John Holbrook VanceJohn Holbrook Vance (b. August 28, 1916) is generally described as an American fantasy and science fiction author, although Vance himself objects to the label (http://www.vie-tracking.com/cosmo/Vol01No03final.htm#VanceSFAuthor). He writes under his own name and the pseudonyms Jack Vance, John Holbrook, Ellery Queen, Alan Wade, Peter Held, and John van See. He won Hugo Awards in 1963 (for The Dragon Masters) and 1967 (for The Last Castle), a Nebula Award in 1966 (also for The Last Castle), a Jupiter Award in 1975, the World Fantasy Award in 1990, and the SFWA Grand Master Award in 1996.
He has written over sixty books, a number with a common mythos, notably the Dying Earth series (seven novels, 1950-84), the Demon Princes series (five novels, 1964-81), the Tschai series (five novels, 1968-84), the Durdane trilogy (including book 1 The Anome), and four or so other series. An exhaustive list of his works can be found at http://www.jackvance.com/. Most of Jack Vance's science fiction novels are pretty straight adventure stories featuring an extremely competent and sometimes ruthless protagonist, such as Adam Reid in the Tschai series, or Kirth Gersen in the Demon Princes series. And Cugel the Clever, the protagonist of many of the Dying Earth stories, is not only ruthless, but utterly immoral. The main attraction of Vance's novels, however, is the meticulous detail and the precise, florid language in which exotic cultures are described.
The model of spellcasting introduced in The Dying Earth, where a spellcaster may only pack a certain number of spells into memory, depending on their power, was the very influential inspiration of the spellcasting rules for many fantasy role-playing games such as the seminal Dungeons and Dragons.
An effort is being made by fans of his to publish all his works, with fully revised texts, in the Integral Edition. For more information on this project, see http://www.vanceintegral.c/A> The first batch of books has been printed already, as of May 2003.