Jack Vance: Inventor of Worlds

Earlier this week, SF Grandmaster Jack Vance passed away at the age of 96. His writing career lasted over six decades, and he’s known for his fantastic worldbuilding in addition to his enormous volume of works.

Vance wasn’t an author I came across often as a kid – looking back through my anthologies this week, I found only a handful of stories, but the one that stuck out in my mind was ‘The Moon Moth’, collected in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume IIB. Reading up on his life, I found that most of my usual sources mentioned him sparingly – often in the context of his first great work, The Dying Earth. At other times, it seems as though he was an author who’s influence faded to the background, which seems to have suited his personality.

Go read Jack Vance, Inventor of Worlds over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources:

  • Billion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction, Brian Aldiss: Aldiss mentions Vance only a couple of times, noting the context of his works.
  • Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert: Vance and Herbert were fairly close friends. They traveled together and lived nearby, and it’s interesting to see the connection form through mutual interests.
  • Science Fiction: What It’s All About, Sam Lundwall: I picked up Lundwell’s book recently on a whim, and while there’s not much, there’s a brief mention of Vance’s works here.
  • Survey of Science Fiction Literature, vol 2, Frank Magill: This volume has a fantastic review of The Dying Earth, noting its influence and worldbuilding.
  • The History of Science Fiction, Adam Roberts: Roberts devotes much space to Vance and The Dying Earth, which was particularly helpful early on.
  • This is me, Jack Vance!, Jack Vance: This book was a critical one for learning about Vance’s life, recounted through his Hugo-award winning autobiography. It’s a really interesting read, and one that I’ll likely revisit at some point.
  • The Genre Artist, Carlo Rotella: This is a great interview / feature with Vance from a couple of years ago.
  • Jack Vance Biography, official website: An official biography that helped me put together some details about his life.
  • Jack Vance Profile, ISFDB: No biographical details here, but it is a great look at the works that he’s written.
  • Vance, Jack, SF Encyclopedia: A fantastic biographical look at Vance in the context of his works.
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