Farewell to Jack Vance

Jack Vance 1The news broke today that Jack Vance – one of the most influential and respected fantasy and SF writers of all time – has died. He was 96.

Vance was a hugely prolific writer, but is perhaps best known for The Dying Earth, which is rightly regarded as one of the defining works of fantasy literature and was to have an enormous impact on a generation of fantasy writers. Many of them have been quick to praise Vance’s work.

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” – George R. R. Martin

“His prose – detailed, exotic, resonant of feelings, sounds and fragrances – soared well above the requirements of the genre; he described alien landscapes with bizarre and inventive energy in language that was ambitious, wordy, sometimes lurid, always bold” – Christopher Priest

“A genuine great in the field, one whose work captivated generations of science fiction and fantasy readers and writers, many of whom went on to be greats themselves” – John Scalzi

“Thank you for the dreams and the magic, Jack Vance” – Neil Gaiman

I recently read The Dying Earth – the self-titled first book in the Dying Earth sequence – and was quickly captivated by the vibrant far-future world that Vance had created, and the colourful characters that inhabited it. I was struck by the sheer power of Vance’s imagination and the seductive, poetic quality of his prose. Just from this single volume, I could see why Vance had gone on to cast such a large shadow over the fantasy genre.

He also sounds like a remarkable person – after becoming completely blind in the 1980s, Vance kept writing for another twenty years, penning many more works including the sprawling Lyonesse sequence.

Jack Vance: all of us at J For Jetpack salute you!

Guardian obituary.

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