Truly, one of the great ones has gone.
First and foremost,
my thoughts are with his family and friends and I hope they can all take
comfort from how much Vance’s writing was loved by fans and admired by writers
and critics. I am right there with them. Jack’s writing, every single word, is
on my bookshelves. I have read his books until they fell apart and then I
bought new ones, and will continue to do so.
Blind since a disastrous operation to preserve his weak eyesight
in the 1980s, Vance continued to write using software called BigEd, and
producing some of his finest work. His writing style is unique – flamboyant,
colourful, sardonic. Every character from fey to king, space pirate to demon,
is a master of loquacious erudition, able to cut the banter with sinister
menace or dry humour.
rehearsals Zamp attempted to simplify and modernize certain obscure phrases,
and again found himself in controversy with Gassoon, who insisted on fidelity
to the original. “All very well,” cried Zamp, “but speech is spoken that it may
be understood. Why present a drama which simply bewilders everyone?”
“Your mind lacks poetry,” Gassoon responded sharply. “Can you not imagine a
drama of hints and dreams which totally transcends the animal titillations and
spasms and hooting sounds upon which your reputation is based?…Authenticity
must be our watchword.” - "The
Magnificent Showboats…" (pg.121)
That he was good is not in question – he’s an SFWA Grand
Master and has won a
clutch of awards . The New York
him as “one of American literature’s
most distinctive and undervalued voices”. You can find a dozen, two dozen
writers such as George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Liz Williams, Dan Simmons and Robert
Silverberg that have been influenced by him. In fact these and many others contributed to the
anthology set in Vance’s future Earth - Songs of the Dying Earth.
From Amazing Stories
And that he was loved by fans is obvious. No other author
has ever enjoyed such engagement. In 1999 a group of fans began what was to
become VIE – the Vance
Integral Edition, a six-year project to create a definitive hardback
reprint of Vance’s entire body of work – "the restoration of Vance’s works to the state intended by their author." Produced with Vance’s
full co-operation, this totalled 45 volumes.
Vance’s stories transported me to worlds of wonder, of
beautiful nightmares, of fey magic - all so real I felt I had been there, stood
on the ground and walked through those incredible cities and landscapes myself.
There’s nothing more I can say except: "Thank you, Jack Vance, for so many
worlds, so many, many hours of pleasure I found in your books."
Raise a glass, Mr. Vance liked beer, and so do I. The man is
gone, jazz musician, sailor, writer. His work remains. Foreverness.
Lyonesse trilogy (Lyonesse: Madouc received the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel)
The Dying Earth
The Eyes of the Overworld
The Man in the Cage (Edgar Allen Poe award)
The Dragon Masters (Hugo award)
You can buy e-book versions at Vance’s own shop.
You can leave your tributes and thoughts at Vance’s official site.
David Gullen's short fiction has appeared in Catastrophia, Art from Art and ARC Magazine. More on his website.