #204422 by Gary Sax
I have a big fancy Lyonesse collection that was accidentally sent to me from an amazon order, I really need to get around to reading it.

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16 Jun 2015 14:06 #204425 by Motorik
He also wrote "Bad Ronald," which was turned into a really great and fairly disturbing TV movie back in the 70s. It has a minor cult following.

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16 Jun 2015 14:10 #204426 by engineer Al
@iguanaD- Well, now you know. As you may have noticed my recommendations here are stronger than any previous post. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. I'll look forward to hearing what you read and what you thought about it.

@Gary- YES YOU DO!

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16 Jun 2015 14:36 #204432 by engineer Al
@Motorik- Quite true. I have never seen the movie or read the book so I don't have much to say. For whatever reason the book is OOP and hard to find. The prices for a used copy on Amazon are beyond ridiculous. It is available on Kindle, but I like BOOKS!

I guess I should give the movie a shot. . .

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16 Jun 2015 15:19 #204437 by Matt Thrower
Well said. Vane is one of a tiny handful of fantasy authors who've risen beyond the pulp conventions of the genre into something unique, with real literary quality. He should have must-read status yet he languishes in obscurity.

I've never read any of his sci-fi work. I should remedy that.

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16 Jun 2015 15:57 #204440 by Hex Sinister
As a D&D player I'm ashamed I've still not read the Dying Earth. I'll push it up on the queue. Thanks, Al.

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16 Jun 2015 16:38 - 16 Jun 2015 16:40 #204445 by Mr. White
Another one who hasn't read any Jack Vance. I'm only aware that his take on magic has influenced many RPGs.

I need to give that Dying Earth series a try. I'll do it this summer. Thanks!
Last edit: 16 Jun 2015 16:40 by Mr. White.

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16 Jun 2015 17:18 #204450 by DukeofChutney
Vance is great. Eyes of the Overworld is one of the three great fantasy narratives and I agree, despite everyone borrowing from him Vance is oft ignored by name. I have Lyonesse, or one of the books from the series but am yet to read it. Good words Al.

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16 Jun 2015 18:37 #204457 by Frohike
It sounds like Vance's work was most likely a significant influence on Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series.
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17 Jun 2015 09:58 #204474 by Shellhead
I've read the majority of the books that Gary Gygax recommended in the first edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide, including The Dying Earth and The Eyes of the Overworld. Jack Vance is a fantastic writer, with a knack for interesting names and flowery yet witty language. All four of the books in the Dying Earth series are excellent. I've tried some of his other works, but Lyonesse was long-winded, and his science-fiction Demon Princes books were dry and lifeless compared to the Dying Earth stories. The Dying Earth is a great entry point to the setting, because it's a collection of short stories in that setting, while the other three books are novel-length adventures.

Fans of the Dying Earth should also read Tales of the Dying Earth, a modern collection of stories set in the Dying Earth that were written by other writers. Nearly every single one of them manages to nail the concept, delivering a decent approximation of Vance's writing style and stories that generally fit right in with the setting. One of the best stories was written by George R.R. Martin, who also edited this large book. Each story is preceded by the writer describing how Vance influenced their writing, or at least how they first encountered the Dying Earth stories.

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17 Jun 2015 10:40 #204475 by Erik Twice

Shellhead wrote: I've read the majority of the books that Gary Gygax recommended in the first edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide, including The Dying Earth and The Eyes of the Overworld.

Do you have the full list? I would love to see Gygax's recommendations. There's at least one tale in The Dying Earth that is pretty much a D&D adventure, specially in mood (The one in which one guy can't suffer no ill as long as he stays on the path).

I read The Dying Earth a while ago, it was incredibly dry at first and it made my head hurt. But after a while it gets better and you stary enjoying it more and more. I think Vance writes fantasy as one would write science ficition which is odd, but gives the tales a lot of character (I mean, strictly speaking the series IS science-fiction, isn't it?). I think his prose gets much, much better as he ages, I want to check out later books of his for this reason.

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17 Jun 2015 10:51 #204476 by DukeofChutney
www.digital-eel.com/blog/ADnD_reading_list.htm

Anderson, Poul: THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORD
Bellairs, John: THE FACE IN THE FROST
Brackett, Leigh
Brown, Frederic
Burroughs, Edgar Rice: "Pellucidar" series; Mars series; Venus series
Carter, Lin: "World's End" series
de Camp, L. Sprague: LEST DARKNESS FALL; THE FALLIBLE FIEND; et al
de Camp & Pratt: "Harold Shea" series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
Derleth, August
Dunsany, Lord
Farmer, P. J.: "The World of the Tiers" series; et al
Fox, Gardner: "Kothar" series; "Kyrik" series; et al
Howard, R. E.: "Conan" series
Lanier, Sterling: HIERO'S JOURNEY
Leiber, Fritz: "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series; et al
Lovecraft, H. P.
Merritt, A.: CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al
Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; "Hawkmoon" series (esp. the first three books)
Norton, Andre
Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al
Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al
St. Clair, Margaret: THE SHADOW PEOPLE; SIGN OF THE LABRYS
Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; "Ring trilogy"
Vance, Jack: THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al
Weinbaum, Stanley
Wellman, Manley Wade
Williamson, Jack
Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; "Amber" series; et al
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17 Jun 2015 10:52 #204477 by Shellhead
www.digital-eel.com/blog/ADnD_reading_list.htm

Some of these books didn't make a lasting impression on me. Some of these writers had a major influence on fantasy and need no further endorsement. But I do want to call attention to The Face in the Frost, by John Bellairs. It was a wonderfully quirky story about wizards, either amusing or spooky at various points.
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