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A Sad Day for SF

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

( 46 comments )
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valle2134
May. 30th, 2013 10:57 am (UTC)
Jack Vance's Legacy
A very sad day indeed. One of our greatest writers in any genre has passed. My first Jack Vance experience was reading THE DEMON PRINCES which blew me away. Since then, whenever a Vance book came out, I had to get it and loose myself in his marvelous creations.THE DYING EARTH is his most enduring creation.I am lucky to have a copy of that book signed by Vance And the language! Jack was a first-rate wordsmith. Sometimes you may have had to look up one of his words in a dictionary, or google it as we say nowadays, but it was worth it. Reading Vance educated and changed you. His kind will sorely be missed. Read Vance, the experience will change you.
jufin
May. 30th, 2013 01:22 pm (UTC)
Requiescat In Pace
Philip Overkleeft
May. 30th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC)
Vance (together with Tolkien) introduced me to SF and fantasy, a long time ago. Loved The Killing Machine, loved Emphyrio. And Suldrun's Garden contains the single most moving death scene I've ever read. Vance could be very funny as wel. Tamurello's fate (in The Green Pearl I think) is a prime example. Rest in peace!
danbuter1
May. 30th, 2013 02:13 pm (UTC)
He was one of my favorite authors. He had more writing skill displayed in one book than most authors show in their entire lifetime. And he wrote a LOT of books. RIP Jack.
Carlo D'Anna
May. 30th, 2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
Jack Vance HBO series or something?
I don't have the ear of HBO execs, but if you do George could you please persuade them to do a series from one of Jack Vance's series? Just a thought. I spoke to you very briefly at a book signing in Seattle around 2000 or so before GOT was rabid and you asked me if I had ever read Jack Vance. I knew immediately that some of your writing style emulated his.
Ivo Steijn
May. 30th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
My favorite writer. I worked a little on the Vance Integral Edition as a way of saying thank you to the man whose books I started reading when I was 9. I remember when Meulendijk, the Dutch publishers, would make my month better by publishing a new Vance book.

Some of his lines are still quoted around the house today. "That is not customary procedure"; "In view of the general protest we will withdraw our claim".
ext_1882111
May. 30th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
Hello George
Hello George,

From France here. It's time now with your help to get Lyonesse on HBO.

Regards,

Dry
TheRedViper
May. 30th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
Dying Earth
Sorry to hear about that, George. I read the anthology. Very good, and you put in a particularly good effort on your piece.
Dexter Hinkson
May. 30th, 2013 10:15 pm (UTC)
Jack Vance
I had the distinct pleasure of reading the Tales of the Dying Earth a few years ago. What struck me was the depth of his imagination and the breadth of his humor. It was writing that was captivating, and who can forget Cugel and Rhialto the Marvellous

Another Titan of the genre has fallen. RIP Jack Vance

Edited at 2013-05-30 10:17 pm (UTC)
Bjrn Jakobsen
May. 30th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
One of the pillars. So endlessly playful and creative. I am grateful he was here among us, he will be missed.
cyberalien
May. 30th, 2013 10:35 pm (UTC)
Sad news indeed. I was hoping SubPress would do a signed copy of "Dying Earth" to go along with my signed copy of "Songs... Dying Earth". Too late for that now. I feel very lucky to at least have his signature on "Songs...".

R.I.P. Mr. Vance
kendric
May. 30th, 2013 11:16 pm (UTC)
I've never read any of his books but I've wanted to for some time. Where's a good place for a Vance newbie to start?
grrm
May. 31st, 2013 12:52 am (UTC)
I'd try a standalone first, before getting into one of the big series. Maybe EMPHYRIO or THE NIGHT LAMP.
AllanJLA
May. 31st, 2013 01:04 am (UTC)
I did not know of Jack Vance until George mentioned him as an influence at a signing in 2000 or so. It wasn't long until I met the Demon Princes, the Gray Prince,the Dragonmasters and explored Alastor. Actually, I still have a section of Alastor to finish. RIP Jack Vance. Glad your house lives on in ASOIAF.
apostle_of_eris
May. 31st, 2013 01:52 am (UTC)
Amid the depressingly regular obits, it's exceptional to see such an outpouring as Jack Vance is receiving.

My high school English teacher confiscated the issue of Galaxy with the orange and green Gaughan cover for Dragonmaster, because I was supposed to be paying attention to Treasure Island . . .
kelyantar
May. 31st, 2013 04:02 am (UTC)
Thought of you when I heard the news. Condolences.
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