RIP Jack Vance

Alas. Jack Vance has died. One of my favorite writers. A long successful life and writing career.

I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know he was still alive. I loved his Dying Earth and Demon Princes books, read a ton of his stuff when I was younger.

With punctilio, he escorted us to the stars. RIP and thanks for the worlds.

A giant of speculative fiction. R.I.P…

The man had a way with words. Definitely will be missed.

Wasn’t a huge fan of Vance, but nevertheless read any number of his stories. One of those guys who have been around forever (almost 97) - sorry to see that kind of voice go. Rest in Peace.

Let me add: didn’t actually read any Vance until it came out in 1974 that the D&D magic system was derived from Vance’s concepts used in The Dying Earth. I have one of Steve Fabian’s original illustrations from Rhialto the Marvellous.

He is def one of my favorites, a real wit. I giggled myself silly reading the dying earth books.

GRRM is crushed. Vance was one of his idols. He revered Vance’s work.

Died at 96. And what a life.

Have only read a couple of his short stories in various anthologies, but loved them. No idea he was still alive. RIP.

I’m shocked to hear he was still alive. Great writer. I had already missed him.

This is weird.

He was living out his last days in Oakland, I believe. My hometown. Cugel will carry your torch always. Rest well, Mr. Vance. Sad day.

Great sadness, one of my favourite writers of all time; a conjurer of worlds that feel like they go on independently even while you’re not reading about them.

Seems like Oakland has a thing with great writers named “Jack”. Dying Earth is, to this day, my all-time favorite fantasy setting.

Oh and let’s not forget the influence Vance’s writing, and in particular his idea of magic, had on our own dear hobby: he was a great influence on the development of D&D, via Gary Gygax.

I’m very sorry to hear he’s gone. Vance did some marvelous stuff, and I still regret not being able to afford The Integral Edition back in the day.

I loved the Lyonesse books the most:

Suldrun’s Garden (1983)
The Green Pearl (1986)
Madouc (1989)

It is nominally high fantasy, but soaked in lots of mythology and folklore to the point that it becomes rich and strange. My sense reading them was that Vance might have been trying to capture some of the Extruded Fantasy Product market of the 80’s, but, being Vance, completely missed the mark and produced something amazing.

A Quest For Simbilis by Michael Shea was actually pretty good. Normally homage works like that are flops, but I was very impressed. It’s out of print at the moment.

Vance was a huge influence on me. One day I might even try to write a Cugel story myself.

I liked In Yana, The Touch of the Undying much more than A Quest For Simbilis. It is probably also out of print, and there aren’t any scans on the internet that I could find when mine was in storage. I only got a copy because I stumbled across a giant bin selling them for 50 cents a piece along with other classics like David Gerrold’s first War of the Chtorr novel, when I was a kid.

Lyonesse is surprisingly wonderful. I “reread” it as an audiobook a few years back. And having bought a second-hand copy of Suldrun’s Garden for a dollar a couple of days ago, will probably be reading it again.

Me too. I think we don’t share all that much of the same tastes, but I completely agree with you there. Yana was a fine little dark fantasy back in the day.

I take it you didn’t read message #6 of this thread. ;-)

As gimmicks go for limiting magic, I never much cared for the concept. And just about everybody threw it out of D&D in favor of a spell points system. But that’s all a matter of taste, D&D got me to read Vance, and that’s not a bad thing.

But I think also, some of the atmosphere of Vance lives on in the D&D realms, as they’ve been interpreted by BioWare and Obsidian. That odd mix of technology and mythological creatures, and stories involving encountering weird new living situatations (strange villages, areas dedicated to some arcane pursuit), with eccentric, idiosyncratic mad geniuses dotted around here and there, some very dark). And for the spells, I think the final remnant is that some games still like to have the occasional Vance-style “weird spell name”.

But the king and mother of all weird spell names in Vance is surely “The Spell of Forlorn Encystment”. That’s pure Vance right there, getting you to use your imagination, in a verbally pedantic yet strangely elegant way, and pungent with wry dark humour.

I think one part of Vance’s literary heritage that lives on, particularly strongly in GRRM, is careful attention to the music of names. Not a little part of the success GoT has seen must have been down to the very precise names all the families and characters, events, places and entities have. Each name is an evocation of the spirit of the person or thing - it clues you in on the person’s true nature, making it easier to track the “whiff” of each character whenever they’re mentioned, making it easier for the reader to have complex plots hanging in their head.

Another little Vance thing I love is the “traveller’s vista”. Anybody who’s adventured in exotic climes somewhat, will resonate with the timeless Vancian trope of majestic landscapes come across in the course of wandering - rounding a corner, cresting a hill, and lo! A vista! First time I saw the Shenandoah Valley irl it felt like a Vancian traveller’s landscape come to life.

So many unique things, so much elegance - and subtlety. Vance is quite a subtle writer sometimes, he doesn’t say things outright, but gets you to use your imagination to piece it together. I mean, it’s never said outright that the sexist cult of high caste priests of Galexis basically get stoned and masturbate to an idol and believe themselves to be having sex with a goddess, but the suspicion that that’s what they do grows in your mind with horror and amusement, as you piece it together. A lot of his genuine commentary on life is to be read between the lines in this sort of way - about the inherent absurdity, yet charm, of some ancient formal social rituals, for example.