New Book of the Week: Wonder’s Child by Jack Williamson

He was an sf writer of substance for over seventy years . . . in his work and in his life he encompassed the field.

So states The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction in its entry on Jack Williamson. It goes on to add:

For many, his death served as a symbolic marker of the end of the twentieth century genre, which began when he began.

Lest anyone think there’s a degree of hyperbole or affection-over-riding-objectivity, please note that Jack Williamson’s entry was written by John Clute, modern SF’s most knowledgeable and authoritative commentator; he is a critic, not a hagiographer. If John Clute says that Jack Williamson’s life and career are of such importance to the field, we would be well-advised to listen.

Here, then, is the autobiography of a man who, at the age of seven, travelled west with his family in a horse-drawn covered wagon, died, aged ninety-eight, in the year the Cassini-Huygens probe, orbiting Saturn, discovered geysers of liquid erupting from the surface of one of its moons, Enceladus.  In the years in between, he witnessed the pivotal events of twentieth century history and contributed an extraordinary body of work to the field of science fiction – along the way coining the term ‘terraforming‘.

Wonder’s child, indeed.

Wonder’s Child: My Life in Science Fiction is available as an SF Gateway eBook and as part of the Jack Williamson SF Gateway omnibus. You can find more of his work via his author page on the SF Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.