I’ve been doing a little background research, for those of you interested in following along as we build The Jack Vance Treasury. Now, remember, this book will be between 175,000 and 225,000 words long, including introductions etc. Although it’s very unlikely things will run this long, I’m allowing 10,000 words for main volume introduction, foreword, story notes etc. That’s likely to be very generous, but still…
Now, using figures from the Vance Integral Edition website, I estimate that there were a total of 123 works published between 1944 and 1984 that might be considered to be “short works”. For the purposes of this discussion, short works means anything under 50,000 words. Now, we are almost definitely not going to consider anything beyond the 31,300 words of “The Dragon Masters”, but that still leaves 109 possible titles.
For anyone interested in discussing The Jack Vance Treasury, there are discussions going on:
- in the comments threads on this blog;
- on the Asimov’s discussion groups; and
- at the Jack Vance Message Board.
I’m monitoring all of it, and listening to everyone’s suggestions. If you have any interest in the conversation, join in! We’re working towards the best book we can, but we also want to raise Jack’s profile as much as we can. So, please, join the conversation, blog, post, write articles, do stuff about Jack. And remember, we’re approaching his 90th Birthday in August. It’d be cool to do something to celebrate.
Looks like I posted the early copy of our reading list for the Treasury, that was sent to Subterranean Press. That list ran to 22 stories, but our current list runs to 25. The key addition, as has been pointed as a glaring omission, is “The Gift of the Gab”. The full current list is:
Just to give some idea of my own taste where Vance’s work is concerned, I thought I might reprint a review of a Jack Vance sampler published by the VIE back in 2001 that I wrote for Locus. While the review is four years old – and was part of the background reading and prep. for the Treasury – my views haven’t changed much since then. I should add that the review lead to the longest response to any review I’ve done, a four page disagreement by Paul Rhodes published in the VIE magazine, Cosmopolis.
Coup de Grace and Other Stories, Jack Vance (The Vance Integral Edition)
When stories first began appearing under the byline ‘Jack Vance’, science fiction was largely a place of transparent prose, plainly spoken characters, and bug-eyed monsters with an inexplicable preference for Earth women. Vance’s early stories, characterized as they were by rich, stylized prose, mannered characters, and drawing-room plots must have seemed both refreshing and unusual to the readers of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Super Science Fiction. His stories weren’t about the latest gadget or technological doodad – instead they focussed on strange, alien cultures that allowed him to indulge in the often satirical social commentary that would prove characteristic of his entire body of work.
As I mention in the post below, Terry Dowling and I will soon be starting assembling the manuscript for The Jack Vance Treasury. The Treasury will collect between 175,000 words and 225,000 words of Jack’s best short fiction. It is our intention to assemble a completely definitive selection of Jack’s short fiction, a single volume argument for why he is an important and fascinating writer, the book that will always be the first stop for new Vance readers in years to come.
The reason I’m posting now is that you can help. If you’re an interested Vance reader we would welcome your input. Post your thoughts in the comments for this post, list what stories should be included, what we might be overlooking, and what should be dropped.
While we are working on the Jack Vance Treasury, we welcome any comments from Vance’s readers. Our working list is:
- A Bagful of Dreams
- Assault on a City
- Coup de Grace
- Gift of Gab
- Green Magic
- Guyal of Sfere
- Liane the Wayfarer
- The Dragon Masters
- The Kokod Warriors
- The Last Castle
- The Man from Zodiac
- The Men Return
- The Miracle Workers
- The Mitr
- The Moon Moth
- The Narrow Land
- The New Prime
- The Seventeen Virgins
- The Sorcerer Pharesm
- When the Five Moons Rise
I’d add a quick thanks to all the good folks at the VIE, whose hard work digitising texts are making our job much easier.
Note: I managed to delete this post earlier. This is a quick re-creation of it. I’ll try to re-do it properly late.