Books like those by Jack Vance.

Discussion in 'General Book Discussion' started by JoanDrake, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. JoanDrake

    JoanDrake Well-Known Member

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    Everybody reading this should go over to the thread by JSun if you know anyone like Susan Cooper. I don't want to upstage anyone.

    I am specifically talking about books like The Demon Princes, or the Planet of Adventure quintologies. The rest of Vance's work is great, but those are my favorites.

    These series are set in the fairly far future. (DP is further than PA but not to a significant degree). The worlds are well realized and very strange. Plotting is straightforward and, while not uninteresting these are books usually without great twists or surprises (but often abundant originality and cleverness). While nothing is explicit there is an undertone of erotica (or romance) in some of them. The characters are definitely a major factor and many are flamboyant but above all the attraction here is Vance's style. This is impossible to describe adequately but Keith Laumer is reported to have replied when he was told that critics regarded it as 'wooden' that it was "not wooden, carved" and I think that says it much better than I ever could. The characters (particularly the villains) talk in a fashion (and with a vocabulary) that almost sounds like another language than English, yet somehow it is always believable that they would talk that way

    Oh, and he uses separate chapter intros and even footnotes.

    Does anyone know of anything like that, but more recent than most of Vance's work? (He died last year at age 97 and hadn't published in some time to my knowledge.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
  2. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    As a long-time Vance aficionado, I'd say there is simply nobody like Jack Vance. He was a complete one-off.

    Having said that, a few "similars" come to mind… China Mieville Bas-Lag series, some Jeff Vandermeer (eg. City Of Saints & Madmen). Gene Wolfe's The Book Of The New Sun series was influenced by Vance in some respects, but is a completely different kettle of fish…

    You could also try Michael Shea's Nifft The Lean which stylistically is quite Vance-esque.
     
  3. hitmouse

    hitmouse Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Mr Palmer's comments.
    You could try Matthew Hughes' Hengis Hapthorne stories, starting with Majestrum (I think.) Recognizably Vancean in terms of dialogue and humour, but clever enough to be more than simply pastiche. I have read half a dozen of Hughes books now.
    I thionk Hughes was one of the editors or contributors to an anthology of Dying Earth stories written by well known SF authors.

    Wodehouse is not a bad alternative.
     
  4. Jsun

    Jsun Well-Known Member

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    There isn't anyone. There just isn't.

    People always say Gene Wolfe... all I can say is, Jack Vance is one of the few authors I love enough to have read damn near all of, but I've never finished a single book by Wolfe. Not even close AFAIC.

    I couldn't vouch for any of the other names here either on these terms, good though they may be on others.

    Wodehouse, sure, but it's not genre, there's no cultural scale, no insight into evil of so many sorts, nor even good of so many sorts! (Could a bag of braggadocio like Apollon Zamp ever be a Wodehouse hero?)

    There's usually some Vance people haven't read yet, and my opinion is, that's your only hope. Eesh, good luck. :)
     
  5. Grunkins

    Grunkins Couch Commander

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    George RR Martin's Tuf Voyaging was a direct homage to Vance.

    That's about the best I got. There's really no one out there that brings what Vance brings to the table. The upside is he published about seven hundred thousand novels and novellas. There's always more Vance to read.
     
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  6. Ogma

    Ogma Well-Known Member

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    There was also an anthology in homage to Jack Vance's writing - Songs of the Dying Earth. I haven't read it yet - it's in my tbr pile.
     
  7. Connavar

    Connavar Well-Known Member

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    I have no interest to read Songs of Dying Earth for example because even though im a fan of Tanith Lee and co no one writes like Vance or has his kind of wit, imagination, pseudo antique prose style he used often.

    Its not only because he is my alltime fav author but who wants a pale copy of an original voice like Vance. Books like Vance......the answer to the question is simply read more Vance. He thankfully like many great writers in history wrote alot of books,stories to earn his keep, his living.

    Look at Vance in my avatar, i see his smile just to remind me that i have read only 30+ books of close to 100 works of his ;)

    I do read Matthew Hughest Henghis Hapthorne series a witty pastiche that uses similiar far future worlds like Gaen Reach Vance SF series. A bit similar to Demon Princes types worlds. Not similar to the writer Vance but a good pastiche of his SF worlds,stories.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2014
  8. dask

    dask dark and stormy knight

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    Jack Vance is more than one of sf's most unique writers, he is a virtual genre unto himself and only inferiors have the nerve to disparage him. His influence is great and has been widely cast but influence is one thing and imitation quite another. For example, THE MORPHODITE by M.A. Foster, a Vancean mimicry I came within 55 pages of finishing. But that special something that endows people in their twenties to accomplish unbelievably wonderful and reckless deeds failed me. There's something almost sinful about not finishing a book especially when you spent so much into it but I knew I could not survive another paragraph. So I put it back on the shelf where it's sat for several decades, preserved if for no other reason than its rather eye catching cover.
    [​IMG]
    By the way, Baird Searles says in his A READER'S GUIDE TO SCIENCE FICTION: "If Vance appeals you might try Robert Chilson, Cordwainer Smith, Mark Geston, the lighter works of Ballard and Leiber, or Michael Shea, whose novel, A QUEST FOR SYMBILIS, is set on Vance's Dying Earth."
     
  9. Emphyricist

    Emphyricist Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what the policy on necroing vs duplicate threads is, so I'm necroing this one. As has been said here, and in pretty much every discussion of his work, there is nobody like Vance. Vance is to science fiction what Gilbert and Sullivan are to opera or Archer is to television: a combination of highbrow, lowbrow, and manic creative energy which few contemporaries would even try to duplicate.

    That said, I was reading a NESFA collection of stories from 1964, and the same year that Vance published "The Kragen" (basis for Blue World), Wyman Guin published "A Man of the Renaissance." It starts with a remarkably similar premise, and yet goes in a completely different direction. Despite this, it is probably the closest thing by an author who isn't Jack Vance to a Vance story. Guin wrote very little in his lifetime, but what seems to be his best-known work, "Beyond Bedlam," is on Project Gutenberg and I've been meaning to read it.
     
  10. J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    Tough question, can't think of anyone. Not really an imitatable style. On Banjo he was much more predictable.
     
  11. BAYLOR

    BAYLOR There Are Always new Things to Learn.

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    Viriconium by M John Harrison.:)
     
  12. BAYLOR

    BAYLOR There Are Always new Things to Learn.

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    No worries on reviving old threads we do this sort of thing alot here .:)
     
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  13. xxyy50

    xxyy50 New Member

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    "Jack of Shadows" by Roger Zelazny seems to be largely forgotten, and it's actually sort of a tribute to Vance. It's definitely worth reading.
     
  14. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    Welcome to the chrons forums @xxyy50 . :)
     
  15. hitmouse

    hitmouse Well-Known Member

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    I dunno. Slightly dystopic and baroque far future SF/fantasy, so some similarity in setting to Vance, but in tone more akin to Moorcock and some of the other New Wave, I would say, and Harrison appears to be channeling Peake at times. It lacks the humour of Vance. After the first book, which is fairly conventional, the series diverges significantly.
     
  16. xxyy50

    xxyy50 New Member

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    Hi! I've recently rediscovered my love for fantasy literature and feel the need to discuss it with others, so I found this forums :)
     
  17. BAYLOR

    BAYLOR There Are Always new Things to Learn.

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    You might fins Magus Rex by Jack Lovejoy to be of interest. :)
     
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