Friday's "Forgotten" Books - Jack Vance - In Reference to Murder

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August 09, 2013


George Kelley

Thanks for hosting JACK VANCE DAY, B.V.! I really enjoyed Deb's review! Jack Vance's work takes some time to adjust to. I recommend THE DYING EARTH to readers new to Vance's work.

Barry Ergang

Despite your generous listing, I don't deserve any credit for Kevin Tipple's review of "Liane the Wayfarer." All I did was find the story on the Internet. Kevin is the one who actually read and reviewed it.


Please add my contribution to the Jack Vance tribute. I just published my review of SPACE OPERA. Tried to include the hotlink but I guess your blog doesn't accept HTML in the comments.

Thanks for collecting the links. I know it's a chore.

Todd Mason

My review in progress of Vance's THE DOGTOWN TOURIST AGENCY is up, in first part, now...thanks, Bonnie...turns out this would not've been, perhaps, the best week for me to sub, anyway, so thanks for doing so.

Todd Mason

That's interesting, seems as if your blog is taking the comment with a URL in it OK, then it disappears (awaiting approval?). In the event it doesn't go to a pending file but vanishes, my review (in progress) of Vance's short novel THE DOGTOWN TOURIST AGENCY is up at my blog, and thanks for doing the list this week...

Prashant Trikannad

Thank you very much for including my review of Mr. Martin Edwards' novel. The Jack Vance book fest is truly on.

Todd Mason

BTW, is calling me Todd Martin a bit of payback for my desire to redub you Beverly all the time, or do great minds have middle-aged moments alike?

BV Lawson

Ha, Todd! Sorry about that. I'm a big tennis fan, and you may recall that Todd Martin was an American player who reached world #4 for awhile back in the 90s. But yet, you're right in that it's probably just a middle-aged moment. :-)

BV Lawson

Thanks for your review, Prashant! Martin Edwards is a fine author and faithful blogger, who is also one of our regular Friday's Forgotten Books contributors, too. Great choice!

BV Lawson

Got your link added, John! I had an appointment at 10 this morning, so I missed catching your review beforehand, alas. Not to worry - it will be included and archived on this link into perpetuity (or as long as the Internet lasts). And I'm sending out social media alerts, too.

BV Lawson

Added your DOGTOWN TOURIST AGENCY link, Todd! Don't know what's up with Typepad - they constantly tweak settings and formatting, so I don't know how that affected links. Sigh.

Kelly Robinson

Thanks for corralling all the links -- and for a nice review, too. I'm sure you're right about needing to bookmark the glossary, with names likes Ymph and Maeltrude.

BV Lawson

I'm happy to help Patti out with the links-wrangling, Kelly! And I'm sure that Deb (who wrote the review of "Maske: Thaery") will be pleased you enjoyed her post.

Todd Mason

Indeed. Jack Vance's playfulness with the language is not quite as offputting as, say, James Joyce's to those accustomed to the Plain Tale Plainly Told, but it can take some getting used to. Perhaps trying some of the John Holbrook Vance novels, such as BAD RONALD or THE MAN IN THE CAGE, is an easier access for those who don't also dig into the likes of Gene Wolfe or Jerome Charyn...or perhaps even the likes of Damon Runyon.

BV Lawson

I'm always impressed, Todd, with authors like Vance who can write well in several genres; even though some would argue sci/fantasy/crime are similar (than say, romance or YA), Vance's wide-ranging talent (despite the density of prose) is impressive.

Todd Mason

And he could write straightforwardly, as well, as his crime fiction usually shows (while, say, Avram Davidson tends, if anything, to grow more ornate with at least some of his crime fiction). I think it's usually a matter of if one is a good writer, and one loves the field they're experimenting with (or continuing with), it will tend to show. Carol Emshwiller even more than Theodore Sturgeon, for example, tends to write eccentric westerns...but, then, almost all of Emshwiller's work, from contemporary mimetic through sf and fantasy, can seem eccentric...likewise the likes of R. A. Lafferty, always happiest when spinning a tall tale. Vance was hugely influenced by Clark Ashton Smith, who in his turn was a late Decadent, much as Ben Hecht was, only Smith hung out literarily with WEIRD TALES folks (while sculpting and writing poetry as well as prose)...and that influence consistently shows in the more ornate approach Vances loves to employ on most of his fantasticated fiction...

BV Lawson

As always, Todd, you insights give me something to go look up and add to my towering To Be Read pile. My first-hand experience with Westerns is a bit thin, so I'll have to add Emshwiller's cowboy novels and "Sturgeon's Westerns."

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora)

Thanks for including me int his roundup - I tried posting a response on friday but it doesn't seem to have made it through so I thought I'd just put in another 'thanks you'. The comments you make about this book by Vance do resonate with me as I have a low tolerance when it comes to dense world-building in some SF and fantasy - I like Faulkner and Rushdie for instance but got really bored by all the strange names and places relentlessly thrown around in Tolkien for instance (apologies for the slight heresy there). Todd's comparison to Wolfe is very apropos as always as it can be hard-going but there I do feel it really pays off - same goes for James Tiptree Jr (Alice B Sheldon) I might add - now there is another author well worth rediscovering!

BV Lawson

Thanks for posting again, Sergio! For some reason, Typepad has been automatically putting some legitimate comments into the Spam folder. Ugh. Now I'll have to remember to check that folder every day just to make sure something important didn't get sent to the wrong location. But I appreciate your thoughtful comments - I, too, have some "issues" with certain fantasy writing for those same reasons.

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