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Encyclopedia > Jack Vance
John Holbrook Vance

Jack Vance at the helm of his boat on San Francisco Bay in the early 1980s.
Born: August 28, 1916
San Francisco, California
Occupation: Novelist, Short story writer
Nationality: United States
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction

John Holbrook Vance (born August 28, 1916 in San Francisco, California) is generally described as an American fantasy and science fiction author, though Vance himself has reportedly objected to such labels. Most of his work has been published under the name Jack Vance. Vance has published 11 mysteries as John Holbrook Vance and 3 as Ellery Queen. Other pen names include Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, Jay Kavanse. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (537x738, 58 KB) Summary This picture was taken by David M. Alexander in the early 1980s on Jack Vances boat in San Francisco Bay. ... August 28 is the 240th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (241st in leap years), with 125 days remaining. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar). ... Nickname: The City by the Bay; Fog City; The City Location of the City and County of San Francisco, California Coordinates: Country United States of America State California City-County San Francisco  - Mayor Gavin Newsom Area    - City  47 sq mi (122 km²)  - Land  46. ... Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. ... A novel is an extended work of written, narrative, prose fiction, usually in story form; the writer of a novel is a novelist. ... This article is in need of attention. ... In English usage, nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. ... A literary genre is one of the divisions of literature into genres according to particular criteria such as literary technique, tone, or content. ... Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... August 28 is the 240th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (241st in leap years), with 125 days remaining. ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar). ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. ... Note that this partial list contains some authors whose works of fantastic fiction would today be called science fiction, even if they predate, or did not work in that genre. ... Frederic Dannay (left), with James Yaffe (1943) Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York: Daniel (David) Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905–September 3, 1982) and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee (January 11, 1905–April...

Among his awards are: Hugo Awards, in 1963 for The Dragon Masters and in 1967 for The Last Castle; a Nebula Award in 1966, also for The Last Castle; the Jupiter Award in 1975; the World Fantasy Award in 1984 for life achievement and in 1990 for Lyonesse: Madouc; an Edgar (the mystery equivalent of the Nebula) for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for The Man in the Cage; in 1992 he was Guest of Honor at the WorldCon in Orlando, Florida; and in 1996 he was named a SFWA Grand Master. The 2005 Hugo Award with base designed by Deb Kosiba. ... 1963 (MCMLXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (the link is to a full 1963 calendar). ... 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar (the link is to a full 1967 calendar). ... The Nebula is an award given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the two previous years (see rolling eligibility below). ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday. ... First awarded in 1975, the World Fantasy Awards are handed out annually at the World Fantasy Convention (WFC) to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy. ... 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1990 (MCMXC) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (popularly called the Edgars), named after Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America. ... 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ... 1992 (MCMXCII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday. ... Worldcon, a. ... Nickname: The City Beautiful, O-Town, 407 Location in Orange County and the state of Florida. ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... Science Fiction Writers of America, or SFWA, (SFWA is pronounced seff-wah) was founded in 1965 by Damon Knight and James Blish. ... The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is an award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. ...

He is generally highly regarded by critics and colleagues, some of whom have suggested that he transcends genre labels and should be regarded as an important writer by mainstream standards. Poul Anderson, for instance, once called him the greatest living American writer "in" science fiction (not "of" science fiction). Poul Anderson portrayed on the cover of a special edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; painting by Kelly Freas. ...



Vance's grandfather supposedly arrived in California from Michigan a decade before the Gold Rush and married a San Francisco girl. (Early family records were apparently destroyed in the fire following the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake). Vance grew up in San Francisco, and then on a farm near Oakley in the delta of the Sacramento River. He was an avid reader. He left high school early to work as a bell-hop, in a cannery, and on a dredger before entering the University of California, Berkeley where over a six-year period he studied engineering, physics, journalism and English. During this time he worked for a period as an electrician in the naval shipyards at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began in January 1848, when gold was discovered at Sutters Mill. ... Arnold Genthes famous photograph of San Francisco following the earthquake, looking toward the fire on Sacramento Street The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a major earthquake that struck San Francisco and the coast of northern California at 5:12 A.M. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906. ... A spring at the Sacramento River headwater The Sacramento River is the longest river in the state of California. ... The University of California, Berkeley (also known as UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, and by other names, see below) is the oldest and flagship campus of the ten-campus University of California system. ... Satellite image of Pearl Harbor. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

Vance graduated in 1942 and did war service as a seaman in the Merchant Marine. Contrary to a tenacious legend, he was not torpedoed twice nor even once. This was possibly invented in the early days by an editor to enhance Vance's attraction in a blurb.[citation needed] In later years boating remained his favorite recreation; boats and voyages are a frequent theme in his work. He worked as a seaman, a rigger, a surveyor, ceramicist, and carpenter until he could establish himself fully as a writer, which did not occur until the 1970s.

Jack Vance playing the jazz banjo and kazoo in 1979 in San Francisco
Jack Vance playing the jazz banjo and kazoo in 1979 in San Francisco

From his youth Vance has been fascinated by jazz. He is an amateur of the horn and banjo. His first published writings were jazz reviews for The Daily Californian, his college paper, and music is an element in many of his works. Image File history File links Jack_Vance_Banjo_Kazoo. ... Image File history File links Jack_Vance_Banjo_Kazoo. ... Jazz is a musical art form that originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States at around the start of the 20th century, mostly popular in the 1920s. ...

In 1946 Vance met and married Norma Ingold. They live, with their son, in Oakland, in a house built and extended by Vance himself over the years, which includes a hand-carved wooden ceiling from Nepal. The Vances have made several extensive world-voyages, often spending several months in places like Tahiti, Positano (in Italy) and a boat house in a lake in Kashmir. Oakland, founded in 1852, is the eighth-largest city in California[1] and the county seat of Alameda County. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Positano is a small town on the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana), in Campania, Italy. ... Shown in green is the region under Pakistani administration. ...

Vance began trying to become a professional writer in the late 1940s, in the period of the San Francisco Renaissance--a movement of experimentation in literature and the arts. There are various references to this Bay Area bohemian life in his work. The term San Francisco Renaissance is used as a global designation for a range of poetic activity centred around that city and which brought it to prominence as a hub of the American poetic avant-garde. ... USGS satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay Area. ...

Science fiction authors Frank Herbert and Poul Anderson were among Vance's closest friends. The three jointly owned a houseboat which they sailed in the Sacramento Delta. The Vances and the Herberts lived in Mexico together for a period. Frank Patrick Herbert (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. ... Poul Anderson portrayed on the cover of a special edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; painting by Kelly Freas. ...

Although legally blind since the 1980s, Vance has continued to write with the aid of special software, his most recent novel being Lurulu.

Vance was also a member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors founded in the 1960s, some of whose works were anthologized in Lin Carter's Flashing Swords! anthologies. The Swordsmen and Sorcerers Guild of America (SAGA) is the name of a literary group of American fantasy authors active from the 1960s through the 1980s, noted for their contributions to the fantasy subgenre of heroic fantasy or Sword and Sorcery. ... Heroic fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy literature which chronicles the tales of heros and their conquests in imaginary lands. ... Linwood Vrooman Carter (June 9, 1930 - February 7, 1988) was an American author of science fiction and fantasy, as well as an editor and critic. ... Flashing Swords #1 Contents: Introduction: Of Swordsmen and Sorcerers by Lin Carter A Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story: The Sadness of the Executioner by Fritz Leiber A tale of The Dying Earth: Morreion by Jack Vance A fantasy of the Vikings: The Mermans Children by Poul Anderson An...

Vance’s Work: An Overview

Since his first published story, "The World-Thinker" (Thrilling Wonder Stories), in 1945, Vance has written over sixty books. His work is regarded as falling into three categories: science fiction, fantasy and mystery (though Vance himself reportedly deplores these labels). Wonder Stories was a science fiction pulp magazine which published 66 issues between 1930 and 1936, edited by Hugo Gernsback. ...

Some of Vance's earliest published fiction is a set of fantasy stories written while he served in the Merchant Marine during the war. They finally appeared in 1950, several years after Vance had started publishing science fiction in the pulp magazines, under the title The Dying Earth. (Vance's original title, and the one used for the Vance Integral Edition version (see below), is Mazirian the Magician.) Vance used the same general setting (a distant future where the sun is going dark and magic and high technology coexist) for two sets of picaresque adventures of the ne'er-do-well Cugel the Clever (first published as The Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel's Saga); as well as three stories about a haughty magician (collected as Rhialto the Marvellous). All these later stories are antic or ironic comedies. Another fantasy cycle, the Lyonesse series (Suldrun’s Garden, The Green Pearl, Madouc), is not primarily humorous. It recounts events on the Elder Isles, an Atlantis-like archipelago in the Armorican gulf, where dynastic and magical doings are set in the early middle ages. Map of the Bay of Biscay. ...

Vance's science fiction runs the gamut from stories written for pulps in the 1940s to multi-volume tales set in the space age. While Vance's stories have a wide variety of temporal settings, a majority of them belong to a period long after humanity has colonized other stars, culminating in the development of the "Gaean Reach." In its early phases (the Oikumene of the Demon Princes series), this expanding, loose and peaceable agglomerate has an aura of colonial adventure, commerce and exoticism. In its more established phases it becomes stolidly middle class. The middle class (or middle classes) comprises a social group once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry. ...

Vance’s stories are seldom concerned directly with war. Battles do occur in various stories, but generally as a consequence of a political or diplomatic situation. (More extensive battles are described in The Dragon Masters and "The Miracle Workers," and in the Lyonesse trilogy, in which medieval-style combat abounds.) Sometimes at the far ends of the Reach, or in the lawless "Beyond," a planet is menaced or craftily exploited by an alien culture. The conflicts are rarely direct. Humans become inadvertently enmeshed in low-intensity conflicts between alien cultures; this is the case in Emphyrio, the Tschai series, the Durdane series, or the comic stories Galactic Effectuator featuring Miro Hetzel. Cultural, social or political conflicts are the central concerns. This is most particularly the case in the Cadwal series, though it is equally characteristic of the three Alastor books, Maske: Thaery, and, one way and another, most of the science fiction novels.

His last two books, Ports of Call and Lurulu (actually one story line stretching across two volumes), portray a picaresque and only occasionally violent voyage through a far sector of the aging Reach.


The attractions of Vance's writings include his language, which can range from precise and bone-dry ironic to baroque and richly evocative. One of the many charms of his work is the Shakespearean manner in which scoundrels and princes alike bargain and banter in elegant language. He can, in a few well-chosen (or invented) words, evoke alien, complex, absurd, yet thoroughly human societies.

Another of Vance's hallmarks is his use of chapter epigraphs and explanatory footnotes, which supply not only essential background information, but sidelights that have little to do with the main story-line. In the Demon Princes books, one set of epigraphs trace the adventures of one Marmaduke, quoted from The Avatar's Apprentice, a tale from A Scroll from the Ninth Dimension. A common function for a Vancean footnote is to illuminate some strange cultural practice or belief or to explain the meaning of a nearly-untranslatable word that sums up a concept central to the society described, but is likely to be quite alien to the reader.

Vance is also known for filling in the details of his worlds with music, dance, and especially food and drink, all of which are to be found in the taverns and inns that feature prominently in nearly every book. He has even invented games, notably hussade in the Alastor Cluster books and hadaul, a martial arts sport, in The Face. Hussade, a team game played throughout the Alastor Cluster, ‘a whorl of thirty thousand stars in an irregular volume twenty to thirty light-years in diameter’, long colonized by humans in a far-future age imagined in three novels by science-fiction writer Jack Vance. ...

Commonplace in Vance's works is a village (or planet) whose inhabitants practice with utmost sincerity a belief system that is absurd, repugnant, or both. Besides their picaresque potential, Vance uses these episodes to satirize dogmatism in general and religious dogmatism in particular. Indeed, there is a great deal of the 18th-century philosophe in Vance, who in his Lyonesse trilogy pokes particular fun at Christianity. Where so many peoples over the aeons have held so many disparate beliefs, Vance implies, who has the right to impose his dogma on others? But, in one of paradoxes so typical for Vance, nearly all his heroes are engaged in exactly that — they are constantly forcing their convictions on others, and tend to answer questions about their right to do so with a swordstroke or raygun-blast. They are not interested, however, in promoting religious beliefs, but in basic honesty and ethical behaviour. The picaresque novel (Spanish: picaresco, from pícaro, for rogue or rascal) is a popular style of novel that originated in Spain and flourished in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and has continued to influence modern literature. ... The philosophes (French for philosophers) were a group of intellectuals of the 18th century Enlightenment. ... Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ...

This skepticism is tied to Vance's individualism, which is both an ethical and an aesthetic imperative for him and his characters. Thoreau's desire that there be as many different sorts of person as possible seems to be applied in practice in Vance's fiction along with the idea of a world, or a region of space, big enough to encompass all human types (as in Big Planet or the Alastor Cluster novels). His Enlightenment values appear again in his assumption that everyone should be free to realize himself in his own manner, provided that this self-realization doesn't act to the detriment of others. The Age of Enlightenment (French: Siècle des Lumières, German: Aufklärung) refers to the eighteenth century in European and American philosophy, or the longer period including the Age of Reason. ...

Vance's villains are often grandiosely creative — and sadistic — personalities who destroy the lives or property of others in order to pursue their own obsessive visions. But after depicting their downfall, Vance sometimes leaves his readers with a lingering sense of regret. His darkly ambiguous hero Kirth Gersen, for instance, after avenging himself on Lens Larque, proceeds to complete Larque's last grand jest, and for similar motives. [1] Kirth Gersen is the protagonist of the five Demon Princes novels set approximately 1500 years in the future. ...

Vance favors aristocratic characters for the scope that status or wealth can provide, and he enjoys creating freakishly individualistic aristocratic societies, such as the Rhunes of Marune: Alastor 993 and the Ska of Lyonesse. A favorite theme of his (exemplified in The Last Castle) is the decadent society whose pursuit of aesthetic individualism has left it unable to cope with the challenges of reality, which may require cooperation and sacrifice. This tension recurs in Vance, though sometimes his protagonists find it possible to be both aesthetes and heroes.

But Vance never assumes that aristocracy automatically confers merit. He is ruthless in his satire of pompous notables who think that noble birth saves them the obligation to be gracious or interesting. Pretension is always a vice in Vance. But he always distinguishes between pretension and actual elevation.

Slavery is a common motif in Vance's books. Sometimes it is a straightforward problem: the protagonist is enslaved and must make heroic exertions to escape, as in Slaves of the Klau (also titled Gold and Iron). Elsewhere it represents extreme and pathological political, social, or economic situations. The Dragon Masters and The Last Castle both revolve around cross-species enslavement. In the former, both humans and reptilian Basics have selectively bred their captives into variant forms and treat them as domestic animals and slave-soldiers. In the latter, humans have imported a variety of alien species that they forced into servitude. Both situations generate ironic questions about the nature of freedom and authenticity.

Vance wrote a number of stories and novels that can be regarded as "political." The Brains of Earth (also titled Nopalgarth) is a complex and ironic treatment of attempts to impose rigid ideologies on societies or individuals. The Gray Prince (also titled The Domains of Koryphon) depicts the endless regress of grievances that can come into play in ethnic liberation movements. This book has been accused of political incorrectness because one character is a leader of a tribal people on a planet where interloper-ranchers control the land. But the tribal leader receives a nuanced treatment, and the book finally reveals a "joke" on settlers, revolutionaries, and liberal reformers alike: every human on the planet is an interloper of some sort, and all claims of legitimate ownership are flawed.

The second volume of the Durdane trilogy also deals, to a lesser extent, with political issues. In portraying Durdane's revolution, Vance displays a good understanding of the French revolution and the dangers of fanaticism (his hero just barely keeps things under control). In the Cadwal series, Vance shows how the ecological "Conservators" have converted their bureaucratic hierarchy into an aristocracy of birth and an overlordship of the other inhabitants of the planet. Emphyrio is in part a dystopic treatment of an oppressive pseudo-welfare state that turns out to be a front for alien exploitation.

One of Vance's most explicitly political novels is Wyst: Alastor 1716, which uses two settings to contrast utopian egalitarianism and socialism with individualism and self-reliance. It is one of a series of critical or satirical portraits of over-refined urban societies, going back as far as "Chateau d'If" and To Live Forever and including The Last Castle, "Ullward's Retreat," "Dodkin's Job," "Rumfuddle," and "Assault on a City."

Vance's emphasis on individualism prevents him from being a relativist. Indeed, his values sometimes assert themselves as socially conservative, as with his disdain for homosexual behavior: the few homosexuals in Vance's work are all villains, principally King Casmir of Lyonesse, Faude Carfilhiot and the wizard Tamurello, all from the Lyonesse trilogy. One Dying Earth story, "The Murthe," is especially explicit in insisting that women's and men's natures are different and that any deviations from one's gender norm are to be avoided. This ontological "sexual conservatism" also manifests itself in male-female relations. Lyonesse, Lyoness, or Lyonnesse is the sunken land believed in legend to lie off the Isles of Scilly, to the south-west of Cornwall. ...

Nevertheless, Vance has created lively and heroic female characters, such as Glyneth in the Lyonesse books; after Glyneth marries, she drops offstage for the last book in that trilogy, but is replaced by another assertive female character, Madouc. Further examples of female protagonists quite as capable as their male equivalents may be found in, among other titles, Monsters in Orbit, Ecce and Old Earth, A Room to Die In, The Dark Ocean, Night Lamp, and the short story "Assault on a City," which also features one of Vance's nastier male villains.

Possible Influences

Vance has spoken of his fondness for the writings of P.G. Wodehouse and a certain influence of Wodehouse can be discerned in some of Vance's writings, especially in his portrayals of overbearing aunts and their easily intimidated nephews. The Wodehouse influence, however, may not be as pronounced as that of L. Frank Baum (see Baum's Vance-like use of stilted dialogue for comic effect in The Tin Woodman of Oz). Whatever the relative weight of these and other models, Vance has proven himself a master of episodic farce in such works as Showboat World, "The Kokod Warriors" (a short story), and the celebrated chapter in the The Book of Dreams in which Howard Alan Treesong returns to his Gladbetook High School reunion to get even. Called English literatures performing flea, P. G. Wodehouse, pictured in 1904, became famous for his complex plots, ingenious wordplay, and prolific output. ... Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919) was an American author, and the creator with illustrator W. W. Denslow of one of the most popular books ever written in American childrens literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. ... Title page of The Tin Woodman of Oz. ...

In an interview published in 1986, Vance stated that "the best way to teach someone to be a writer is to force them to read twenty books I would set out for them": he then names, in addition to Wodehouse and Baum, Cervantes's Don Quixote, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Richard Adams's Watership Down and The London Times Historical Atlas ("my favourite book - I don't know of anything more clutching for the imagination"). Cervantes can refer to: Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, 16th-century man of letters Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, a municipality in the Philippines Cervantes, a town in Western Australia Cervantes de Leon, a character in the Soul Calibur series of fighting games This is a... (IPA: ), fully titled (IPA: ) (the ingenious hidalgo Don Quijote of La Mancha) is an early novel written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. ... Kenneth Grahame Kenneth Grahame (March 8, 1859 – July 6, 1932) was a Scottish novelist. ... Richard George Adams (born May 9, 1920 in Newbury, Berkshire, England) is a British novelist who is best known for two novels with animal characters, Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. ...

Vance has no manifest ancestor in English-language fiction, but some intriguing parallels in tone, language, narrative structure and character could be drawn with the novels of Thomas Love Peacock and James Branch Cabell, while Vance's mordantly stylized dialogues are especially reminiscent of Ernest Bramah's Kai Lung tales. Similarities can also be discerned in some of the writings of Washington Irving, who had a Vance-like fascination with rogue personalities and an ability to describe their competition and machinations in arch language and with a wry humor. Additionately, the Zothique cycle of short stories by Clark Ashton Smith clearly influenced to some degree The Dying Earth. Thomas Love Peacock (October 18, 1785 - January 23, 1866) was an English satirist and author. ... James Branch Cabell photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1935 James Branch Cabell (April 14, 1879 - May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. ... Ernest Bramah Smith (1868-1942) was a British author, better known by his pen name, Ernest Bramah. ... Washington Irving (April 3, 1783–November 28, 1859) was an American author of the early 19th century. ... Zothique is an imagined future continent featured in a series of short stories by Clark Ashton Smith. ... Clark Ashton Smith (January 13, 1893-August 14, 1961) was a poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. ... The Dying Earth is a collection of loosely connected short stories by Jack Vance. ...

Mystery fiction

Between the late 1940s and the 1960s, Vance wrote fourteen mystery novels that appeared irregularly from the mid-1950s through the 1980s. Some of them are set in and around his native San Francisco. The "Joe Bain" stories (The Fox Valley Murders, The Pleasant Grove Murders, and an unfinished outline published by the VIE) are set in an imaginary northern California county; these are the nearest to the classical mystery form, with a rural policeman as protagonist. Bird Island, by contrast, is not a mystery at all, but a Wodehousian idyll (also set near San Francisco), while The Flesh Mask or Strange People… emphasize psychological drama. The theme of both The House on Lily Street and Bad Ronald is solipsistic megalomania, taken up again in the "Demon Princes" cycle of science fiction novels. Bad Ronald was made into a TV-movie, which aired on ABC, in 1974. The Flesh Mask is a novel by American author Jack Vance. ... The House on Lily Street is a novel by American author Jack Vance. ... Bad Ronald is a television movie that aired in 1974 starring Scott Jacoby, Dabney Coleman and sisters Lisa and Cindy Eilbacher. ...

Three books published under the Ellery Queen pseudonym were written (and rewritten by the publisher) to editorial requirements. Four others reflect Vance’s world travels: Strange People, Queer Notions based on his stay in Positano, Italy; The Man in the Cage, based on a trip to Morocco; The Dark Ocean, set on a merchant marine vessel; and The Deadly Isles, based on a stay in Tahiti. Frederic Dannay (left), with James Yaffe (1943) Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York: Daniel (David) Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905–September 3, 1982) and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee (January 11, 1905–April... Strange People, Queer Notions is a 1958 novel by Jack Vance writing as John Holbrook Vance republished in the 2002 Vance Integral Edition (VIE). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Deadly Isles is a novel by American author Jack Vance published in 1969 by Bobbs-Merrill and as part of the 2002 Vance Integral Edition. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

The mystery novels of Vance reveal much about his evolution as a science-fiction and fantasy writer. (He stopped working in the mystery genre in the early 1970s, except for science-fiction mysteries; see below). Bad Ronald is especially noteworthy for its portrayal of a trial-run for Howard Alan Treesong of The Book of Dreams. The Edgar-Award-winning The Man in the Cage is a thriller set in North Africa at around the period of the French-Algerian war. A Room to Die In is a classic 'locked-room' murder mystery featuring a strong-willed young woman as the amateur detective. Bird Isle, a mystery set at a hotel on an island off the California coast, reflects Vance's taste for farce.

Vance's two rural Northern California mysteries featuring Sheriff Joe Bain were well received by the critics. The New York Times said of The Fox Valley Murders: "Mr. Vance has created the county with the same detailed and loving care with which, in the science fiction he writes as Jack Vance, he can create a believable alien planet." And Dorothy B. Hughes, in The Los Angeles Times, wrote that it was "fat with character and scene." As for the second Bain novel, The New York Times said: "I like regionalism in American detective stories, and I enjoy reading about the problems of a rural county sheriff... and I bless John Holbrook Vance for the best job of satisfying these tastes with his wonderful tales of Sheriff Joe Bain..." Sheriff Joe Bain is the protagonist of a short series, prematurely abandoned, of crime-investigation mysteries by the American author Jack Vance, better known for his science fiction novels. ... The New York Times is a newspaper published in New York City by Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. ... Dorothy Belle Hughes (1904—May 6, 1993) was a U.S. crime writer and critic. ... The Los Angeles Times (also L.A. Times) is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California and distributed throughout the Western United States. ...

Vance has also written mysteries set in his science-fiction universes. An early 1950s short story series features Magnus Ridolph, an interstellar adventurer and amateur detective who is elderly and not prone to knocking anyone down, and whose exploits appear to have been inspired, in part, by those of Jack London's South Seas adventurer, Captain David Grief. The "Galactic Effectuator" novelettes feature Miro Hetzel, a figure who resembles Ridolph in his blending of detecting and troubleshooting (the "effectuating" indicated by the title). A number of the other science fiction novels include mystery, spy thriller, or crime-novel elements: The Houses of Iszm, Son of the Tree, the Alastor books Trullion and Marune, the Cadwal series, and large parts of the Demon Princes series. Jack London, probably born John Griffith Chaney (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916),[4][5][6] was an American author who wrote The Call of the Wild and over fifty other books. ...


For most of his career Vance's work suffered the vicissitudes common to most writers in his chosen field: ephemeral publication of stories in magazine form, short-lived softcover editions, insensitive editing beyond his control. As he became more widely recognized conditions improved, and his works became internationally renowned among aficionados. Much of his work has been translated into several languages, including Dutch, French, Spanish, Russian and Italian. Beginning in the 1960s, Jack Vance's work has also been extensively translated into German. In the large German-language market, his books continue to be widely-read.

The Vance Integral Edition

An Integral Edition of all Vance's works has been published in a limited edition of 44 hardback volumes. A special 45th volume contains the three novels Vance wrote as Ellery Queen. This edition, created from 1999 to 2006, under the aegis of the author, was made possible by 300 volunteers working via the internet. The texts and titles used are those preferred by the author. Further information about the VIE can be found at Foreverness. Frederic Dannay (left), with James Yaffe (1943) Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York: Daniel (David) Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905–September 3, 1982) and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee (January 11, 1905–April...


The system of magic used in some of Vance's work, in which spells are memorized and then forgotten once cast, was borrowed by Gary Gygax for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, in part because it is not similar to any real-world occult beliefs. In homage, Dungeons & Dragons creator Brian Blume named one of the deities of magic in the world of Greyhawk, Vecna (an anagram of Vance). Magic: The Gathering. ... Ernest Gary Gygax, 2004 Ernest Gary Gygax (born July 27, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois) is best known as the author of the well known fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), co-created with Dave Arneson and co-published with Don Kaye in 1974 under the company Tactical Studies... This article is about the role-playing game. ... The Greyhawk logo Greyhawk is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, also known as the World of Greyhawk. ... In the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Vecna was a powerful wizard who became a lich, and eventually achieved godhood. ...

Selected bibliography

Dying Earth series (fantasy)

The Dying Earth is a collection of loosely connected short stories by Jack Vance. ... 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... The Eyes of the Overworld is a fantasy fixup by Jack Vance published in 1966, the second in the Dying Earth series. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Gaean Reach

The following books consist of individual non-series novels in a common shared background.

  • The Gray Prince (alternate title: The Domains of Koryphon) (1974)
  • Maske: Thaery (1976)
  • Galactic Effectuator (collects the Miro Hetzel stories "Freitzke's Turn" and "The Dogtown Tourist Agency")
  • Night Lamp

The Demon Princes, Big Planet, Lurulu, Cadwal Chronicles, Alastor Cluster, and Durdane books listed below apparently also take place within the Gaean Reach/Alastor Cluster universe.

Demon Princes series

Star King (also published as The Star King) is the first of the Demon Princes novels by Jack Vance. ... The Killing Machine (1964) is the second of Jack Vances Demon Princes novels, in which Kirth Gersen, having brought Malagate the Woe to his final downfall, sets his sights on Kokor Hekkus. ... Malagate the Woe and Kokor Hekkus are no more. ... The Face is the fourth novel (1979) of Jack Vances Demon Princes science fiction series, in which Kirth Gersen pursues Lens Larque. ... The Book of Dreams is the fifth and final book in Jack Vances Demon Princes series, in which Kirth Gersen pursues Howard Alan Treesong. ...

Big Planet

The Big Planet duo is included within the Gaean Reach setting because Showboat World contains Gaean Reach references. This makes the earlier novel by extension a Gaean Reach book even though it was written before Vance began to use the astronomical terminology of his mature career.[citation needed]

  • Big Planet
  • Showboat World (alternate title: The Magnificent Showboats of the Lower Vissel River, Lune XXIII, Big Planet)

Big Planet is the setting for a pair of science fiction novels by Jack Vance, and also the title of the first of the two novels. ... Showboat World (original title: The Magnificent Showboats of the Lower Vissel River, Lune XXIII, Big Planet), written in 1975, is the second, stand-alone novel in a pair of science fiction novels by Jack Vance (the first being Big Planet) that share the same setting, a backward, lawless, metal-poor...


  • Ports of Call
  • Lurulu

Cadwal Chronicles

  • Araminta Station (1987)
  • Ecce and Old Earth (1991)
  • Throy (1992)

Alastor Cluster

  • Trullion: Alastor 2262
  • Marune: Alastor 933
  • Wyst: Alastor 1716

Durdane trilogy

The Anome is a science fiction book by Jack Vance published in 1973. ... The Anome is a science fiction book by Jack Vance published in 1973. ...

Tschai Series (originally published as Planet of Adventure)

City of the Chasch is the first science fiction adventure novel of a tetralogy entitled Tschai, Planet of Adventure. ... Servants of the Wankh is the second science fiction adventure novel in a tetralogy entitled Tschai, Planet of Adventure. ... The Dirdir is the third science fiction adventure novel in a tetralogy entitled Tschai, Planet of Adventure. ... The Pnume is the final science fiction adventure novel in a tetralogy entitled Tschai, Planet of Adventure. ...

Lyonesse Trilogy (fantasy)

The Lyonesse Trilogy of fantasy novels by Jack Vance consists of three novels of approximately 350 pages each. ... The Lyonesse Trilogy of fantasy novels by Jack Vance consists of three novels of approximately 350 pages each. ... The Lyonesse Trilogy of fantasy novels by Jack Vance consists of three novels of approximately 350 pages each. ...

Non-series novels

  • Slaves of the Klau (original title: "Planet of the Damned"; alternate title: Gold and Iron)
  • Vandals of the Void (young adult novel)
  • To Live Forever
  • The Languages of Pao
  • The Dragon Masters
  • The Houses of Iszm
  • Son of the Tree
  • Monsters in Orbit (two linked novellas)
  • Space Opera
  • The Blue World
  • The Brains of Earth (alternate title: Nopalgarth)
  • The Last Castle
  • Emphyrio
  • Five Gold Bands

The Languages of Pao is a science fiction novel by Jack Vance, first published in 1958, in which the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is strongly true. ... The Dragon Masters is a science fiction novella by Jack Vance. ... The Houses of Iszm is a science fiction novel by Jack Vance published in 1954. ... Space Opera, a novel by the American science-fiction author Jack Vance, first published in 1965 (New York: Pyramid Books). ...


  • Future Tense
  • The World Between and Other Stories
  • The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph
  • Eight Fantasms and Magics
  • Lost Moons
  • The Narrow Land
  • The Augmented Agent and Other Stories
  • The Dark Side of the Moon
  • Chateau D'If and Other Stories
  • When the Five Moons Rise
  • The Jack Vance Treasury

Books about Vance

  • Jack Vance, ed. Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller (Writers of the 21st Century Series) (NY, 1980)
  • Demon Prince: The Dissonant Worlds of Jack Vance, Jack Rawlins (Milford Series Popular Writers of Today, Volume 40) (San Bernardino, CA, 1986)
  • The Jack Vance Lexicon: From Ahulph to Zygote, ed. Dan Temianka (Novato, CA and Lancaster, PA, 1992)
  • The Work of Jack Vance: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide, Jerry Hewett and Daryl F. Mallett (Borgo Press Bibliographies of Modern Authors No.29) (San Bernardino & Penn Valley, CA and Lancaster, PA, 1994)
  • Jack Vance: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography, ed. A.E. Cunningham (Boston Spa & London, 2000)
  • Vance Space: A Rough Guide to the Planets of Alastor Cluster, the Gaean Reach, the Oikumene, & other exotic sectors from the Science Fiction of Jack Vance, Michael Andre-Driussi (Sirius Fiction, San Francisco, 1997)
  • An Encyclopedia of Jack Vance: 20th Century Science Fiction Writer (Studies in American Literature, 50), David G. Mead (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, New York, 2002)

Books emulating Vance

  • A Quest for Simbilis by Michael Shea (DAW Books, NY, 1974) a sequel to The Eyes of the Overworld, with Vance's permission (later regretted). Vance's own Cugel sequel was published as Cugel's Saga, and republished by the VIE with Vance's title: Cugel: The Skybreak Spatterlight.[2]
  • Dinosaur Park by Hayford Peirce (Tor, NY, 1994).
  • Fane by David M. Alexander (longtime Vance friend.) (Pocket Books, NY, 1981).
  • Fools Errant (Aspect Books, 2001), Fool Me Twice (Aspect Books, 2001), Black Brillion (Tor, 2004) by Matt Hughes
  • Gene Wolfe has acknowledged that The Dying Earth influenced his The Book of the New Sun.[3]
  • The Sea Hag by David Drake has intentional similarities to The Dying Earth.[4]

Michael Shea (1943-) is an American fantasy author. ... The Italian edition of Dinosaur Park, 1992 The original American edition of The Thirteenth Majestral, 1989 Dinosaur Park is a science-fiction novel by Hayford Peirce first published by Tor in 1989 under the title The Thirteenth Majestral and republished as Dinosaur Park in 1994. ... Hayford Peirce (born January 7, 1942, Bangor, Maine) is an American writer of science fiction, mysteries, and spy thrillers. ... Tor Books is an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC which publishes popular fiction, and is particularly noted for its science fiction and fantasy titles. ... David M. Alexander, born in 1945, upstate New York, is a writer of science fiction and mysteries. ... Pocket Books is the name of a subdivision of Simon & Schuster publishers. ... Tor Books is an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC which publishes popular fiction, and is particularly noted for its science fiction and fantasy titles. ... Matt Hughes is a Canadian science-fiction author who lives in Courtenay, British Columbia. ... Gene Wolfe (born May 7, 1931) is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. ... The first two books of The Book of the New Sun, 2000 omnibus printing. ... David Drake (born September 24, 1945) is a successful author of science fiction and fantasy literature. ...


  1. ^ Deserted By My Enemies: Vengeance as a Theme in the Writings of Jack Vance by Martin LaBar
  2. ^ see: All Title Index in Bibliography section
  3. ^ Suns New, Long, and Short: An Interview with Gene Wolfe by Lawrence Person, Nova Express Online, 1998
  4. ^ David Drake's comments on The Sea Hag

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Jack Vance

  Results from FactBites:
The Jack Vance Treasury | Book Reviews | SCI FI Weekly (689 words)
"Guyal of Sfere" is a tale from Vance's famous "Dying Earth" sequence, in which a youth with immense curiosity inherits the legacy of all mankind.
Out of his wide reading, Vance forged a voice that is unmistakable and alluring to a set of readers who favor subtlety and panache over brute force and naivete.
Vance is the sophisticate of the SF and fantasy genres, although at the same time he has a direct tap into the raw and vital currents of life: lust, anger, jealousy, pride, revenge.
Jack Vance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4101 words)
Vance grew up on a ranch in the area of the San Joaquin Valley around the delta of the Sacramento River and was an avid reader of the popular adventure-oriented pulp fiction of the 1920s.
Vance's own references to Bay Area bohemian life (directly in his early mysteries and in disguised form in his science-fiction novels) suggest affinities with this movement although not with its beat-generation wing.
Vance has spoken of his fondness for the writings of P.G. Wodehouse and a certain influence of Wodehouse can be discerned in some of Vance's writings, especially in his portrayals of overbearing aunts and their easily intimidated nephews.
  More results at FactBites »



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