Skip to main content

Jack Vance RIP

The influential SF author has died, age 96

“World-builder” is an over-used phrase when it comes to describing the work of science fiction and fantasy authors, but American writer Jack Vance imagined worlds so intricate, so flourishing that few other phrases seem more appropriate.

In 2010 he won a Hugo Award for his autobiography This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”) . In 2008 SFX readers voted Vance 67th in our list of the top 100 authors of all time, ahead of George Orwell, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Alfred Bester. While his name may not have the mainstream cachet of a Tolkien or a Bradbury, his influence on a whole generation of authors cannot be underestimated, as this quote from an SFX interview with Terry Pratchett from 2010 illustrates:

Terry Pratchett on the most influential SF and fantasy writers:
“My head is full of so much stuff I read as a kid! Remember all the names it would be unthinkable to leave out of any list of greats. Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Philip K Dick. And then there are people like Jack Vance who used to move backwards and forwards between science fiction and fantasy, although it was all written in the same tone of voice. The Dying Earth was very, very influential because he kind of invented a lot of the language that fantasy was written with subsequently. I read JRR Tolkien aged about 13 I think, but I had read many other things before him!”

Jordan is the Community Editor at SFX and Total Film. When he isn't watching movies or sci-fi shows of questionable quality he's probably shooting men in space or counting down the days till the next Zelda comes out.