Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This Is Me, Jack Vance -- Jack Vance

The first book I ever read by Jack Vance was Big Planet, a "travel through wonders" adventure that was 1/2 of an old Ace Double (well, it wasn't old when I read it; it was brand new). I've read it a couple of times since, and it's still a favorite, along with The Dragon Masters, The Last Castle, the Demon Princes series, and many others. So I'm in the target audience for Vance's brief autobiography.

If you want to know about Vance's writing, you're out of luck. He says that he's spent a large part of his live avoiding "shop talk" because he doesn't enjoy it. He has very little to say about his work in this book. He does, however, talk about a life filled with travel, music, and fun. He even manages to make his many jobs (some successes, some failures) during the Depression sound like fun. Most of the memories that Vance sets down here are happy ones, and you can't blame him for that. You might find yourself wishing for more salacious details in some places, or for more about his friends in the SF field, but you won't get them. Vance says that this will be his final book, which is sad to hear, but he has a wonderful backlist out there that will be giving pleasure to readers for years to come.

Some of you already know what the highlight of the book is. Okay, maybe not for everyone, but certainly for me. It's on page 180, part of a short section where Vance discusses books he enjoys and says "Bill Crider, who writes about Sheriff Dan Rhodes in Clearview, Texas, is always a pleasure to read." I was stunned and thrilled to read that sentence. It's hard for me to believe that a man whose books I've been reading for more than 50 years has read my work and enjoyed it. You'd think I'd be too old and jaded to get such a huge kick from finding that out. You'd be wrong.

Some years ago, Scott Cupp met Vance at a convention and told me that Vance had mentioned my books. I thought he was kidding me. Apparently he wasn't.


Mark Coggins said...

Bill, that's tremendous. I love Vance and DRAGON MASTERS, in particular.

Todd Mason said...

THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD was my first Vance as prose, though an adaptation of his MAN IN A CAGE on THRILLER, the Boris Karloff-hosted tv antho, was my first experience of his work in any form, I'm pretty sure...his crime fiction, in my experience of it, isn't Too different in tone from yours, and I can certainly believe both that he'd praise yours and you'd be croggled by that...appreciation from geniuses always great to receive (at least the non-evil kind).

George said...

Vance's praise of your work is well deserved, Bill.

Anonymous said...

The man has good taste!


Jerry House said...

Great writer, astute literary critic.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I heard the spirit of Vivian Vance likes my work.