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
Before long, however, Thomm came to feel that Covill paid only lip-service to the Bureau philosophy. Some of his actions seemed dense and arbitrary to the well-indoctrinated Thomm. He built an Earth-style office on Penolpan’s main canal, and the concrete and glass made an inexcusable jar against Penolpan’s mellow ivories and browns. He kept strict office hours and on a dozen occasions a delegation of Mi-Tuun, arriving in ceremonial regalia, had to be turned away with stammered excuses by Thomm, when in truth Covill, disliking the crispness of his linen suit, had stripped to the waist and was slumped in a wicker chair with a cigar, a quart of beer, watching girl-shows on his telescreen.
“At the age of fourteen he goes forth from his home with a hammer, a mortar, a pound of bone lime. He must mine clay, lead, sand, spar. He must find iron for brown, malachite for green, cobalt earth for blue, and he must grind a glaze in his mortar, shape and decorate a tile, and set it in the Mouth of the Great Burn. If the tile is successful, the body whole, the glaze good, then he is permitted to enter the long pottery and know the secrets of the craft.”
Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories, Spatterlight 2012
Paddy stared aghast. “They’d draw and quarter me! They’d wear out their nerve-suits! They’d—”
She said coolly, “We could be tourists from Earth, making the Lantry Line.”
“The situation has backfired now, Paddy. Today we’re the root-stock, and all these splits and changes brought about by the differences in light, food, atmosphere, gravity they may produce a race as much better than men as men were superior to the proto-simians.”
“Paddy!” cried Fay as if her soul were dissolving. She could not close the outer door as his leg hung out, twisted at an odd engle. Shou could not open the inner door lest she lose all the air inside the ship.
Republished in the Rapparee, Spatterlight 2012.
“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.
The reporters made respectful sounds. Chiram relaxed a trifle. “Estimates of the circumference run in the neighborhood of ten to a hundred billion light years. We plan to set out from Earth, assume a course almost any course. After a sufficient period of flying, at a sufficiently high speed, we hope to return from the opposite direction.”
Dead ahead lay the great wheeling galaxy. It grew huge, its arms of glowing stars spread open to embrace the ship. Chiram relaxed the field. The striations of space gripped at their atoms, the ship slowed like a bullet shot into water.
Jay turned his back to the cabin, wrote in his journal. He wrote copiously pages of introspection, fragments of quick-scribbled poetry, which he often returned to, copied, revised. He kept statistical charts: the detailed study of Chiram’s pacing, his average number of steps per square foot of deck, the pattern behind Julius’ menus. He carefully noted his dreams and spent hours trying to trace their genesis from his past. He wrote careful and elaborate excoriations of Chiram “for the record” he told himself and equally cogent self-justifications. He made interminable lists places he had visited, girl-friends, books, colors, songs. He sketched Chiram, Julius, Bob Galt time and time again.
Jay washed, shaved. Freedom was a luxury. This was living again if it were nothing but eat, sleep, look out into darkness. This was life: it would be like this the rest of his life...Curious existence. It seemed natural, sensible. Earth was a trifling recollection, a scene remembered from childhood.
Republished in Sail 25 and other stories, Spatterlight 2012.
“Just wait till the noise of those accidents dies down... They’ll be back like flies. After all, we got a lot of publicity-” “Publicity! Huh! Nine bathers killed by sea-beetles the first day. The gorilla-things dragging those girls into the jungle. Not to mention the flying snakes and the dragons-Lord, the dragons! And you talk about publicity!”
It was a rude awakening for Magnus Ridolph. Eye to eye he stared at the dragon. The dragon opened its maw, darted its head forward, snapped. Magnus Ridolph rolled over, escaped by an inch.
Republished in Magnus Ridolph, Spatterlight, 2012.