"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, February 22, 2013

Moon Moth, Jack Vance, and Me

A few days ago I received a box of books from Junior Library Guild. It contained books I'd ordered because they sounded good and the price was right, not because I'd read them or even heard of them before. In the box was this little graphic novel, The Moon Moth by Jack Vance. I'm sure I ordered it because I have a lot of graphic novel fans that use the library. At first glance it didn't seem that different than a lot of graphic novels I've handled in the past but as I started to read the forward by Carlo Rotella I realized I was wrong.  This was no ordinary graphic novel, it was one based on the classic short story by the master of this genre, Jack Vance. By the time I was done reading the forward this thought went through my head..."Oh no, I am almost too late to discover a treasure who has been with us for 96 years and I 've never heard of him before."
Jack (John Holbrook) Vance (born August 28, 1916 in San Francisco, California) is an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction author... Among his awards are: Hugo Awards, in 1963 for The Dragon Masters, in 1967 for The Last Castle, and in 2010 for his memoir This is Me, Jack Vance!; a Nebula Award in 1966, also for The Last Castle; the Jupiter Award in 1975; the World Fantasy Award in 1984 for life achievement and in 1990 for Lyonesse: Madouc; an Edgar (the mystery equivalent of the Nebula) for the best first mystery novel in 1961 for The Man in the Cage...Although legally blind since the 1980s, Vance has continued to write with the aid of BigEd software, written especially for him by Kim Kokkonen. .... A 2009 profile in the New York Times Magazine described Vance as "one of American literature’s most distinctive and undervalued voices." -Jack Vance Website
Wow, I'm not the only one who nearly missed this guy. "A distinctive yet undervalued American voice." 

The Moon Moth was originally written in 1961 and has been resurrected in the graphic form with terrific illustrations by Humayoun Ibrahim. Head over to Tor-Com to take a look at a page of the illustrations. It didn't take me long to read the book, just a few lunch periods in between circulation duties. I was quite captivated even though I didn't always know what was going on. Part of the reason for that was plot driven: 
Edwer Thissell, the new consul from Earth to the planet Sirene, is having all kinds of trouble adjusting to the local culture. The Sirenese cover their faces with exquisitely crafted masks that indicate their social status. Thissell, a bumbling foreigner, wears a mask of very low status: the Moon Moth. Shortly after Thissell arrives on Sirene, he finds himself embroiled in an unsolved murder case made all the more mysterious by the fact that since everyone must always wear a mask, you can never be sure who you’re dealing with. -Tor-Com
 In a lot of ways I think that Jack Vance was poking fun at some terribly series science fiction books with The Moon Moth, which was obviously silly and obsurd. Of course, one can't catch a murderer if everyone was wearing a mask, right?

Read it yourself and see how things turn out. I bet you'll become the next fan. Line up right behind me.


  1. Like you, I haven't heard of this one. My box of Junior Library Guild books didn't contain this book so I must have chosen different categories from you. I'll have to take a look at this for the library

    1. Now I'm a little insecure about where I got the book. Maybe it wasn't in the JLG box, but one of those books I picked up somewhere, stuck in my pile to process and lost track of where I found it originally. At any rate, I am glad I found it.


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