Saturday, July 25, 2009

Should have been a Frenchman.

The New York Times has apparently run an article about one of my favorite S.F. writers, asking "Is Jack Vance a Great American Writer?"

Apparently they conclude that if he had been born a European or a South American, he would've won the Nobel Prize by now.

Which brings up the question I've always wanted to ask; what's the f'nn difference between 'Magic Realism" and "Fantasy" except having a Latin sounding name? James Blaylock, Tim Powers, and Jack Vance among others rank in my estimation next to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Borges....except they might be more fun to read.

I discovered Jack Vance in the fruitless search to find "Lord of the Rings"-like novels in the 60's. The Languages of Pao had a wonderful fantasy feel, as did his Dying Earth series. Like Phillip K. Dick, he was lumped in the ghetto of 'science fiction'; until they die, I guess, which is when they get discovered. Or when they are 92 years old like Jack Vance.

I've noticed lately that authors like Neal Stephenson and Neal Gaiman are quickly extracted from the 'ghetto' and embraced by the mainstream, which is good for them, I suppose, but doesn't help change the public's opinion about 'fantasy.'

And, just an oh, by the way -- had a woman come in looking for Jack Vance. She said no one had them, even the library. I showed her my selection, which is pretty much every in print book I could find. Which -- If I May Point Out, is one of the reasons you might want to support your individual independent bookstore instead of the your typical megalithic stores. Cause, you know what, they're only going to carry what they think will sell. And I'm going to carry what I think is good; and keep the faith that they will sell. The woman bought 4 of my new books, thank you.

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