Monday, February 13, 2023

Pulp Fantasy Gallery: The Dying Earth

Based on feedback, the revival of this series has been very well received, so I'll continue with it for a while longer, perhaps through the end of the month. Truth be told, I appreciate being able to take a break from Pulp Fantasy Library, which probably demands the most time and effort of anything I post here. To that end, let's take a look this week at the covers of one of the most influential books on the conception of Dungeons & Dragons – ot its Gygaxian iteration, at any rate – Jack Vance's 1950 collection, The Dying Earth.  

Doing so is something of a cheat, since I actually posted about the original Hillman Periodicals cover at the dawn of this blog. However, I think it's more than worthwhile to be reminded of this cover (by an unknown artist) so as to be able to compare it to those that appeared on later editions of the book.

The next edition of The Dying Earth appeared in 1962, published by Lancer and with a cover by Ed Mesh.
A UK edition from Mayflower appeared in 1972, with a cover by Chris Foss.
Underwood-Miller produced a limited-run cloth edition of The Dying Earth in 1976, with this striking wrap-around cover by George Barr.
The first Pocket Books edition appeared in 1977 and featured this cover by the Brothers Hildebrandt.
Two years later, in 1979, Pocket Books reissued the collection, using a very different cover. This is, I believe, the first one I ever saw and so it's left a strong impression on my imagination ever since.
The 1985 UK edition from Panther/Grafton features this unusual cover by Geoff Taylor.
We'll conclude this post with the last (English language) edition published in the 1980s, Baen's 1986 paperback, with cover artwork by Victoria Poyser.


  1. There's since been an omnibus of the Dying Earth novels, originally out in 2000, but re-issued as recently as 2016.

  2. That cover that is the first one you ever saw is easily the best.

  3. Lancer was an imprint of the Harlequin publishing house, from the time period when they tried to break into Science Fiction. Not too much came of it, but Tim Powers did publish his first two books there.

  4. The Finnish translation, Iltaruskon maa, has a quite nice cover. You can find it by googling "Iltaruskon maa" and looking at the pictures.

  5. I think the second one and the second-last one are great. The second seems to capture what goes on well while the art style captures the stylized nature of Vance's writing, and the second-last one is an actual scene from the damn book portrayed at least semi-accurately.

    The Finnish one Jerry Cornelius mentioned is pretty nice. I think the recent 2000s era one is surprisingly similar to it.

  6. Barr's art really captures the weirdness of Dying Earth.
    I also like the cover by the Hildebrandts brothers, but there's a goofiness to it that makes it more suited to illustrate the Cugel stories

  7. I like them all, but for some reason I'm partial to the one of T'sais and T'sain. Somehow I think it would be less fascinating to me than some of the outright weird ones if I didn't know the book already, though.

  8. I haven't read enough of the Dying Earth stories to know what that Foss cover is illustrating, but it has a very Great Race of Yith look to it.

    Clearly I need to read more of the stories! (Especially as my DCC Dying Earth stuff should be arriving soon.)