I’ve reached that stage in life when the people I’ve admired for as long as I’ve been admiring people have begun to disappear at what’s probably an accelerating rate. There are obvious reasons why I think that’s a shame; some selfish (it’s proof that aging is going on, somewhere near me) and some, maybe, unselfish (because I’m sorry for all of us that these folks aren’t here with us any more).
So this week, it’s Jack Vance.
I try to avoid eulogizing people I didn’t actually know. After all, who am I to weigh in? So I’ll just say that even though I try to avoid having favorites, Vance was still a favorite writer of mine because he was just way too good to yield to my policy of unfavoritism. I mean, you just couldn’t keep him down. And though he hadn’t been writing for quite some time his body of work is still every bit as wonderful as it ever was. If you don’t know that work, you ought to.
Now the world is full of people who did know, or work with, or correspond with Jack Vance. What they have to say about his passing is a lot more compelling than anything I could write. I noticed a curious symmetry in two of these: Matthew Hughes remembers his first exposure to Vance through the magazine publication of The Dragon Masters, while Frederik Pohl remembers publishing it. Taken together they’ll tell you about 10% of what you should know about Vance: the rest, you’ll get by reading him.