Science Fiction Pioneer and Grand Master Jack Vance, 1916-2013

“I wrote The Dying Earth while working as an able sea-man aboard cargo ships, cruising, for the most part, back and forth across the Pacific. I would take my clipboard and fountain pen out on deck, find a place to sit, look out over the long rolling blue swells: ideal circumstances in which to let the imagination wander.”

—Jack Vance, Oakland, 2008

Jack Vance’s family and Locus Magazine have announced the passing of science fiction great Jack Vance on Sunday, May 26, at the age of 96.

In his long and prolific career, Vance won many awards and accolades, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and inspired countless readers and fellow writers with his work in fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. His longtime editor at Tor Books, Beth Meacham, offered the following tribute:

I don’t often talk about the writers I work with, because I do truly believe that the work is theirs, not mine. But I’m feeling just a little bereft right now.

I first dealt with Jack and Norma Vance in my earliest days as an editorial assistant at Ace —I was responsible for the editorial work on reissuing his books there. I mostly talked to Norma, because she handled all the proofs. I always enjoyed talking to them, and I do mean “them” — they’d both get on the phone when I called. They were kind to me.

Several years later, when I’d moved to Tor, I acquired a huge package of Jack’s backlist books, everything that was out of print at the time. Years of work with Jack and Norma on getting the books into print again. And we also did a contract for new work. From that day in 1985, I was Jack Vance’s editor. I worked with him on every book from Araminta Station to his last, Lurulu. Jack was a challenge in some ways, and a delight in almost all. His work was amazing. He was cynical about it.

Through years of phone calls and dinners, he told me stories, led me to music. And he and Norma were always, always, kind to me. Glad when I called. Happy to see me, which is not entirely to be expected in this business. They were never people to disguise their feelings. I’ve been missing Norma since she passed some time ago. Now Jack is gone too. Who is going to bellow “It’s Beth!” anymore, and make it sound like the best thing in the world?

Vance’s family has set up a page where condolences can be left. Their statement:

Jack Vance passed away at home on the evening of Sunday May 26, 2013, ending a long, rich and productive life. Recognized most widely as an author, family and friends also knew a generous, large-hearted, rugged, congenial, hard-working, optimistic and unpretentious individual whose curiosity, sense of wonder and sheer love of life were an inspiration in themselves. Author, friend, father and grandfather – there will never be another like Jack Vance.

Our thoughts are with Jack’s family today as we mourn the passing of the man, the author, and a beloved member of Tor’s family.


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