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Topic: Tell me about novels like Jack Vance's Dying Earth

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Bowden P. (Trey) - ,
Subject: Tell me about novels like Jack Vance's Dying Earth
Date Posted: 3/7/2011 5:51 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2006
Posts: 32
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As the subject line says. I've recently discovered these, and learned that this has inspired a genre. So, what novels and stories are out there like the Dying Earth?

Please, tell me.

Thanks in advance,

Date Posted: 3/7/2011 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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 Well, I haven't read them myself. . . but I know that M. John Harrison's Viriconium falls in the Dying Earth subgenre. . . and I think maybe Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun (divided into Shadow & Claw and Sword & Citadel) does too? Oh, and perhaps C.J. Cherryh's Sunfall. . .

Date Posted: 3/10/2011 10:59 AM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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You haven't had many responses here, so I'll weigh-in with a few, all tried and true : Stephen King's The Stand; Robert McCammon's Swan Song and Pournelle/Niven's Lucifer's Hammer.

Cheers, Margaret

Date Posted: 3/10/2011 11:09 AM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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Trey, there's an enormous discussion on this topic over on the Hidden Gems Forum - been going on for years LOL!

It's the end of the world! (your favorite apocalypse books?)


Date Posted: 3/11/2011 11:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2011
Posts: 1
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You might enjoy the Flat Earth series by Tanith Lee, beginning with Night's Master. She has been a longtime fan of Vance and discusses his influence a bit in this article: 

The Genre Artist - NYTimes.com

Bowden P. (Trey) - ,
Date Posted: 3/15/2011 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2006
Posts: 32
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Margaret, have you ever read The Dying Earth? I'm not sure it qualifies as post apocalyptic. Maybe, post-post-post apocalyptic. After all, its on stellar time scales.

Thanks for the suggestion fo the Flat Earth series. I'll drop it on the wish list.

Date Posted: 3/16/2011 4:46 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2006
Posts: 50
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To echo Bowden P's post, "dying earth" science-fantasy shares some tropes with post-apocalyptic fiction, but is really quite different in other ways.

Some suggestions:

The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson was written prior to World War I.  It takes place in the distant future after Earth has stopped rotating on its axis and the remains of humanity all live on the dark side of the planet. 

Clark Ashton Smith's "Zothique" short story cycle was written in the 1930s.  The collections were later published in Ballantine's Adult Fantasy line, but the easiest way to find these stories now is through the Night Shade Books Collected Works of Clark Ashton Smith (primarily in Vol.4: The Maze of the Enchanter.) 

Catherine L. Moore's novel Earth's Last Citadel is another pre-Vance dying earth story written in the 1930s, Moore was one of Vance's major formative influences.

Hothouse aka The Long Afternoon of Earth aka The Sun is Dying by Brian Aldiss takes place millennia in the future when Man must survive a world dominated by evolved plant life.

The prolific Lin Carter wrote a "dying earth" science-fantasy series known as the Epic of Gondwane or "World's End" series for DAW in the late 60s-early 70s, beginning with Warrior of World's End.

Philip Jose Farmer's Dark is the Sun is a quest novel set in the distant future of Earth.

Michael Shea wrote an "authorized" sequel to The Eyes of the Overworld in the late 1970s (before the official sequel Cugel's Saga was written) called The Quest for Simbilis.  It's pretty mediocre compared to the real thing, but if you like Shea's other stuff (Nifft the Lean, etc.) you may enjoy it anyway.

Matthew Hughes writes some very good Vance-inspired dying earth novels.  Most of his stories are set in the 18th-19th Aeon of "Old Earth;" Vance's Dying Earth cycle takes place during the 21st Aeon.  The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn, Tales of the Archonate, etc. are good Vancian homages without being slavish or overly imitative.

A Vancian short story collection Songs of the Dying Earth, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, was published a couple years ago with tales by many established F&SF writers.  Overall the stories are well-done and enjoyable.

PhoenixFalls already mentioned Harrison's Viriconium series and Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, but I'll second them since they're both excellent works.

If I think of any others I'll update this post...




Last Edited on: 3/16/11 4:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 4