Gateway Essentials: Edmond Hamilton

Forty years ago, today, Edmond Moore Hamilton died, in Lancaster, California.

Although his first published sale, ‘The Monster-God of Mamurth’ in the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales, was very firmly in the pulp tradition of Abraham Merritt and H. P. Lovecraft, Hamilton would go on to become one of the formative voices in American Science Fiction.  To quote The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

With E E “Doc” Smith and Jack Williamson, he was one of the prime movers in the development of US sf, sharing with those writers in the creation and popularization of classic Space Opera as it first appeared in Pulp magazines from about 1928 . . . his importance to sf was only properly signalled . . . with the publication of ‘Crashing Suns’ (August-September 1928 Weird Tales), one of the founding texts of the kind of Space Opera with which he soon became identified: a Universe-spanning tale, often featuring in early years an Earthman and his comrades (not necessarily human) who discover a cosmic threat to the home Galaxy and successfully – either alone, or with the aid of a space armada, or both – combat the Aliens responsible for the threat

Hamilton was a regular writer for DC Comics, under the editorship of Mort Weisinger, where he wrote stories for Superman, Batman and the Legion of Superheroes, among others. Although probably best-known for the ‘Captain Future’ series – to which he contributed all but a handful of stories – we recommend starting with either the Space Opera retelling of The Prisoner of Zenda, The Star Kings or City at World’s End, written in the shadow of the ever-present fear of atomic war.

In 1946, he married fellow SF writer Leigh Brackett, after which, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction notes ‘his output diminished, but its quality increased’.

You can find Edmond Hamilton’s work via his Author page on the Gateway website and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.