Songs of the Dying Earth
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance. Edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Illustrated by Tom Kidd.
World Fantasy Award nominee 2010, British Fantasy Award nominee 2010.
Jack Vance was a seminal figure in the development of modern fantasy, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to imagine the genre as we know it today existing without him. In the course of his more than fifty-year career, he has published dozens of major novels, as well as collections filled with marvelously crafted stories, winning the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Edgar Award, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, and several World Fantasy Awards, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Vance’s masterpiece, The Dying Earth, may be the most influential fantasy novel of the Twentieth Century, surpassed only by J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy; it has not only inspired several generations of fantasy writers, from Gene Wolfe and Michael Moorcock to Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin, but its influence has reached deep into the realms of graphic novels, comics, fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and even computer gaming.
In Songs of the Dying Earth, we have called on one of the most distinguished casts of authors ever assembled — including Dan Simmons, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Paula Volsky, Mike Resnick, Robert Silverberg, Lucius Shepard, Tad Williams, Tanith Lee, Liz Williams, Glen Cook, and eleven other famous writers — to write stories in honor of the genius of Jack Vance, stories using the bizarre and darkly beautiful far future setting of the Dying Earth, near the very end of Earth’s lifespan, where mighty wizards duel with spells of dreadful potency under a waning and almost burnt-out red sun, and adventurers and cutpurses strive to hoodwink and out-trick each other in haunted forests full of demons and monsters strange almost beyond comprehension.
George Raymond Richard Martin (born 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey), is an American author and screenwriter of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. He majored from Norhwestern University in 1970.
Martin sold his first science fiction story in 1971 and has been writing professionally since then. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on various television series and feature films. In the mid ‘90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he’s allowed to leave, he returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with lovely Parris, and two cats named Augustus and Caligula, who think they run the place.
The stories of the Dying Earth series are set in the distant future, at a point when the sun is almost exhausted and magic has reasserted itself as a dominant force. The various civilizations of Earth have collapsed for the most part into decadence. The Earth is mostly barren and cold, and has become infested with various predatory monsters (possibly created by a magician in a former age).
The Moon has disappeared and the Sun is in danger of burning out at any time. A certain fatalism characterizes many of the inhabitants as a consequence.
The series shows the influence of the picaresque tale, applied to a science fiction/fantasy setting.
Dying Earth consists of four primary books, and includes eight additional books that complement the series but are not considered mandatory reads. The current recommended reading order for the series is provided below.