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Jack Williamson



Wiki entry, ISFDB entry



Jack Williamson is one of my most favorite "space adventure" writers: his prose sings and inspires, his plots are dynamic and thrilling, his sense of wonder is perhaps the best in the business. For the ultimate in space opera try his majestic stories "Breakdown" (1942) or "The Dark Destroyer" (1976). He was also good at fantasy and supernatural adventure stories (for example, "Wolves of Darkness"). His writing style was often elevated to poetic, lyrical expressions, revealing a true awe before the grandeur of love and space (comparable with the best from Poul Anderson). A treat to all lovers of fantastic literature.

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Pen-names: Will Stewart
--------------------------

"Afterlife"
© F&SF, Feb 2002
--short story : 2003 Locus Poll
--/ cool sf story

"And Searching Mind"
(also as "The Humanoids")
(sequel to "With Folded Hands")
(Humanoids)
© Astounding, Dec 1948
book: Simon & Schuster, 1949
--novel : 1952 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll /27
--book : 1956 Astounding/Analog All Time Poll /18

--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ adventure award


"The Angel From Hell"
(as by Nils O. Sonderlund)
© Marvel Tales, Oct 1939
--/ shock value
--/ rare find


"Black Hole Station"
© Space Stations,
ed. by M. Greenberg, 2004

--/ cool space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


"The Black Sun" (nv)
© Tor Books, 1997
--sf novel : 1998 Locus /16
--/ fourth place space sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ emotion award


"Born Of The Sun"
(The Legion Of Space)
© Astounding, Mar 1934
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale


"Breakdown"
(preq. to "Star Bridge")
© Astounding, Jan 1942
People Machines, 1971
--/ second place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ rare find


"Bright New Universe" (nv)
© 1967, Ace Books
--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award

"The Cold Green Eye"
© Fantastic, Mar 1953
Fantastic, May 1967
The Pandora Effect, 1969
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

----------------------------------------------




"The Comeeters" (nv)
(The Legion Of Space 2)
© Astounding Stories, May-Aug 1936
novel : Fantasy Press, 1950
Three From The Legion, 1977
--/ fourth place space sf series
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


"The Comeeters" - Here is the blurb from paperback reprint: "a spaceship twelve million miles long, the secret weapon that controls the Universe, a superhuman traitor to all mankind and, defying mortal peril, fantastic dangers, and the dread powers of the invincible Cometeers, the grandest trio of swashbucklers in all of science fiction". Lots of ambitious action, however some of it is pretty comic-like, the writing is crude, and only a wonderful scale and totally awesome creatures set this trilogy apart from the lesser Campbell-era "space opera" efforts.

The Cometeers of the title 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. Some say that the series' characters are taken from "The Three Musketeers" with Falstaff added, but I find it a bit far-fetched. Just a good old large-scale non-sophisticated space opera.



----------------------------------------------

"The Cosmic Express"
© Amazing, Nov 1930
The Pandora Effect, 1969
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale


"Counter Kill"
(BlackLantern series)
© F&SF, Oct 1975
The Power of Blackness, 1982
--/ fourth place sf series
--/ wonder award

"The Crucible Of Power"
© Astounding, Feb 1939
The Best of J. Williamson, 1978
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale


"The Dark Destroyer"
© Amazing Stories, Jan 1976
--/ third place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find


"Darker Than You Think" (nv)
© 1948, Fantasy Press
--/ fourth place f novel
--/ style award

"The Dead Spot"
© Marvel Science Stories, Nov 1938
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"Dead Star Station"
© Astounding, Nov 1933
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"The Doom From Planet Four"
(also as "The Island Of Mars")
© Astounding, Jul 1931
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ cool sf story

"Doomship" (nv)
(with Frederick Pohl)
(Cuckoo Series)
© Worlds of If, Mar 1973
novel : Ballantine, 1974
--/ third place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale


"Dragon's Island" (nv)
(also as "The Not-Men")
© Startling Stories, Jun 1952
book: Simon & Schuster, 1951
revised, 1968
--/ cool sf novel

"The Equalizer"
(The Humanoids)
© Astounding, Mar 1947
The Pandora Effect, 1967
--/ third place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award


"Farside Station"
(Medea Series)
© IASFM, Nov 1978
Medea, 1985
--/ third place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


"The Firefly Tree"
© Science Fiction Age, May 1997
--short story : 1998 Locus Poll
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award


"The Girl From A Lost Planet"
(also as "The Girl From Mars")
(with Miles J. Brewer)
© 1929, SF Series # 1, ed. H. Gernsback
also in - 1929, Amazing Stories

--/ cool sf story

"The Girl From Mars"
(also as "The Girl From A Lost Planet")
(with Miles J. Brewer)
© 1929, Amazing Stories
Science Fiction Series # 1
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ cool sf story

"Golden Blood" (nv)
© 1933, Weird Tales
book: Lancer Books, 1964
--/ fourth place f novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"The Greatest Invention"
(Quarantine series)
© Astounding, Jul 1951
--/ cool sf novella

"Guinevere For Everybody"
© Star Science Fiction #4, 1954
The Pandora Effect, 1967
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ emotion award
--/ romance award


"The Happiest Creature"
(Quarantine)
© Star Science Fiction # 2, 1953
The Trial Of Terra, 1962
The Pandora Effect, 1969
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Highest Dive"
© Science Fiction Monthly, May 1976
The Best Of Jack Williamson, 1979
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

"Hindsight"
© Astounding, May 1940
People Machines, 1971
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale


"The Humanoids" (nv)
(also as "And Searching Mind")
(sequel to "With Folded Hands")
(Humanoids)
© Astounding, Dec 1948
book: Simon & Schuster, 1949
--novel : 1952 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll /27
--book : 1956 Astounding/Analog All Time Poll /18

--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ adventure award


"The Humanoid Touch" (nv)
(Humanoids series)
© Bantam Books, 1980
--/ third place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure: coming-of-age
--/ idea: "good" humanoids
--/ style award
--/ romance award
--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale
--/ shock value

"The Ice Entity"
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb 1937
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ adventure award
--/ rare find


"The Infinite Enemy"
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Apr 1938
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ rare find


"The Iron God"
© Marvel Stories, Apr 1941
book: Gryphon Books, 1999
--/ fourth place superman sf novella
--/ wonder award:
metal giant

--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale
--/ style award
--/ rare find

"The Island Of Mars"
(also as "The Doom From Planet Four")
© Astounding, Jul 1931
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ cool sf story

"Jamboree"
© Galaxy, Dec 1969
People Machines, 1971
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award

----------------------------------------------




"The Legion of Space" (nv)
(The Legion of Space series)
© Astounding Stories, Apr-Aug 1934
Fantasy Press, 1947
--/ fourth place space sf series
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale

When people speak of the classic space opera (space adventure) of the 1930s, they usually mean the Universe-shaking blockbusters by Edmond Hamilton, E. E. "Doc" Smith and John W. Campbell. Jack Williamson should be in this company as well: his "Legion of Space" series is a capable romp through time and space, with enough portion of spaceways glamour to qualify for Space Opera Hall of Fame.

Jack Williamson is one of my favorite "space adventure" writers: his prose sings and inspires, his plots are dynamic and thrilling, his sense of wonder is perhaps the best in the business. For the ultimate in space opera try his majestic stories "Breakdown" (1942) or "The Dark Destroyer" (1976). However, I expected more from this series, mostly because I've read so much of Jack Williamson's other soaring stuff in the past.

"The Legion of Space" - The first entry in this seminal space opera series is a bit one-dimensional. Actually, quite one-dimensional, primitive and mostly flat. The adventure is fine (but very predictable), color is there (but not full throttle yet), characters are introduced over a grandiose background, and conflicts are hatched to be resolved on ever-so-widening cosmic scale. Also, I see how this series was different from other outer space outings (by Campbell, for example) - it's rather more free-wheeling and less rigid.

"The Legion of Space" has all makings of a classic, but it does not age too well. Read it for a dose of wide-eyed wonder and lower your stylistic expectations. Here is a good plot summary. One thing I am going to mention - the cosmic superweapon is entrusted to a beautiful woman... which adds to her mystery and complicates her marriage quite a bit. See, the Medusae want the weapon, too: "they vaguely resemble a jellyfish, but are actually elephant-sized, four-eyed, flying beings having hundreds of tentacles." Cool.



----------------------------------------------

"Man Down"
(Quarantine series)
© Astounding, Mar 1952
The Trial Of Terra, 1962
--/ cool sf story

"The Man From Outside"
(Quarantine series)
© Astounding Stories, Mar 1951
The Trial Of Terra, 1951
--/ cool sf story

"Manseed" (nv)
© 1983, Ballantine Books
--/ cool space sf novel
--/ wonder award

"The Masked World"
© Worlds Of Tomorrow, Oct 1963
People Machines, 1971
--/ cool space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ rare find




"The Metal Man"
© Amazing, Dec 1928
The Pandora Effect, 1969
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Meteor Girl"
© Astounding, Mar 1931
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ cool sf story

"Mistress of Machine-Age Madness"
(as by Nils O. Sonderlund)
© Marvel Tales, May 1940
--/ rare find

"The Mists of Time"
© Millenium 3000, ed. D. Hartwell, 2006
--/ cool time sf story
--/ adventure award

"The Moon Children" (nv)
© Galaxy, Jan 1971
book: 1972, Berkley Books
--/ third place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale
--/ emotion award


"The Moon Era"
© Wonder Stories, Feb 1932
Tales Of Wonder, 1941
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


"Non-Stop To Mars"
© Argosy, Feb 1939
Fantastic, Apr 1962
People Machines, 1971
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


"The Not-Men" (nv)
(also as "Dragon's Island")
© Startling Stories, Jun 1952
book: Simon & Schuster, 1951
revised, 1968
--/ cool sf novel

"The Nth Step"
(Terraforming Earth series)
© Analog, Jan 2001
Terraforming Earth, 2002
--/ fourth place space sf series
--/ wonder award

----------------------------------------------



"Nowhere Near"
(The Legion of Space series)
© 1967, Pyramid Books
Included in Pyramid Books 1967 edition of "One Against the Legion"
Three from the Legion, 1979
--/ third place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale
--/ romance award
--/ rare find

I liked this novella more than the whole series... and here is why: it takes place in a closed, mysterious, ghastly environment (partly-abandoned space station Nowhere Near, hovering at the edge of a weird space-time anomaly). The claustrophic, lost feeling adds to the mystery and dramatic effect, making the adventure all the more effective - almost cinematic... This would make great Japanese animation (complete with a big-eyed female character, dressed as a nurse). Giles Habibula is being his old slightly-annoying, but lovable self. The story overflows with great space adventure elements: gigantic alien robotic spaceships, suitably grandiose cosmology, the budding of romance in the face of insurmountable odds, colorful prose that gets better as the story progresses - and the sheer tremendous sense of COSMIC ABANDONMENT and centuries of doom - all this makes the story a diamond-in-the-rough, a gem to be discovered. This novella is little known, as it was only printed inside "One Against the Legion" paperback and SFBC editions.

"Nowhere Near" shines with great space adventure brilliance, starting with a perfect title and ending with love on abandoned station and melancholy on a cosmic scale. A sheer joy to read, a classic adventure in the style of Edmond Hamilton (or even early George R. R. Martin, or Alastair Reynolds).

----------------------------------------------


"One Against the Legion" (nv)
(Legion of Space Series #3)
© Astounding Stories, Apr-June 1939
Pyramid Books, 1967
--/ fourth place space sf series
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale

"One Against the Legion" obviously predates Berserkers - the evil, almost invincible machine civilization (created by Fred Saberhagen and very popular in the 1980s) - and yet it features a robotic base threatening our Solar system. The narration switches between space adventure and a neat little detective plot - and even includes a bit of tentacle-robot fetish (way before the Japanese took it and developed it out of all proportion).

Good pulp read, plenty of scenery, even though it's the weakest book in the series, with little steam left to up the scale and action of "Comeeters".

----------------------------------------------

"Operation: Gravity"
© Science Fiction Plus, Oct 1953
People Machines, 1971
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"The Pandora Effect" (coll)
© Ace Books, 1967
--/ third place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ style award


"The Peddler's Nose"
(Quarantine series)
© Astounding, Apr 1951
The Trial Of Terra, 1962
People Machines, 1971
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ humour award


"People Machines" (coll)
© Ace Books, 1971
--/ third place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ style award


"A Planet For Plundering"
(Quarantine series)
© Galaxy, Apr 1962
The Trial Of Terra, 1962
--/ cool sf story

"The Plutonian Terror"
© Weird Tales, Oct 1933
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"The Power Of Blackness" (nv)
(Black Lantern series)
© F&SF, Dec 1973
book: 1976, Dell Books
--/ fourth place sf series
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"The Reign Of Wizardry" (nv)
© Unknown, Mar 1940
book: Lancer Books, 1966
--/ cool f novel

"Salvage In Space"
© Astounding, Mar 1933
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"Star Bridge" (nv)
(with James Gunn)
(sequel to "Breakdown")
© Ace Books, 1955
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award

"Star Bright"
© Argosy, Nov 1939
People Machines, 1971
--/ fourth place f story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ humour award
--/ rare find


"Three from the Legion" (coll)
(Legion Of Space)
© 1981, Nelson Doubleday
--/ fourth place space sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


"Through The Purple Cloud"
© Wonder Stories, May 1931
Startling Stories, Nov 1947
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale


"The Trial Of Terra" (coll)
(Quarantine series)
© Ace Books, 1962
--/ cool sf collection
--/ wonder award

"Twelve Hours To Live"
© Wonder Stories, Aug 1931
The Early Williamson, 1975
--/ cool space story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"With Folded Hands"
(Humanoids)
© Astounding, Jul 1947
The Pandora Effect, 1969
--novelette : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /32 (tie)
--/ third place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award
--/ emotion award


"Wolves Of Darkness"
© Strange Tales, Jan 1932
--/ second place sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea: dimension of darkness
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ romance award
--/ shock value
--/ rare find

------------------------------------

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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.


All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)
ALL "BEST OF" LISTS ARE LOCATED HERE

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.


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