(1904-1977) US writer, married to Leigh Brackett from 1946 until his death. With E E "Doc" Smith and Jack Williamson, he was one of the prime movers in the development of US sf, sharing with those writers in the creation and popularization of classic Space Opera as it first appeared in Pulp magazines from about 1928. His first story, "The Monster-God of Mamurth" for Weird Tales in August 1926, which vulgarized the florid weird-science world of Abraham Merritt, only hinted at the exploits to come, though Hamilton found Science Fantasy a fertile vein, collecting this story and others in his first book, The Horror on the Asteroid & Other Tales of Planetary Horror (coll 1936); his early work is also assembled, more comprehensively, in The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume One: The Metal Giants and Others (coll 2009).
But his importance to sf was only properly signalled two years later, with the publication of "Crashing Suns" (August-September 1928 Weird Tales), one of the founding texts of the kind of Space Opera with which he soon became identified: a Universe-spanning tale, often featuring in early years an Earthman and his comrades (not necessarily human) who discover a cosmic threat to the home Galaxy and successfully – either alone, or with the aid of a space armada, or both – combat the Aliens responsible for the threat; it would be left to E E Smith to transform adventures of this sort into larger-scale narratives involving Galactic Empires and their seemingly inevitable concomitant: structures based on (and presuming to comment upon) human history (> History in SF). Though not technically part of the series, "Crashing Suns" is closely linked to the six Tales of the Interstellar Patrol stories, which followed over the next two years. The 1960s partial book publication of the sequence – comprising Outside the Universe (July-October 1929 Weird Tales; 1964) and Crashing Suns (stories August 1928-November 1930 Weird Tales; coll 1965), omitting only "The Sun People" (May 1930 Weird Tales) – was useful, but has been superseded by The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Two: The Star-Stealers: The Complete Tales of the Interstellar Patrol (coll 2009), which also includes two similar but unrelated book-length tales, "The Hidden World" (Fall 1929 Science Wonder Quarterly) and "The Other Side of the Moon" (Fall 1929 Amazing Stories Quarterly). In Hamilton's early work, science or pseudoscience (> Scientific Errors) served as a magically enabling doubletalk for the easier presentation of interstellar action, and the scope, colour and dynamic clarity of this liberated action did much to define the Sense of Wonder for a generation of readers, who rewarded Hamilton with several nicknames in recognition of his gift, variously "World-Destroyer", "The World Wrecker", or "World-Saver Hamilton".
Others of his works contributing to the creation of the form include The Metal Giants (December 1926 Weird Tales; 1932 chap), "The Comet Doom" (January 1928 Amazing) and "The Universe Wreckers" (May-July 1930 Amazing). The main failure of Hamilton's in this subgenre is a lack of cohesion, as he seemed to lack any sense of strategic plotting, which was tied to an inability to "sell the shot" (that is, to time and to approach from obscuring angles of vision the moments of sense-of-wonder sublimity); that lack would of course be remedied in the work of E E Smith. Hamilton persisted with the format through the 1930s, with gradually diminishing success, occasionally under pseudonyms including Robert Castle, Hugh Davidson, Robert Wentworth and the House Name Will Garth.
Much of this material remained in magazines, or was erratically put into book form; but from the 1990s a revival of interest in Hamilton has inspired more sustained efforts to make this early era available to a larger audience. An ongoing project, The Collected Edmond Hamilton, the first two volumes of which are cited variously above [and in Checklist below], is projected to contain all his short work. Earlier volumes designed to recapture his early career – including Kaldar: World of Antares (coll of linked stories 1998), which assembles the three Kaldar tales from 1933-1935; Invisible Master (coll 2000 chap), which assembles two 1930 stories from Scientific Detective; and The Vampire Master and Other Stories (coll 2000), which mostly includes 1930s sf with a Horror cast – have already assembled sizeable samples from these prolific years.
Dangerously for his career, Hamilton also occupied much of his time in the early 1940s with the smoother but significantly less lively Captain Future series, published 1940-1950 by Standard Magazines in Captain Future (1940-1944) and afterwards in Startling Stories (1945-1946 and 1950-1951). Not all the Captain Future stories were by Hamilton. Five were signed with the House Name Brett Sterling, of which three – "The Star of Dread" (Summer 1943 Captain Future), "Magic Moon" (Winter 1944 Captain Future) and "Red Sun of Danger" (Spring 1945 Startling) – were by Hamilton and two – "Worlds to Come" (Spring 1943 Captain Future) and "Days of Creation" (Spring 1944 Captain Future) – were by Joseph Samachson, with one further title – The Solar Invasion (Fall 1946 Startling; 1969) – being by Manly Wade Wellman. Each tale was written to a rigorous formula in which the super-Scientist protagonist, backed by three aides (one Robot, one Android and one brain in a box), brings an interstellar villain to justice. Hamilton's Captain Future titles eventually released in book form begin – in order of book publication – with Danger Planet (Spring 1945 Startling as "Red Sun of Danger"; 1968, as by Sterling); include The Comet Kings (Summer 1942 Captain Future; 1969), which was probably the outstanding tale among them; and end with Captain Future and the Space Emperor (Winter 1940 Captain Future; 1969) [for all titles see Checklist]; Captain Future, Man of Tomorrow (coll of linked stories 2005) assembles the final seven tales, reduced to novelette-length and first published in Startling (1950-1951). The original idea for Captain Future had come from Mort Weisinger, a senior editor with the Standard Magazines group. Later, in 1941, Weisinger shifted over to DC Comics, and took many of his top writers with him, including Hamilton, who worked for some time in the mid-1940s as a staff writer on Superman, along with Henry Kuttner and others.
Hamilton's early 1940s absence from adult sf, through his work in comics and his involvement with Captain Future (Young Adult titles aimed primarily at teenaged boys), made it initially somewhat difficult for him to be accepted after World War Two as the competent and versatile professional he had in fact been for years, for he was a writer with a much wider range than was generally realized, one who had already produced several stories whose comparatively sober verisimilitude prefigured post-World War Two requirements. After his marriage to Leigh Brackett in 1946 his output diminished, but its quality increased, a fact obscured by the publication in book form over the next years of material from his early career – like Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown (May 1939 Startling as "The Prisoner of Mars"; 1950), in which Martians invade Earth for its water – and by his habitual rehashing of space-opera conventions in old-fashioned epics like The Sun Smasher (September 1954 Universe as "Starman Come Home"; 1959 dos), Battle for the Stars (June 1956 Imagination as by Alexander Blade; exp 1961) and Fugitive of the Stars (December 1957 Imagination as "Fugitive from the Stars"; rev 1965 dos). His final series, however, the Starwolf tales about tough interstellar adventurer Morgan Chane, is similarly antiquated in premise, but told in a clean-cut trimmed-down language which has won it supporters. The sequence comprises The Weapon from Beyond (1967), The Closed Worlds (1968) and World of the Starwolves (1968), all three being assembled as Starwolf (omni 1982).
At the same time, however, Hamilton was writing novels which, though in the space-opera tradition, were more carefully composed and darker in texture. They include The Monsters of Juntonheim: A Complete Book-Length Novel of Amazing Adventure (January 1941 Startling as "A Yank at Valhalla"; 1950; vt A Yank at Valhalla 1973 dos); City at World's End (July 1950 Startling Stories; 1951), in which a super-Weapon dislocates a contemporary small city à la Clifford D Simak into a far future Dying Earth (the term is specifically used) where the survivors must cope with Alien Invasions and a demanding Galactic Empire; The Star of Life (January 1947 Startling; rev 1959) and The Valley of Creation (July 1948 Startling; rev 1964), a strongly written Sword-and-Sorcery tale with an sf denouement. It is for these novels that he is now mainly remembered. The best of them is probably The Haunted Stars (1960), in which well-characterized humans face a shattering mystery on the Moon: the secret of star travel left by long-dead Aliens, along with dark warnings. The Star Kings (September 1947 Amazing; 1949; vt Beyond the Moon 1950), whose plot reflects The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) by Anthony Hope (> Ruritania), is grander in scope but less impressively written; it forms the beginning of the Star Kings sequence which also includes Return to the Stars (coll of linked stories 1970), and both volumes are assembled as Chronicles of the Star Kings (omni 1986); both novels were also included in Stark and the Star Kings (anth/coll 2005) with Leigh Brackett, along with unrelated material by Brackett, plus the only known collaboration between the two, the previously unpublished "Stark and the Star Kings", which lamely conflates Hamilton's Space Opera with his wife's Planetary Romance tales featuring Eric John Stark.
Hamilton shared with his long-time colleague Jack Williamson a capable and flexible attitude towards the post-World War Two genre and its markets (in contrast to the third great originator of US space opera, E E Smith (see above), who was a generation older, and who never adjusted). Through his ability to evolve a cleaner and more literate style to meet these new demands, and to apply this style to his old generic loves, Hamilton wrote novels at the end of his career that read perfectly idiomatically as novels of the 1960s, as evidenced also in two compendiums of his shorter work: What's It Like Out There? and Other Stories (coll 1974) and the posthumous The Best of Edmond Hamilton (coll 1977) edited by Leigh Brackett. In the end, it can be said of Hamilton that he took Space Opera seriously enough to make it good. [JC]
see also: Air Wonder Stories; Amazing Stories; Asteroids; Colonization of Other Worlds; Comics; Computers; Cosmology; Crime and Punishment; Cyborgs; Devolution; End of the World; ESP; Evolution; Fantastic Voyages; Fermi Paradox; Future War; Heroes; History of SF; Invisibility; Islands; Jupiter; Living Worlds; Mars; Matter Transmission; Mutants; Mythology; Omega Point; Parallel Worlds; Paranoia; Publishing; Religion; Space Flight; Stars; Sun.
Edmond Moore Hamilton
born Youngstown, Ohio: 21 October 1904
died Lancaster, California: 1 February 1977
Tales of the Interstellar Patrol
Captain Future: Collected
Captain Future: individual titles
- Captain Future and the Space Emperor (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Winter 1940: Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- Calling Captain Future (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Spring 1940: Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- Captain Future's Challenge (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Summer 1940: Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- Galaxy Mission (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Fall 1940 as "The Triumph of Captain Future": Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- The Magician of Mars (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Summer 1941: Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- Quest Beyond the Stars (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Winter 1942: Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- Outlaws of the Moon (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Spring 1942: Captain Future: pb/]
- The Comet Kings (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Summer 1942: Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- Planets in Peril (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Captain Future in Fall 1942: Captain Future: pb/Herbert J Bruck]
- Danger Planet (New York: Popular Library, 1968) as by Brett Sterling [first published in Startling in Spring 1945 as "Red Sun of Danger": Captain Future: pb/Frank Frazetta]
- Outlaw World (New York: Popular Library, 1969) [first published in Startling in Winter 1946: Captain Future: pb/Frank Frazetta]
- Captain Future, Man of Tomorrow (Rialto, California: Pulpville Press, 2005) [coll of linked stories: first published in Captain Future 1950-1951: Captain Future: pb/George Rozen]
The Collected Edmond Hamilton
Titles are separately listed under series designations where relevant.
- Tharkol, Lord of the Unknown (Manchester, England: World Distributors, 1950) [first published in May 1939 in Startling as "The Prisoner of Mars": pb/H W Wesso]
- The Monsters of Juntonheim: A Complete Book-Length Novel of Amazing Adventure (Manchester, England: World Distributors, 1950) [first published in January 1941 in Startling as "A Yank at Valhalla": pb/]
- City at World's End (New York: Frederick Fell, 1951) [first appeared July 1950 Startling Stories: Fell's Science-Fiction Library: hb/uncredited]
- The Star of Life (New York: Torquil, 1959) [first published in January 1947 in Startling: hb/]
- The Sun Smasher (New York: Ace Books, 1959) [dos: pb/Ed Valigursky]
- The Haunted Stars (New York: Torquil, 1960) [hb/Brian Lewis]
- Battle for the Stars (New York: Torquil, 1961) [hb/]
- The Valley of Creation (New York: Lancer Books, 1964) [an earlier version was published in July 1948 in Startling: pb/]
- Fugitive of the Stars (New York: Ace Books, 1965) [dos: pb/Jerome Podwil]
- Doomstar (New York: Belmont Books, 1966) [pb/]
- King of Stars (New York: Baen Books, 2008) [omni of the above plus A Yank at Valhalla, City at World's End, The Star of Life, The Sun Smasher, The Haunted Stars, The Valley of Creation and Fugitive of the Stars: ebook: na/]
collections and stories
- The Metal Giants (Washburn, North Dakota: Swanson Book Co, 1932) [story: chap: first published in Weird Tales in December 1926: pb/]
- The Horror on the Asteroid & Other Tales of Planetary Horror (London: Philip Allan, 1936) [coll: hb/]
- Tiger Girl (London: Utopian Publications, 1945) [chap: pb/]
- Murder in the Clinic (London: Utopian Publications, 1946) [coll: chap: pb/]
- What's It Like Out There? and Other Stories (New York: Ace Books, 1974) [coll: pb/]
- The Best of Edmond Hamilton (Garden City, New York: Nelson Doubleday, 1977) edited by Leigh Brackett [coll: hb/Don Maitz]
- The Lake of Life (Chicago, Illinois: Robert Weinberg, 1978) [chap: first appeared September-November 1937 Weird Tales: Lost Fantasies: pb/Marcus Boas]
- Kaldar: World of Antares (Royal Oak, Michigan: Haffner Press, 1998) [coll of linked stories: first published in the early 1930s, variously: hb/Tom Arfstrom]
- The Invisible Master (Bungay, Suffolk: Black Dog Books, 2000) [coll: chap: two stories first published in 1930 in Scientific Detective: pb/Tom Roberts]
- The Vampire Master and Other Tales of Horror (Royal Oak, Michigan: Haffner Press, 2000) [coll: hb/Jon Arfstrom]
- Stark and the Star Kings (Royal Oak, Michigan: Haffner Press, 2005) with Leigh Brackett [anth/coll: mostly by each author solo: Star Kings: Eric John Stark: hb/Alex Ebel]
- The Stars my Brothers (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2008) [story: ebook: first appeared May 1962 Amazing: na/]
- The Sargasso of Space (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2009) [novelette: ebook: first appeared September 1931 Astounding: na/]
- The Sargasso of Space and Two Others (Rockville, Maryland: Wildside Press, 2009) [coll: chap: dos: pod: contents differ from the above except for title story: pb/Byron Moore]
- The Man Who Saw the Future (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2009) [story: ebook: first appeared October 1930 Amazing: na/]
- Two Worlds of Edmond Hamilton (Rockville, Maryland: Wildside Press, 2010) [coll: dos: pod: pb/]
- The World with a Thousand Moons (Rockville, Maryland: Wildside Press, 2010) [novelette: chap: first appeared December 1942 Amazing: pb/]
- The Legion of Lazarus (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2010) [novelette: ebook: first appeared April 1956 Imagination: na/]
- The Door into Infinity (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2010) [novelette: ebook: first appeared September 1936 Weird Tales: na/]
- Citadel of the Star Lords (Medford, Oregon: Armchair Fiction, 2011) [story: first appeared October 1958 Imagination: pb/]
- Men of the Morning Star (Medford, Oregon: Armchair Fiction, 2011) [story: first appeared March 1958 Imaginative Tales: pb/]
works as editor
about the author
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