Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jack Vance, 1916-2013

Regular visitors to ::Acquired Taste will know of my devotion to the works of Jack Vance, who died at the weekend aged 96.  His books have inspired and delighted me for over thirty years, and when I was I was lucky enough to meet him when working on the Vance Integral Edition, he disproved the old maxim that you should never meet your heroes.  His down-to-earth geniality showed that you should never mistake the authorial voice for the author himself; Vance's prose was at once meticulous and distant with a diamond cutting-edge.  And while Jack Vance the man had a real sense of fun, his work's humour mines an altogether drier and darker territory.

Jack Vance at the helm of a boat,
one of his favourite pastimes

I first discovered Jack Vance's novels as a teenager, and his books enlivened a generally gloomy adolescence.  Unlike just about any other writer I read at that age, I can read his work with equal pleasure today (more, in some cases, as life experience validates some of his insights). 

He has clearly been huge influence on me (as well as many better writers, G.R.R. Martin to name but one), and if any visitors to this blog haven't yet read any Jack Vance, I'd suggest now is a good time to start. 

It's a cliche, but we shouldn't mourn Jack Vance's death, but instead celebrate the magnificent body of work he produced, and be glad that his stories will still be around to enthral generations to come.

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