Jack Vance: Wikis


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John Holbrook Vance

Jack Vance at the helm of his boat on San Francisco Bay in the early 1980s.
Born August 28, 1916 (1916-08-28) (age 93)
San Francisco, California
Occupation Novelist, short story writer
Nationality United States
Genres Fantasy, Science fiction

John Holbrook Vance (born August 28, 1916 in San Francisco, California) is an American fantasy and science fiction author. Most of his work has been published under the name Jack Vance. Vance has published 11 mysteries as John Holbrook Vance and 3 as Ellery Queen. Other pen names include Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse.[1]

Among his awards are: Hugo Awards, in 1963 for The Dragon Masters and in 1967 for The Last Castle; a Nebula Award in 1966, also for The Last Castle; the Jupiter Award in 1975; the World Fantasy Award in 1984 for life achievement and in 1990 for Lyonesse: Madouc; an Edgar (the mystery equivalent of the Nebula) for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for The Man in the Cage; in 1992, he was Guest of Honor at the WorldCon in Orlando, Florida; and in 1997 he was named a SFWA Grand Master. A 2009 profile in the New York Times Magazine described Vance as "one of American literature’s most distinctive and undervalued voices."[2]



Vance's grandfather supposedly arrived in California from Michigan a decade before the Gold Rush and married a San Francisco girl. (Early family records were apparently destroyed in the fire following the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.) Vance's early childhood was spent in San Francisco. With the early separation of his parents, Vance's mother moved young Vance and his siblings to Vance's maternal grandfather's California ranch near Oakley in the delta of the Sacramento River. This early setting formed Vance's love of the outdoors, and allowed him time to indulge his passion as an avid reader. With the death of his grandfather, the Vance's family fortune nosedived, and Vance was forced to leave junior college and work to support himself, assisting his mother when able. Vance plied many trades for short stretches: a bell-hop (a "miserable year"), in a cannery, and on a gold dredge,[3] before entering the University of California, Berkeley where, over a six-year period, he studied mining engineering, physics, journalism and English. Vance wrote one of his first science fiction stories for an English class assignment; his professor's reaction was “We also have a piece of science fiction” in a scornful tone, Vance’s first negative review.[4] He worked for a while as an electrician in the naval shipyards at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii -- for "56 cents an hour". After working on a degaussing crew for a period, he left about a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor.[3]

Vance graduated in 1942. Weak eyesight prevented military service. He found a job as a rigger at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California, and enrolled in an Army Intelligence program to learn Japanese, but washed out. In 1943, he memorized an eye chart and became an able seaman in the Merchant Marine.[4] In later years, boating remained his favorite recreation; boats and voyages are a frequent theme in his work. He worked as a seaman, a rigger, a surveyor, ceramicist, and carpenter before he established himself fully as a writer, which did not occur until the 1970s.

Jack Vance playing the jazz banjo and kazoo in 1979 in San Francisco

From his youth, Vance has been fascinated by Dixieland and traditional jazz. He is an amateur of the cornet and ukelele, often accompanying himself with a kazoo, and is a competent harmonica player. His first published writings were jazz reviews for The Daily Californian, his college paper, and music is an element in many of his works.

In 1946, Vance met and married the late Norma Genevieve Ingold (died March 25, 2008), another Cal student. Vance continues to live in Oakland, in a house he built and extended with his family over the years, which includes a hand-carved wooden ceiling from Kashmir. The Vances have had extensive travels, including one around-the-world voyage, and often spent several months at a time living in places like Ireland, Tahiti, South Africa, Positano (in Italy) and on a houseboat on Lake Nagin in Kashmir.

Vance began trying to become a professional writer in the late 1940s, in the period of the San Francisco Renaissance--a movement of experimentation in literature and the arts. His first lucrative sale was one of the early Magnus Ridolph stories to Twentieth Century Fox, who also hired him as a screenwriter for the Captain Video television series. The proceeds supported the Vances for a year's travel in Europe.[3] There are various references to the Bay Area Bohemian life in his work.

Science fiction authors Frank Herbert and Poul Anderson were among Vance's closest friends. The three jointly built a houseboat which they sailed in the Sacramento Delta. The Vances and the Herberts lived near Lake Chapala in Mexico together for a period.

Although legally blind since the 1980s, Vance has continued to write with the aid of BigEd software, written especially for him by Kim Kokkonen. His most recent novel was Lurulu. Although Vance had stated Lurulu would be his final book[5], he has since completed an autobiography which was published in July 2009.[6]


French edition of The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph, illustrating "The Kokod Warriors"

Since his first published story, "The World-Thinker" (in Thrilling Wonder Stories) in 1945, Vance has written over sixty books. His work has been published in three categories: science fiction, fantasy and mystery.

Among Vance’s earliest published work is a set of fantasy stories written while he served in the merchant marine during the war. They appeared in 1950, several years after Vance had started publishing science fiction in the pulp magazines, under the title The Dying Earth. (Vance’s original title, used for the Vance Integral Edition, is Mazirian the Magician.)

Vance wrote many science fiction short stories in the late 1940s and through the 1950s, which were published in magazines. Of his novels written during this period, a few were science fiction, but most were mysteries. Few were published at the time, but Vance continued to write mysteries into the early 1970s. In total, he wrote 15 novels outside of science fiction and fantasy, including the extended outline, The Telephone was Ringing in the Dark, published only by the VIE, and three books published under the Ellery Queen pseudonym. Some of these are not mysteries, for example Bird Island, and many fit uneasily in the category. These stories are set in and around his native San Francisco, except for one set in Italy and another in Africa. Two begin in San Francisco but take to the sea.

Many themes important to his more famous science fiction novels appeared first in the mysteries. The most obvious is the "book of dreams", which appears in Bad Ronald and The View from Chickweed’s Window, prior to being featured in The Book of Dreams. The revenge theme is also more prominent in certain mysteries than in the science fiction (The View from Chickweed’s Window in particular). Bad Ronald was the only work by Vance ever to be made into film: a not particularly faithful TV movie aired on ABC in 1974, as well as a French production (Méchant garçon) in 1992.

Certain of the science fiction stories are also mysteries. In addition to the comic Magnus Ridolph stories, two major stories feature the effectuator ‘Miro Hetzel’, a futuristic detective, and Araminta Station is largely concerned with solving various murders. Vance returned to the "dying Earth" setting (a far distant future in which the sun is slowly going out, and magic and technology coexist) to write the picaresque adventures of the ne'er-do-well scoundrel Cugel the Clever, and those of the magician Rhialto the Marvellous. These books were written in 1963, 1978 and 1981. His other major fantasy work, Lyonesse (a trilogy including Suldrun’s Garden, The Green Pearl and Madouc), was completed in 1989 and set on a mythological archipelago off the coast of France in the early Middle Ages.

The mystery and fantasy genres span his entire career.

Vance’s stories written for pulps in the 1940s and 1950s cover many science fiction themes, with a tendency to emphasis on mysterious and biological themes (ESP, genetics, brain parasites, body switching, other dimensions, cultures) rather than technical ones. Robots, for example, are entirely absent. Many of the early stories are comic. By the 1960s, Vance had developed a futuristic setting which he came to call the "Gaean Reach". Thereafter, all his science fiction was, more or less explicitly, set therein. The Gaean Reach is loose and ever expanding. Each planet has its own history, state of development and culture. Within the Reach conditions tend to be peaceable and commerce tends to dominate. At the edges of the Reach, out in the lawless ‘Beyond’, conditions are sometimes, but not always, less secure.


Literary influences

When asked about literary influences, Vance most often cites Jeffery Farnol, a writer of adventure books, whose style of 'high' language he mentions (the Farnol title Guyfford of Weare being a typical instance); P.G. Wodehouse, an influence apparent in Vance's taste for overbearing aunts; and L. Frank Baum, fantasy elements in whose work have been directly borrowed by Vance (see 'The Emerald City of Oz').[7] In the introduction to Dowling and Strahan's The Jack Vance Treasury, Vance mentions that his childhood reading including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, Robert W. Chambers, science fiction published by Edward Stratemeyer, the magazines Weird Tales and Amazing Stories, and Lord Dunsany."[3] According to pulp editor Sam Merwin, Vance's earliest magazine submissions in the 1940s were heavily influenced by the style of James Branch Cabell.[8] Fantasy historian Lin Carter has noted several probable lasting influences of Cabell on Vance's work, and suggests that the early "pseudo-Cabell" experiments bore fruit in The Dying Earth (1950).[9]

Characteristics and commentary

Vance's science fiction runs the gamut from stories written for pulps in the 1940s to multi-volume tales set in the space age. While Vance's stories have a wide variety of temporal settings, a majority of them belong to a period long after humanity has colonized other stars, culminating in the development of the "Gaean Reach." In its early phases (the Oikumene of the Demon Princes series), this expanding, loose and peaceable agglomerate has an aura of colonial adventure, commerce and exoticism. In its more established phases, it becomes peace-loving and stolidly middle class.

Vance’s stories are seldom concerned directly with war. The conflicts are rarely direct. Sometimes at the edges of the Reach, or in the lawless "Beyond," a planet is menaced or craftily exploited, though more extensive battles are described in The Dragon Masters, "The Miracle Workers," and the Lyonesse trilogy, in which medieval-style combat abounds. His characters usually become inadvertently enmeshed in low-intensity conflicts between alien cultures; this is the case in Emphyrio, the Tschai series, the Durdane series, or the comic stories in Galactic Effectuator, featuring Miro Hetzel. Personal, cultural, social, or political conflicts are the central concerns. This is most particularly the case in the Cadwal series, though it is equally characteristic of the three Alastor books, Maske: Thaery, and, one way and another, most of the science fiction novels.

The "Joe Bain" stories (The Fox Valley Murders, The Pleasant Grove Murders, and an unfinished outline published by the VIE) are set in an imaginary northern California county; these are the nearest to the classical mystery form, with a rural policeman as protagonist. Bird Island, by contrast, is not a mystery at all, but a Wodehousian idyll (also set near San Francisco), while The Flesh Mask or Strange People… emphasize psychological drama. The theme of both The House on Lily Street and Bad Ronald is solipsistic megalomania, taken up again in the "Demon Princes" cycle of science fiction novels. Bad Ronald was made into a TV-movie, which aired on ABC, in 1974.

Three books published under the Ellery Queen pseudonym were written (and rewritten by the publisher) to editorial requirements. Four others reflect Vance’s world travels: Strange People, Queer Notions based on his stay in Positano, Italy; The Man in the Cage, based on a trip to Morocco; The Dark Ocean, set on a merchant marine vessel; and The Deadly Isles, based on a stay in Tahiti. (The Vance Integral Edition contains a volume with Vance's original text for the three Ellery Queen novels. Vance had previously refused to acknowledge these books as they were drastically rewritten by the publishers.)

The mystery novels of Vance reveal much about his evolution as a science-fiction and fantasy writer. (He stopped working in the mystery genre in the early 1970s, except for science-fiction mysteries; see below). Bad Ronald is especially noteworthy for its portrayal of a trial-run for Howard Alan Treesong of The Book of Dreams. The Edgar-Award-winning The Man in the Cage is a thriller set in North Africa at around the period of the French-Algerian war. A Room to Die In is a classic 'locked-room' murder mystery featuring a strong-willed young woman as the amateur detective. Bird Isle, a mystery set at a hotel on an island off the California coast, reflects Vance's taste for farce.

Vance's two rural Northern California mysteries featuring Sheriff Joe Bain were well received by the critics. The New York Times said of The Fox Valley Murders: "Mr. Vance has created the county with the same detailed and loving care with which, in the science fiction he writes as Jack Vance, he can create a believable alien planet." And Dorothy B. Hughes, in The Los Angeles Times, wrote that it was "fat with character and scene." As for the second Bain novel, The New York Times said: "I like regionalism in American detective stories, and I enjoy reading about the problems of a rural county sheriff... and I bless John Holbrook Vance for the best job of satisfying these tastes with his wonderful tales of Sheriff Joe Bain..."

Vance has also written mysteries set in his science-fiction universes. An early 1950s short story series features Magnus Ridolph, an interstellar adventurer and amateur detective who is elderly and not prone to knocking anyone down, and whose exploits appear to have been inspired, in part, by those of Jack London's South Seas adventurer, Captain David Grief. The "Galactic Effectuator" novelettes feature Miro Hetzel, a figure who resembles Ridolph in his blending of detecting and troubleshooting (the "effectuating" indicated by the title). A number of the other science fiction novels include mystery, spy thriller, or crime-novel elements: The Houses of Iszm, Son of the Tree, the Alastor books Trullion and Marune, the Cadwal series, and large parts of the Demon Princes series.


For most of his career, Vance's work suffered the vicissitudes common to most writers in his chosen field: ephemeral publication of stories in magazine form, short-lived softcover editions, insensitive editing beyond his control. As he became more widely recognized, conditions improved, and his works became internationally renowned among aficionados. Much of his work has been translated into several languages, including Dutch, French, Spanish, Russian, and Italian. Beginning in the 1960s, Jack Vance's work has also been extensively translated into German. In the large German-language market, his books continue to be widely read.

In 1976, the fantasy/sf small press Underwood-Miller released their first publication, the first hardcover edition of The Dying Earth in a high-quality limited edition of just over 1000 copies. Other titles in the "Dying Earth" cycle also received hardcover treatment from Underwood-Miller shortly thereafter, such as The Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel's Saga. After these first publications and until the mid-1990s, Underwood-Miller published many of Vance's works, including his mystery fiction, often in limited editions featuring dustjacket artwork by leading fantasy artists. The entire Jack Vance output from Underwood-Miller comes close to a complete collection of Vance's previously published works, many of which had not seen hardcover publication. Also, many of these editions are described as "the author's preferred text", meaning that they have not been drastically edited. In the mid-1990s, Tim Underwood and Charles Miller parted company. However, they have continued to publish Vance titles individually, including such works as Emphyrio and To Live Forever by Miller, and a reprint edition of The Eyes of the Overworld by Underwood. Because of the low print-run on many of these titles, which often could only be found in science fiction bookstores at the time of their release, these books are highly sought after by ardent Vance readers and collectors, and some titles fetch premium prices.

The Vance Integral Edition

An Integral Edition of all Vance's works was published in a limited edition of 44 hardback volumes. A special 45th volume contains the three novels Vance wrote as Ellery Queen. This edition was created from 1999 to 2006 by 300 volunteers working via the internet, under the aegis of the author. The texts and titles used are those preferred by the author. Further information can be found at Foreverness.

Selected bibliography


The Dying Earth


  • Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden (1983) (vt Lyonesse; Suldrun's Garden)
  • Lyonesse: The Green Pearl (1985) (vt The Green Pearl)
  • Lyonesse: Madouc (1989) (vt Madouc)

Science fiction

The Demon Princes Series

The Cadwal Chronicles


  • Trullion: Alastor 2262 (1973)
  • Marune: Alastor 933 (1975)
  • Wyst: Alastor 1716 (1978)


  • The Anome (alternate title: The Faceless Man, 1973)
  • The Brave Free Men (1973)
  • The Asutra (1974)


Non-series science fiction novels

  • The Five Gold Bands (alternate title: The Space Pirate, author's preferred title: The Rapparee) (1953)
  • Vandals of the Void (young adult novel) (1953)
  • To Live Forever (1956)
  • Big Planet (1957)
  • The Languages of Pao (1958)
  • Slaves of the Klau (original title: Planet of the Damned; alternate title: Gold and Iron) (1958)
  • Space Opera (1965)
  • The Blue World (1966)
  • Emphyrio (1969)
  • The Gray Prince (author's preferred title: The Domains of Koryphon) (1974)
  • Showboat World (author's preferred title: The Magnificent Showboats of the Lower Vissel River, Lune XXIII, Big Planet) (1975)
  • Maske: Thaery (1976)
  • Galactic Effectuator (this title is an editorial invention for the collected Miro Hetzel stories: "Freitzke's Turn" and "The Dogtown Tourist Agency") (1980)
  • Night Lamp (1996)
  • Ports of Call (1998)
  • Lurulu (2004; Ports of Call and Lurulu are parts 1 and 2 of the same novel)

Selected novellas


  • Take My Face (1957, as by "Peter Held")
  • Isle of Peril (1957, as by "Alan Wade") (vt Bird Isle)
  • The Man In the Cage (1960)
  • The Four Johns (1964, as by "Ellery Queen"; vt Four Men Called John UK 1976)
  • A Room to Die In (1965, as by "Ellery Queen")
  • The Fox Valley Murders (1966)
  • The Madman Theory (1966, as by "Ellery Queen")
  • The Pleasant Grove Murders (1967)
  • The Deadly Isles (1969)
  • Bad Ronald (1973)
  • The House on Lily Street: a Murder Mystery (1979)

Selected collections

  • Future Tense (1964)
  • The World Between and Other Stories (1965)
  • The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph (1966)
  • Eight Fantasms and Magics (1969)
  • Lost Moons (1982)
  • The Narrow Land (1982)
  • The Augmented Agent and Other Stories (1986)
  • The Dark Side of the Moon (1986)
  • Chateau D'If and Other Stories (1990)
  • When the Five Moons Rise (1992)
  • Tales of the Dying Earth (1999)
  • The Jack Vance Treasury (2006)


This Is Me, Jack Vance! (Subterranean Press, 2009)

Books inspired by Vance

  • A Quest for Simbilis by Michael Shea (DAW, NY, 1974) (authorised sequel to the Cugel novel, Eyes of the Overworld; Shea also wrote Nifft the Lean (DAW, NY, 1982), and The Mines of Behemoth (1997) about a Cugel-like character; and In Yana, The Touch of Undying (DAW, NY, 1985) which is also Vancian)
  • Dinosaur Park by Hayford Peirce (Tor, NY, 1994).
  • Fane by David M. Alexander (longtime Vance friend). (Pocket Books, NY, 1981).
  • Fools Errant (Aspect Books, 2001), Fool Me Twice (Aspect Books, 2001), Black Brillion (Tor, 2004), Majestrum (Night Shade Books), The Spiral Labyrinth (Night Shade), The Gist Hunter (stories) (Night Shade) by Matt Hughes
  • The Pharaoh Contract (Bantam, 1991), Emperor of Everything (Bantam, 1991), Orpheus Machine (Bantam, 1992) by Ray Aldridge
  • Gene Wolfe has acknowledged that The Dying Earth influenced his The Book of the New Sun.[10]
  • Dan Simmons's Hyperion series (Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion) has many echoes of Vance, explicitly acknowledged in one of the later books.
  • The Golden Age by John C. Wright has some similarities to Jack Vance's works, including an ornamented language, and a baroque and sterile culture toppled by a lone individualist.
  • The Arbiter Tales (1995–6), three novels by L. Warren Douglas, were strongly influenced by Vance's Alastor Cluster stories. His first novel, A Plague of Change (1992), is dedicated to Jack Vance.[11]
  • The Dog of the North (2008), a fantasy by Tim Stretton, is strongly influenced by Vance, as noted in the acknowledgements. He outlines his debt to Vance on his blog.[12]
  • Songs of the Dying Earth (2009), a tribute anthology to Jack Vance´s seminal Dying Earth series [13], edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, both avid Vance fans.
  • The Dungeons and Dragons RPG and associated literature uses a magic system inspired by Jack Vance's Dying Earth series [14]
  • Two Role Playing Games: Lyonesse edited by Men In Cheese and Dying Earth edited by Pelgrane Press.


  1. ^ "All Title Index". integralarchive.org (Foreverness, the Vance Integral Edition resource site). http://www.integralarchive.org/biblio-3.htm.  
  2. ^ Rotella, Carlo (July 19, 2009). "The Genre Artist". The New York Times Magazine. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19Vance-t.html?_r=1. Retrieved 2009-07-18.  
  3. ^ a b c d Jack Vance, Biographical Sketch (2000) in Jack Vance: critical appreciations and a bibliography, British Library, 2000.
  4. ^ a b David B. Williams. "Vance Museum - Miscellany - Biographical Sketch". massmedia.com. http://www.vancemuseum.com/vance_bio_1.htm.  
  5. ^ Jack Vance, Preface in The Jack Vance Treasury, Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan (editors), Subterranean Press, ISBN 1-59606-077-8
  6. ^ "This is Me, Jack Vance! (preorder page)". Subterranean Press. http://www.subterraneanpress.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=vance05&Category_Code=PRE&Product_Count=26.  
  7. ^ articles in Cosmopolis
  8. ^ Lin Carter, Imaginary Worlds, New York: Ballantine Books, 1973, p. 151. SBN 345-03309-4-125
  9. ^ Carter, pp. 151-53.
  10. ^ Suns New, Long, and Short: An Interview with Gene Wolfe by Lawrence Person, Nova Express Online, 1998
  11. ^ Douglas's website
  12. ^ Why I Write and Choosing what to write, blog posts by Tim Stretton
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ [2]


  • Jack Vance, ed. Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller (Writers of the 21st Century Series) (NY, 1980)
  • Demon Prince: The Dissonant Worlds of Jack Vance, Jack Rawlins (Milford Series Popular Writers of Today, Volume 40) (San Bernardino, CA, 1986)
  • The Jack Vance Lexicon: From Ahulph to Zipangote, ed. Dan Temianka (Novato, CA and Lancaster, PA, 1992)
  • The Work of Jack Vance: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide, Jerry Hewett and Daryl F. Mallett (Borgo Press Bibliographies of Modern Authors No.29) (San Bernardino & Penn Valley, CA and Lancaster, PA, 1994)
  • Jack Vance: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography, ed. A.E. Cunningham (Boston Spa & London, 2000)
  • Vance Space: A Rough Guide to the Planets of Alastor Cluster, the Gaean Reach, the Oikumene, & other exotic sectors from the Science Fiction of Jack Vance, Michael Andre-Driussi (Sirius Fiction, San Francisco, 1997)
  • An Encyclopedia of Jack Vance: 20th Century Science Fiction Writer (Studies in American Literature, 50), David G. Mead (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, New York, 2002)
  • Levack, Daniel J. H.; Tim Underwood (1978). Fantasms. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller.  
  • Contento, William G. (2008). "Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections, Combined Edition". http://www.philsp.com/homeville/ISFAC/b30.htm#A783. Retrieved 2008-02-10.  
  • Brown, Charles N.; William G. Contento. "The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984-1998)". http://www.locusmag.com/index/b482.htm#A7077. Retrieved 2008-02-10.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

John Holbrook Vance (born August 28, 1916) is an award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, who wrote the four-book Dying Earth series.


Quotes and text from the Demon Princes novels

The Killing Machine

  • 'Humanity is old, civilization is new: the mesh of cogs is by no means smooth and this is as it should be. Never should a man enter a building of glass or metal, or a spaceship, or a submarine, without a small shock of astonishment; never should he avoid an act of passion without a small sense of effort. We of the Institute receive an intensive historical inculcation; we know the men of the past, and we have projected dozens of possible future variations, which, without exception, are repulsive. Man, as he exists now, with all his faults and vices, a thousand gloriously irrational compromises between two thousand sterile absolutes is optimal. Or so it seems to us who are men.'
    • "Xaviar Skolcamp, Over-Centennial Fellow of the Institute" in The Killing Machine.

Quotes and text from the Dying Earth novels

  • Cease the bickering! I am indulging the exotic whims of a beautiful princess and must not be distracted.
  • Grue: man, ocular bat, the unusual hoon.
  • Until work has reached its previous stage nympharium privileges are denied to all.
  • My clever baton holds your unnatural sorcery in abeyance.
  • My eye went to you like the nectar moth flits to jacynth.
  • Gid: hybrid of man, gargoyle, whorl, leaping insect.
  • Mischief moves somewhere near and I must blast it with my magic!
  • She contrived to twist her body into first one luxurious position, then another.
  • I become drunk as circumstances dictate.
  • Am I known as Cugel the Clever for nothing?
  • All is mutability, and thus your three hundred terces has fluctuated to three.
  • We go to the image expander; there we will explode the ghost to the macroid dimension.
  • First you are swathed head to foot in the intestines of fresh killed owls.
  • The contingency is remote.
    • (This is also a Jeeves quote in the PG Wodehouse Novels.)
  • My talismans are not obviously useless.
  • At his elbow a voice said, "I am Chun the Unavoidable."
  • The creature displayed the qualities reminiscent of both coelenterate and echinoderm. A terrene nudibranch? A mollusc deprived of its shell? More importantly, was the creature edible?
  • Ah! Five hundred years I have toiled to entice this creature, despairing, doubting, brooding by night, yet never abandoning hope that my calculations were accurate and my great talisman cogent. Then, when finally it appears, you fall upon it for no other reason than to sate your repulsive gluttony!
  • The void in his mind athrob for the soothing pressure of knowledge.
  • Sixty bobbins: Blikdak was no more.
  • Are you ready for unorthodox procedures?
  • So now, be off! Or I inflict upon you the Spell of the Macroid Toe, whereupon the signalized member swells to the proportions of a house.
  • "At Gundar we conceive 'innocence' as a positive quality, not merely an insipid absence of guilt," stated the Nolde. — the Nolde Huruska, in "The Seventeen Virgins" from Cugel's Saga
  • "So then: onward to Lumarth, and let meticulous discretion be the slogan!" — Shimilko, in "The Seventeen Virgins" from Cugel's Saga
  • "The folk are peculiar in many ways," said Erwig. "They preen themselves upon the gentility of their habits, yet they refuse to whitewash their hair, and they are slack in their religious observances. For instance, they make obeisance to Divine Wiulio with the right hand, not on the buttock, but on the abdomen, which we here consider a slipshod practice." in "The Bagful of Dreams" from Cugel's Saga
  • "What is all this commotion? Gookin, why do you lie among the cheeses?" Twango from Cugel's Saga
  • "Excellent; all is well. The 'everlasting tedium' exactly countervenes the 'immediate onset of death' and I am left only with the 'canker' which, in the person of Firx, already afflicts me. One must use his wits in dealing with maledictions." - Cugel
  • "What are your fees?" inquired Guyal cautiously. "I respond to three questions," stated the augur. "For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue." — From "Guyal of Sfere", The Dying Earth.

Quotes and text from the Lyonesse Trilogy

Suldrun's Garden

The Green Pearl

  • I also am of noble blood, or so it seems to me. — Orlo
  • A notable scheme has occurred to me. — Orlo
  • Naturally! That is the whole point of robbery: to acquire the victim's valuables! — Long Liam the Barber
  • You have frightened and daunted me. I will stop stealing at once. — Dhrun
  • It would not do if both of us became addled, and later woke up in doubt as to who was who. — Shimrod
  • Dango, Pume, Thwither: down with Visbhume's breeches; let him hold his backside at the ready. — King Throbius
  • Dismount and kneel before me, that I may strike off your head with fullest ease. You shall die in this tragic golden light of sunset. — Torqual
  • He lives among the far moons of Achernar, and he is accustomed to the most extreme outrages of terror and the hourly proximity of death. — Murgen
  • I am not a sensitive person, but these remarks carry a sting. — Sir Lulie
  • Zaxa rode a small pacing wole, and carried his fabulous sword Zil, while the others of the party rode steeds of other descriptions
  • Orthodoxy derives from this axiomatic foundation, and the two systems are mutually reinforcing: hence each is doubly validated.
  • Shimrod said: "Once I thought of you as a child in a woman's body." Melanchte smiled a cool smile. "And now?" "The child seems to have wandered away".
  • "I have transcended that phase in my intellectual growth where I discover humour in simple freakishness. What exists is real; therefore it is tragic, since whatever lives must die. Only fantasy, the vapors rising from sheer nonsense, can now excite my laughter." - Lord Pirmence of Castle Lutez


  • Refrain (as sung by Mikelaus):

Sigmo chaska yi yi yi Varmous varmous oglethorpe.

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