“His prose – detailed, exotic, resonant of feelings, sounds and fragrances – soared well above the requirements of the genre; he described alien landscapes with bizarre and inventive energy in language that was ambitious, wordy, sometimes lurid, always bold…. He wrote some of the first, and perhaps best, examples of ‘planetary adventures’.”

–Excerpt from Christopher Priest’s obituary of Jack Vance, The Guardian

Skyboat Media and Spatterlight Press, together with Blackstone, are pleased to bring the Demon Princes series by Jack Vance to audio in 2022. (See our series announcement here.)

Jack Vance (1916–2013) published his first story, “The World Thinker,” in 1945 and went on to write over sixty books. Best known as a science fiction and fantasy writer, Vance has won several awards in those genres, including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement and a number of Hugo Awards. He also tried his hand at writing murder mysteries, a small dozen of which were published under his full name of John Holbrook Vance. In 1997, he was named a SFWA Grand Master.

The Demon Princes is a five-book series of science fiction novels by Jack Vance, which cumulatively relate the story of one Kirth Gersen as he exacts his revenge on five notorious criminals, collectively known as the Demon Princes, who carried his village off into slavery during his childhood. Each novel deals with his pursuit of one of the five Princes.

The Demon Princes books are “a series of quests structured as thrillers but filled with Vance’s marvels of exotic description, sociological invention, and mock-philosophical discourse (many imaginary future texts are quoted, to very amusing effect). Gersen himself is the quintessential Vance protagonist, competent and resourceful but constantly at odds with the murderous requirements of his avenger’s role.”

–Excerpt from “Jack Vance: Lord of Language, Emperor of Dreams” by Nick Gevers

In his New York Times Magazine feature, Carlo Rotella noted that Vance, a lover of jazz who played the ukulele, harmonica, washboard, kazoo and cornet, “believes that the musical flow of language is all-important to storytelling — ‘The prose should swing,’ he told me more than once — but some social or cultural problem always moves beneath the action, inviting the intellect to pause and consider.” Dan Simmons, the best-selling writer of horror and fantasy, described discovering Vance as “a revelation for me, like coming to Proust or Henry James. Suddenly you’re in the deep end of the pool. He gives you glimpses of entire worlds with just perfectly turned language. If he’d been born south of the border, he’d be up for a Nobel Prize.” Indeed, another prolific author Neil Gaiman, who read one of Vance’s Dying Earth tales as a teen, shared: “I fell in love with the prose style,” Gaiman said. “It was elegant, intelligent; each word felt like it knew what it was doing.”

Narrator Stefan Rudnicki

We knew just the narrator for the this rich, lyrical – not to mention gripping – science fiction series: Skyboat’s Stefan Rudnicki. Stefan is a Grammy-winning audiobook producer and an award-winning narrator who has won several Audie Awards, as well as more than twenty-five Earphones Awards, and been named one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices. A science fiction aficionado, Stefan is the voice of Ender in Orson Scott Card’s Ender Universe and recently narrated the Dread Empire’s Fall trilogy by Walter Jon Williams. Needless to say, he was thrilled to combine his theatrical storytelling with his love of science fiction while recording the Demon Princes series.

Listen to samples of the all five audiobooks on Skyboat’s SoundCloud!


During his life Gersen had known little other than a succession of strange beds; nevertheless sleep came slowly and he lay staring into the dark. Visions passed before him, from as early as he could remember: a landscape which, as he recalled it, was wonderfully pleasant and bright. There were tawny mountains, a village painted in faded pastel colors along the banks of a wide tawny river.

But this picture, as always, was followed by another even more vivid: the same landscape, littered with hacked and bleeding bodies. Men and women and children shuffled into the holds of five long ships under the weapons of two score men in what seemed strange and outlandish costumes. With an old man who was his grandfather, Gersen watched horrified from across the river, concealed from the slavers by the bulk of an old barge.

THE STAR KING (The Demon Princes, Book 1) by Jack Vance

Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Five intergalactic criminal masterminds raid the tranquil world of Mount Pleasant, leaving behind only ruin and slaughter — and the orphaned child Kirth Gersen, who comes to manhood swearing to take bloody revenge. Now Gersen roams the galaxy, bringing vengeance to the Demon Princes one by one, in Jack Vance’s classic series of hardboiled space opera.

In a seedy tavern on Smade’s Planet, Kirth Gersen picks up the trail of Attel Malagate, a member of an alien species called Star Kings, who masquerade as humans. Malagate maintains anonymity behind a screen of sinister henchmen, but Gersen will combine subtle guile and stark violence in a strategy to bring him face to face with the first of the Demon Princes.


THE KILLING MACHINE (The Demon Princes, Book 2) by Jack Vance

Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Five intergalactic criminal masterminds raid the tranquil world of Mount Pleasant, leaving behind only ruin and slaughter—and the orphaned child Kirth Gersen, who comes to manhood swearing to take bloody revenge. Now Gersen roams the galaxy, bringing vengeance to the Demon Princes one by one, in Jack Vance’s classic series of hardboiled space opera.

Someone is stealing the children of the galaxy’s elite, and Kirth Gersen suspects that the kidnapper is Kokor Hekkus—second of the Demon Princes. Deciphering a complex pattern of clues and coincidences, Gersen tracks his quarry to a barbaric world, where Hekkus is protected by an invincible war machine. To confront Hekkus, Gersen must resort to a desperate plan.


THE PALACE OF LOVE (The Demon Princes, Book 3) by Jack Vance

Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Five intergalactic criminal masterminds raid the tranquil world of Mount Pleasant, leaving behind only ruin and slaughter—and the orphaned child Kirth Gersen, who comes to manhood swearing to take bloody revenge. Now Gersen roams the galaxy, bringing vengeance to the Demon Princes one by one, in Jack Vance’s classic series of hardboiled space opera.

Among worlds populated by slave-takers and poisoners, Kirth Gersen is hunting the third Demon Prince, Viole Falushe, an Earthman who conceals his true identity while ruling a remote planet from his decadent Palace of Love. Posing as a journalist and accompanied by the mad poet Navarth, Gersen infiltrates the palace and uncovers a history of erotic obsession. Somewhere among the revelers lurks Falushe, whom Gersen schemes to identify, before delivering harsh justice.


THE FACE (The Demon Princes, Book 4) by Jack Vance

Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Five intergalactic criminal masterminds raid the tranquil world of Mount Pleasant, leaving behind only ruin and slaughter—and the orphaned child Kirth Gersen, who comes to manhood swearing to take bloody revenge. Now Gersen roams the galaxy, bringing vengeance to the Demon Princes one by one, in Jack Vance’s classic series of hardboiled space opera.

The fourth Demon Prince, Lens Larque, combines murderous criminality with a taste for horrific practical jokes. Escaping Gersen once, Larque flees to his home world of Dar Sai, known for its strange mating rituals and the violent winner-take-all game of hadaul. Gersen follows his quarry to the milder world of Methel, where Larque plans a revengeful prank on a wealthy man. Gersen has a more final vengeance in mind.



THE BOOK OF DREAMS (The Demon Princes, Book 5) by Jack Vance

Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Five intergalactic criminal masterminds raid the tranquil world of Mount Pleasant, leaving behind only ruin and slaughter—and the orphaned child Kirth Gersen, who comes to manhood swearing to take bloody revenge. Now Gersen roams the galaxy, bringing vengeance to the Demon Princes one by one, in Jack Vance’s classic series of hard-boiled space opera.

In the fifth and final book of the Demon Princes series, Gersen trails Howard Alan Treesong, notorious for his imaginative and horrifying revenges. But Treesong has a sentimental streak and longs for a childhood composition called The Book of Dreams. Exploiting this weakness, Gersen lures Treesong into a final confrontation.


“Vance’s lasting impact may lie in the influence he had on other writers. Many have spoken of the way in which his imagery freed their own imaginations, while others may be argued as having come under Vance’s thrall. These include writers as diverse as Ursula K Le Guin, Jack L Chalker, Michael Moorcock, George RR Martin and Gene Wolfe.”

–Excerpt from Christopher Priest’s obituary of Jack Vance, The Guardian

Skyboat is proud to honor Jack Vance’s legacy and share his work with today’s audiences. Purchase your copy of THE STAR KING, THE KILLING MACHINE, THE PALACE OF LOVE, THE FACE, and THE BOOK OF DREAMS today!

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