Jack Vance, C.L. Moore, and the Dying Earth

In his preface to Songs of the Dying Earth, Vance reveals an interesting tidbit about his fantastic inspirations:

“The influences which underlie [The Dying Earth] go back to when I was ten or eleven years old and subscribed to Weird Tales magazine.  My favorite writer was C.L. Moore, whom to this day I revere.”

Wow, Catherine L. Moore?  I would certainly have thought that Clark Ashton Smith would rank higher, especially considering that Vance’s Dying Earth is a spiritual successor of sorts to Smith’s Zothique.  Although Weird Tales is cited as an influence, Smith and many of the other pulpsters admired by the heroic fantasy/S&S/S&P set (and with whom Vance is associated via D&D) aren’t named on the “A-list” mentioned by Vance: Moore, Robert W. Chambers, L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lord Dunsany, and Jeffery Farnol.  (What, no P.G. Wodehouse?)

My experience with Moore’s work is limited to Earth’s Last Citadel and  Jirel of Joiry, although I have two other collections (Northwest Smith and Judgment Night) on my shelf vying for my attentions.  I’ve found her tales to be imaginative, well-paced, and entertaining, but not something I would place on the same tier of awesomeness as Vance’s work.  But to hear such glowing praise gives me pause for a moment, and suggests a closer look at Moore’s writing.  So much to read, so little time…

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One response

  1. Staś Wiatrowski

    I think you are underrating CL Moore a bit here. I can see why the wonderful Jack Vance admired her so. It is clear to me that the level of emotional investment and superb imagination around describing places and people and feelings that Moore did so well, clearly influenced Vance. Jirel could very easily find herself in the stories of The Dying Earth.

    Also want to say it means a lot to see people still caring about these writers.

    10/17/2014 at 16:11

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