I’ve been meaning to blog about Songs of the Dying Earth, the Jack Vance tribute anthology I contributed “The Final Quest of the Wizard Sarnod” (eventually “The Three Quests of the Wizard Sarnod,” when I release the director’s cut in 2011), and now I find the anthology is sold out on the publisher site, although Amazon lists some copies available “new and used.”
In any event, it’s a beautiful volume, with the added grace note of a little illustration at the beginning of each story and each contributor’s thoughts on the work of Jack Vance. Tor will release an edition in 2010.
This is fantasy of a fine vintage, reminiscent of a certain era, as evidenced by names like these found just in the first sentences of the stories:
Amberlin the Lesser
Dhruzen of Karzh
Caulk the witch-chaser
Justice Rhabdion of Kaiin
Molloqos the Melancholy
Puillayne of Ghiusz
Vespanus of Roe
Genre purists will find a lot to love about the anthology, as will those who like playful, fun swords-and-sorcery.
For your Saturday night entertainment, and because I’m a little silly, here’re the first sentences of every story, remixed Cockney via this site, and then with the originals below the cut–to give you a true taste. Please play the song by Rhapsody while you’re reading for additional ambiance.
(1) Puillayne of Ghiusz was a geeza born ter every advantage Porridge Knife offers, for ‘is father was the bleedin’ master of mother’s pearly gate estates along the bloomin’ favored southern shore of the Claritant peninsula, ‘is father’s lover was descended from a long line of wizards ‘oo ‘eld ‘ereditary possession of many mother’s pearly gate magics, and ‘e ‘imself ‘ad been granted a Calvin Klein strong-thewed body, robust ‘ealf, and mother’s pearly gate intellectual power.
(2) Chicken pen next I found a Drum ter insert myself, I discovered the resident in the manse’s foyer, in conversation wif a traveler.
(3) Chicken pen Amberlin the Lesser stepped into ‘is workroom that sprin’ Day’s Dawnin’, ‘e found ‘is manservant diffin starin’ aahhht of the clever burnt cinder again.
(4) Caulk the witch-chaser came aahhht of almery on a risin’ tide, sailin’ Damien Hirst the brief distance daahhhn the xzan, then the scaum, towards the coast.
(5) ‘is name was Pelmundo, and ‘e was the Currant Ban of riloh, chief curator of the mother’s pearly gate ‘rchive in the distant city of zhule.
(6) The student ‘rchitect Vespanus of Roe, eager ter travel ter the city of occul in the country of Calabrande, left escani Liz Hurley in the season for an ascent of the dimwer, the deep Shake and Shiver that passes through the cleft of abrizonde on its way ter the watery meads of pex, the land where vespanus, waitin’ for the pass ter open, ‘ad passed a dreary winter in the insipid flat callow-fields of the brownlands.
(7) Dhruzen of Karzh, long-time actin’ master of the manse, surveyed ‘is nephew at lengf.
(8) The Day’s Dawnin’ the Fireman’s Hose of Dick Emery ‘rrived ter destroy ‘is calm, the wizard sarnod rose as on any ovver day Cilla Black in the Porridge Knife of the dyin’ earf.
(9) It amused Justice Rhabdion of Kaiin ter dispose of malefactors by droppin’ them daahhhn a certain chasm located at the edge of ‘is palace gardens.
(10) As the elder Currant Ban of the ‘ouse—by Ca and Calf an ‘our—it was bosk septentrion’s privilege ter sit beside ‘is father at Jim Skinner.
(11) Once a mighty city rose beside the Crust of Bread of a deep gulf in the Housemaid’s Knee of sighs, and its ships plied their trade, and the magnificence of its buildings proved its wealf…but in these latter days, only a dusty Joe Brahn remained, buildings Westminster Abbey, patched wif stones from its earlier grandeur.
(12) From the second-story burnt cinder of the kampaw inn, near the center of Kaspara Viatatus, Thiago Alves watched the risin’ of the currant ban, a ‘abit ter which many ‘ad become obsessively devoted in these, the Present and Past of the Present and Past days.
(13) “I aint a magician,” Lixal Laqavee announced ter the shopkeeper ‘oo ‘ad come forward at the ringin’ of the Hair Gel upon the counter, “but I play wahn in a travelin’ sha.”
(14) Manxolio Quinc was a grandee of old romarf, ‘oo dwelt in the antiquarian’s Farmer’s Daughter, and enjoyed a Porridge Knife of leisurely routine.
(15) Aalfaro Morag, ‘oo, in ‘is Jack Jones Chinese Blind, styled ‘imself the long Noah’s Ark of dawn, rode ‘is whirlaway ‘igh above a forest.
(16) Insensibili-y, melancholia, ‘ebetude; ordinary Radio Rental tumult and more elaborate physical vexations (boils, a variety of thrip that caused the Vera Lynn of an unfaithful lover ter erupt in a spectacular rash, the color of violet mallows)–Saloona Morn cultivated these in ‘er parterre in the shada of cobalt mountain.
(17) Dringo crested the Present and Past Cream Crackered ‘ills of the mombac ambit just as the evenin’ flickered into night wif a pulse of dim purple Isle Of Wight.
(18) Sum way up behind the s’een forested canyon wherethrough flows the slender Shake and Shiver derna, porkies a depressin’ landscape dotted wif small villages.
(19) In the wanin’ millennia of the 21st aeon, durin’ wahn of the countless unnamed and chaotic latter eras of the dyin’ earf, aw the usual signs of imminent doom suddenly went from Sorry and Sad ter worse.
(20) The currant ban was ‘avin’ wahn of its Robin Hood days.
(21) Through the purple gloom came molloqos the melancholy, borne upon an iron palanquin by knock at the Dorothy Lamour brahn bread deodands.
(22) There ‘re flea-markets aw across Florida, and this was not the worst of them.
(1) Puillayne of Ghiusz was a man born to every advantage life offers, for his father was the master of great estates along the favored southern shore of the Claritant Peninsula, his mother was descended from a long line of wizards who held hereditary possession of many great magics, ahd he himself had been granted a fine strong-thewed body, robust health, and great intellectual power. – Robert Silverberg
(2) When next I found a place to insert myself, I discovered the resident in the manse’s foyer, in conversation with a traveler. – Matthew Hughes
(3) When Amberlin the Lesser stepped into his workroom that spring morning, he found his manservant Diffin staring out of the Clever Window again. – Terry Dowling
(4) Caulk the witch-chaser came out of Almery on a rising tide, sailing first the brief distance down the Xzan, then the Scaum, towards the coast. – Liz Williams
(5) His name was Pelmundo, and he was the son of Riloh, Chief Curator of the Great Archive in the distant city of Zhule. – Mike Resnick
(6) The student architect Vespanus of Roe, eager to travel to the city of Occul in the country of Calabrande, left Escani early in the season for an ascent of the Dimwer, the deep river that passes through the Cleft of Abrizonde on its way to the watery meads of Pex, the land where Vespanus, waiting for the pass to open, had passed a dreary winter in the insipid flat callow-fields of the brownlands. – Walter Jon Williams
(7) Dhruzen of Karzh, long-time acting master of the manse, surveyed his nephew at length. – Paul Volsky
(8) The morning the Nose of Memory arrived to destroy his calm, the Wizard Sarnod rose as on any other day late in the life of the Dying Earth. – Jeff VanderMeer
(9) It amused Justice Rhabdion of Kaiin to dispose of malefactors by dropping them down a certain chasm located at the edge of his palace gardens. – Kage Baker
(10) As the elder son of the house–by half an hour–it was Bosk Septentrion’s privilege to sit beside his father at dinner. – Phyllis Eisenstein
(11) Once a mighty city rose beside the head of a deep gulf in the Sea of Sighs, and its ships plied their trade, and the magnificence of its buildings proved its wealth…but in these latter days, only a dusty town remained, buildings shabby, patched with stones from its earlier grandeur. – Elizabeth Moon
(12) From the second-story window of the Kampaw Inn, near the center of Kaspara Viatatus, Thiago Alves watched the rising of the sun, a habit to which many had become obsessively devoted in these, the last of the last days. – Lucius Shepard
(13) “I am not a magician,” Lixal Laqavee announced to the shopkeeper who had come forward at the ringing of the bell upon the counter, “but I play one in a traveling show.” – Tad Williams
(14) Manxolio Quinc was a Grandee of Old Romarth, who dwelt in the Antiquarian’s Quarter, and enjoyed a life of leisurely routine. – John C. Wright
(15) Alfaro Morag, who, in his own mind, styled himself The Long Shark of Dawn, rode his whirlaway high above a forest. – Glen Cook
(16) Insensibility, melancholia, hebetude; ordinary mental tumult and more elaborate physical vexations (boils, a variety of thrip that caused the skin of an unfaithful lover to erupt in a spectacular rash, the color of violet mallows)–Saloona Morn cultivated these in her parterre in the shadow of Cobalt Mountain. – Elizabeth Hand
(17) Dringo crested the last tired hills of The Mombac Ambit just as the evening flickered into night with a pulse of dim purple light. – Byron Tetrick
(18) Some way up behind the steen forested canyon wherethrough flows the slender River Derna, lies a depressing landscape dotted with small villages. – Tanith Lee
(19) In the waning millennia of the 21st Aeon, during one of the countless unnamed and chaotic latter eras of the Dying Earth, all the usual signs of imminent doom suddenly went from bad to worse. – Dan Simmons
(20) The sun was having one of its good days. – Howard Waldrop (my favorite opening)
(21) Through the purple gloom came Molloqos the Melancholy, borne upon an iron palanquin by four dead Deodands. – George R.R. Martin
(22) There are flea-markets all across Florida, and this was not the worst of them. – Neil Gaiman (Florida? WTF?)