The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
1950, a time of transition from swashbuckling square-jawed heroes with huge brains and spaceships falling headlong into a deep future world where everyone is surrounded by death, old tech indistinguishable from magic, and to make things worse, the sun is dying. This is the last hurrah of Earth and it seems that everyone is trying to make the most out of it, grognak the barbarian style.
What? Isn't this SF? Sure! But it's still pretty much entirely classic Sword and Sorcery. We've got curses and transformations, 50's style misogyny, master wizards and apprentices of maths and old tech, thieves and warriors. I can't help but think it'd make, with a bit of good retooling, a fairly interesting SyFy production.
Nothing big budget, though.
Some of the ideas are pretty standard science rah-rah, getting your life back on track rah-rah, and being your best before it all ends, which is a pretty cool message after coming out of WWII and wanting to dive into a bit of imaginative science fantasy, but let's face it, we've all seen movies as good along these lines, or it's equivalents, all throughout the decades since.
I'm not saying this is a bad collection of short stories all placed in a similar setting and the same time, because it is. It's a serial adventure with different characters and it shows us something really interesting about the days in which this was published. Like the fact that short story authors could actually make something of a living once upon a time. What fantasy that is!
Seriously, it's good sword and sorcery in a SF backdrop, and if you're in the mood for something like that, you really can't go wrong with picking this classic up.
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