New races of man had evolved, new species of beast; science had vanished and magic had arisen to dominate the twilight of our world as it dominated the earth’s morning. The Dying Earth is Jack Vance’s finest work – a stunning evocation of a world peopled by wizards, witches, demons, monsters, dashing princes and forlorn maidens. A bejewelled gallery of strange and wonderful beings in the eminent tradition of Tolkien and William Morris.
Jack Vance’s preferred title for this collection is Mazirian the Magician, but while we have elsewhere deferred to his wishes, in this case the book is so famous under a title of which he apparently strongly disapproves that we concluded it would be absurd to change it.
All Jack Vance titles in the SFGateway use the author’s preferred texts, as restored for the Vance Integral Edition (VIE), an extensive project masterminded by an international online community of Vance’s admirers. In general, we also use the VIE titles, and have adopted the arrangement of short story collections to eliminate overlaps.
The fifth and final instalment in the GAP sequence: Stephen Donaldson’s fascinating universe peopled with characters of a passion and intensity only he could create.
As the conflict between humankind and the Amnion heads for crisis, Morn Hyland, the cyborg Angus Thermopyle and the survivors on board the crippled starship Trumpet must return from deep space to Earth. Their mission is to prevent all-out war with the aliens, which would leave humanity to pay a terrible price.
But the Amnion react with swift fury, and suddenly Earth is threatened with fiery destruction …
Carl Kovak was an expendable political prisoner as far as the Eastern Totalitarian Government was concerned. He was being sent into orbit in a lead lined capsule to see if it offered adequate protection from cosmic rays. Carl was strapped in and waiting for blast-off when the first bombs fell. The lead saved his body but doubt was splitting his mind. He had believed in the honesty and integrity of the West. But what if the West had started the war?
Finally, after incredible hardships and dangers, Carl Kovak found the answer. Neither East nor West had launched the atomic missiles… they had come from Space! Now alien invaders and savage mutant stalked the earth. Could a handful of human heroes survive against such terrible odds?
The strange thing about THE END was that nobody expected it…
The pessimists had been wrong. No atomic war. No nuclear destruction. No fall out. No radioactivity. Disarmament had brought universal peace and sanity. Co-existence had become a reality – not an idealist’s dream.
Then disaster struck. The desperate weather forecasts were the beginning. The ice was The End.
Seas became frozen wastes. Rivers turned to glaciers overnight. The whole planet was in the grip of a cold so intense that millions perished in a few hours… millions more died within the week.
Only the bravest and the hardiest survived. Rugged men and courageous women, with the spirits of the earliest pioneers, urging them on to do the impossible.
Was the big freeze just a cosmic accident – with man on the unlucky end? Had one of the big powers tried to master weather control, secretly, despite the disarmament talks… and failed disastrously.
Perhaps it was the prelude to alien invasion?
Seven billion years from now, long after the Sun has died and human life itself has become extinct, alien beings reincarnate humanity from our fossilized DNA drifting as debris in the void of deep space. We are reborn to serve as bait in a battle to the death between the Rimstalker, humankind’s reanimator, and the zotl, horrific creatures who feed vampire-like on the suffering of intelligent lifeforms.
The reborn children of Earth are told: “You owe no debt to the being that roused you to this second life. Neither must you expect it to guide you or benefit you in any way.” Yet humans choose sides, as humans will, participating in the titanic struggle between Rimstalker and zotl in ways strange and momentous.
Author’s Note: The volumes of this series can each be read independently of the others. The feature that unifies them is their individual observations of science fiction’s sub-genre: “space opera,” which the editors David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer define as “colorful, dramatic, large-scale science fiction adventure, competently and sometimes beautifully written, usually focused on a sympathetic, heroic central character and plot action, and usually set in the relatively distant future, and in space or on other worlds, characteristically optimistic in tone. It often deals with war, piracy, military virtues, and very large-scale action, large stakes.”
A hundred thousand years ago, there had been a planet called Earth. It had been a proud world ruling a thousand vassal stars, but its stellar empire had turned upon and annihilated their conquerors, and wiped the name of Earth from the maps of space.
But Earthmen still survived . . . a strange race of worldless men and women, by tradition advisers to rulers, but never themselves ruling. Wanderers through myriad planets, their origin was a half-forgotten legend.
That was the situation when a strange quirk of fate sent Earthman Hallam Navarre on an interstellar wild goose chase. He had to bring back a strictly mythical treasure to his alien ruler, or die.
The alien spaceship landed in a cornfield. Its crew died rapidly, leaving only one survivor – a baby, conceived on an unknown world, carried in its mother’s womb across space and delivered even as the mother died on a hostile Earth.
But the alien woman had given birth to more than a child. With her last act she had bequeathed to the Earth that hated her and her kind decades of turmoil and strife that would come close to tearing the whole planet apart.
Earth lies crushed in the grip of totalitarianism. To save her planet, Kyra Davis is sent on a mission to liberate the last bastion of freedom and to rescue its legendary leader. Her bold adventure will sweep her from Earth’s rebel enclaves, to the decadent court of an exotic lunar colony, from the virtual realities of biotech and artificial intelligence to a brave new world menaced by a dying star.
Planet Earth was finished, its surface seared by nuclear heat, its great cities obliterated, its billions of inhabitants dying or dead. Only a few pockets of survivors remained. For all but a few it was only a matter of time. Then into the poisoned atmosphere of Earth there flashed a mysterious craft from somewhere deep in space. It landed, a small number of Earth people were taken aboard, then the craft disappeared into the great void. During the dark millennium which followed a strange experiment was conducted. When it was complete, another space craft took off for Earth…
Jack Vance has long been one of the most influential, admired and imitated writers in science fiction and fantasy literature, the award-winning author of such widely acclaimed works as The Dying Earth, the Lyonesse trilogy, the adventures of Cugel the Clever, the Demon Princes series, and many other masterful tales set among the stars, in exotic fantasy realms or on our own Earth.
For much of his career, Vance has also been one of the field’s most private writers, an author who preferred to let his work speak for him. Now, at last, to coincide with the release of the tribute anthology Songs of the Dying Earth, Jack gives us this intimate and fascinating glimpse into his rich and eventful life, and a valuable insight into how he went about practicing his craft.
For fans of the Grand Master’s work, these memoirs are something to be treasured.