One Book, Four Covers: Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth

dying earth 1Dying Earth 2dying earth 4dying earth 5

Jack Vance died two weeks back at the age of 96.

I loved the Dying Earth stuff from the word go, preferring Rhialto to Cugel, because WIZARDS, and I’d say his Demon Princes series is one of the best satires of SF written.

There’s been a lot written about him since his death, at least in the nerdosphere I inhabit, so it’s only apt to give him the One Book, Four Covers treatment.

Number one, by Ed Emscwiller, is my favorite. Sparse and slightly weird with its tentacled beasty. Then there’s number 3, which I think is really nice in capturing the book’s juxtaposition of the otherworldly and high society. Makes me dream odd dreams of Ms. Marple pitting her skills against Iucounu the Laughing Magician. The fourth cover is a bit too cheery. And then there’s the second cover with its John Berkey (I think) cover. It’s a fine picture but it’s stock like the art director pulled it out of a drawer to spare the expense of commissioning new artwork. It’s meh, which is a shame.

Also let me say how much I really hate Omnibus editions. As someone who did much of his reading on public transportation for years, it was a true pain in the ass to read a thick book on the bus or train. Paperbacks you can fit in your pocket – that’s what I’m all about.

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3 responses to “One Book, Four Covers: Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth”

  1. Lord Gwydion says :

    Agree. I’ve got the omnibus version with cover #2. The cover has absolutely nothing to do with the stories, and in my mind doesn’t come near to capturing the tone and feel of the stories. And it’s a big old brick of a book.

    Luckily for me, I read it when Flynn was a newborn and I was sitting around watching him nap and stuff a lot when I read it.

    • Richard Bowes says :

      I agree: the Emshwiller and the third cover are the keepers. BUT the way I saw this displayed first had #4 next to #1 which led to some confusion as to which cover you were talking about.

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