Thursday, August 20, 2009
This is me, Jack Vance! (or more properly, This is "I")
This slim volume of science fiction writer Jack Vance's memoirs is much like reading his books--a journey through wondrous lands. These lands are not those of his imagination but tales of his travels with his wife over a lifetime. Over the years the couple made their way to many corners of the earth, traveling by bicycle, by transported VW Van, rented car, train or boat. I don't think anyone could load up their car anymore, have it set onto a ship and merrily drive it again once they hit land. They could travel cheaply, or live well when they had book or story sales.
Vance's wife Norma was his companion and editor. Once they had a child they brought him along, just going wherever the spirit took them, making friends all over the world, and teaching him as they went. Home schooling far from home!
I read a couple of reviews on Amazon of the book and they seemed disappointed that he didn't talk about his writing more. One of the questions writers always get is "where do you get your ideas?" Here, better than I've ever seen, Jack Vance answers that. If you live all over the world, come to know the people, their languages, cultures and mysteries, you can make remarkable leaps of the imagination and create worlds beyond what mere bound-in-place mortals can comprehend. For Vance's fans, and anyone looking for a very pleasant and adventure filled memoir, this is a gift.
A recent article in the New York Times honors this great writer: The Genre Artist
I own as many of his books as I have been able to find over time, but my favorites are the five books in The Demon Princes series:
The Star King
The Killing machine
The Palace of Love
The Book of Dreams