Bad news for readers

Tom Jackson
Jun 12, 2013

Two of my favorite writers have died within two weeks of each other: Jack Vance, 96, an American, and Iain M. Banks, a Scotsman.

Both were master storytellers best known for their science fiction, although both were much more than that. Vance also was a mystery novelist and won an Edgar in 1961 for his novel The Man in the Cage. Banks was as acclaimed for mainstream novels such as The Wasp Factory as he was for his science fiction.

Both also arguably were underrated. Vance won a stack of the top science fiction and fantasy awards, including Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards and the World Fantasy Award, but he generally was ignored by the literary world at large as a "genre" writer. I was surprised and delighted, however, when the New York Times magazine ran a long, insightful piece in 2009 that included praise for Vance from the likes of Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon.

While Banks was a major figure in Britain, he was less well-known in the U.S. Although he was arguably the world's best space opera writer — his Culture novels are reliably wonderful — he never won a Hugo or a Nebula. In science fiction terms, this is comparable to the fact that the Nobel Prize for literature was never awarded to Mark Twain or Vladimir Nabokov.  

 

 

 

 

Comments

eriemom

I get weird looks when I show up with a science fiction book. This summer I am reading all of Mercedes Lackey's books. Finished the first trilogy over the weekend. Drifted to some fantasy.

Contango

Re: "I get weird looks when I show up with a science fiction book."

What the h*ll do you care what people think? H*ll, most of 'em probably don't even read.

Many women, even older ones I see, read those dopey Romance novels.

Read TONS of SF as a kid, not so much now.

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@ Mr. Jackson:

I recognized the name "Vance." As a kid, I read "Big Planet."

I used to enjoy the pulps: IF & Galaxy. Can't even find "Analog" on the occasional newsstand anymore.

SF is probably becoming very popular in China. Someday, the U.S. may be able to pay several million dollars and catch a ride with 'em on a trip back to the Moon.

The U.S. has WARNED everyone - DON'T MESS WITH OUR LANDING SITES. And if that doesn't work, we'll give ‘em an even STERNER warning! :)

eriemom

I don't care. That should be obvious since I am still reading the stuff at my age. We are now trying to teach a second generation of children who do not read for entertainment. Then they have difficulty reading for information.

Contango

Re: "Since I am still reading the stuff at my age."

As is said: When you're green you grow, when you're ripe you rot.

Good for you!

kURTje

"The genius of the crowd. The laughing heart." Charles B. Talent in such a different form.