Jack Williamson, 1908-2006
November 11, 2006 9:09 AM   Subscribe

When Jack Williamson published his first story, Isaac Asimov was eight years old. Seventy-three years later, his novella, "The Ultimate Earth," won the Hugo and Nebula awards. Easily the longest career in science fiction, and one of the most distinguished, came to a close yesterday: Williamson died at the age of 98. (Boing Boing, Locus.)
posted by mcwetboy (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:15 AM on November 11, 2006

. (I had no idea that he was actually still alive, I'll have to go back and re-read some of his stories. I love stuff from that era.)
posted by octothorpe at 9:26 AM on November 11, 2006

rest in peace.
posted by infini at 9:27 AM on November 11, 2006

It's always amazing to look back at the pioneering works of science fiction, and realize that at the time those ideas weren't cliched or derivative -- they were entirely new.

Williamson's ideas found their way into just about every work of science fiction (and many works of science) published in the last 75 years, and I find it extremely inspiring that he continued writing good stuff for so long.
posted by jdfalk at 9:30 AM on November 11, 2006

posted by Goblindegook at 9:32 AM on November 11, 2006

I've read his early stuff (including that first story); I've read his late stuff (including "The Ultimate Earth"). Unlike some other writers, whose quality of output peaked at some point and then declined, he got better over time, I think.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:46 AM on November 11, 2006

posted by cerebus19 at 10:31 AM on November 11, 2006

posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:48 AM on November 11, 2006

An amazing writer, and an amazing life:

"Literally, he came to New Mexico in a covered wagon, and he was also a pioneer in the world of science fiction."

posted by languagehat at 10:52 AM on November 11, 2006

posted by QIbHom at 11:11 AM on November 11, 2006

Sorry to hear he died; he was a great writer, and I really enjoyed some of his ideas. His description of the (utopian? dystopian?) societies where robots or androids took their commands to "protect man" really seriously, resulting in a near enslavement of the humans were interesting - a "welfare state" taken to the extreme. Stuff that makes you think is still the best kind of fiction, and he wrote some darn good tales...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 11:18 AM on November 11, 2006

Wow. Sad to hear.
posted by interrobang at 11:30 AM on November 11, 2006

Jack Williamson titles and covers at Fantastic Fiction.
posted by cenoxo at 2:57 PM on November 11, 2006

posted by edgeways at 4:14 PM on November 11, 2006

posted by Smart Dalek at 4:52 PM on November 11, 2006

Seriously one of the voices of my youth. Middle school would have been so much worse had I paid attention to the bullying that was going on around me, rather than burying myself in the worlds of Asimov, Bova, Niven, and Williamson. Hard SF like that got me interested in the sciences, as all the main characters in those stories inevitably had a doctorate in some specialization of engineering or physics.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:40 PM on November 11, 2006


I too didn't realise he was still alive, despite which I have several feet of shelf devoted to his stuff.
posted by Mitheral at 12:04 AM on November 12, 2006

So, how many folks spent some time grieving quietly, then running to Powell's to see what you could find?
posted by FormlessOne at 10:05 AM on November 12, 2006

"...then ran..."

Must've had a grammar seizure, there.
posted by FormlessOne at 10:06 AM on November 12, 2006

Obituary in The Independent by John Clute.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:15 AM on November 13, 2006

I still regard "With Folded Hands" (the novella that The Humanoids -- the one about the over-protective robots -- is based on) as one of the most frightening stories I've ever read.
posted by lodurr at 8:42 AM on November 16, 2006

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