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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: For Mantis on Vance - was RE: (urth) OT: further possible
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 09:34:33 -0700

Apologies for the OT thread I am doubtless about to start.

Mantis wrote:

> OTOH, while I'm not certain about the publication history of 
> CANNERY ROW (did sections appear in magazines, etc.), my
> understanding of THE DYING EARTH is that it is 6 stories, and
> only one of them was published in magazine form--that was the
> same year (1950) that the book came out, and as such amounts
> to a publicity release (just as "The Tale of the Student and
> His Son" and "The Armiger's Daughter," two tales from TBOTNS, 
> appeared in magazines).  Or so it seems to me.

Hoom. Obviously, those are cases of taking chapters from a novel
and printing them separately as short stories. If THE DYING EARTH
was indeed written as a novel (about which more below), then that 
would be more or less the case here, except that -- really, the
Wolfe excisions are hardly even chapters, given that they are 
separate stories read or told by persons in the novel, which would
not be the case with a bit from TDE printed as a story.

> So fix-up "in the classic sense of van Vogt," well hmmm.  
> Divining Vance's (probable) intentions rather than the
> publishing record (making TDE a "failed" van Vogt fix-up?).
> Ah well, such quibbles!  Look, blattid said "more of a
> fix-up," not "exactly a fix-up," so there's no quibble, even.


And while I would not venture to divine Vance's intentions (I'm 
somewhat of an intentionalist, but only where the author has 
marked a clear intentional trail, and, for that matter, only 
when the printed text doesn't clearly shout defiance to the 
intention so marked), this discussion caused TDE to drift rather
precipitately to the top of my to-reread pile, and so I reread
it over the weekend and ...

H'mmm. My first response was to wonder where the marvellously
stylized Vancean dialogue was. I suppose that developed over 
time; and indeed, it appears somewhat more as the book goes

And my second response was to question how much of an influence
on tBotNS this could really be; there's almost nothing of the 
flavor of the latter here, to my admittedly somewhat jaded 
lectoral palate ... none of the complexity of language, of
incident, of character, even, really, of background. Granted
I'm comparing a book I've just read almost as a newcomer to 
one I've pondered over for years, the background of TDE does
not _feel_ deep or complex to me -- no deeper than required
by the necessities of the individual stories.

And that, really, is the See Below. For me, at least, the 
stories in TDE are very much individual stories. There are
links, characters from one appear in another, but they are,
I think, less unified than (say) Leiber's yarns of Fafhrd 
and the Gray Mouser. Episodes from a single and singular
future world, but not, to me, producing anything larger as
a group than the sum of the parts.

So for the more dedicated Vanceans on the list, I suppose 
the obvious question would be whether I, as a rather casual 
reader, am missing anything here? This book is the one most
often cited when recommending Vance to a Wolfe fan; other
than the gross-scale influence on New Sun, the fundamental 
idea (which, actually, wasn't entirely new here either) of 
this incredibly ancient Earth, is there something deeper?



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