DocGeorge wrote:
Nobody but Vance would create three neat characters like Marin, Deale, and Walgrave [check out their conversation] and then atomize them in the next paragraph (because he knew that he could make some more whenever he wanted to)!

Your remark calls to mind a very good review I found on the net ( The following quote runs parallel to your remark above and also confirms David's view that it is indeed impossible to catch the sublety of Jack's oeuvre in a mere 100 words :

I have spoken of, and tried--in vain I know (for, as I said, only long, continuous reading brings out the subtleties)--to illustrate Vance's ability to create fully sensed, in-depth, complex, real-seeming worlds. If you don't already know Vance, you may be thinking along the lines of "Now that's well and fine, but most good authors can construct complex worlds in some degree of detail; why is this guy harping so on Vance?" I will put aside the deeper depth and richer richness and more elegant elegance Vance achieves compared to most worldmakers to focus on what makes him extraordinary--no, more than extraordinary, unique. That special something is--we should have drum rolls here--Vance's ability to conjure up whole and complete worlds and societies so quickly, so easily, that he can use them as throwaways.

Every SF&F author is bound to imagine a world different from our own in some way or ways, and to convey to us with a scope commensurate with the scale of the difference the nature and flavor of that world. Good SF&F authors imagine complex worlds for their tales; what Jack Vance does is imagine thoroughly complex worlds so easily, so capably, that he can use them as toys irrelevant to his tales; he does it just for fun; and he throws one after another of these full-scale worlds away in a few pages or, sometimes, a mere few paragraphs. They are like doodles in the margin, yet each is something that most other writers, even good ones, would have had to labor long and hard over as a prime project. Just look here:

From Life, Volume I, by Unspiek, Baron Bodissey:

If religions are diseases of the human psyche, as the philosopher Grintholde reckons, the religious wars must be reckoned the resultant sores and cankers infecting the aggregate corpus of the human race. Of all wars, they are waged for no tangible gain, but only to impose a set of arbitrary credos upon another's mind.

Few such conflicts can match the First Vegan Wars for grotesque excess. The issue concerns, in its proximate phase, a block of sacred white alabaster the Aloysians intended for Temple St. Revelras, while the Ambrosians claimed the same block for their Temple St. Bellaw. The culminating battle on Rudyer Moor is an episode to tax the imagination. The locale: a misty upland of the Mournan Mountains; the time: late afternoon, with Vega darting shafts of pallid light here and there, as roiling clouds allow. On the upper slopes stand a band of haggard Ambrosians in flapping brown robes, carrying crooked staves carved from Corrib yew. Below is gathered a more numerous group of the Aloysian Brotherhood; small shortlegged men, plump and portly, each with ritual goatee and scalp-tuft, carrying kitchen cutlery and garden tools.

Brother Whinias utters a cry in an unknown language. Down the slope bound the Ambrosians, venting hysterical screams, to fall upon the Aloysians like wild men. The battle goes indecisively for an hour, neither side gaining advantage. At sundown the Ambrosian Cornuter, by the creed's rigorous rule, sounds the twelve-tone call to vespers. The Ambrosians, in accordance with their invariable habit, place themselves in devotional attitudes. The Aloysians quickly set to work and destroy the entire Ambrosian band well before the hour of their own devotions, and so ends the Battle of Rudyer Moor.

Back into Old Town creep the few remaining Ambrosians, in secular garments, where eventually they become a canny group of merchants, brewers, ale-house keepers, antiquarians, money-lenders and perhaps pursuivants of other more furtive trades. As for the Aloysians, the order disintegrates within the century; their fervor becomes no more than a quaint tradition. Temple St. Revelras becomes the Domus, grandest of all the Vegan hostelries. Temple St. Bellaw is only a sad tumble of mossy stone.

on the water
the reflection
of a wanderer
Last Edited By: Sarnidac the Dwarf Jul 6 08 2:56 PM. Edited 1 time.