The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderoz

by Dan Simmons
Release date: June 2013
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: science fiction, fantasy

A novella. Dust jacket and interior illustrations by Tom Kidd.

Jack Vance’s stories of the Dying Earth are among the most indelible creations of 20th century fantasy. Set on a far future Earth moving toward extinction under a slowly dying sun, these baroque tales of wonder have exerted a profound influence on generations of writers. One of those writers is Dan Simmons, who acknowledges that influence in spectacular fashion in The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderoz, an informed and loving act of literary homage.

The narrative begins at a critical moment in the Dying Earth’s history, a moment when signs and portents indicate that the long anticipated death of the planet is finally at hand. Against this backdrop, Simmons’s protagonist — Shrue the diabolist — learns of the death of Ulfänt Banderoz, ancient magus and sole proprietor of the legendary Ultimate Library and Final Compendium of Thaumaturgical Lore. Determined to possess its secrets, Shrue sets out in search of the fabled library, guided by the severed nose of the deceased magician. The narrative that follows tells the story of that quest, a quest whose outcome will affect the fate of the entire dying planet.

The result is a hugely engrossing novella filled with marvels, bizarre encounters, and an array of astonishing creatures — the pelgranes, daihaks, and assorted elementals of Jack Vance’s boundless imagination. Written with wit, fidelity, and grace, and rooted in its author’s obvious affection for his source material, The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderoz is something special, a collaborative gem in which the talents and sensibilities of two master storytellers come powerfully — and seamlessly — together.

updated 2013-06-29

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