Mystery and science fiction author Jack Vance dead at 96

LOS ANGELES Thu May 30, 2013 12:48am EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mystery and science fiction writer Jack Vance, whose works included "The Dragon Master" and "The Last Castle," has died at age 96, according to a statement posted on his official website on Wednesday.

Vance passed away at his Oakland, California, home on Sunday, according to the statement at www.jackvance.com, a site maintained by his friends and family.

He won the Hugo award for his science fiction book "The Dragon Masters" in 1963 and again in 1967 for "The Last Castle." The Hugo is given for excellence in the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

"The Dragon Masters" features medieval-style combat and describes humans who war with aliens, even as they rely on certain lizard-like aliens they took captive.

"The Last Castle" takes place on a fictional planet Earth where humans live like aristocrats in high-tech redoubts while aliens attend their needs, until a race of those aliens stages a violent revolt.

Vance, who wrote over 60 books, also authored mystery novels under his full name, John Holbrook Vance, and three titles under the pseudonym Ellery Queen, according to his website.

In 1974, the movie "Bad Ronald," which was based on a story by Vance about a teenager who accidentally kills a girl and conspires with his mother to hide in their house, was broadcast on television.

Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon in a 2009 New York Times magazine article about Vance called him "the most painful case of all the writers I love who I feel don't get the credit they deserve."

Vance was born in San Francisco and was raised on his maternal grandparents ranch in Northern California after his parents separated. After college, he worked at a naval shipyard in Hawaii but left shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, according to his website.

He later served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and saw some of his earliest work published in pulp magazines.

A lifelong lover of music, Vance played the cornet, ukulele and harmonica and had an affection for jazz music.

He was legally blind since the 1980s but continued to write with the help of special computer software.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Paul Simao)

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