Songs of the Dying Earth
George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (editors)
Tor, Dec 7 2010, $27.99
Sixty years ago Jack Vance issued the classic Dying Earth saga in which magic practitioners, demons, other hostile paranormal and normal species fight for power when the red sun ebbs towards solar system extinction. This volume consists of twenty-two mostly famous authors paying homage to the great Mr. Vance by providing tales that occur on the Dying Earth. The quality level differs slightly as there are no clinkers, but a couple of well written disappointments because they attempt but fail at tying up some lose threads. Most of the entries capture the essence of Mr. Vance’s timely dark vision of the future. Especially entertaining are “Grolion of Almery” by Matthew Hughes who seems like a Vance clone with a the person obtaining shelter in the wrong house and Terry Dowling’s “The Copsy Door” in which cursed Amberlin the Lesser stumbles into a magical contest. Mike Resnick’s “Inescapable” affirms the axiom don’t lose your head to a female because she may take a literal connotation. Other strong contributions include “Abrizonde” by Walter Jon Williams, Dan Simmons's “The Guiding Nose of Ulfant Banderoz”, Paula Volsky’s “The Traditions of Karzh”, “Caulk the Witch-Chaser” by Liz Williams and “The Green Bird”' by Kage Baker. This entire anthology is a great tribute.