Jack and Ray on a bender

No, I’m not going to make a fashion blog out of this. If you’re into that sort of thing, head out to Tom & Lorenzo. This isn’t gonna be a story about two middle-aged gays, sipping wine, having a lovely, albeit bitchy afternoon.

This is going to be a story about some other Jack, and some other Ray. With Saul and Elaine Bass included for a good measure.

The guy that’s not Ray is a guy featured on a cover of Galaxy magazine (edited by Frederik Pohl) back in 1966.

vance

The guy that’s not Jack, you might have heard of him, went by a Bradbury surname. If your grandfather got into pulp-fiction after he got home from the Great War, you might still find something like this in his dusty chest hidden in the attic.

bradbury

And no, this isn’t going to be another ramble on how great SF was “back then” and how these whippersnappers of today don’t know a thing about it either. I’m too young to be that kind of guy (stopped smoking pipe years ago, and even shaved recently). It’s just that I’ve been reading one of those SF-almanacs that small presses still publish all around the world, and these two stories kinda stood out (it helped a great deal that they were the first two stories in a 600+ pages, quite light for its size, monolithic book collecting “all” the old masters of Science Fiction literature).

First one, “The Last Castle”, was written by Jack Vance in 1966. Second one, “Frost and Fire”, was written by Ray Bradbury twenty years earlier and published in something called “Planet Stories” (edited by Paul L. Payne).  For those of you who are not familiar with these names (and yet somehow you managed to stumble upon this blog…internet is a wonder), let’s just say that Vance and Bradbury don’t have much in common. If we’re thinking from a purely literary point of view. They were both very influential SF-writers and that’s as far as similarities go. All in all they were quite different beasts.

And yet, there’s a connection. In a bygone analogue era of pop-culture/pulp-fiction two decades were an eternity. These two stories, however different in style and execution, managed to bridge a gap between two vastly different worlds. One was written in post-WWII USA, the other a year before Summer of Love. So last century, both of them. Or so you might think. Fast forward near the end of second decade of 21st century and they still resonate powerfully. Such is the nature of good literature. It just doesn’t go away.

More on this to come tomorrow.

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