|Born||John Stewart Williamson|
April 29, 1908
Bisbee, Arizona Territory, US
|Died||November 10, 2006 98) (aged|
Portales, New Mexico, US
|Pen name||Will Stewart|
Nils O. Sonderlund
|Occupation||Writer, Professor of English|
John Stewart Williamson (April 29, 1908 – November 10, 2006), who wrote as Jack Williamson, was an American science fiction writer, often called the "Dean of Science Fiction"(especially after the death of Robert Heinlein in 1988). Early in his career he sometimes used the pseudonyms Will Stewart and Nils O. Sonderlund.
A pseudonym or alias is a name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which can differ from their first or true name (orthonym).
Williamson was born April 29, 1908 in Bisbee, Arizona Territory, and spent his early childhood in western Texas. In search of better pastures, his family migrated to rural New Mexico in a horse-drawn covered wagon in 1915.The farming was difficult there and the family turned to ranching, which they continue to this day. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II as a weather forecaster.
Bisbee is a town in Cochise County, Arizona, USA, 92 miles (148 km) southeast of Tucson. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town was 5,575. The town is the county seat of Cochise County.
The Territory of Arizona was a territory of the United States that existed from February 24, 1863 until February 14, 1912, when the remaining extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Arizona. It was created from the western half of the New Mexico Territory during the American Civil War.
New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.
As a child Williamson enjoyed storytelling to his brother and two sisters. As a young man, he discovered the magazine Amazing Stories , established in 1926 by Hugo Gernsback, after answering an ad for one free issue. He strove to write his own fiction and sold his first story to Gernsback at age 20: "The Metal Man" was published in the December 1928 issue of Amazing.During the next year Gernsback published three more of his stories in the new pulp magazines Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories , and separately published "The Girl from Mars" by Miles J. Breuer and Williamson as Science Fiction Series #1. His work during this early period was heavily influenced by A. Merritt, author of The Metal Monster (1920) and other fantasy serials. Noting the Merritt influence, Algis Budrys described "The Metal Man" as "a story full of memorable images".
Amazing Stories is an American science fiction magazine launched in April 1926 by Hugo Gernsback's Experimenter Publishing. It was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.
Hugo Gernsback was a Luxembourgish-American inventor, writer, editor, and magazine publisher, best known for publications including the first science fiction magazine. His contributions to the genre as publisher–although not as a writer–were so significant that, along with the novelists H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, he is sometimes called "The Father of Science Fiction". In his honour, annual awards presented at the World Science Fiction Convention are named the "Hugos".
Miles John Breuer was an American physician and science fiction writer. He was part of the first generation of writers to appear regularly in the pulp science fiction magazines, publishing his first story, "The Man with the Strange Head", in the January 1927 issue of Amazing Stories. His best known works are "The Gostak and the Doshes" (1930) and two stories written jointly with Jack Williamson, "The Girl from Mars" (1929) and The Birth of a New Republic (1931).
Early on, Williamson became impressed by the works of Miles J. Breuer and struck up a correspondence with him. A doctor who wrote science fiction in his spare time, Breuer had a strong talent and turned Williamson away from dreamlike fantasies towards more rigorous plotting and stronger narrative. Under Breuer's tutelage, Williamson would send outlines and drafts for review.Their first work together was the novel Birth of a New Republic in which Moon colonies were undergoing something like the American Revolution—a theme later taken up by many other SF writers, particularly in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress .
The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits planet Earth and is Earth's only permanent natural satellite. It is the fifth-largest natural satellite in the Solar System, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits. The Moon is after Jupiter's satellite Io the second-densest satellite in the Solar System among those whose densities are known.
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science-fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and retired Naval officer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", He was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction. His work continues to have an influence on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture more generally.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, about a lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth. The novel expresses and discusses libertarian ideals. It is respected for its credible presentation of a comprehensively imagined future human society on both the Earth and the Moon.
Wracked by emotional storms and believing many of his physical ailments to be psychosomatic, Williamson underwent psychiatric evaluation in 1933 at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, in which he began to learn to resolve the conflict between his reason and his emotion.From this period, his stories take on a grittier, more realistic tone.
Topeka is the capital city of the U.S. state of Kansas and the seat of Shawnee County. It is situated along the Kansas River in the central part of Shawnee County, in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 127,473. The Topeka Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Shawnee, Jackson, Jefferson, Osage, and Wabaunsee counties, had a population of 233,870 in the 2010 census.
Kansas is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, with its most populated county being Johnson County. Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. Kansas is named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the (south) wind" although this was probably not the term's original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.
By the 1930s he was an established genre author, and the teenaged Isaac Asimov was thrilled to receive a postcard from Williamson, whom he had idolized, which congratulated him on his first published story and offered "welcome to the ranks".Williamson remained a regular contributor to the pulp magazines but did not achieve financial success as a writer until many years later.
Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.
Pulp magazines were inexpensive fiction magazines that were published from 1896 to the 1950s. The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. In contrast, magazines printed on higher-quality paper were called "glossies" or "slicks". The typical pulp magazine had 128 pages; it was 7 inches (18 cm) wide by 10 inches (25 cm) high, and 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick, with ragged, untrimmed edges.
An unfavorable review of one of his books, which compared his writing to that of a comic strip, brought Williamson to the attention of The New York Sunday News, which needed a science fiction writer for a new comic strip. Williamson wrote the strip Beyond Mars (1952–55), loosely based on his novel Seetee Ship , until the paper dropped all comics.
Beginning 1954 and continuing into the 1990s, Williamson and Frederik Pohl wrote more than a dozen science fiction novels together, including the series Jim Eden, Starchild, and Cuckoo.Williamson continued to write as a nonagenarian and won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards during the last decade of his life, by far the oldest writer to win those awards.
In his later years, he would also criticize attempts to write "serious" science fiction:
Maybe because of my own background of writing commercial SF for so many years, I have a great deal of respect for good craftsmanship of the sort that commercial writers must develop. The labels you hear so much of—"commercial," "serious writer," "mainstream," "hack," "New Wave," "experimental"—are usually very misleading.
In my own field, Ed Hamilton and Hank Kuttner and more recently Bob Silverberg are all writers who formed a fine command of the SF genre early in their careers and who later on used this to do work that is more consciously "literary" and hence more admired by critics. But certainly the writing they did earlier was deservedly popular among SF fandom, who evidently found these works "serious" enough to merit reading.
I am opposed, however, to literary tricks that tend towards obscurity or artificial difficulty, though I can see arguments for that kind of approach. My own experience as a teacher of writing confirms my sense that new authors with artistic ambitions may find themselves scorning too many of the old forms and patterns simply because they blindly associate them with hack work. The point is that these patterns and structures form the basic vocabulary through which all SF writers must speak. That's one reason I'm not completely sympathetic with contemporary writers like Silverberg and Chip Delany and Tom Disch, who are clearly aiming to get themselves recognized as "serious" or mainstream authors.
Williamson received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English in the 1950s from Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) in Portales (near the Texas panhandle), joining the faculty of that university in 1960. He remained affiliated with the school for the rest of his life. In the late 1990s, he established a permanent trust to fund the publication of El Portal, ENMU's journal of literature and art.In the 1980s, he made a sizable donation of books and original manuscripts to ENMU's library, which resulted in the formation of a Special Collections department; the library now is home to the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Library, which ENMU's website describes as "one of the top science fiction collections in the world". In addition, Williamson hosted the Jack Williamson Lectureship Series, an annual lectureship where Guests of Honor and other noted authors give lectures, read from their works, and participate in lively panel discussions on a variety of topics. The lectureship is still celebrated at ENMU each year. The Jack Williamson Liberal Arts building houses the Languages & Literature, Mathematical Sciences, History, Religion & Social Sciences, and Psychology & Political Science Departments of the university, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Office.
Williamson completed his Ph.D. in English literature at the University of Colorado in Boulder, focused on H.G. Wells' earlier works, demonstrating that Wells was not the naive optimist that many believed him to be. In the field of science, Jack Williamson coined the word terraforming in a science-fiction story published in 1942 in Astounding Science Fiction .
The Science Fiction Writers of America named Williamson its second Grand Master of Science Fiction after Robert Heinlein, presented 1976.
After having been let go from ENMU during the university's financial crisis in 1977, Williamson spent some time concentrating on his writing, but after being named Professor Emeritus by ENMU, he was coaxed back to co-teach two evening classes, "Creative Writing" and "Fantasy and Science Fiction" (he pioneered the latter at ENMU during his full-time professorship days). Williamson continued to co-teach these two classes into the 21st century. After he made a large donation of original manuscripts and rare books from his personal collection to the ENMU library, a special collections area was created to house these and it was named the "Jack Williamson Special Collection".
In 1994 Williamson received a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted Williamson in 1996, its inaugural class of two deceased and two living persons.
The Horror Writers Association conferred its Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998and the World Horror Convention elected him Grand Master in 2004.
In November 2006, Williamson died at his home in Portales, New Mexico at age 98.Despite his age, he had made an appearance at the Spring 2006 Jack Williamson Lectureship and published a 320-page novel, The Stonehenge Gate, in 2005.
While attending a Great Books course, Williamson learned that Henryk Sienkiewicz had created one of his works by taking The Three Musketeers of Alexandre Dumas and pairing them with John Falstaff of William Shakespeare. Williamson took this idea into science fiction with The Legion of Space .
Desperate for money, he searched for a quick source of income. While most pulps of the time were slow to pay, the recently restarted Astounding was an exception. However, they did not accept novels, so Williamson submitted three short stories and a novelette. Learning that they were also accepting novels for serialization, he sent in The Legion of Space , which was published in six parts. It quickly became a genre favorite, and was quickly collected into a hardcover.
The story takes place in an era when humans have colonized the Solar System but dare not go farther, as the first extra-solar expedition to Barnard's Star failed and the survivors came back as babbling, grotesque, diseased madmen. They spoke of a gigantic planet, populated by ferocious animals and the single city left of the evil "Medusae". The Medusae bear a vague resemblance to jellyfish, but are actually elephant-sized, four-eyed, flying beings with hundreds of tentacles. The Medusae cannot speak and communicate with one another via a microwave code.
The Falstaff character is named Giles Habibula. He was once a criminal, and can open any lock ever made. In his youth he was called Giles The Ghost. Jay Kalam (Commander of The Legion) and Hal Samdu are the names of the other two warriors. In this story, these warriors of the 30th Century battle the Medusae, the alien race from the lone planet of Barnard's Star. The Legion itself is the military and police force of the Solar System after the overthrow of an empire called the Purple Hall that once ruled all humans.
In this novel, renegade Purple pretenders ally themselves with the Medusae as a means to regain their empire. But the Medusae, who are totally unlike humans in all ways, turn on the Purples, seeking to destroy all humans and move to the Solar System, as their own world, far older than Earth, is finally spiraling back into Barnard's Star. One of the Purples, John Ulnar, supports the Legion from the start, and he is the fourth great warrior. His enemy is the Purple pretender Eric Ulnar, who sought the Medusae out in the first place, seeking to become the next Emperor of The Sun.
The Medusae conquered the Moon, set up their bases there, and went on to attempt conquest of the Solar System. The Medusae had for eons used a reddish, artificial greenhouse gas to keep their dying world from freezing. The Medusae learned from the first human expedition to their world that the gas rots human flesh, and the Medusae use it as a potent chemical weapon, attempting ecological destruction by means of projectiles fired from the Moon. Their vast spaceships also have very effective plasma weapons, very similar to those the Romulans had in a Star Trek episode called Balance of Terror .
The Legion works also featured a force field called AKKA which can erase from the Universe any matter, of any size, anywhere, even a star or a planet. AKKA was a weapon of mass destruction and the secret of it was entrusted to a series of women. AKKA was used in the past to overthrow the Purple tyranny. It was also used to wipe out most of the Medusae, though they had tried to steal the secret. When they were wiped out, the Moon where they had established their base was erased out of existence. At the end of the story, John Ulnar falls in love with the keeper of AKKA, Aladoree Anthar, and marries her. Aladoree Anthar is described as a young woman with lustrous brown hair and gray eyes, beautiful as a goddess.
Williamson next wrote The Cometeers which takes place twenty years after The Legion of Space in which the same characters battle another alien race, this one of different origin.
In this second tale, they fight The Cometeers who are an alien race of energy beings controlling a "comet" which is really a giant force field containing a swarm of planets populated by their slaves. The slave races are of flesh and blood, but none are remotely similar to humans. The Cometeers cannot be destroyed by AKKA, as they are incorporeal from the Universe's point of view and exist for the most part in an alternate reality. The ruling Cometeers feed on their slaves and literally absorb their souls, leaving disgusting, dying hulks in their wake. It is said that they do so, as they were once fleshly entities themselves of various species. Hence, the ruling Cometeers keep other intelligent beings as slaves and "cattle". They fear AKKA, though, as it can erase all their possessions.
They are defeated by the skills of Giles Habibula. Giles broke into a secret chamber guarded by complex locks and force fields that the incorporeal Cometeers could not penetrate. In it the ruler of the Cometeers had kept its own weapon of mass destruction, one that would cause the Cometeers to disintegrate. The ruling Cometeer kept this weapon to enforce its rule over the others of its kind. Once the Cometeers were destroyed, their slaves were ordered by the Legion to take the comet and leave the Solar System, and never return.
Another novel, One Against the Legion , tells of a Purple pretender who sets up a robotic base on a world over seventy light years from Earth, and tries to conquer the Solar System via matter transporter technology he has stolen. In this story robots are outlawed, as they are in Dune . The story also features Jay Kalam, lobbying to allow the New Cometeers to leave the Solar System in peace, as many people were demanding that AKKA be used to obliterate the departing swarm of planets once and for all.
In 1983, Williamson published a final Legion novel, The Queen of the Legion. Giles Habibula reappears in this final novel, which is set after the disbanding of the Legion.
An editor suggested that Williamson combine the ideas of contraterrene matter (antimatter) and asteroid mining, which inspired the Seetee (C-T) series of short stories written as Will Stewart.
|Title||Year||First published in||Reprinted in|
|Afterlife||2002||F&SF||Year's Best SF 8|
Frederik George Pohl Jr. was an American science-fiction writer, editor, and fan, with a career spanning more than 75 years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem "Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna", to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012.
Harry Clement Stubbs, better known by the pen name Hal Clement, was an American science fiction writer and a leader of the hard science fiction subgenre. He also painted astronomically oriented artworks under the name George Richard.
Murray Leinster was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an American writer of science fiction and alternate history literature. He wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.
Leigh Douglass Brackett was an American writer, particularly of science fiction, and has been referred to as the Queen of Space Opera. She was also a screenwriter, known for her work on such films as The Big Sleep (1946), Rio Bravo (1959), The Long Goodbye (1973) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). She was the first woman shortlisted for the Hugo Award.
Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980. It was founded by a French-Italian company, World Editions, which was looking to break into the American market. World Editions hired as editor H. L. Gold, who rapidly made Galaxy the leading science fiction (sf) magazine of its time, focusing on stories about social issues rather than technology.
Algirdas Jonas "Algis" Budrys was a Lithuanian-American science fiction author, editor, and critic. He was also known under the pen names Frank Mason, Alger Rome, John A. Sentry, William Scarff, and Paul Janvier.
Stanley Grauman Weinbaum was an American science fiction writer. His first story, "A Martian Odyssey", was published to great acclaim in July 1934, but he died from lung cancer less than a year and a half later.
Gnome Press was an American small-press publishing company primarily known for publishing many science fiction classics. Gnome was one of the most eminent of the fan publishers of SF, producing 86 titles in its lifespan — many considered classic works of SF and Fantasy today. Gnome was important in the transitional period between Genre SF as a magazine phenomenon and its arrival in mass-market book publishing, but proved too underfunded to make the leap from fan-based publishing to the professional level. The company existed for just over a decade, ultimately failing due to inability to compete with major publishers who also started to publish science fiction. In its heyday, Gnome published many of the major SF authors, and in some cases, as with Robert E. Howard's Conan series and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, was responsible for the manner in which their stories were collected into book form.
Terraforming is well represented in popular culture, usually in the form of science fiction. While many stories involving interstellar travel feature planets already suited to habitation by humans and supporting their own indigenous life, some authors prefer to address the unlikeliness of such a concept by instead detailing the means by which humans have converted inhospitable worlds to ones capable of supporting life through artificial means.
The Legion of Space is a space opera science fiction series by American writer Jack Williamson. The story takes place in an era when humans have colonized the Solar System but dare not go farther, as the first extra-solar expedition to Barnard's Star failed and the survivors came back as babbling, grotesque, diseased madmen. They spoke of a gigantic planet, populated by ferocious animals and the single city left of the evil "Medusae". The Medusae bear a vague resemblance to jellyfish, but are actually elephant-sized, four-eyed, flying beings with hundreds of tentacles. The Medusae cannot speak, and communicate with one another via a microwave code.
Darker Than You Think is a science fantasy novel by American writer Jack Williamson. Originally a novelette, it was expanded into novel length and published by Fantasy Press in 1948. The short version was published in Unknown in 1940. It was reprinted by UK-based Orion Books in 2003 as volume 38 of their Fantasy Masterworks series.
The Legion of Space is a science fiction novel by the American writer Jack Williamson. It was originally serialized in Astounding Stories in 1934, then published in book form by Fantasy Press in 1947 in an edition of 2,970 copies. A magazine-sized reprint was issued by Galaxy in 1950, with a standard paperback following from Pyramid Books in 1967. The first British edition was published by Sphere Books in 1977. The Legion of Space has been translated into German, French and Italian. It has also appeared in the omnibus Three from the Legion, which compiles the novel and all but one of its sequels.
Seetee Ship is a science fiction novel by American writer Jack Williamson, writing under the pseudonym Will Stewart. The second in the Seetee series, it is a fix-up adapting two stories previously published in Astounding Science Fiction magazine, "Minus Sign" and "Opposites—React!".
The Cometeers is a collection of two science fiction novels by the American writer Jack Williamson. It was first published by Fantasy Press in 1950 in an edition of 3,162 copies. The novels were originally serialized in the magazine Astounding in 1936 and 1939, and later released as individual paperbacks by Pyramid Books.
The Legion of Time is a collection of two science fiction novels by the American writer Jack Williamson. It was first published by Fantasy Press in 1952 in an edition of 4,604 copies. The novels were originally serialized in the magazines Astounding Science Fiction and Marvel Stories.
Nomad is a science fiction novel by American writer George O. Smith. It was first published in book form in 1950 by Prime Press in an edition of 2,500 copies. The novel was originally serialized in three parts in the magazine Astounding beginning in December 1944, under Smith's pseudonym, Wesley Long.
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine published under various titles since 1930. Originally titled Astounding Stories of Super-Science, the first issue was dated January 1930, published by William Clayton, and edited by Harry Bates. Clayton went bankrupt in 1933 and the magazine was sold to Street & Smith. The new editor was F. Orlin Tremaine, who soon made Astounding the leading magazine in the nascent pulp science fiction field, publishing well-regarded stories such as Jack Williamson's Legion of Space and John W. Campbell's "Twilight". At the end of 1937, Campbell took over editorial duties under Tremaine's supervision, and the following year Tremaine was let go, giving Campbell more independence. Over the next few years Campbell published many stories that became classics in the field, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, A.E. van Vogt's Slan, and several novels and stories by Robert A. Heinlein. The period beginning with Campbell's editorship is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
"Collision Orbit" is a science fiction short story by American writer Jack Williamson. It was published in the July 1942 edition of Astounding Science Fiction magazine.
Science fiction and fantasy magazines began to be published in the United States in the 1920s. Stories with science fiction themes had been appearing for decades in pulp magazines such as Argosy, but there were no magazines that specialized in a single genre until 1915, when Street & Smith, one of the major pulp publishers, brought out Detective Story Magazine. The first magazine to focus solely on fantasy and horror was Weird Tales, which was launched in 1923, and established itself as the leading weird fiction magazine over the next two decades; writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard became regular contributors. In 1926 Weird Tales was joined by Amazing Stories, published by Hugo Gernsback; Amazing printed only science fiction, and no fantasy. Gernsback included a letter column in Amazing Stories, and this led to the creation of organized science fiction fandom, as fans contacted each other using the addresses published with the letters. Gernsback wanted the fiction he printed to be scientifically accurate, and educational, as well as entertaining, but found it difficult to obtain stories that met his goals; he printed "The Moon Pool" by Abraham Merritt in 1927, despite it being completely unscientific. Gernsback lost control of Amazing Stories in 1929, but quickly started several new magazines. Wonder Stories, one of Gernsback's titles, was edited by David Lasser, who worked to improve the quality of the fiction he received. Another early competitor was Astounding Stories of Super-Science, which appeared in 1930, edited by Harry Bates, but Bates printed only the most basic adventure stories with minimal scientific content, and little of the material from his era is now remembered.
In 1985, Mr. Williamson received a Hugo Award for his memoir, 'Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction' (Bluejay Books, 1984). His 2001 novella 'The Ultimate Earth' won a Hugo, given by the World Science Fiction Society, and a Nebula Award, given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
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