The Dying Earth, by Jack Vance, 12.13.2010, * *
I couldn't find a picture of the cover for the book that I read - Sorry!
The Dying Earth is a collection of short stories written about some of the inhabitants of an Earth that is thousands of years in our future - maybe even millions. The sun is dying, no longer yellow, but red and dim, and most humans have left the planet, but some remain, inhabiting the ruins of hundreds of long dead civilizations. Technology seems sparse, but magic has been discovered, although over time much has been lost and what were once the thousand spells has dwindled to barely one hundred. A couple of the stories overlap slightly as far as the characters involved.
I have heard about this book and the sequels for years, but never felt compelled to read it. But it arrived in a bag of used books that my mom brought to me recently and I thought, why not? People love this book. People RAVE about the author and his mad skills and how wonderful and ingenious this series is. So I gave it a try.
I didn't care for it, at all.
Maybe it's just that I don't really like short stories - I want some meat on my books! My boyfriend says that if it can't be said in less than 300 pages it's not worth reading. I'm the opposite - as far as I'm concerned 300 pages is just a good start! So I have never really cared for short stories because I don't feel that they give me enough "story." But sometimes a collection of short stories will satisfy like a novel, if they all move towards a common goal or have a similar theme.
But the stories in The Dying Earth don't seem to have any commonality that I could find. Individuals travel the country looking for magical artifacts and some find them and some don't. A magician learns how to create women. A women tricks a magician in order to save the man who created her. Everyone is either amoral or downright evil - cursing their lovers or friends at whim. Sometimes there are consequences. It was all just a jumble of weirdness that didn't make much sense and didn't have any cohesion, so I was unable to enjoy it. Character development was non-existent, because none of the characters stuck around long enough for the reader to actually get to know them, and certainly not long enough for any of them to change or grow. I do have to give credit to the author, though, for having a wickedly amazing imagination!
The series seems to be so universally loved though, that I wonder if I am missing something? Have you read The Dying Earth? Did you like it? If so, leave a comment and tell me why I'm wrong!