Ballantine Adult Fantasy: Lord Dunsany
Jul23

Ballantine Adult Fantasy: Lord Dunsany

Among the most reprinted authors in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line was Lord Dunsany, the Anglo-Irish peer who was also a tremendously prolific short story writer and playwright. Dunsany’s sweeping elegies of imagined worlds were both reminiscent of classical myth and the dreaming aesthetic of the visionary fantasists and tellers of Weird Tales going back to Poe. Dunsany is cited as an influence by almost every major writer of...

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The Other Cugel’s Saga: Michael Shea’s A Quest for Simbilis
Jul20

The Other Cugel’s Saga: Michael Shea’s A Quest for Simbilis

The Other Cugel’s Saga: Michael Shea’s A Quest for Simbilis by Fletcher Vredenburgh At the end of The Eyes of the Overworld (1966), Jack Vance’s rogue, Cugel the Clever, found himself once again stranded in the very same distant part of the Dying Earth to which he’d been sent at the beginning of the book by Iucounu the Laughing Magician, on a mission to retrieve a magical lens. And that’s where he remained for over a...

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Words Weird and Wonderful: Jack Vance’s Dying Earth
Jul16

Words Weird and Wonderful: Jack Vance’s Dying Earth

Words Weird and Wonderful: Jack Vance’s Dying Earth by Bill Ward By no means secondary to his innovations in diction, Jack Vance’s exacting employment of etymological rarities, conjugational novelties, and antiquated antiquaria conspires to produce a style that may only be satisfactorily appellativized as ‘Vancian.’ What follows is far from a pandect on the topic, but rather a minikin’s smattering sample...

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Vancian Quotations
Jul13

Vancian Quotations

Vancian Quotations by Bill Ward “When you want to describe something that’s flamboyant, weird and strange, anything a little bit outrageous, wicked or nasty, you don’t do it by exposition, which can become long-winded and tiresome. You have one of your characters describe it to somebody else . . . this is almost a trade secret: not having the exposition come from the writer, but rather from the mouths of the characters...

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Jack Vance’s Influence on Dungeons & Dragons
Jul09

Jack Vance’s Influence on Dungeons & Dragons

Jack Vance’s Influence on Dungeons & Dragons by Bill Ward “Turjan … descended to his study … The tomes which held Turjan’s sorcery lay on the long table of black steel or were thrust helter-skelter into shelves. These were volumes compiled by many wizards of the past, untidy folios collected by the Sage, leather-bound librams setting forth the syllables of a hundred powerful spells, so cogent that Turjan’s brain...

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A Personal Look at Jack Vance’s Dying Earth: The Eyes of the Overworld
Jul06

A Personal Look at Jack Vance’s Dying Earth: The Eyes of the Overworld

A Personal Look at Jack Vance’s Dying Earth: The Eyes of the Overworld by Fletcher Vredenburgh I’m uncertain as to when I first read Jack Vance’s The Eyes of the Overworld (1966). It was sometime during high school I’m sure, but an unapprehended brush with the story came several years earlier. The first roleplaying book I ever bought was the Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes supplement for D&D. Under the section titled “The New...

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