The Amazing Worlds of the “Grandmaster” of Science Fiction by Jack Vance
Jack Vance was born in the early 20th century and managed to release more than fifty stories and short stories under a series of pseudonyms. Vance was respected by colleagues and readers, in his works addressing the themes of cultural and religious conflicts. Coming up whole civilizations and worlds with his own bizarre laws and customs, Vance did not go into the themes of decline or intergalactic wars.
Briefly about the writer
Jack Vance, born in 1916 in San Francisco. Like many American science fiction writers, he served in the army during World War II, but he did not have a chance to participate in battles, and the army theme was not so widely reflected in his works as those of Heinlein or Harrison.
Starting with sea stories and tales, Vance quickly grew into a major science fiction writer whose distinctive features were wit, unbridled imagination, satire and playing in his works various religious, cultural and political events and trends. Repeatedly received praise from both critics and colleagues, was friendly with Frank Herbert. In the late 90s he was awarded the title “Grandmaster”.
Vance published eleven detective stories under his real name (John Holbrook Vance) and three detective stories under the pseudonym Ellery Quinn. In addition, he published novels and short stories under the pseudonyms Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See and Jay Cavans.
The Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin includes a minor character, Lord Vance, named after Jack Vance.
Michael Shay wrote the sequel to Eyes of an Alien World before Vance himself wrote it. Vance gave permission, and the book Neck was printed before Vance’s book. According to the author himself, his vision largely coincided with the vision of Michael.
In 2001, a board game was released on the cycle “Dying Earth.” Developed by Pelgrane Press. A review of the game noted: “This is an RPG that does an excellent job of exploring the foundational science fiction books of Jack Vance. If you always wanted to do immoral things in broad daylight, then you have a great opportunity. ”
John Holbrook Vance (August 28, 1916 (some sources indicate other erroneous birth dates related to the period 1916-20), San Francisco – May 26, 2013, San Francisco) – an American writer working in the fantasy genres and science fiction.
Childhood and youth
John Holbrook Vance was born on August 28, 1916 in San Francisco. If you believe the official biography published on the writer’s website, his grandfather moved to California after other gold seekers in the era of the “gold rush”.
However, almost nothing is known about the earlier history of the family – most likely, most of the records were destroyed after the fire of 1906. Jack’s father worked as a lawyer, but, like many Americans, he lost his job during the Great Depression and did not leave any inheritance for children. The writer’s youth was spent on a small ranch in the Sacramento River Delta, and perhaps the only entertainment of young Jack was cheap adventure magazines (it is possible that he could also get caught from the stories of Robert Howard, for example).
I had to leave my studies – the financial situation was not easy, and the future writer began working from a young age. The work was not so hot – a messenger, a worker, a builder. In the end, Vance was able to enter the University of California at Berkeley and study as a mining engineer, combining his studies with work on the docks and playing in a jazz orchestra.
After graduating from university in 1942, Vance completed compulsory military service in the merchant navy. Contrary to the persistently circulated legend, Vance did not sink on a ship that was blown up by an enemy torpedo. This story, most likely, was invented in the first years of his writing by a publisher who wanted to make Vance’s short biography more colorful and attractive in the eyes of readers.
After army service, the sea for a long time became Vance’s main passion both in life and in his works. The first stories of Jack were devoted to sea adventures, and even his fantastic stories about starships and other planets preserved the “marine” adventure spirit. In addition, it was during his service as a sailor that Vance wrote his first story. For several years, after he began to write books, Jack Vance had to make a living as a carpentry.
Creative activity and the path to fame
As mentioned above, in his student years, Vance actively performed jazz concerts, playing the saxophone. The funny thing is that the first texts that hit the press were Jack’s reviews of jazz concerts – they could be found in the special section of the Daily California.
Along with the sea and sea adventures, music also played an important role in the life and work of the writer – he continued to perform jazz concerts and paid great attention to music in his works.