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From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (whorl) Smith & Vance
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 97 03:32:00 GMT

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

Reply:  Item #4788907 from WHORL@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET00#


OTOH we know (from interviews as well as Wolfe-written articles) that Gene
Wolfe read and deeply admired Jack Vance's THE DYING EARTH.  And most
readers, I think, will sense a certain similarity in writing styles
between Vance and Wolfe: high style, macabre humor, cultural
anthropology, etc.

Yet (and maybe this is just me, I don't know) Wolfe's work in spirit
and in tone is actually much closer to Cordwainer Smith's work than
it is to Vance's.  Part of this is probably [hedgeword] due to the
fact that nearly all of the time [hedge] Vance is lambasting Religion
as a controlling tool used by the dominant minority over the gullible
population.  Vance belongs to a tradition of anti-religion genre
writers going back to Edgar Rice Burroughs and before.  (He is also a
satirist of the arbitrary conventions found in every society.)

So the paradox: TBOTNS is said to be (and understood to be) a
descendant of Vance's THE DYING EARTH (and Clark Ashton Smith's
"Zothique," but I don't want to argue about that at the moment <g>),
yet in reality TBOTNS is more like Cordwainer Smith's work, =even
though= nobody is claiming that Wolfe ever read such.

(Personally I see a lot of difference between Herbert's work and
Cordwainer Smith's work: in soundbyte terms, because Herbert is
working out Machiavellian themes and Smith is working out Christian
themes.  [Now, I am aware that there is a reading of DUNE that sees it
as a wonderful affirmation of Islam--not to detract from those who
believe this, still I remain sceptical, due to the Machiavellian
focus of much of Herbert's work.])


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