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Hamilton c. 1956
|Born||Edmond Moore Hamilton|
October 21, 1904
Youngstown, Ohio, United States
|Died||February 1, 1977 (aged 72)|
Lancaster, California, United States
|Genre||Science fiction, comic books|
Leigh Brackett (m. 1946–1977)(his death)
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, he was raised there and in nearby New Castle, Pennsylvania. Something of a child prodigy, he graduated from high school and entered Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania at the age of 14, but washed out at 17.
Edmond Hamilton's career as a science fiction writer began with the publication of "The Monster God of Mamurth", a short story, in the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales—now a classic magazine of alternative fiction. 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. Weird Tales would publish 79 works of fiction by Hamilton from 1926 to 1948, making him one of the magazine's most prolific contributors. 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. Hamilton wrote one of the first hardcover compilations 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".
Through the late 1920s and early 1930s 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 subgenre 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 four or five 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, a SF pulp designed for juvenile readers that won him many fans, but diminished his reputation in later years when science fiction moved away from space opera. 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 1942 Hamilton began writing for DC Comics, specializing in stories for their characters Superman and Batman. His first comics story was "Bandits in Toyland" in Batman #11 (June–July 1942). He wrote the short-lived science fiction series Chris KL-99 in Strange Adventures, which was loosely based on Captain Future. He and artist Sheldon Moldoff created Batwoman in Detective Comics #233 (July 1956). Hamilton co-created Space Ranger in Showcase #15 (July–Aug. 1958) with Gardner Fox and Bob Brown. Hamilton was instrumental in the early growth of the Legion of Super-Heroes feature, as one of its first regular writers. He introduced many of the early Legion concepts including the Time Trapper in Adventure Comics #317 (Feb. 1964) and Timber Wolf in Adventure Comics #327 (Dec. 1964). His story "The Clash of Cape and Cowl" in World's Finest Comics #153 (Nov. 1965) is the source of an Internet meme in which Batman slaps Robin. Hamilton retired from comics with the publication of "The Cape and Cowl Crooks" in World's Finest Comics #159 (August 1966).
In 1969, the Macfadden/Bartell Corporation published a collection of short science fiction stories "Alien Earth and Other Stories" (520-00219-075), where Hamilton's 1949 "Alien Earth" was featured along with novelettes by Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke and others.
On December 31, 1946, Hamilton married fellow science fiction author and screenwriter Leigh Brackett in San Gabriel, California, and moved with her to Kinsman, Ohio. 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 (1951) 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 originally intended for Harlan Ellison's The Last Dangerous Visions, would not appear in print until 2005. In the early 1960s, it has been speculated that 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"—revised texts were published as the novellas People of the Talisman and The Secret of Sinharat (1964).
Edmond Hamilton died in February 1977 in Lancaster, California, of complications following kidney surgery. In the year before his death, Toei Animation had launched production of an anime adaptation of his Captain Future novels and Tsuburaya Productions adapted Star Wolf into a tokusatsu series; both series were aired on Japanese television in 1978. The Captain Future adaptation was later exported to Europe, winning Hamilton a new and different fan base than the one that had acclaimed him half a century before, notably in France and Germany.
Joint interviews of Brackett and Hamilton were published in Tangent (Summer 1976, by Dave Truesdale) and Amazing Stories (January 1978, by Darrell Schweitzer)—the latter published several months after Hamilton's death, but conducted "much earlier", Truesdale attributes to Schweitzer.
On July 18, 2009, Kinsman, Ohio, "celebrat[ed] Edmond Hamilton Day, honoring 'The Dean of Science Fiction' and Kinsman resident."
Volumes #14 (Worlds to Come, 1943) and #17 (Days of Creation, 1944) were written by Joseph Samachson while #20, The Solar Invasion (1946) was by Manly Wade Wellman. The main series was followed by a set of seven novelettes from 1950-1951: "The Return of Captain Future", "Children of the Sun", "The Harpers of Titan", "Pardon my Iron Nerves", "Moon of the Unforgotten", "Earthmen No More" and "Birthplace of Creation".
A space opera sequence based on the seminal "Crashing Suns". With the exception of "The Sun People", the stories were assembled as Crashing Suns in 1965.
A space opera sequence: the first, The Star Kings, is a reworking of The Prisoner of Zenda while Return to the Stars is a fix-up of four stories: "Kingdoms of the Stars", "The Shores of Infinity", "The Broken Stars" and "The Horror from the Magellanic". A crossover between this universe and Brackett's, "Stark and the Star Kings", was released in 2005, having originally been submitted to The Last Dangerous Visions. Two further stories in the same universe, "The Star Hunter" (1958) and "The Tattooed Man" (1957), were reissued in 2014 as The Last of the Star Kings.
Interstellar adventure with mercenary Morgan Chane.
In 2009, Haffner Press released the first two books in a program to collect all of Hamilton's prose work. A volume (the first of six) collecting the first four Captain Future novels also appeared at the same time. Early in 2010, additional volumes were announced.
The peak of Hamilton's popularity probably came in the 1920s and 30s where he proved as popular with the readers of Weird Tales as such prominent authors as Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft.
Edmond Hamilton took [Mort] Weisinger's so-so idea about 'Mr. Future' and turned the concept into 'Captain Future'.
[Strange Adventures] issue #1 also saw the first appearance of...Chris KL-99, from legendary sci-fi author Edmond Hamilton and artist Howard Sherman.
Editor Jack Schiff took charge of the character, and handed him over to writers Edmond Hamilton and Gardner Fox for development. Bob Brown illustrated their script.
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