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A Sad Day for SF

sadface
It is a sad day for fans of science fiction and fantasy.

Word has just gotten out that Jack Vance, one of the grandmasters of our genres, and IMNSHO one of the greatest writers of our times, passed away on Sunday. He was 96.

I had the honor of meeting Jack a few times, but I cannot claim to have known him well. But he had a huge influence on me and my work, and for the past fifty-some years has ranked among my very favorite writers. Every time a new Jack Vance book came out, I would drop whatever else I was doing and read it. Sometimes I did not mean to, but once you cracked the covers of a Vance book, you were lost.

It pleases me no end that Gardner Dozois and I were able to do our tribute anthology, SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, when Jack was still alive, so he could hear how many of today's fantasists he had inspired. Vance's Dying Earth ranks with Howard's Hyborian Age and Tolkien's Middle Earth as one of the all-time great fantasy settings, and Cugel the Clever is the genre's greatest rogue, a character as memorable as Conan or Frodo (either of whom Cugel would likely swindle out of their smallclothes, had they ever met).

Vance was equally adept at writing SF and mystery, and will be remembered as one of the very few writers ever to win an Edgar Award along with Hugos and Nebulas. The output was prodigious, and there is scarcely a bad book among them. If you haven't read Jack Vance... well, I pity you, but I envy you as well. You have some amazing adventures ahead of you. The Dying Earth, Lyonesse, the Demon Princes, BAD RONALD, Liane the Wayfarer and Chun the Unavoidable, Emphyrio, Showboat World, Big Planet, the Dirdir and the Pnume and the Chasch and (yes) the Wankh, the Last Castle, the Dragon Masters, the Moon Moth... the list goes on and on and on and on.

Jack Vance left the world a richer place than he found it. No more can be asked of any writer.

Comments

Kellas Campbell
Jun. 14th, 2013 09:38 am (UTC)
My time with Jack Vance and Norma
Way back when I was about 15, I wrote Jack Vance a fan letter and he answered me back. We ended up writing each other all through my remaining years at high school, and then his family was kind enough to take me in for awhile. He used to play banjo at the kitchen table and tell stories of other writers he'd known -- he'd been good friends with the guy who wrote Dune. He wrote in a dark room -- the letters on the computer screen were huge, as he had such bad eyesight. They had a beautiful house, which they'd built themselves over the years. Norma was a wonderful person, too. I wish I'd been less of a jerk back then, but then, I had the unfortunate fate of being a teenage girl.

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