Author Archives: MHill

Book Review 119: Emphyrio by Jack Vance

What is a legend?

Does the truth about a legend matter only to those who believe in it?  

Or does the propaganda about a legend matter more than the truth?

These questions came to mind after reading Emphyrio by Jack Vance. Vance has been considered one of the giants of the science fiction and fantasy genre and has a body of work cementing that reputation. I have decided to review more of the genre’s grandmasters to get a wider perspective of the genre as a whole.  I started last year with Robert Silverberg, continuing with Jack Vance and have Zenna Henderson to review soon. 

Emphyrio is considered of Vance’s best standalone novels and a good entry point into his work.  It is the story of Ghyl Tarvok, a young man who has taken a keen interest in the legend of Emphyrio.  However, Tarvok lives in the city of Ambroy on the planet Halma where the lords have a created an utopian society and believes the legend belongs to the past.

Ghyl’s curiosity and rebellious nature leads him to a discovery about the legend of the Emphyrio uncovering to true reason why the Lords of Halma tried to keep the legend as a distant memory.  Vance writes a straight-forward coming-of-age adventure story in Emphyrio.  But, the colorfulness of the world is where Vance really shines.  The goal of an adventure or imaginative story is to make that fictional world feel like something you could actually picture. And it makes you forget about your world for the entire reading experience.  Emphyrio succeeds on that level.

If you are looking for a novel to escape into and lose yourself for a few hours (it’s only 208 pages), then I will recommend Emphyrio by Jack Vance. This is my second Vance novel and I’m beginning to see why he was a favorite for many of the genre’s best writers.

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Book Review 114: To Open The Sky by Robert Silverberg

Can human beings live forever? Of course, we all know the answer to that question.  One death per person.  However, science fiction has tackled the immortality theme throughout its history as a genre and Robert Silverberg addresses it in several of his books during his most prolific period of 1967-1976. To Open The Sky presents… Continue Reading

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Book Review 112: Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Is the starving artist path the only accepted way in our society for an artist? Jeff Goins answers that question in his latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve (Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age). The starving artist mythos has been accepted by our culture and Goins has come up with twelve practical… Continue Reading

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Book Review 110: Make Art Make Money by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens

Is it possible to succeed as an artist and entrepreneur? Elizabeth Hyde Stevens examines this question in her book, Make Art Make Money, about how Jim Henson navigated the parallel worlds of art and business to become one of the greatest American artist-entrepreneurs. Make Art Make Money explores how this gentle man had an innate… Continue Reading

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