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Previous SFF Author: Mazarkis Williams

SFF Author: Jack Williamson

(1908-2006)
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” after the death of Robert Heinlein in 1988. Early in his career he sometimes used the pseudonyms Will Stewart and Nils O. Sonderlund. Jack Williamson has been in the forefront of science fiction since his first published story in 1928. Williamson is the acclaimed author of such trailblazing science fiction as The Humanoids and The Legion of Time. The Oxford English Dictionary credits Williamson with inventing the terms “genetic engineering” (in Dragon’s Island) and “terraforming” (in Seetee Ship). His seminal novel Darker Than You Think was a landmark speculation on the nature of shape-changing.



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The Stone From the Green Star: “Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes”

The Stone From the Green Star by Jack Williamson

As I mentioned recently in my review of Edmond Hamilton’s 1930 novel The Universe Wreckers, this Ohio-born author was just one of three writers who helped to popularize the genre now known as “space opera,” the other two being E.E. “Doc” Smith and Jack Williamson. I’d recently experienced Smith’s seminal six-book LENSMAN series, written between 1934 and ’48, but it had been a good number of years since I’d read anything by Williamson,


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The Birth of a New Republic: Of Lunarian bats and atomic vortexes

The Birth of a New Republic by Jack Williamson & Miles J. Breuer

In his 1966 novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, author Robert A. Heinlein gave his readers a tale of a penal colony on the Moon that rebels and declares its independence from Earth. The book went on to win the coveted Hugo Award and probably didn’t hurt Heinlein’s chances of being named sci-fi’s very first Grand Master, in 1974. But, as it turns out, this was not the first time that a writer had presented his fans with such a literally revolutionary scenario.


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Golden Blood: Durand of Arabia

Golden Blood by Jack Williamson

I’d like to tell you about a terrific book that I have just finished reading. In it, a 2,000-year-old Arabian woman, living her immortal existence in the heart of an extinct volcano after being endowed by a mysterious force of nature, waits patiently for the reincarnation of her dead lover to reappear to her. “Hold on,” I can almost hear you saying. “I know that book … that’s She!” And if that is indeed your reaction, a gold star for you,


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The Legion of Space: A true page-turner in the best pulp style

The Legion of Space by Jack Williamson

The Legion of Space, the opening salvo of a tetralogy that Jack Williamson wrote over a nearly 50-year period, was initially released as a six-part serial in the April-September 1934 issues of Astounding Stories. (This was some years before the publication changed its name to Astounding Science-Fiction, in March 1938, and, with the guidance of newly ensconced editor John W. Campbell, Jr, became the most influential magazine in sci-fi history.) It was ultimately given the hardcover novel treatment in 1947.


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The Cometeers: A smashing sequel

The Cometeers by Jack Williamson

The sequel to The Legion of Space (one of the most popular serialized sci-fi novels of the 1930s), The Cometeers, to author Jack Williamson’s credit, is not only a better-written book, but does what all good sequels should: enlarge on the themes of the earlier piece and deepen the characterizations. First appearing in the May-August 1936 issues of Astounding Stories magazine (two years after The Legion of Space made its first appearance therein,


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One Against the Legion: A prime example of a Golden Age sci-fi/mystery

One Against the Legion by Jack Williamson

The third installment of Jack Williamson’s LEGION OF SPACE tetralogy, One Against the Legion, initially appeared in the April, May and June 1939 issues of Astounding Science-Fiction. A short, colorful and fast-moving novel, it reacquaints us with the Legionnaires Jay Kalam, Hal Samdu and Giles Habibula; John Star and his extended family only make cameo appearances in this one.

Whereas in book 1, The Legion of Space,


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The Queen of the Legion: A worthy addition to a legendary space opera

The Queen of the Legion by Jack Williamson

Fans of Jack Williamson’s LEGION OF SPACE series would have a long time to wait after part 3 of the saga, One Against the Legion, appeared in 1939. It would be a full 28 years before a short story featuring any of the Legion characters came forth, 1967’s “Nowhere Near,” and it was not until 1983, almost 50 years after part 1 of the series (The Legion of Space) was released,


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The Reign of Wizardry: Cagey cretans

The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson

Perhaps because Jack Williamson was named the second science fiction Grand Master, in 1976, and managed to cop both the coveted Hugo and Nebula Awards, it is easy to forget that the Arizona Territory-born author did write in other fields than just sci-fi. For example, I have already written here of his marvelously scary novella “Wolves of Darkness” (1932), as well as his now-classic lycanthropy novel Darker Than You Think (1948) … two works that doubtless helped him win the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement,


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Darker Than You Think: A mighty gripping read

Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson

Jack Williamson’s Darker Than You Think is a one-shot horror-novel excursion for this science fiction Grand Master, but has nonetheless been described as not only the author’s finest work, but also one of the best treatments of the werewolf in modern literature. It has been chosen for inclusion in David Pringle’s overview volume Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels  (“a relatively disciplined and thoughtful work,” Pringle writes, in comparing it to the author’s earlier space operas) as well as in Jones &


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The Humanoids: A great novel

The Humanoids by Jack Williamson

The late 1940s was a period of remarkable creativity for future sci-fi Grand Master Jack Williamson. July ’47 saw the release of his much-acclaimed short story “With Folded Hands” in the pages of Astounding Science-Fiction, followed by the tale’s two-part serialized sequel, And Searching Mind, in that influential magazine’s March and April 1948 issues. Darker Than You Think, Williamson’s great sci-fi/fantasy/horror hybrid, was released later in 1948, and 1949 saw the publication of And Searching Mind in hardcover form,


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The Humanoid Touch: A marvelous sequel

The Humanoid Touch by Jack Williamson

In Jack Williamson’s classic short story “With Folded Hands” (1947), the inventor of the Humanoids — sleek black robots whose credo is “To Serve And Obey, And Guard Men From Harm,” even if that means stifling mankind’s freedoms — makes an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the computer plexus on planet Wing IV that is keeping the many millions of units functioning. In the author’s classic sequel, the novel The Humanoids (1949), another unsuccessful stab is made, 90 years later, by a “rhodomagnetics”


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Dragon’s Island: Part noir, part jungle adventure, all great fun

Dragon’s Island by Jack Williamson

The five-year period from 1948 – ’52 was one of superlative productivity for future sci-fi Grand Master Jack Williamson. Although he’d already written some 75 short stories since his first sale at age 20, in 1928 (“The Metal Men,” in the December issue of editor Hugo Gernsback’s Amazing Stories magazine), that five-year stretch saw him produce some of his most fondly remembered longer pieces: the novels Darker Than You Think (1948),


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The Trial of Terra: Fun and amusing

The Trial of Terra by Jack Williamson

Jack Williamson’s The Trial of Terra made its initial appearance in 1962, as one of those cute little Ace paperbacks (D-555, for all you collectors out there). The book is what’s known as a “fix-up novel,” meaning that parts of the book had appeared as short stories years earlier, and then skillfully cobbled together by the author later on to form a seamless whole. Despite this, the book is a stand-alone novel in the Williamson canon, with no relation to any of the other books in the author’s substantial oeuvre.


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The Legion of Time: Highly recommended for all fans of red-blooded, Golden Age sci-fi

The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson

The Legion of Time consists of two novellas that Jack Williamson wrote in the late 1930s, neither of which have anything to do with his wholly dissimilar LEGION OF SPACE novels of that same period. Both of these novellas are written in the wonderfully pulpy prose that often typified Golden Age sci-fi, and both are as colorful, fast moving and action packed as any fan could want. That elusive “sense of wonder” that authors of the era strove for seemed to come naturally for Williamson,


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Dreadful Sleep: Some kind of ultimate pulp mash-up

Dreadful Sleep by Jack Williamson

At the end of my recent review of Jack Williamson’s 1933 novel Golden Blood, which initially appeared as a six-part serial in the pages of Weird Tales magazine, I mentioned that the author had later placed another serial in that same pulp publication, and that I meant to seek it out. Well, I am here to tell you MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! That later serial, Dreadful Sleep, was a three-part affair in the March –


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The Stonehenge Gate: Jack Williamson’s final novel

The Stonehenge Gate by Jack Williamson

What do you plan to do when you’re 97 years old? Me? If I’m fortunate enough to attain to that ripe old age, I suppose I will be eating pureed Gerber peaches and watching Emma Peel reruns on my TV set in the nursing home … IF I’m lucky. For sci-fi Grand Master Jack Williamson, the age of 97 meant another novel, his 50th or so, in a writing career that stretched back 77 years (!), to his first published story, “The Metal Man,”


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Thoughtful Thursday: Rename this horrible cover!

Time for another “Rename This Horrible Cover” contest!

This story by Jack Williamson was recently reviewed by Sandy. Apparently, the story is not nearly as bad as the art.

But we feel like the cover needs a new title. Can you suggest one?

The creator of the title we like best wins a book from our stacks

Got a suggestion for a horrible cover that needs renaming? Please send it to Kat.

We love this game!


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The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction: Of Stark and Crag and Court and Cord

The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction edited by Oscar J. Friend & Leo Margulies

For the past five years, all the books that I have read, be they novels or short-story collections, and whether in the field of sci-fi, fantasy or horror, have had one thing in common: The were all written during the period 1900 – 1950; a little self-imposed reading assignment that I have often referred to as Project Pulp. But all good things must come to an end, and to bring this lengthy series of early 20th century genre lit to a close,


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Rivals of Weird Tales: Nary a clinker in the bunch!

Rivals of Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg

From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as Weird Tales helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a “Who’s Who” of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of “the Unique Magazine,” and had loved them all.


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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey‘s other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of “fabril” literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the “smith”


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Science Fiction Super Pack #1: A generally above-average anthology

Science Fiction Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Like the companion fantasy volume, Science Fiction Super Pack #1, edited by Warren Lapine, only has one story I didn’t think was good, and it’s a piece of Lovecraft fanfiction. H.P. Lovecraft‘s overwrought prose doesn’t do much for me even when Lovecraft himself writes it, and much less so when it’s attempted by imitators. And Lovecraft’s stories at least have something frightening that happens in them; these two stories (in this volume and the other) only have visions of aspects of the Mythos and crazy people ranting,


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Next SFF Author: Neil Williamson
Previous SFF Author: Mazarkis Williams

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