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D. Allen Schaeffer
- Gepubliceerd op Amazon.com
It's an impressive effort, truly. A lot of fun for the Vance fan. And it gives ideas where to go next in Vance's vast body of work, no small thing considering his huge authorial output over the years. Vance's unique gift and propensity for creating neologisms in his work makes this book, well, almost necessary. Especially since Vance had an equally vigorous ability to create new words that actually make sense - that look and feel like real words you know. Many was the time in my early readings of Vance that I went to multiple dictionaries to find the word he just used wasn't there...or anywhere...other than the novel or story I'd been reading. "Nuncupatory." "Chife." "Monstrament." The list is long enough, well, to fill a book. And it has.
But...it's not perfect. There are numerous inconsistencies, and even some (minor) inaccuracies that rankle. These are difficult to understand, considering the fact that it's an effort by Vance fans, for Vance fans. I'm going to cop out and say I can only recall one, but it appears throughout the book: Numerous numbers are given as being in the Dirdir language, when, in the passage where they appear in THE DIRDIR, Adam Reith is considering the unnamed common language used by all humans on Tschai. One could assume that this is Dirdir, knowing humans were brought to Tschai by that race, but it's unlikely and certainly not specifically stated. I've been through THE DIRDIR twice, and nowhere is it even suggested, to my way of thinking, that Reith is considering Dirdir. The passage discusses how there are haunting similarities between this unnamed language and some human tongues. The implication, to this reader, it that it is related to whatever proto-tongue the humans of 50,000 years ago spoke when the Dirdir rounded them up. If I'm wrong, please point it out - I don't want to seem pedantic about it - but it seems an even more tenuous association to me than the idea that Phung are just tall, cranky Pnume. Further evidence for the fact that it's not Dirdir-language is indicated by the fact that the Chasch, Chaschmen, Wankhmen, Pnume and Pnumekin all speak this same tongue. Those alien races (and their "sub-men") all have a mostly antagonistic relationship with the Dirdir, and the Dirdir by no means dominate the planetary culture. Anyway, enough of that.
As far as "inconsistencies," entries are sometimes accompanied by (lengthy) quotes, sometimes brief and dictionary-style. While this is to some degree necessary (Vance sometimes overtly defined a word, sometimes left it to the reader to interpret via implication and context, and sometimes was purposely vague, the unknown word providing a feeling of organized strangeness that gave the reader a glimpse of an alien culture that was fully and deeply realized yet beyond the reader's full understanding), sometimes Temianka voices guesses as to the meaning, sometimes not, and is sometimes frustratingly broad. The musical instruments of the planet Sirene are an example of the latter - the definitions just mention them as a musical instrument and include brief excerpt of Vance's physical descriptions of them without mentioning they are used specifically by the Sirenese. While one COULD assume that such instruments are not merely native to that planet, the story implies heavily that this is not the case, especially in the early part of "The Moon Moth" where Thissel comically misinterprets a passage about the Sirenese using "a musical instrument" to accompany all speech to mean they use A musical instrument, rather than dozens to convey mood, social status, nature of the conversation, etc.), the book would have been helped considerably by a more consistent voice and method of definition. This is puzzling considering that this is a "revised" edition of the original "LEXICON."
There I went and harped on the cons. The book is mostly one big pro...for the Vance fan. If you're new to Jack Vance, definitely let the man speak for himself for a while. I'm only(!) at about 4000 ppg of Vance, so I'm hardly a Universal Expert (see what I did there?), but I'm no Tarn Bird, either....and I think I'm at just the perfect depth of immersion in his work to get the most out of this book. For a fan to put together something like this is truly a massive undertaking, and it's a hell of a lot of fun to flip through in between novellas and short stories, or while waiting in the lobby of the local nympharium with a glass of Blue Ruin close to hand. But the lack of consistency in the way the entries are handled and, as I said, some minor errors, keep me from going the full five stars.