Jack Vance

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Re: Jack Vance

Postby DavidTate on Sunday, 27 March 2011, 10:05 pm

Terry Tornado wrote:Does anyone know how many Magnus Ridolph stories there are?

The Internet Speculative Fiction Database lists the following ten Magnus Ridolph stories:

Hard-Luck Diggings (1948) [SF]
Sanatoris Short-Cut (1948) [SF]
The Unspeakable McInch (1948) [SF]
The Sub-Standard Sardines (1949) [SF]
The Howling Bounders (1949) [SF]
The King of Thieves (1949) [SF]
The Spa of the Stars (1950) [SF]
To B or Not to C or to D (1950) [SF] [Variant Title: Cosmic Hotfoot (1950) ]
The Kokod Warriors (1952) [SF]
Coup de Grace (1958) [SF] [Variant Title: Worlds of Origin (1958) ]

For details, see http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?136
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby owlcroft on Tuesday, 29 March 2011, 5:44 pm

There were three MR collections. The first, The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph, contained seven tales:

• The Kokod Warriors
• The Unspeakable McInch
• The Howling Bounders
• The King of Thieves
• The Spa of the Stars
• Coup de Grace

Later there was an "expanded" version, still under the same main title (don't we all just love publishers?). It added two stories:

• The Sub-Standard Sardines
• To B or Not to C or to D

Finally, there was The Complete Magnus Ridolph, which added one more:

• Sanatoris Short-Cut

I see that my main listings here are in error (which I will correct shortly), in that they state that the Complete is the same as the "expanded".
Cordially,
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby Terry Tornado on Wednesday, 30 March 2011, 7:45 pm

Thanks. This is all very helpful.
By the way, it seems as though there is a gremlin that gets involved whenever anyone tries to count these stories.
owlcroft wrote:The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph, contained seven tales

but then he lists six. I think "Hard-Luck Diggings" has gone missing somewhere.
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby owlcroft on Thursday, 31 March 2011, 4:57 pm

Hm. I just picked up the listings as given on the ISFDB. Looking again, it's curious, because those are indeed what they show. More fully:

1966, half of Ace Double, 6 tales:

• The Kokod Warriors • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1952) • novelette by Jack Vance
• The Unspeakable McInch • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1948) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Howling Bounders • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The King of Thieves • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Spa of the Stars • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1950) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• Coup de Grace • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1958) • shortstory by Jack Vance


1977, 6 tales (same, ordered differently):

* Coup de Grace • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1958) • shortstory by Jack Vance
* The Howling Bounders • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
* The King of Thieves • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
* The Kokod Warriors • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1952) • novelette by Jack Vance
* The Spa of the Stars • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1950) • shortstory by Jack Vance
* The Unspeakable McInch • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1948) • shortstory by Jack Vance


1984, "expanded" version, 8 tales:

• The Kokod Warriors • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1952) • novelette by Jack Vance
• The Unspeakable McInch • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1948) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Howling Bounders • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The King of Thieves • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Spa of the Stars • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1950) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• Coup de Grace • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1958) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Sub-Standard Sardines • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • novelette by Jack Vance [added]
• To B or Not to C or to D • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1950) • novelette by Jack Vance [added]


1985, "complete" edition, 10 tales:

• The Kokod Warriors • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1952) • novelette by Jack Vance
• The Unspeakable McInch • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1948) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Howling Bounders • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The King of Thieves • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Spa of the Stars • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1950) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• Coup de Grace • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1958) • shortstory by Jack Vance
• The Sub-Standard Sardines • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1949) • novelette by Jack Vance
• To B or Not to C or to D • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1950) • novelette by Jack Vance
• Hard-Luck Diggings • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1948) • shortstory by Jack Vance [added]
• Sanatoris Short-Cut • [Magnus Ridolph] • (1948) • shortstory by Jack Vance [added]


What a mess. I hate it when publishers issue differing works under the same title. I have now de-listed The Many Worlds, and pointed its file at The Complete.
Cordially,
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby Calenth on Monday, 26 March 2012, 3:40 pm

DavidTate wrote:
Jeroen wrote:
Interesting! My experience with Vance has been exactly the opposite (inverse? converse?) of your own. I find that I enjoy Vance immensely while I am reading it, but that the plot and characters and specific bits of description or dialogue that so entertained me all vanish into a vague mist of impressions within a few weeks. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- it means, for one, that I can re-read Vance more frequently than many authors.
. ..

Most of the rest of Vance falls in that broad category of good entertainment -- The Languages of Pao, Big Planet, the Planet of Adventure novels, "The Potters of Firsk", etc. I hope someday to own a Vance Integral Edition, to enjoy by the fire with a vintage port or single malt in my pre-dotage.

Cheers,
David


Yeah, this is how Vance is for me -- he's got one or two stories that are absolutely brilliant (like Moon Moth), and most of the rest I enjoy while I'm reading it and forget a day later, retaining only a vague impression of witty dialogue. I think I react to Vance the way the owner of this site feels about Zelazny -- I enjoy just about everything he's written, but most of it doesn't stick with me -- I find him a really good writer of pulp fantasy with a few brilliant moments, rather than a great writer who happened to write fantasy/sf.
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby fantomex on Tuesday, 27 March 2012, 10:23 am

Yeah, this is how Vance is for me -- he's got one or two stories that are absolutely brilliant (like Moon Moth), and most of the rest I enjoy while I'm reading it and forget a day later, retaining only a vague impression of witty dialogue. I think I react to Vance the way the owner of this site feels about Zelazny -- I enjoy just about everything he's written, but most of it doesn't stick with me -- I find him a really good writer of pulp fantasy with a few brilliant moments, rather than a great writer who happened to write fantasy/sf.


Do you think that's because Vance doesn't focus on plot?
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby Calenth on Thursday, 29 March 2012, 10:12 pm

It's more that most of his characters don't really stand out from each other for me; they all have witty, well-written dialogue, but they all, even his minor characters, have witty, well-written dialogue that's almost always witty in the same way ("I just said a thing and meant another, inverse thing!"). There's not that much difference between, say, Kirth Gersen and Glawen Clattuc, or between either of those and Ghyl Tarvoke or Jaro Fath. They speak the same, have roughly similar backstories, similar quests . . . they might change a bit, but ultimately they're just not that different from each other. Vance is definitely a master of setting, but all too often his protagonists are just Competent Men with a string of randomly-selected syllables for a name.

It might be that at times he's a little too metaphorical/allegorical for my taste. Ok, you're on the Planet of the Communists, and socialized food distribution doesn't work! Yay, point made!

That said, what he does he does very, very well -- he's a master of setting, especially when he doesn't let himself slip too far into allegory -- and when he manages to get off-formula he's a truly great writer. Moon Moth is a great example -- instead of just "competent man travels through [setting]", it's an absolutely brilliant tale about a particular individual confronting a particular type of society, and the story grows from that conflict.
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby charleshudgen on Tuesday, 29 May 2012, 10:13 pm

I don't actually even know the compositions of Jack Vance but then I am open to search about him and who he is and to see the novels of great Jack Vance. According to this forum he has a lots of novels to share with and they really like it. I am looking forward to see his works and try to read it.
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby steveplant on Tuesday, 08 January 2013, 11:04 pm

I just want to say that this web-site has become my guide to reading sci-fi and fantasy. That said, I'll also opine that I've tried several of the highest recommended authors, and, for what my opinion is worth, have so far found Lafferty to be completely incomprehensible (tried 2 books); found Titus Groan to have some unforgettable characters and slowly-developing plot, but, for me, suffered from much overwriting and extraordinarily excessive description; Two-thirds of The Fifth Head of Cerberus makes me think about reading more of Gene Wolfe; enjoyed the philosophical musings (as repetitive as they were) and the humor of Jurgen, so will try another book of Cabell; but, more than anything else, I have been enthralled by Jack Vance. Probably read 10 of his books so far. Every one is at least interesting, some more amusing than others. All depict plausible, alien worlds that hold one's attention. His skills of description are wonderful, full of delicious language, never ponderous, never overwrought, always at least clever and frequently very humorous. The plots, such as they are, are subordinate to development of his strange cultures and to the characters' playing off one another. Will I remember each book for its depth? Certainly not. But reading Vance's work is often as pleasurable a reading experience as I've every had.
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby owlcroft on Wednesday, 09 January 2013, 7:34 pm

I'm glad the site has pointed you at some pleasures. Mind, as someone once remarked, differences of opinion are why they race horses.

Lafferty is a tough row to hoe, no doubt; my feeling is that you have to more or less "go with the flow" and realize that he is not attempting to tell a "realistic" story--everything is allegorical or symbolic. I did the best I could with my Lafferty essay, but he is a unique writer.

Peake is certainly not an author one can read for plot development. His works are, I would say, essentially mood pieces. Remember that he was primarily a pictorial artist: a painter and illustrator. His books (and the Titus series is not all of them) are in many ways verbal paintings, displays of the odd and eccentric sorts of illustrations of which he did so many. If you look at those (you can see some here), you'll see what I mean. The books essentially bring those illuatrations to life and parade them about, though there is no doubt real power in the bizarre ways he parades them.

Wiolfe can be frustrating at times, because a part of his shtick is to prove how much smarter he is than his readers, and he often quite deliberately makes puzzles, then--sometimes in so many words--says that if you can't get them, you don't deserve to. Nonetheless, he does have real power at conveying complex human beings. With Wolfe, you have to keep your eyes and ears well open (as an example, in his novel Peace, which may be his best, at some point someone enters a woman's home in winter but there is a brief and easily missed reference to looking out her back door on a summer landscape, which anomaly is supposed to convey something profound).

Finally, I think you are quite right about plots in Vance; as I think I say somewhere, they are like tailor's dummies on which he displays the rich garments he weaves: they need to be there to hold and display the garments, but they are not of the essence of his skills.
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby DavidTate on Saturday, 30 November 2013, 1:22 pm

I just learned that, without my noticing, Jack Vance died last May. I was out of the country at the time; perhaps you were all aware of this. Were there any public announcements? Did Brian Williams mention his passing on the evening news?

There is a memorial webpage with testimonials at http://foreverness.jackvance.com/.

Now I need to go read "Green Magic", or "The Potters of Firsk", or "Liane the Wayfarer"...
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby ArnoKA on Sunday, 22 December 2013, 5:10 am

I was very moved by David Tate's sorrow. I can't report on American reaction on Vance's death, but I can tell about a surprising one here in Finland:
Helsingin Sanomat, usually no friend of SF&F, had a very correct and polite necrology, mentioning respectfully the few things
translated to Finnish -- a collection of stories and a novella, if I remember correctly.

I am a rare visitor on this Forum. Now it was just because the last writer was professor Tate, whose opinions I have learned to respect
and whose love of Vance I share. I may have something of interest for him and other friends of Vance's novels.

I have a valuable book: *The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction* by David Pringle, (Pharos Books 1990). The cover text says:
“DESCRIPTIONS, REVIEWS, AND RATINGS OF OVER 3,000 BOOKS!!!!!”, and for once it doesn’t lie. If you can find a copy, catch
it, bearing in mind that you don’t have to agree with Mr. Pringle’s ratings, which have a strong bias for British “New Wave” of 1960′s.

I copy from this book:

Anome, the (1971) *** Novel by Jack Vance (USA). The continent of Shant on the planet Durdane is divided into 62 cantons whose diverse laws
are enforced by the Anome or Faceless Man whose motto is "He who breaks the law dies". Mur escapes from the harsh Chilite sect to become
Etzwane the musician, dedicated to tracking down the Anome. Excellent silly fun. [my italics] . . .

Mr. Pringle's stars run the scale from zero to four. Nearly all fairly readable novels (outside of the British "New-wavers" and classics) get at
most two stars, as do most of Vance's novels. The Anome and Emphyrio are rare exceptions with their three stars.

Excellent silly fun indeed! The Anome contains, in my opinion, the most magnificent attack on religion in Vance's whole career,
much better than the overpraised one inEmphyrio!! The Chilites, their habits and beliefs, their silly Goddess/masturbation fantasy
Galexis . . . How couldn't Mr. Pringle see that!
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby ArnoKA on Saturday, 25 January 2014, 11:12 am

Vandals of the Void, revisited

Recently, during a sleepless night, I suddenly remembered my first meeting with Jack Vance. It had happened in 1955, when I was twenty years old, and a series of juvenile novels was published in Finnish translation. With Vance’s book there were Heinlein’s Space Cadet, Arthur C. Clarke’s Islands in the Sky, and, not read then, nor ever heard later, the name Brian Berry somehow stuck to my mind as a promising author of the times.

Probably quite accidentally Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles was translated at the same time, and I, a stupid youth, thought I had met a literary masterpiece, and fell in love with it. (An error which took some ten years to heal from.)

Vance seems to have hated The Vandals, even denying its existence, but compared with Clarke’s and Heinlein’s juveniles, I thought (and I still think) it a masterpiece. The translation must not have been bad either, because the typical Vancean style came through, and made me looking forward to read more of him.

With Heinlein I was feeling vaguely uncomfortable, finding even his much-praised juveniles slimy. Later I read him, Clarke and Asimov in my project to self-teach myself to read English, because of their clear and simple prose. Still feeling ill with Heinlein. It was only after reading Alexei Panshin’s splendid Heinlein in Dimension that I understood Heinlein’s sick attitude towards sexual matters had been there from the beginning -- only getting worse with time, so that even Mr. Pringle gave Heinleins last half a dozen old age novels zero stars for each.

All these books have been lost in several removals during my long life -- and I don’t miss them. Still, I would dearly like to read Vandals of the Void in original English, but I suppose nobody can help me there. And perhaps it is for the best so.

But it has been fun to remember those fargone days.

Arno K. Ahonius, a VERY old Finn
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Re: Jack Vance

Postby ArnoKA on Wednesday, 29 January 2014, 8:54 am

For many years -- decades, I have been wondering why it seems that the greatest -- or at least the noisiest -- part of SF&F fans are what is called liberals in the Bible belt: pinkish-green would-be-humanists,
verbally gifted but uncivilized; journalists, pop-artists, comedians. People who love to hear themselves talking.

I call myself a liberal conservative, liberal not in bible belt way but in the word’s old, original meaning, in the John Stuart Mill way; conservative because old enough not to run after every modish fashion, having seen many fashions come and go.

It may be the same thing as with ballet and homosexuals. You don’t need to be homosexual to like ballet. If you go to see a ballet, look around you in the foyer and auditorium. You’ll see hand-holding male couples and obvious lesbians, you’ll hear loud and affected voices.

Now I have never been in a SF&F convention, and I doubt that I ever will. I would be interested to hear your experiences.

I beg your pardon. This has been a rather long foreword for a defense of Jack Vance’s much berated novel The Gray Prince.


* * * * *
After a well-slept night I found to my horror that I have been fighting against windmills, whipping a dead horse. For a remarkable chance has happened in the net atmosphere after Vance's death. De mortuis nihil nisi bene (Google that!). Still in beginning of year 2013 the net was full of rabid attacks on The Gray Prince, the more rabid the darker the skin of the attacker. From Zimbabwe, from India, from Pakistan. Even the Wikipedia was animous.

All that changed magically after the sad news.

Well, I shouldn't be disappointed. It eases considerably my task. Those who are unfamiliar with the novel will find an admirable summary of the plot in Wikipedia. Those still bubbling with "liberal" (in the Bible belt sense) anger should follow daily news coming from Zimbabwe, India, and Pakistan, and draw their own conclusions.

ArnoKA

PS. This text was written with the magnificent Google Drive Text-editor, which I recommend for everybody. I am too lazy and too busy to
re-edit it with our sites text-editor. This means that no Bolds, Italics, or Underlines remain, which may make the text difficult to follow.

Arno Ahonius, an old gaga from Finland
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