I wanted to add my voice to the growing chorus of bloggers who are mourning the passing of Jack Vance.
Like some of my fellow RPG bloggers, I've come late in life to an appreciation of Vance's fiction and the seminal role they played in many aspects of the D&D game (I won't repeat them here, as you probably know those influences he had on the game). Though, like everyone else who played 1E AD&D, I was exposed to the vaunted Appendix N list, as a youth I didn't really have access to the more obscure tomes it referenced. What was readily available were the D&D novels, in particular the Dragonlance novels. As I've said before, those were my first real foray into fantasy fiction, for better or worse (I'm personally fine with my path to fantasy fiction, but I'm sure some readers are shaking their head in pity right now).
But with age comes wisdom, as well as money, the ability to drive to a bookstore, and also the ability to scour the Internet for old editions of books. Yes, over time, I came to discover the books that Gygax set forth in Appendix N, and added many to my personal home library. Sadly, I haven't read all of them as of yet. I'm quite easily distracted, you see, and my library is home to everything from the latest escapist offerings of new authors to the old tales of the founding masters of the genre.
But, I'm committed to changing my reading schedule to finally, for good and all, complete my reading of the works of Vance and other members of the old guard (Leiber, Moorcock, Le Guin, etc). It sometimes takes a passing like this to remind one of the need to focus on the priorities, you know? So, I'm starting up again with my reading of The Dying Earth. I've started reading my Science Fiction Book Club edition in the past but stopped due to my short attention span (and not for any lack of enjoyment on my part when it came to Vance's writing).
Farewell, Mr. Vance. As you sail into the beyond, I hope the sound of our thoughts and prayers speed your passage into eternity. You showed us the worlds you dreamed, and thus inspired countless other dreams, many of which no doubt manifested themselves in other fictional works as well as a good number of game tables.