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Desperate Days Desperate Days by Jack Vance
reviewed by Matthew Hughes
Jack Vance is justly revered as one of the grandmasters of science fiction, fantasy, and that strange middle ground, science fantasy. But, as a writer, he once had another incarnation. In the 60s and 70s, John Holbrook Vance (his full name) churned out mystery novels and short stories, including some for-hire jobs under the name of Ellery Queen. But, although he won an Edgar Award for The Man in the Cage, his parallel career as a crime writer never gained full traction.

Dream Castles: The Early Jack Vance Volume Two Dream Castles: The Early Jack Vance Volume Two by Jack Vance, edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan
reviewed by Richard A. Lupoff
Over a span of some sixty-five years, well into the Twenty-first Century, Jack Vance, now ninety-five years of age, produced an astonishing stream of short stories, novelettes, novels, and occasional works of nonfiction. While most of his production has been labeled science fiction, he often tested the bounds of that classification, moving toward the realm of pure fantasy on the one hand, often mixing elements of the detective story into his works on the other. He also produced a respectable body of non-fantastic mystery and adventure fiction.

Dangerous Ways Dangerous Ways by Jack Vance, edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan
reviewed by Richard A. Lupoff
Not as well known in the science fiction field is Vance's output as a mystery writer -- eleven novels under his full official name of John Holbrook Vance, three as Ellery Queen, and several more under other pseudonyms. The Vance admirer who knows him for the mannered, intensely colored writing of his science fiction will assuredly be surprised by the deliberately matter-of-fact, almost flat, style of his mysteries.

Hard-Luck Diggings: The Early Jack Vance Hard-Luck Diggings: The Early Jack Vance edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan
reviewed by Rich Horton
Jack Vance is a familiar name to most SF/Fantasy readers. Now, as his writing career seems to have drawn to a close, he is getting a welcome new shot of recognition, driven by a memoir, a tribute antholology, and some interesting new collections of his work. This collection is different from the others in not really selecting a representative group of his stories, nor a themed set, nor the best. It is instead a choice of some of the more interesting works from his first decade or so of publishing.

This is Me, Jack Vance! This is Me, Jack Vance! by Jack Vance
reviewed by Rich Horton
Jack Vance is 93 years old and has retired from writing. But this book represents one last gift to his admirers. Vance has been fairly reticent about his personal life and also about his writing. This is Me, Jack Vance! fills us in on his life story, though it has little to say about his fiction -- which Vance has long preferred to stand on its own.

The Jack Vance Reader The Jack Vance Reader edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan
reviewed by Dustin Kenall
3 books. 3 introductions. 1 author. Jack Vance. Normally, that should be enough to make any collector happy. So perhaps that's what the editors were counting on when they collected three of Vance's shorter novels (or longer novellas) into a compact trade cover, slapped on a preface about the "planetary adventure" subgenre, and apportioned a separate introduction for each book by Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Mike Resnick -- Jack Vance admirers and masters in their own right, one and all.

The Jack Vance Treasury The Jack Vance Treasury by Jack Vance, edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan
reviewed by Matthew Hughes
Among his devotees, the perennial question arises: of all the Master's works, what to choose when one wishes to introduce him to a new reader? The variety of answers delineates the subsects within the broad, and occasionally genteelly contentious, universe of Vance aficionados. Those who like best his decidedly non-Tolkienesque fantasies will recommend the Lyonesse trilogy. Fans of space opera will plump for the muscular saga of revenge and retribution spread over the five volumes of The Demon Princes. Lovers of planetary romances will offer Big Planet or the four sequential novels that combine in Tschai: Planet of Adventure. Those with a taste for far-future picaresque will hold high their tattered copies of The Dying Earth.

Lurulu Lurulu by Jack Vance
reviewed by Matthew Hughes
The tale is a continuation of 1997's Ports of Call wherein began the interstellar peregrinations of Myron Tany. The Glicca wanders from planet to planet, taking on and discharging cargoes, while the crew visits taverns to sample varieties of bitter ale and more potent beverages like Ponchoo Punch. It is a pageant of worlds, some civilized, some wild, some hospitable to strangers, some less welcoming to the traveler's knock.

The Dragon Masters The Dragon Masters by Jack Vance
reviewed by Rich Horton
Composed of "The Dragon Masters" (1962) and "The Last Castle" (1966), both stories are set in the far future, and they feature humans enslaving genetically modified aliens. In each, the plot turns on a war between the humans and the aliens. The two stories are quite cynical, and our admiration for the heroes is tempered by our natural antipathy for some of their attitudes and actions.

Lyonesse II: The Green Pearl and Madouc Lyonesse II: The Green Pearl and Madouc by Jack Vance
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
There is something otherworldly about the Lyonesse books. That may sound oddly redundant, given that we are talking about a book of fantasy -- surely it is a given that we would be transported into another world. All fantasy aims for that (and good fantasy succeeds). But the mere transportation is not the point. It's the sense that we aren't being told about an imaginary world. Instead, we somehow find ourselves in the real one, there between the covers of this book, while lurking in some other dimension which the inhabitants of the author's world would find passably peculiar.

Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden by Jack Vance
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
These books, now reissued, succeed by quite simply taking a land which never really existed and treating it in such a matter-of-fact way that the reader is practically tricked into accepting the most outlandish magicks (and there are plenty of outlandish magicks in these books) at face value, and without blinking an eyelid. It feels like you're reading actual historical fiction.

Night Lamp Night Lamp by Jack Vance
reviewed by Rodger Turner
An off-world couple find a young lad named Jaro who has been beaten into a coma. They take him home when no trace of his family can be found. As he grows up, he becomes more determined to discover his past and the cause of jumbled images which appear periodically in his mind. He's brought up on a world of formalized castes for which he gives not a fig. His status as a nimp throws him in with others like himself but most of his energy is devoted to raising the cash to search for his home world.

Tales of the Dying Earth Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
Here's a handsome new omnibus edition of four classic fantasies: The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rhialto the Marvellous. This series spans much of the author's career, from his first published book (The Dying Earth, 1950, a collection of six stories from the 40s) through the 1984 collection Rhialto the Marvellous.

Big Planet Big Planet by Jack Vance
reviewed by Nick Gevers
This novel, the conceptual template for all Vance's baroque lawless locales to come, was perhaps the first attempt at a convincingly complete imaginary world in genre SF. Instead of a thinly rationalized displacement of the opulent East or some other mundane historical epoch to an extraterrestrial setting, Big Planet was fully thought through, its ecology, economics, technology, and political organization carefully formulated, so much so that the conviction persists that it is not the characters who serve as the book's protagonists, but rather Big Planet itself.

Emphyrio Emphyrio by Jack Vance
reviewed by Rich Horton
This is one of his better novels, and in many ways a good introduction. On display are many of the hallmarks of his mature style: his elegant writing, his wonderful depiction of local colour, his unusual social systems. It lacks only the humour that is so often present in Vance: this is one of his more melancholy books. It's also better plotted than many of his novels, and it's a stand-alone.

Ports of Call Ports of Call by Jack Vance
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Throughout human history there is a kind of story in which the hero or heroine voyages to far-away lands full of wonders and peopled only by the story-teller's imagination. Jack Vance is a master of this form and the pleasure of Ports of Call is how effortlessly he invents one exotic society after another.

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