Daily Illuminator

May 30, 2013: Jack Vance, 1916-2013

We regret to say that Jack Vance passed away on Sunday at the age of 96. Locus wrote a lovely tribute, linked here.

My very first editing project at SJ Games was GURPS Planet of Adventure, which also gave me my first exposure to Vance's work. The world of Tschai showed off his ability to create believable alien societies and settings while leaving quite a lot to the readers' imagination. (The arena fight from The Dirdir is still one of my favorite action and chase sequences in all of SF.) Of course, Vance wrote more than the Tschai tetralogy; his work on the Dying Earth series led directly to the "fire and forget" magic system in the earlier editions of Dungeons & Dragons, and his influence is evident in many other ways throughout several editions of that game and others -- notably, of course, the Dying Earth RPG from Pelgrane Press.

Vance was named a SFWA Grand Master in 1997, and accumulated many other honors and awards over his long life. He even wrote an autobiography, titled (with characteristic humor) This Is Me, Jack Vance!, published in 2009.

It was a pleasure to be allowed to play in Tschai for 128 pages, and I regret that we were never able to return for followup adventures. Jack Vance will be missed.

-- Andrew Hackard

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