Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Moon Castle

If only this was fiction.

Famed fantasy and science fiction writer Jack Vance has died at the age of 96.

Vance wasn't just a science fiction/fantasy writer - he was also a mystery writer. If you have read the Ellery Queen mysteries, you may be aware that various authors were permitted to write under that name.  Jack Vance was one of them.

In the mid 1960's, I was given an Ace Double (a paperback series put out by Ace with two books.  You read one, then flipped the book over and read the other.)  One of the novels was "The Dragon Masters" by Jack Vance.  I was captivated, not even being aware that the novel had won a Hugo Award.  Jack Vance, along with Edgar Rice Burroughs, helped to feed my addiction to stories that transported me to strange worlds.

I don't remember when I first read the novella "The Moon Moth"  (another Hugo Award winner) but I consider it one of my personal favorites.  I am no musician, and I so identify with a man (trying to solve a murder mystery on another planet) struggling to survive in a music oriented culture where a poor choice could cause your death.  Or worse....

A novella I enjoyed, The Last Castle, won both Hugo and Nebula awards.   On a distant world, humans have enslaved various alien species, including one called the Meks. In their castles, humans live a decadent life.  But now the slave Meks have rebelled, and are winning.  Only one human castle is left....

Worldbuilding (creating a world that is believable, realistic, and consistent for your story) is difficult.  Perhaps because I was a cultural anthropology major, I tend to be very particular about worldbuilding in a fantasy or science fiction setting.  Jack Vance was a master of that art.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about Jack Vance wasn't his writing. It was the fact that, for the last 20 or so years of his life, he was legally blind.  Yet, he kept on writing, into his 90's.

Now, that's aging with grace.

Has a favorite author of yours survived into his or her 90's?


  1. Great to read about his works. I must refresh my memory. In my blog post for today, I included a link to an online friend of mine. Laurel Lamperd is 104 and published her most recent book last year. I was lucky enough to have offered critiques. Amazing.

  2. What a legacy to leave behind - stories that have inspired and will continue to inspire new generations to come - lovely!

  3. My mother read Ellery Queen mysteries all the time. All these books you mentioned sound like ones I might enjoy.

  4. Whoa. What a guy. I hope that I'm still writing, if I am blessed with that many years on earth!

  5. I don't read much fiction, but maybe I will check him out.

  6. What a wonderful tribute! I definitely have authors who have entertained me for many years and who definitely influence my own imagination. To narrow it down to a single author, though, would be impossible as there are just too many gracing my bookshelves!


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