Jack Williamson

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(April 29, 1908 – November 10, 2006)

Jack Williamson, a U.S. SF writer who for 31 years held the title of Most Senior SF Writer, discovered Amazing as a young man, but never really hooked up with fandom. By the 1930s, he was an established pro writing mostly hard adventure sf such as The Legion of Space.

Williamson wrote classics such as The Humanoids and "Darker Than You Think." He coined the word terraform. He was one of the western pros who were (pseudonymously) characters in Anthony Boucher's Rocket to the Morgue — Joe Henderson in his case.

As by far the oldest writer still active when he was in his late 80s, he was approached by a young man at a con for an autograph. The young man said, "Mr. Williamson, I really enjoyed your latest book, and I hope that ten years from now I'll still be reading them!" Williamson, looked at him and said, "Well, if you take care of yourself, I don't see any reason you wouldn't be able to."

He also published as Nils O. Sonderland and Will Stewart, which pename he used for his Seetee Ship and Seetee Shock novels for Gnome Press in the early 1950s.

Williamson was born in the Arizona Territory and moved to New Mexico in a covered wagon where he lived for most of the rest of his life. Mostly self-educated, he eventually earned a Ph.D. in English and became a professor at Eastern New Mexico University, which established the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Library in his memory.

He wrote his autobiography, Wonder's Child: My Life in Science Fiction, in 1984 (Bluejay Books). Other works about him include The Work of Jack Williamson: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide (which received a nomination for the 1999 Best Related Book Hugo) and Seventy-Five: The Diamond Anniversary of a Science Fiction Pioneer, both by Richard A. Hauptmann.

The Jack Williamson Lectureship was named after him.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Selected Works[edit]

The Legion of Space[edit]

The Legion of Space was originally serialized in Astounding Stories in 1934, then published in book form (with some revisions) by Fantasy Press in 1947 in an edition of 2,970 copies. It was better-than-average pulp sf, but it was still very definitely pulp sf. It was populated by figures cut from an especially high grade of cardboard with Shakespearean overtones and was very popular with fans. For example, the Strangers Club did a play with takeoffs on Legion and characters from it were often used at early masquerades.

The Humanoids[edit]

An SF novel published in book form in 1949, after appearing in Astounding in 1948 as a three-part serial "...And Searching Mind" that was a re-write of his novelette "With folded hands..." first published in Astounding in 1947. It had a big impact on fandom.

Person 19082006
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