Science Fiction's Unsung Old Master Getting A New Appreciation?

Illustration for article titled Science Fiction's Unsung Old Master Getting A New Appreciation?

Is Jack Vance finally getting the literary cred his famous admirers say he deserves? The New York Times has a massive article about the Dying Earth author, quoting fans like Michael Chabon and Dan Simmons.


Says Chabon:

Jack Vance is the most painful case of all the writers I love who I feel don't get the credit they deserve. If ‘The Last Castle' or ‘The Dragon Masters' had the name Italo Calvino on it, or just a foreign name, it would be received as a profound meditation, but because he's Jack Vance and published in Amazing Whatever, there's this insurmountable barrier.

The Times article gives a great look inside Vance's life and creative process, including the fact that he wrote his first published stories while serving in the merchant marine during World War II. And it talks a lot about his playful use of language, and the ways in which he uses a mock-high culture voice to flesh out his richly imagined worlds. And of course, the ways in which he explored how languages can shape culture, in books like Languages Of Pao.

Even besides the fact that he's getting a massive write-up in the Times, the article also makes the case that Vance is finally getting his due as a literary master. There's the new tribute anthology set in his desolate far-future world, Songs Of The Dying Earth, with superstar contributors including Simmons and Neil Gaiman. There's Totality Online, a website which allows you to search all of Vance's published works for any word or phrase. And there's a complete 45-volume set of all of Vance's published works, the Vance Integral Edition. At age 92, maybe Jack Vance's time has finally come. [New York Times]


I've been picking up classics of sci-fi lately that I've missed in my readings in the past. Maybe it's time I pick up a few of Vance's.

Any recommendations?