And About Time, Too!

by wjw on July 15, 2009

Me: “Why did you persist in writing hurlothrumbo romances of the footling sort favored by mooncalfs?”

Him: “The question is nuncupatory. I grow weary of your importunities. Begone.”

The New York Times Magazine honors Jack Vance.

Dave Bishop July 16, 2009 at 10:17 am

It really is about time! Vance has always been a favourite author of mine (that's a bit of an understatement really!).
I first encountered him in my late teens. I had heard of this work called 'The Dragon Masters', which had won a Hugo, but couldn't find it in the UK. About 20 miles from my home town of Peterborough was the small Fenland market town of Wisbech. A UK fan called Ken Slater had a business in Wisbech selling SF books. His premises were a small shop (probably dating from the Georgian period) in an obscure backstreet. This shop was like a treasure trove – full of all the latest American and UK SF paperbacks (plus old and new SF mags, fanzines etc.).
It was there that I bought 'The Dragon Masters' as one half of an Ace Double with a Jack Gaughan cover and 'The Five Gold Bands' as the companion story on the reverse. I bought another couple of Vance Ace Doubles at the same time.
From then on I was completely hooked and every new Vance title that appeared was like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one!
What a remarkable writer!

Sean Craven July 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Over the last few years, the amount of time I've spent editing my own writing and that of other wannabes has left me unable to read with pleasure. It's become impossible for me to put down the red pen.

But a few months back I did a little traveling and I took along Big Planet, Showboat World, and Galactic Effectuator.

Since then I've been reading Vance by the fistful. While I have the occasional quibble (In Planet of Adventure, a Pnume is seen swimming in mid-ocean; at the end, the Pnume are vulnerable to water.), his prose is so deliciously idiosyncratic that it doesn't evoke the need to tamper.

I first read him as a child; Chun the Unavoidable in a Lin Carter anthology. (What a satisfying story that one still is.) He's one of those blessed writers who gets better as the reader matures.

And I'm thrilled that we're gonna get another book out of him.

Rebecca S. July 17, 2009 at 5:10 pm

I was happy to see that article about one of my all-time favorites. Nothing else is like a Vance story or novel. They go down smoothly and are richly satisfying. And they hold up very well to rereading and rereading, as my well-worn copies of the Demon Princes, Dying Earth, Brave Free Men, and other books attest.

The first Vance I read was his 1953 juvenile, Vandals of the Void. I found a copy in my school library when I was a kid and checked it out a bunch of times.

Some years later I wanted to own that book, but as a poor grad student couldn't afford one of the few collectable copies I could track down in those dark pre-Internet days. I procured a copy through Interlibrary Loan and spent a bunch nickels photocopying every page. I still have those pages, held together with a big binder clip, and every so often I reread that one, too.

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