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The Moon Moth

​“The Moon Moth” by Jack Vance is the Cordes Press 3rd publication and is a short story first published in 1961 set in an alien society on the planet Sirene. It remains to his fans, his most popular story.

The story has our hero, Edwin Thissel, a consul newly arrived from Earth who has been ordered to stop an assassin, Haxo Angmark, and his detective work in unmasking the murderer. It combines sci-fi, a murder mystery and the intricacies of society culture formalities involving the wearing of elaborate masks that determine your status and communication through song and the playing of instruments....get it wrong and you could end up dead.

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Author:  Jack Vance

Jack Vance (1916 – 2013), a carpenter by trade and jazz enthusiast was a prolific and highly regarded multi-award winning American sci-fi, mystery and fantasy writer working for nearly 60 years from his first sci-fi publication, The World Thinker in the August 1945 edition of Thrilling World Stories to his last, Lurulu in 1994.

All writers primarily derive plot lines from a mixture of imagination and experience and in context of The Moon Moth, aspects of the story have known parallels to Vance’s passions and make the environment of The Moon Moth feel particularly vibrant and personal.  The eminence of complicated and unusual musical instruments in the plot of played by the Sirenese people, reflects Vance’s love of jazz and the prominence of the houseboats and the emphasis of the craftsmanship of construction reflecting his love of houseboats and his job as a carpenter.

Vance was awarded many accolades in is life reflecting the breadth topics and styles of his stories including a Hugo Award in 1963 for The Dragon Masters, in 1967 for The Last Castle, and in 2010 for his memoir This Is Me, Jack Vance!; the Nebula Award in 1966, for The Last Castle; the Jupiter Award in 1975 and the World Fantasy Award in 1990 for Lyonesse: Madouc, the Edgar Award in 1961 for the best first mystery novel for The Man in the Cage and The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America made Vance their 14th Grand Master in 1997.

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Paul Binnie is the artist for this publication who is an internationally renowned woodblock artist in the shin-hanga style. Paul and studied art history at the University of Edinburgh and painting and etching at Edinburgh College of Art from 1985 to 1990. After taking his Master's degree in 1990 and a spell in Paris, Paul’s interest in Japanese ukiyo-e prints took him to Japan in 1993 where he studied woodblock printmaking as an apprentice to Seki Kenji, master printer of Doi publisher. Paul specialised in the Kappazuri style of woodblock printing and later shin-hanga and has had a studio in London before moving to San Diego to continue his work. Paul is noted for his depiction of tattooed figures, such as the series, A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo in which he applied designs from ukiyo-e artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige to nude figures. 

Paul’s work is extensively collected by both private collectors and major art institutions holding print collections such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Toledo Museum of Art, Nihon no Hanga Museum in Amsterdam and The British Museum.

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The Type and Plate

The main type used in both editions is 12D Spectrum cast by Nick Gill at Effra Press with the title designed by Mark Askam and plate made by Metallic Elephant.

The Edition

This title comes in 2 editions printed by James Freemantle at his St James Park Press.

The 10 specials with the text printed on Velin Cuve BFK Rives Blanc 180 gsm paper and have 3 colour woodblock prints each with between 15-20 colours and printed on a Kozo 12 monme weight paper, Canson Mi Teintes orange endpapers, bound in Navy Pentland goat leather supplied by Hewitt’s and housed in an embossed burnt orange Brillianta cloth covered slipcase.

The 50 ordinaries are printed on Somerset White Book 160 gsm paper and have black and white images printed on Gekko Hodomura 106 gsm paper, Canson Mi Teintes Ultramarine endpapers bound in burnt orange Brillianta cloth.

Embossment dies for the spine title, covers and slipcases are by Book Designs.

The book is embossed and bound by Roger Grech. 


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The 10 specials of this edition are all reserved whereas the 50 ordinaries

at £450 with an optional slipcase at £55 are now available.​

Only the ordinary edition remains for sale.

P&P at cost.


Octavo, 255 x 183mm

50, pp.

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