Tales of the Dying Earth – Jack Vance (Orb, 1994 edition)

3 out of 5

See here, here, here and here for reviews of the contents. This review is more about the value of the collection itself.

And from just a dollar perspective, the value is there: $22.99 breaks down to about $5.75 per book – there are four books in the Dying Earth cycle – and the feels worth it. Especially with the cover / page stock chosen, as a 700-page book can be unwieldy, or too heavy, or just difficult to read, based on the spine and paper thickness, but this thing weighs like a mass-market paperback, and has a similar durability – fold back those covers; dog-ear pages; you can heft this thing with one hand, and it made it wholly intact through plenty of tossed-in-bookbag travels. Pages are flippable and the printing is very clear.

However, two major dings to the rating: simply labeling which book we’re in at the top of the page would’ve gone a long way for flip-through clarity – yes, there’s a table of contents, but minimal additions like this still, for me, are a big boon in anthology-style books – and there are, frankly, a fair bit of typos. You can maybe tell me they’re maintained from the original text, but you then need to include a note about that, otherwise, I just blame the current editors. And that’s not especially fair, since editing hundreds and hundreds of pages ain’t no simple chore, but, alas, I’m pointing a finger at someone.

So: a good value, yes, but a quality of life improvement and some further quality checks would up the professionalism of the publication significantly.

Also: the cover (John Berkey) looks like this be sci-fi, and I’d rate the Dying Earth books as fantasy; ain’t no giant spaceships here. (I don’t think, but, y’know, maybe Jack used some big words and their giant-spaceship meaning eluded me.)