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Non-gamer authors for Vance fans

For all you admirers of Vance the stylist, I’m just checking: you do know Saki, don’t you?

Here: Sredni Vashtar. The Unrest-Cure. Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger. No, none of it’s exactly gameable; there’s little world-building, and it depends on a cultural frame rather than laying one out. But if you like Cugel’s off-hand cynicism, chances are you’ll like Clovis and Reginald. Think of him as possessing Wilde’s wit but not his loveable Irish smile.

Also, Robert Byron’s Road to Oxiana, the book that made me fascinated with Tartary. Ostensibly a travel diary, it was lovingly crafted months after Byron’s return from interwar Persia.

Hawk-eyed and eagle-beaked, the swarthy loose-knit men swing through the dark bazaar with a devil-may-care self-confidence. They carry rifles to go shopping as Londoners carry umbrellas. Such ferocity is partly histrionic. The rifles may not go off. The physique is not so impressive in the close-fitting uniform of the soldiers. Even the glare of the eyes is often due to make-up. But it is tradition; in a country where the law runs uncertainly, the mere appearance of force is half the battle of ordinary business.

He brings the same enthusiastically jaundiced eye to bear as Bruce Chatwin, who, had he not died so young, might have become the greatest living stylist in English.

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  1. May 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Even more Vancian IMO is James Branch Cabell.

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