Jack Vance

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(August 28, 1916 – May 26, 2013)

John Holbrook Vance used the name Jack Vance on most of his SF.

Born in San Francisco, he held numerous jobs before entering The University of California at Berkeley, where he studied mining engineering, physics, and eventually journalism, receiving a BA degree in 1942. Poor vision kept him out of the military in World War II, but he was able to qualify for the Merchant Navy by memorizing the eye chart during his physical exam. He wrote his first stories while at sea, and became a full-time writer in the 1970s. He had lost all of his sight by the 1980s.

His wife, the former Norma Ingold, became his work partner, typist, and editor as his sight failed. They had a son, who described his father as an unpretentious man who did an enormous amount of physical labor during his life and was modest about his writing. Vance himself, in an interview with Locus online, said "I wrote to make money, not for any other purpose." In 2010 he published an autobiography This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is "I") which won the 2010 Best Related Work Hugo.

First SF publication: "The World Thinker" in Thrilling Wonder Stories (Summer, 1945). First SF Novel: The Space Pirate (Toby Press, 1953); First SF Collection: The Dying Earth (Hillman, 1950). Honors/Awards: Hugo Award (Short Fiction) for "The Dragon Masters" in 1963, (Novelette) for "The Last Castle" in 1967; Nebula (Novella) for "The Last Castle", 1967; World Fantasy Award (Lifetime Achievement), 1984, (Novel) for Lyonesse: Madouc, 1990.

He wrote several mysteries as John Holbrook Vance and as Ellery Queen (a housename). He also used the pseudonyms of Peter Held, Jack Holbrook, John Holbrook, and Alan Wade.

A one-shot fanzine, Jack Vance -- Science Fiction Stylist by Robert Briney was published in 1965 by Buck and Juanita Coulson; and The Vance Phile, Honor to Finuka, and The Many Worlds of Jack Vance were other fanzines devoted to Vance and his work. "A Meeting with Jack Vance" by Marty Halpern and a retrospective on The Dying Earth were included in Paperback Parade #17 (March, 1990), a special issue of the magazine devoted to SF in paperback.

A 2009 profile in The New York Times Magazine described Vance as "one of American literature's most distinctive and undervalued voices."

Reference works on Vance include the following: The Jack Vance Lexicon (1992) by Dan Tenianka; The Work of Jack Vance: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide (1994) by Jerry Hewett & Daryl F. Mallett; and An Encyclopedia of Jack Vance: 20th Century Science Fiction Writer (2002) by David G. Mead.

Entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Person 19162013
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