My love of reading was encouraged from an early age by my mother. She was a very capable woman who could turn her hand to many things - decorating a cake or a house, making clothes or kitchen cabinets, and even a bit of plumbing. Her interests were amateur dramatics, bridge, and of course, reading (almost exclusively) crime fiction. She was, as the saying has it, "nobody's mug". My father read only the newspapers!

Like many boys of my nationality and generation, I was introduced to science fiction - an awkward appellation - by the advent of the Eagle comic in 1950, which, with its full colour printing on quality paper, was a revelation to kids in post-war Britain. The impact it had was akin to the impact the "Star Wars" films were to have, many years later. I was immediately captivated by the font page strip "Dan Dare - Pilot of the Future", which was very skillfully drawn for its time, and the wonder of the possibility of space travel was to stay with me for the rest of my life.

When I became a teenager in the mid 1950's, my mother would read up to two books a week. The authors included Agatha Christie, George Simenon, Earle Stanley Gardner, Mickey Spillane and many more less famous. At this time I was discovering the likes of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Jame Blish, Eric Russell, C.E. Maine, August Derleth, A.E. Van Vogt, and any others whose books I could find in the local libraries. I hasten to add that I did read other kinds of book as well. Not many 15 year olds have read "V2" by Walter Dornberger, or Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur" (a struggle in medieval English).

When I ran out of books, and had read all the cornflakes packets and such, I sometimes picked up one of my Mothers books. I remember the first one I read was Agatha Christies "The ABC Murders", which didn't excite me very much. After I'd read 6 or 7 of her books, she learned of my general opinion, and told me that the novels of Ellery Queen were "the best", and that I should try some of those. I never did get around to this, however, and the years passed, and, as boys do, I left home and got married. My parents sadly passed away in the late 1970's and, incidentally, never witnessed the growth of the personal computer.

At some time along this path, I discovered Jack Vance, the writer who was to become my favourite author, (my first book being "Star King") and gradually I became aware that, due to his ability to transport his readers to his richly imaginative worlds, his pace, his terse way with dialogue, and plots some of which are worthy of Shakespeare, I was able to read his novels over and over again, and still enjoy them. I also found his descriptions of things, places and colours seemed to have been made with an artist's eye, and as a professional artist myself, this also intrigued me.

My collection of Jack Vances' books numbers over 40 as of now, and in an effort to make sure I hadn't missed any, I used my computer to surf the internet in order to find a complete bibliography. During this search, lots of details of the authors life were revealed, many of which I already knew from book jackets and sleeve notes. For instance, I knew that he was an award winning author of science fiction, but I discovered that he was also an artist - a potter - (I was right!), and an award winning author, in earlier years, of crime fiction. Further, to my immense surprise, I learned that he had sometimes ghost-written under the name of none other than Ellery Queen!

I can't help wondering if, by some genetic trait, or element of parental direction, Jack Vance managed to trigger similar emotions for both my Mother and I, using different genre. Who knows? Whatever the reasons, it is certainly an amazing coincidence.


I put the above musings together about 12 months ago, and I thought Id send them in the hope that they would raise a smile! I would also like to say thank you Jack for the enormous amount of pleasure and entertainment your writings have given me over the years, and wish you all the very best.

Last Edited By: davebe Dec 21 08 1:45 PM. Edited 1 time.