(As part of Vintage Science Fiction month, I’m going to be posting short bios about many of authors I’m reading. Many of these authors are “new to me”, so feel free to add your thoughts in the comments)
Let’s talk about Jack Vance.
Born in 1916 in California, Jack Vance spent most of his childhood there. Formulating wild fantastical stories at an early age, Vance’s imagination was encouraged by his family. He attended University of California, Berkeley, and studied Engineering, Physics, English and Journalism. He wrote his first science fiction short story during his time at Berkeley, but was derided by an English professor for trying to pass it off as a proper assignment.
Like many writers, Vance had a variety of careers – naval electrician, carpenter, surveying engineer, along with a stint in the Merchant Marine. Unfortunately, his decaying vision often made work difficult.
Friendly with Poul Anderson and Frank Herbert, Vance was exactly when and where he needed to be to create some of the most treasured science fiction and fantasy known. After selling his first short story in 1945, Vance wrote and published consistently into the 1990’s, publishing more than 60 novels to date. Considered by many to be the greatest living science fiction writer, Vance has won nearly every possible genre award, many multiple times.
Best known for his Dying Earth stories (which I’ll be reviewing tomorrow), Vance published science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. A theme seen in The Dying Earth stories, and elsewhere in his writings is that of a far future Earth, where humanity has colonized other planets and travelled among the stars. It’s been so long since our “birth”, that we’ve forgotten where we came from. In 2009, the anthology Songs of the Dying Earth was published. A tribute to Jack Vance, in honor of how many authors his work has inspired over the years. The anthology features short works by Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Lucius Shepherd, Elizabeth Moon, Kage Baker, Tad Williams, and many more.
At at 95, legally blind, and “retired”, Vance continues to dabble in writing, using custom written voice recognition software. His autobiography, This is Me, Jack Vance! was published by Subterranean Press in 2009.
What Jack Vance books have you read? what did you think of them? How did you discover him?