On The Deaths of Giants


In my basement, on the shelf that holds all my Ace Doubles, is a copy of F-185. It’s a Jack Vance double feature, The Five Gold Bands on one side and his Hugo winning novella The Dragon Masters on the flip. While it’s on my list of Doubles to get to one day, that day hasn’t happened yet.

On the Kindle account I share with my wife there’s a copy of Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks. My wife has read it, I have not.

I’ve read some Banks, in the form of his only non-fiction book-length work Raw Spirit, a travelogue of Scottish whisky distilleries. His style made me thirsty for a drink I’ve never much developed a taste for, and furthered my longing to visit the north of Great Britain. But as for the Culture series? I’ve never touched it. Nor any of his other fiction. I’ve never traveled to the Dying Earth, or spent time with the Demon Princes of Jack Vance.

One of the reasons I started the Great Hugo Read is a recognition that there are holes in my science fiction knowledge. Writers I haven’t read, series I haven’t touched, entire decades that I’ve never even stepped foot in. It drives home just how little breadth of reading I’ve done in my favorite genre when giants like Vance and Banks die and I realize…I’ve never read them. And the Hugo Read won’t even help. Banks was nominated in 2005 but lost to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Vance’s Hugo successes were for his novellas and related works.

I hate that it took the death of giants of the genre for me to realize I’ve never read their science fiction.

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