Wednesday, December 31, 2008

SF authors born 1904-13: 1904

1. Lester Dent
2. Edmond Hamilton


Lester Dent (Kenneth Robeson: Doc Savage) (TK)

Dent a Golden-Age, not Radium-Age SF author?


Edmond Hamilton (1904-1973)

American writer. A very prolific contributor to the science-fiction and supernatural fiction genre magazines. He was a barely competent writer with few ideas. Along with Ray Cummins, claims Bleiler, he was probably the genre writer most deserving of the term "hack." However, he is important historically as perhaps the major creator of the space opera and the modern story of world menace. (That is, "sci fi.") Very little of his work is worth reading today, says Bleiler.

Edmond Hamilton began his writing career in the early days of pulp science fiction. His first story, "The Monster of Marmuth", appeared in Weird Tales, and was very reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft. Soon, though, his style changed, and he focused on the "super-science" stories popularized by E. E. Smith and John Campbell. In 1940, pulp editor Leo Marguiles and Hamilton created the Captain Future character, who was the lead character in a short running (17 issues) self-titled magazine. The character would later resurface as an anime character.

Unlike many of the pioneers of pulp sci-fi, Hamilton continued to write stories well into the 1970s. His later work began to focus on more introspective topics, and are some of his best. He also became a comic book writer, scripting many issues of "Superman" comics. While not well known today, Hamilton's work was a definite influence on many writers and filmmakers today. His influences can be seen in "Star Trek", "Star Wars", and "Babylon 5".

Edmond is credited[citation needed] as the author of the first hardcover compilation of what would eventually come to be known as the Science Fiction genre, "The Horror on The Asteroid and Other Tales of Planetary Horror" (1936). The book compiles the following stories: The Horror on the Asteroid, The Accursed Galaxy, The Man Who Saw Everything (The Man With the X-Ray Eyes), The Earth-Brain, The Monster-God of Mamurth, and The Man Who Evolved.

His career as a science fiction writer began with the publication of the novel, "The Monster God of Mamurth",[2] which appeared in the August 1926 issue of the classic magazine of alternative fiction, Weird Tales. Hamilton quickly became a central member of the remarkable group of Weird Tales writers assembled by editor Farnsworth Wright, that included H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Hamilton would publish 79 works of fiction in Weird Tales between 1926 and 1948, making him one of the most prolific of the magazine's contributors (only Seabury Quinn and August Derleth appeared more frequently). Hamilton became a friend and associate of several Weird Tales veterans, including E. Hoffmann Price and Otis Adelbert Kline; most notably, he struck up a 20-year friendship with close contemporary Jack Williamson, as Williamson records in his 1984 autobiography Wonder's Child. In the late 1930s Weird Tales printed several striking fantasy tales by Hamilton, most notably "He That Hath Wings" (July 1938), one of his most popular and frequently-reprinted pieces.

Through the late 1920s and early '30s Hamilton wrote for all of the SF pulp magazines then publishing, and contributed horror and thriller stories to various other magazines as well. He was very popular as an author of space opera, a sub-genre he created along with E.E. "Doc" Smith. His story "The Island of Unreason" (Wonder Stories, May 1933) won the first Jules Verne Prize as the best SF story of the year (this was the first SF prize awarded by the votes of fans, a precursor of the later Hugo Awards). In the later 1930s, in response to the economic strictures of the Great Depression, he also wrote detective and crime stories. Always prolific in stereotypical pulp-magazine fashion, Hamilton sometimes saw 4 or 5 of his stories appear in a single month in these years; the February 1937 issue of the pulp Popular Detective featured three Hamilton stories, one under his own name and two under pseudonyms. In the 1940s, Hamilton was the primary force behind the Captain Future franchise,[3] an SF pulp designed for juvenile readers that won him many fans, but diminished his reputation in later years when science fiction moved away from its space-opera roots. Hamilton was always associated with an extravagant, romantic, high-adventure style of SF, perhaps best represented by his 1947 novel The Star Kings. As the SF field grew more sophisticated, his brand of extreme adventure seemed ever more quaint, corny, and dated.

In 1946 Hamilton began writing for DC Comics, specializing in stories for their characters Superman [4] and Batman. One of his best known Superman stories was "Superman Under the Red Sun" which appeared in Action Comics #300 in 1963 and which has numerous elements in common with his novel City At World's End (1951). He wrote other works for DC Comics, including the short-lived science fiction series Chris KL-99 (in Strange Adventures), which was loosely based on his Captain Future character. He retired from comics in 1966.

[edit] Marriage and collaboration

On December 31, 1946, Hamilton married fellow science fiction author and screen writer Leigh Brackett. Afterward he would produce some of his best work, including his novels The Star of Life (1947), The Valley of Creation (1948), City at World's End, and The Haunted Stars (1960). In this more mature phase of his career, Hamilton moved away from the romantic and fantastic elements of his earlier fiction to create some unsentimental and realistic stories, such as "What's It Like Out There?" (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Dec. 1952), his single most frequently-reprinted and anthologized work.

Though Hamilton and Leigh Brackett worked side by side for a quarter-century, they rarely shared the task of authorship; their single formal collaboration, Stark and the Star Kings, would not appear in print until 2005. In the early 1960s, when Brackett had temporarily abandoned SF for screenwriting, Hamilton did an uncredited revision and expansion of two early Brackett stories, "Black Amazon of Mars" and "Queen of the Martian Catacombs"--the results were published as her novellas People of the Talisman and The Secret of Sinharat (1964).

Edmond Hamilton died in 1977 in Lancaster, California, of complications following kidney surgery. In the year before his death he had worked on an anime adaptation of his Captain Future novels and a tokusatsu adaptation of Star Wolf; both appeared on Japanese television in 1978 and the Captain Future adaptation later played in Europe, winning Hamilton a new and different fan base than the one that had acclaimed him half a century before.

* Across Space (Weird Tales, September-November 1926). Bleiler says this novella is "the first of a series of world-saving short novels and nouvelles that were to beset the weird and science-fiction magazines." Androids, controlled telepathically by bat-like winged humanoid beings, guard a ray in an Easter Island volcano that's drawing Mars closer to the Earth. Why? Because hundreds of thousands of years ago, a faction of Martians migrated to Earth and established a colony on the now submerged continent that includes the island. They now live under the ocean, and wish to conquer humankind — which was primitive when they first arrived, but now are too strong to tackle — so they want to get their homeworld close enough to Earth that their fellow Martians can lend them a hand.

* The Metal Giants (Swanson Book Co.: Washburn, North Dakota, c. 1934). Originally in Weird Tales (December 1926). More TK

* "Evolution Island" (Weird Tales, March 1928). Story. Owen, the protagonist, is told by a Professor Walton that Walton has discovered evolution is caused by the Garner ray that emanates from the earth's radioactive interior. Further, Walton can both duplicate this ray and cancel it with a counter emanation. Practically speaking, this means he can evolve animals or plants to their ultimate potential or devolve them back to primordial slime. Buying a small island south of Cuba, he and his assistant Brilling depart; nothing is heard of them for a year. Then, Walton returns and begs Owen for help. It seems that Brilling has entered the evolution ray and become a superman with great mental power, a huge dome of a head, and four tentacular limbs. He intends to lead evolved plants — intelligent, mobile, with vaguely human forms, hello Triffids — to conquer the world. Walton and Owen return to the island, in time to see a small armada of globular air vessels leaving to attack the outside world. Though captured, they escape, reverse the Garner ray, and devolve everything on the island to slime — including the flying globes.



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