Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crashing Suns!

Edmond Hamilton; The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume One: The Metal Giants and Others (Haffner Press; 2009; ISBN 978-1-893887-31-2; cover by Joseph Dolin).

Made up of: Introduction (Robert Weinberg); The Monster-God of Mamurth; Across Space; The Metal Giants; The Atomic Conquerors; Evolution Island; The Moon Menace; The Time-Raider; The Comet Doom; The Dimension Terror; The Polar Doom; The Sea Horror; Locked Worlds; The Abysmal Invaders

Part of the 2009 Year in Shorts.

Edmond Hamilton; The Collected Edmond Hamilton, Volume Two: The Star-Stealers: The Complete Tales of the Interstellar Patrol (Haffner Press; 2009; ISBN 978-1-893887-33-6; cover by Hugh Rankin).

This volume contains all of Hamilton's Interstellar Patrol tales, plus two others (The Hidden World and The Other Side of the Moon) not in the series. As Walter Jon Williams shows in the introduction, and a number of commentators point out in the letters reproduced in the Appendix, these are pretty formulaic stories: a impending doom is discovered, a desperate mission is sent out to save the universe, the mission is overcome by the evil alien menace and at the last moment...Earth/the Federation/the Galaxy is saved. Until the next story.

O.K., O.K., they are formulaic. They could be punched out with a cookie cutter. The characters are one-dimensional to the point where you forget the names (why bother, they are the same in each story...same character, that is). But...

But...Hamilton's enthusiasm gets to you. You are carried on by the stories. And, on occasion, the prose overcomes the pulp. Whether it is describing the emptiness between the stars (in language that Alastair Reynolds echoes) or his spaceships that could be sailing vessels or steam vessels (echoes of which today can be found in David Weber's Honor Harrington stories or David Drake's Leary of the RCN stories), the occasional heroic moment, the occasional flash of a writer working under deadlines, poor rates and the need to write, write, write, or find work in Depression-era and again you find the diamonds in the rough.

The book ends with an extensive Appendix made up of illustrations from the original magazine appearances or reprints or paperback originals, plus a number of letters about Hamilton's stories (that appeared in those magazines...think flame wars are an invention of the internet...wait until you hear from a young Henry Kuttner, a young Don Wollheim, a young Margaret St. Clair, a young Forrest J. Ackerman...) and finally several letters from the editor accepting various stories (particularly amusing are why the second-in-command in The Star-Stealers went from male to female and some comments on the competition).

Fun stuff.

Made up of: Introduction (Walter Jon Williams); Crashing Suns; The Star-Stealers; Within the Nebula; Outside the Universe; The Comet-Drivers; The Sun People; The Cosmic Cloud; Corsairs of the Cosmos; The Hidden World; The Other Side of the Moon; Appendix.

Counts as four entries in the 2009 Year in Shorts.

Counts as five entries in the 2010 Year in Shorts.

Edmond Hamilton: The Collected Captain Future, Volume One: Captain Future, Wizard of Science (Haffner Press; 2009; ISBN 978-1-893887-35-0; cover by George Rozen).

Made up of: Introduction (Richard A. Lupoff); Captain Future and the Space Emperor; Calling Captain Future; Captain Future's Challenge; The Triumph of Captain Future.

Part of the 2009 Year in Shorts.

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