Never was and never will be another writer quite like Jack Vance, who passed away this week at 96. Though he wrote across a wide range of genres, including mysteries and early television, his fantasy and science fiction novels were where most of us came across him. He won Hugos and Nebulas and Jupiters and Life Achievements and Grandmasters, and well that he should have done. He was underrated even so, and superb.
Nobody could make up words like Vance. The neologisms he created flowed from the tongue. You had to be able to say it aloud, I think he offered once, and there was never a problem with Vance's lexicon that way. The names looked good on paper and sounded good when you spoke them. Offhand, no effort, he just threw 'em out there and they were terrific.
The Dying Earth series was seminal–everybody stole from it, including D&D. He was a writer's writer, as good as we get in F&SF, and certainly one of my inspirations. Yeah, Heinlein and Asimov and Clarke and Bradbury and all, but right there, Vance.
He played jazz banjo and kazoo; he was legally blind since the 1980s but used a special software to keep writing.