Today — April 29, 2008 — is the 100th birthday of the Dean of Science Fiction, Jack Williamson. His writing career touched nine decades.
Jack’s first publication (The Metal Man) happened in 1928; he invented the term “terraforming” in 1942; SFWA named him a Grand Master in 1976 (the second Grand Master, the first being Robert A. Heinlein); his autobiography (Wonder’s Child) garnered the Hugo for Best Non-Fiction Book in 1985; he won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella (The Ultimate Earth) in 2001; his final novel, The Stonehenge Gate, was published in 2005. Along the way he wrote something like 50 other novels and who knows how many short stories.
I had the honor of briefly meeting Jack at his house in Portales, NM, back during the 2006 Williamson Lectureship. This was about 6 or 7 months before he passed away on November 10, 2006. I’m very glad I had the opportunity, but I do wish I could have known him. He was a giant in the field, hugely influential upon tremendously respected by generations of science fiction writers. He mentored my mentors, and their mentors. Wow.
A signed, leather-bound first-edition of Jack’s final novel is currently up for auction. The proceeds will go to support Portales’s public broadcasting station.
And speaking of awards: as I mentioned yesterday, Daniel Abraham’s fantastic novella The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics is on the final Hugo ballot. I promise you’ll love it. Go give it a read. And, if you’re a voting member of this year’s Worldcon, vote your conscience.