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Hamilton, Donald

Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1916-2006) Swedish-American author of many spy thrillers and several Westerns. Assignment: Murder (1956; vt Assassins Have Starry Eyes 1965) is of marginal sf interest in that its threatened protagonist is a nuclear research Scientist whose Project comes under attack. Hamilton is best known for the Matt Helm series of 27 spy thrillers (1960-1993, plus one still unpublished) beginning with Death of a Citizen (1960), in which former wartime assassin Helm is reactivated to work for a secret US agency. Like Ian Fleming's James Bond, Helm is licensed to kill; less sympathetic and more detached than Bond, he kills freely and dispassionately, with no scruples about employing Torture. Series novels with sf elements are The Menacers (1968), in which Helm investigates what proves to be a flying saucer hoax, but one that is eventually trumped by the brief appearance of a seeming actual UFO; and The Annihilators (1983), featuring a Mexican shaman with genuine – and useful to Helm – occult abilities or Psi Powers.

The spoofish Helm film The Ambushers (1967) takes its title from a 1963 book in the series but is also partly based on the above-cited The Menacers. As in later Bond films, the adaptation considerably boosts the sf content: there is an actual experimental flying saucer that functions as a McGuffin, plus Villains in Powered Armour. [DRL]

Donald Bengtsson Hamilton

born Uppsala, Sweden: 24 March 1916

died USA: 20 November 2006

works (highly selected)


Matt Helm

  • Death of a Citizen (New York: Fawcett Gold Medal, 1960) [Matt Helm: pb/]
  • The Menacers (New York: Fawcett Gold Medal, 1968) [Matt Helm: pb/]
  • The Annihilators (Greenwich, Connecticut: Ballantine/Fawcett Gold Medal, 1983) [Matt Helm: pb/]

individual titles


previous versions of this entry

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