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Author Topic: [July/Aug 2013] The Dying Earth, Week 1 (first three stories)  (Read 1954 times)

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Welcome to the Bonus Book Club in honour of sci-fi/fantasy great Jack Vance.

The plan is to read The Dying Earth during the second half (give or take) of July - and, if there's interest, the next book in the series, The Eyes of the Overworld, during the first half of August.

This week we're covering the first three of the book's six stories, namely Turjan of Miir, Mazirian the Magician, and T'sais.

I haven't start reading yet myself (I'm just finishing off Earthsea) but the stories are pretty short so I'll be up-to-speed soon.  I did do a little bit of (ahem) "research" to get a feel for what the state of fantasy was at the time The Dying Earth was written, and I'm really interested to see how it comes across today.

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: [July/Aug 2013] The Dying Earth, Week 1 (first three stories)
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2013, 10:25:25 PM »
Honestly.  I feel like I am reading a writer still trying to find his voice.  Which makes sense as think this is some of his earliest work.  The stories read more like fables at the moment - the tales are set in the far future but have the feeling of stories you might read of the Earth long past.  Think of the little tales which often dot around epic fantasies stories (Patrick Rothfuss, George RR Martin, Tolkien and several more which I am struggling to recall do this) which the story tellers tell and often strike a particular resonance with our protagonists. 

Interesting how the stories tie in with each other.
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Re: [July/Aug 2013] The Dying Earth, Week 1 (first three stories)
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2013, 10:12:07 PM »
Honestly.  I feel like I am reading a writer still trying to find his voice.

Yes, I felt that way too, particularly for the first story.  I'm not sure whether the later stories work better or whether I just became accustomed to the style after the first one.

In some ways the stories feel quite crude - there's a lot of "I am a powerful magician and I will blast you with my powerful magic!  Ha ha ha!"  It's difficult to imagine a book of stories like that being published today.

And more's the pity, because, despite a few misgivings to begin with, I'm really having fun!  It's seems like a long time since I read something that was so joyously full of adventure and magic and danger and exotic, mysterious, vivid worlds.  Honestly, this make modern fantasy novels seem so plodding and mundane!

As you say, the links between the different stories are quite fun (although possibly overdone - everyone on Earth seems to know each other).  I'm looking forward to finding out which characters pop up again in the second half of the book.

(One thing that I can't let pass without comment though: the book's attitude towards women is... old-fashioned to say the least.  Most of them are literally objects, and even the good guys in the stories come across rather like serial killers by modern standards.)

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Re: [July/Aug 2013] The Dying Earth, Week 1 (first three stories)
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2013, 04:41:53 PM »
Alright, I have decided to give this a go. I've finished the first and just started the second. Really can't decide what I think of it. Very magical, like just whip magic out of no where and throw it around to accomplish whatever is needed, nicely summed up by simonster:

In some ways the stories feel quite crude - there's a lot of "I am a powerful magician and I will blast you with my powerful magic!  Ha ha ha!"  It's difficult to imagine a book of stories like that being published today.

It is a little darker/more twisted than I expected, but still, I really don't find myself fully engaged. I was a bit curious about this woman being pursued. I do like the end where she is a tool of the magician he has captured, and how she releases him and it heads into the next story. Will read on and see how it goes :)
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