Jack Vance, sorted by year written
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Contains the following stories:
- Turjan of Miir
- Mazirian the Magician
- Liane the Wayfarer
- Ulan Dhor
- Guyal of Sfere
According to Foreverness, the original title of the collection (The Dying Earth) was strongly disapproved by Vance. Later published under the title Mazirian the Magician. Vance also preferred a different order (starting with the similarly titled “Mazirian the Magician”) for the stories from the one originally used.
Vance wrote the stories while serving in de Pacific as a merchant seaman, during the Second World War. Foreverness writes:
Thought to be influenced by various writers; influences actually mentioned by author include: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jeffery Farnol, P. G. Wodehouse and L. Frank Baum; from The Emerald City of Oz: The Phanfasms were Erbs, and so dreaded by mortals and immortals alike that no one had been near their mountain home for several thousand years. Other interesting Oz echoes occur. [ref]
Jackvance.com asserts that the stories have...
...inspired generations of fantasy writers- from Gene Wolfe and Michael Moorcock, to Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin- and has deeply influenced today’s realms of graphic novels, comics, and fantasy role-playing games (in particular, Dungeons & Dragons). [ref]
See also the Wikipedia article.
Republished as Mazirian the Magician, Spatterlight, 2012
Well-phrased action story. It is the kind of action as in for example the 2011 Thor movie. Like in movies of that kind, the flow of the action should keep you from examining the unbelievable premises. And the reader is left with a big plot hole...
Republished in The World-Thinker and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012
Thousands of men and women of all ages had surrounded the ship, all shouting, all agitated by strong emotion.
Betty stared, and Welstead clambered down from the controls. The words were strangely pronounced, the grammar was archaic but it was the language of Earth.
The white-haired man spoke on, without calculation, as if delivering a speech of great familiarity. “We have waited two hundred and seventy-one years for your coming, for the deliverance you will bring us.”
Deliverance? Welstead considered the word. “Don’t see much to deliver ’em from,” he muttered aside to Betty. “The sun’s shining, there’s flowers on all the trees, they look well fed a lot more enthusiastic than I do. Deliver ’em from what?”
“Ah,” said Magnus Ridolph, “you think I dealt with you unfairly. And you brought me to Jexjeka to work in your mines.”
“You got it right mister. I’m a hard man to deal with when I’m crowded.”
“Your unpleasant threats are supererogatory.”
Republished in Magnus Ridolph, Spatterlight, 2012.
Introduction to the novel from Wikipedia:
The city of Clarges in the future is a near-utopia, surrounded by barbarism throughout the rest of the world. Abundant resources and the absence of political conflict lead to a pleasant life that should be stress-free. However, nearly everyone is obsessed with a perpetual scramble for longer life, as measured by slope.
Medical technology has led to a great lengthening of the human lifespan, but, in order to prevent the Malthusian horrors of over-population, it is awarded only to those citizens who have made notable contributions. Five categories have been created for those playing the life-extension game, the first four each offering an additional twenty years of life. One’s progress can be shown as a graph, whose upward direction indicates a greater likelihood of achieving the next level. Therefore, the slope of one’s “lifeline” is a measure of success. A person whose lifeline reaches the vertical terminator is not merely deprived of life-lengthening treatment, they are deliberately eliminated by government operatives, known as “Assassins”.
The ultimate prize is the top category, called Amaranth, which offers true immortality to the fortunate few. People who achieve this distinction are accorded the honorific “The” in front of their name.
The Grayven Warlock was one of those few, but he has become a fugitive after a feud with another Amaranth resulted in the latter’s death. Masquerading as his own “relict” (clone) using the name Gavin Waylock, he lives in obscurity, looking for the accomplishment that will reinstate him among the immortals. However, Waylock’s dramatic stratagems result in changes to society far beyond anything he had intended.
Republished as Clarges, Spatterlight, 2012
Dickerman gingerly performed introductions: “Duke Gassman, Duke Holox...” and finally: “I present to you my successor, Mr. Milton Hack of Zodiac Control. He is an expert military strategist, as well as an economic authority; with your cooperation he will solve the various problems of Sabo.”
Republished as “Milton Hack from Zodiac” in Chateau d’If and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012.
The scouts approached at breakneck speed, at the last instant flinging their horses sidewise. Long shaggy legs kicked out, padlike hooves plowed through the moss. The scouts jumped to the ground, ran forward. “The way to Ballant Keep is blocked!”
Republished as The Miracle Workers by Spatterlight, 2012.