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Thread: Jack Vance

  1. #1
    King of the Lurkers. Moderator Keyoke's Avatar
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    Jack Vance

    I just picked up a book by the artist named Barlowe. If you never heard of him, he does alot of fantasy art, but, he did two trades of art from a variety of books.. Of a variety of characters.. Anyways..


    I've often heard of Jack Vance, but, recently, I've had this urge to pick up a book or two of his. I've heard lots about the "Dying Earth" series, but, the one I recently found was something about Nine Princess of Hell or something like.. Anyone know this one?

    About a dude who tracks these princes down for revenge..

    Thanks

    Keyoke

  2. #2
    Would that be Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials?

    Jack Vance's Dying Earth series (The Dying Earth, Eyes of the Overworld, Rhiallto the Marvellous, Cugel's Saga) are more fantasy than SF, but very good nonetheless (the spell system is the inspiration for the D&D spell system).

    When you said Nine Princess of Hell, my first thought was Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber, but then it occurred to me you may be talking about a Jack Vance novel but unsure of the title.

    If so, the series would be The Demon Princes (The Star King, The Killing Machine, The Palace of Love, The Face, and The Book of Dreams).

    I really liked this series, especially The Killing Machine and The Face.

  3. #3
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Re: Jack Vance

    Originally posted by Keyoke
    I've heard lots about the "Dying Earth" series, but, the one I recently found was something about Nine Princess of Hell or something like.. Anyone know this one?

    About a dude who tracks these princes down for revenge..

    Thanks

    Keyoke
    Yes, The Dying Earth sequence is excellent, though more fantasy than SciFi even though it takes planes thousands or millions of years in our future.

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    Read "The Killing Machine" when I was in my teens, 3 decades ago. Have reread the whole set every couple of years.

    It has many elements of "The Count of Monte Cristo" but I would not say Vance stole any ideas. The story line is so believable, Vance's worlds are so palpable.

    I would personally like to spend a year or two on his planet "Thamber" which is in "The Killing Machine". Smade's Tavern on Smade's World is another place I would like to spend time at.

    Understand one thing. Unless you have gone to Oxford, you MUST have a large dictionary at hand for Jack Vance uses large words, and he uses them CORRECTLY.

    I think I added 10% to my vocabulary because of reading Jack Vance.

    His other series that I LOVE is the "Planet of Adventure" 4 book set. Get the large size volume that has all 4 books in it. It's currently on Amazon.com and eBay.

    The title of the series sux... But the aliens and the Planet Tschai are absolutely wonderful. Totally believable, completely alien.

    Asimov and Clarke and all the others got a lot of hype in the 60s, 70s, 80s... You get the idea. They overshadowed Vance, which is too bad as his stories are better adventures. Palpable people in plausable situations.

    Enjoy.

  5. #5
    Next to Arch Stanton ezchaos's Avatar
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    I've never heard of the book by Vance you're talking about, Keyoke, but I did love The Dying Earth books.

    One of the villians from Cugel's Saga is in Barlowe's Guide to Fantasy (or whatever the newer book is called).

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    My favourite Jack Vance series is The Cadwal Chronicles
    Araminta Station
    Ecce and Old Earth
    Throy
    He has a wonderful way with words. His use of the English language is spell-binding. Definitely on a par with Orson Scott Card and Cordwainer Smith at least

    42

  7. #7
    The only thing from Jack Vance that I've read was His novella The Last Castle. I read it when I was very young and it is THE book that got me into SF.

  8. #8
    Child of the River
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    The Dying Earth reads like a book of myths.

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    I like jack Vance alot, he's a good sci-fi mystery writer.
    The Demon Princes are good, as i've read all five books, and i think they're the best of his works that I've read.
    The Dying Earth is very good, and very tragic in a way, as you know they're all going to die in a couple of decades.
    I didn't finish "Eyes of the Overworld" as I couldn't stand Cugel's personality - wanted to strangle him!
    Another good book of his is "Big Planet", which I can definitely recommend.


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    To Corwwyn, (you've got a funny way of spelling Corwin)

    I just wanted to say that I'm amused that you like the Killing Machine and the Face best. Personally, I think the Killing Machine is the worst. My favorites are the Star King and the Book of Dreams, after that it might be the Face.
    That planet in the Palace of Love where they specialise in poisons was creepy.

    I, too, expanded my vocabulary a lot when I read JAck Vance

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    From The Killing Machine:

    frowsting
    sollipstic
    rhodomontade
    cockalorum
    siccant
    caravanserai

    All genuine Vance~ ism's

    42

  12. #12
    Heh, the namefilter of a certain famous mmorpg didn't like me very much, until this variant finally got past it.

    I kept it because I didn't really want to end up Corwin1948732326 or somesuch.

    It's been a few years since I read the Demon Princes(gonna read them again after xmas), but as best I can recall, The Killing Machine had an impressive fight sequence and a satisfying ending, and iirc, Kirth ended up with enough money to form a bank to make funding his future Demon hunting much, much easier.

    The Face I remember as being a good read all the way through, with a nice ending, and...didn't he "get the girl" in that one?

    Fortytwo, do you have page numbers for those "vancisms"?

    I suspect they are all real words, though some may be typos (eg. solipstic looks a lot like solipsistic).

    Just a quick check of Websters online shows:

    One entry found for caravansary.
    Main Entry: car·a·van·sa·ry
    Pronunciation: "kar-&-'van(t)-s&-rE
    Variant(s): or car·a·van·se·rai /-s&-"rI/
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural -ries or -rais or -rai
    Etymology: Persian kArwAnsarAI, from kArwAn caravan + sarAI palace, inn
    Date: 1599
    1 : an inn surrounding a court in eastern countries where caravans rest at night
    2 : HOTEL, INN

    One entry found for cockalorum.
    Main Entry: cock·a·lo·rum
    Pronunciation: "kä-k&-'lOr-&m, -'lor-
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural -rums
    Etymology: probably modification of obsolete Flemish kockeloeren to crow, of imitative origin
    Date: circa 1715
    1 : a boastful and self-important person
    2 : LEAPFROG
    3 : boastful talk

    One entry found for rhodomontade.
    Main Entry: rho·do·mon·tade
    variant of RODOMONTADE

    One entry found for rodomontade.
    Main Entry: ro·do·mon·tade
    Pronunciation: "rä-d&-m&n-'tAd, "rO-, -'täd
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle French, from Italian Rodomonte, character in Orlando Innamorato by Matteo M. Boiardo
    Date: 1612
    1 : a bragging speech
    2 : vain boasting or bluster : RANT
    - rodomontade adjective

    One entry found for solipsism.
    Main Entry: so·lip·sism
    Pronunciation: 'sO-l&p-"si-z&m, 'sä-
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Latin solus alone + ipse self
    Date: 1874
    : a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing
    - so·lip·sist /'sO-l&p-sist, 'sä-l&p-, s&-'lip-/ noun
    - so·lip·sis·tic /"sO-l&p-'sis-tik, "sä-/ adjective
    - so·lip·sis·ti·cal·ly /-ti-k(&-)lE/ adverb

    Can't think of anything for siccant or frowsting at the moment, but I think it can reasonably be argued that Vance's vocabulary is well ahead of most SF/F proofreaders/editors, so typos would not be unexpected?

    Brid14, if you liked The Dying Earth, but not Eyes of the Overworld, skip that one, and go to Rhialto the Marvellous (which is more like the first book).

    The fourth book, Cugel's Saga, shows a (slightly) more worldwise Cugel, with a modestly improved personality.

    If you liked Big Planet, then DEFINATELY read the sequel, Showboat World, which imo is a quite superior work.

    To Live Forever, The Blue World, Emphyrio, City of the Chasch, Trullion: Alastor 2262 - are all pretty decent reads too.

  13. #13
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    Corwwyn

    In "The Face" Kirth gets the bad guy (Lens Larque, love that name, and its source) and then goes ahead and finishes Lens Larque's project because the fellow who pissed off Larque also pisses off Gersen. Nice touch.

    Kirth "gets the girl" in the final book, "The Book of Dreams". Interestingly, the Demon Prince of that book, Howard Allen Treesong, is first described as a "chaotisist" in one of the first two books. Then he has a low profile until the last book where he has somehow become the father of all megalomanics. Still, he's an interesting fellow.

    My favorite remains "The Killing Machine", which is the first one of the series I read when in my teens. Only recently I became aware of the similarities between that book and Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo". Don't they say there are only 7 scripts in Hollywood?

    If you liked the Demon Prince series but have not read "The Planet of Adventure" series, by all means do so. Adam Reith is every bit as interesting and resourceful at Kirth Gersen. I have to say that Vance's aliens are among the best in Science Fiction. Certainly Weinbaum's Tweel and Niven's Moties are better, more "fleshed out". But no other aliens I have read come close to Vance's after the two mentioned above. Everyone else's aliens are just humans morphed with scifi peote buttons or PCP. Not true aliens at all.

    I use someone else's definition, who's I cannot remember. It went like this:

    The alien does things in a consistent manner, but impossible for a human to understand. They are believable, but completely unbelievable. They clearly understand their surroundings, but how they do so is a mystery to a human.

    I don't do the description justice, but you get the idea. Tweel tops that list. The Moties are a close second. The Wankh come in next, I feel, followed by the Chasch. The Dir Dir and the Pnume are a little too close to human. And the Phung are the wild card. The Phung might actually be the best aliens ever written. We just never get to see much of them in "The Planet of Adventure".

    Nuff said.

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    Corwwyn,
    I suspect you're correct regarding Solipsistic (I probably jotted it down wrong) .

    Without climbing up into my loft and getting the book back down and going through it page by page, I'm afraid the page numbers will have to remain a mystery. Sorry.

    I spent some time looking up the other words and my resullts were much the same as yours.
    Caravanserai also could refer to a group of people travelling together.
    Siccant I think means "dry" (manner of speaking) but I'm not sure.
    Frowsting, also a bit dubious but I think one meaning of "frow" a cleaving tool or even a dirty woman, or, brittle. Take your pick.

    42

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    I have read To Live Forever, and could can see it's one of his early books, and I thought the whole concept of that society was brilliant - but I hope we never get to that. It just goes to show how dangerous human ambition can be.
    The Alastor books are good. Trullion was good, but I thought that Glays was going to be the main character - you know, the restrained, silent type. He's a rather Jack Vancish character. I liked the second book in that trilogy; Marune. It wasn't a mystery as such, but the way the main character has to move around the rules of his society is interesting. Jack Vance is brilliant.

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