Why has Jack Vance never been adapted?

  1. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    All good points. I must admit, I've never pondered the possibility that Vance "stole" things from Planet Earth... it all seemed so alien when I was reading him in my teens and twenties. I haven't read any of his novels except the Lyonesse trilogy for 20+ years, maybe I'll re-read The Face over the summer and see what I think.

    Thanks for your post!
     
  2. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    Steve,

    I've had re-readings of Jack over the years for the whole of my remembered life. Given his rambling experiences both around the world and around society, and both in his reading of fantasy and sci-fi in his own youth, he certainly took much from earth. But stole? To me that is similar to the current odd fixation that is growing in mention of stealing or appropriating some cultures thing, song, etc.

    So if that was just a choice of the word stole without that connotation, great. Because that connotation is such an odd and limiting thing. In America we would be half as rich culturally and monetarily - if that! - without ideas, clothing styles, songs, toys, inventions and immigrants from other countries. Heck, our first industrial revolution, like yours based on Steam, was due to a guy named Fulton stealing a steam engine design that GB was up to then successfully keeping to itself.

    Over here Fulton is famous for initiating river steamboat travel. Fewer read about where he got the design. Most of us are aware of the contributions of other places without knowing what all of them are. And with Jack I feel confident he knew.
     
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  3. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    It was without the connotation. All us authors are creative because of what we experience in the real world.
     
  4. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    Steve,

    It's a relief because that other is like an infection and seems to be catching. And kudos to you, Sir, as an author. I have had piddling success just writing for a blog, with a contract yet nothing accepted yet. Now that I have realised the vast difference between actually having to produce something an editor wants and imagining that, my respect for authors has increased.
     
  5. MWagner

    MWagner Well-Known Member

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    Vance never had mass commercial success, never really had a breakout novel. So I'm not surprised his work was never adapted for film. Moorcock and Leiber never made it into movies either, and they were both far more popular in the day.

    Vance's works are considered inaccessible even to most of today's fantasy fiction fans, let alone a mass Hollwyood audience. I'd wager for every 10 readers led to Vance by George RR Martin's championing and fullsome praise, nine bounced off the work in bafflement and distate. Vance made no concessions to modern sensibilities. His characters are usually unsympathetic. The cultures he portrays are some combination of bizarre, satirical, and predatory. There are no good villagers for the hero to defend against the forces of evil, just strange people preying on one another under the jaundiced lens of the author.

    I love Vance. But any attempts to make his fiction palatable to mainstream audiences would be a travesty.
     
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  6. hitmouse

    hitmouse Well-Known Member

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    I think you just about nail it. What makes Vance so distinctive and appealing to me also makes hom difficult to adapt. There is also the fact that many of his stories lack clear narrative drive.
    I do think that Cugel might work in episode form in the right hands. Some good picaresque stuff such as The Preacher show that dark weird satire is possible.
     
  7. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    I think Cugel might work too!
     
  8. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    I agree with Cugal or Rhialto the Marvellous, both of who have plenty of shorts that can be used to fill an hour or two-hour slot.

    But Hitmouse was right, in that the appeal that many of us have for his descriptions and turns of phrase were limited. He had his breakout sales, but not the huge mass sales that are the ones hitting the screen.

    Those uniquely skilled turns of phrase would be hard to translate to stage or screen.
     
  9. Connavar

    Connavar Well-Known Member

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    As someone who sees Vance as my alltime fav author, among the greats you describe why im glad to never ever see a film of his SF,fantasy stories. He is just too Vancean, too distinctive style, his weird cultures,alien human worlds is so much more imaginative than what Hollywood can recreate.

    I mean Dune is simple Messiah like story in desert planet, with faux real world religions they stilled couldnt make a decent adaptation. PKD simple SF thriller stories became weak films. If you cant adapt a dystopian set in modern times how can you create languages, cultures that Vance was so good at...
    Also Vance is known for a good reason as stylist and you cant recreate his pseudo language, prose unless you copy the way his character speaks like a Shakespeare adaptation having his style of english.

    I dont agree that his stories lack clear narrative drive because there are some SF series of his that have very clear narrative drive, clear storyline. He wrote too many different novels, stories to say that is the truth about about of his stories. Some of his best work is maybe helped by the lack of clear narrative, In Lyonese he reminds me off Lord Dunsany, high fantasy that is more fable like story and not the clear high fantasy drive, story you expect.
     
  10. Connavar

    Connavar Well-Known Member

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    I see what you mean but SF book sales is not always the reason Hollywood make films of SFF stories, there are so many lesser PKD stories that have films and PKD himself never had book sales anywhere near Herbert, Asimov type in his own lifetime. Why is there like 20 PKD films, tv shows? His cult status, the fact Hollywood likes his combination of thrilling, dark dystopians,cyberpunk stories.

    Dune, LOTR was made in the films because of book sales, popularity not PKD who for most of his career couldnt live on what he made of selling stories. I have read his bio,introductions where its clear why he wrote so many short stories in the 50s,60s and where he is clear that he made real money only very late in his career, life.
     
  11. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    .......................................................................................

    Connavar,

    I think the reason so many PKD stories got made was simply following the success of a prior show. "Go back to the well." I would say that Dune was made both due to sales but also cult status and fairly straightforward plot and sub-plots so very well laid out and easy to choose from.

    My man, Jack, was not chosen, I think, mainly because it was really almost impossible to translate his amazing word choices to script. I wish that someone had talked him into working with some scriptwriters to adapt any one of his stories. And it didnt help that many of his stories were non-PC. I mean, from Cadwal - the Yips? And the natives in The Grey Prince. And "that great Darsh Face" hanging over the fence - his description of the Darsh planet and people!

    In my lifetime, with many Vance fans alive, I think some kind of Vance productions that try to stay true to his style will be made.
     
  12. Connavar

    Connavar Well-Known Member

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    I agree with most of what you are saying except im glad no talked him into adaptation. I have seen alltime fav characters like Conan, Solomon Kane, Sherlock(the new films), Parker, John Carter being ruined in horrible failure movies in the eyes of the mainstream movie aduience......

    I dont see how much Vance world are more non-PC than reading other classic author whose views on women, minorities was more negative, i mean i have read some others that was troubling..... The human cultures in most Vance book is well done is so different and you believe why Darsh are different. Writing a weird looking alien is not as much non-PC as reading racial worlds,sexism in many SFF.

    The only thing i could complain in this matter is that most Vance SF series female character are weaker,written, more shallow than the male characters, written too often as the lesser sex, damsel in distress. Maybe because of the era, the genre, a writer not being perfect in that vien.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2017
  13. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    .........................................

    Connavar,

    I wasn't complaining that Jack was too non PC, I was celebrating that Jack was non PC.

    With the Darsh, he described them as ugly and brutal, and the women as particularly ugly and unappealing after early adulthood.

    I think the example of the Yips in Yipton who were not allowed to spread to the reserved majority of the Preservation planet is probably his best comparison to a real human situation. You can directly compare it to Singapore, Austraila and other wealthier countries not just letting the poor and needy who could easily imitate the now steady, heavy migration happening in the Med happen there in S Asia.

    And true, he didn't go down today's almost standard path of a female action hero in the mold of the not too much older standard male action hero. That was as much his generation as anything else. He certainly did develop female characters, but as you say, almost always in some traditional female role.
     
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  14. Connavar

    Connavar Well-Known Member

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    Ah my bad i misunderstood what you meant and i agree that no matter how ugly the alien world, the human cultures in his SF worlds look i find them pretty realistic take since you can always find analogies in the real world in the way countries treat minorities, Indigenous peoples.

    I like the female characters in Lyonesse since atleast Suldrun is the important character of the first book, is giving that importance. I find it pretty understandable, natural that a male author writing SF,fantasy adventure, dark space stories would have a male hero the same as classic female SFF authors often have female heroine as the POV.
     
  15. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    ......................................
    Connavar,

    It makes sense that two Vance fans also see Suldrun as an example of a female main character. I was trying to think of a woman he "wrote" who was at least partly like the women written today who are basically male stereotypes written as women. She came to mind for me as well, but I didnt note her because she didnt fit that "kinda male-like female" main character. I think that Suldren may be his only female that was as "main" as she was. At that point in his somewhat tragic tail end of his life, in that he was going blind, he must have been aware of the fact that publishers seemed to be featuring female main characters more and more.
     
  16. hitmouse

    hitmouse Well-Known Member

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    Are you talking about female characters as written by specific authors or are you making a generalisation about modern literature? Shaky ground if the latter.
     
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  17. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    Hit,

    I was purely describing my experience in reading Sci Fi and the fantasy of some sci fi writers. As to more broadly in literature – nope.

    My best example of the kind of female characters such I describe are from a fantasy series by an author named L. E. Modesitt. His most famous series is based on a parallel planet. Among the lower tech level cultures is one based on female combat superiority rather than male combat superiority.

    In my opinion, he does a great job of describing everything, and while I like his writing a lot, he's very different from Vance. The "suspension of disbelief" I need to enjoy it is based on my experience with the military, my reading of recent and past military history, and whats going on in Western Civ today.

    Our cultures are clearly feminizing over time in several ways, and specifically the Euro's and now us are pretending that men and women are broadly speaking, equally suitable as soldiers. This is a basic part of Modesitt's fantasy. He uses it here and there in his Sci Fi as well.

    As to it being a trend it Sci Fi – I have read that in articles dealing with the Hugo Awards conflicts between more PC editors and reviewers, and a collection of non-PC writers and fans. I have personally seen some evidence beyond Modesitt, but none of them come to mind.

    If you leave literature and go the broader culture – turning male characters into female characters is now a trend. A female Ghostbusters movie. A female Thor. A female version of James Bond in the recent "Atomic Blond." As a societal trend in our creative class, it gets expressed in video as well as books.
     
  18. banedon

    banedon New Member

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    He promotes being ok with capitalism and civilization and shows str8 sexuality is posative light. He does not promote hysteria based on supposed historical wrongs and has endings where justice is served against degenerates and devious frauds in the government and even institutions. The police are seen as just and reasonable.
     
  19. GreenDocNowCiv

    GreenDocNowCiv Member

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    Banedon,

    Yes, his worldview – based on all of his output that I could find at rock-bottom prices - is oriented to an old-fashioned, pre - PC "just world," not a "social justice" type of "just world."
     
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