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The Cosmic Express   By: (1908-2006)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Amazing Stories December 1961 and was first published in Amazing Stories November 1930. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note.

A Classic Reprint from AMAZING STORIES, November, 1930

Copyright 1931, by Experimenter Publications Inc.

The Cosmic Express

By JACK WILLIAMSON

Introduction by Sam Moskowitz

The year 1928 was a great year of discovery for AMAZING STORIES. They were uncovering new talent at such a great rate, (Harl Vincent, David H. Keller, E. E. Smith, Philip Francis Nowlan, Fletcher Pratt and Miles J. Breuer), that Jack Williamson barely managed to become one of a distinguished group of discoveries by stealing the cover of the December issue for his first story The Metal Man.

A disciple of A. Merritt, he attempted to imitate in style, mood and subject the magic of that late lamented master of fantasy. The imitation found great favor from the readership and almost instantly Jack Williamson became an important name on the contents page of AMAZING STORIES. He followed his initial success with two short novels , The Green Girl in AMAZING STORIES and The Alien Intelligence in SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, another Gernsback publication. Both of these stories were close copies of A. Merritt, whose style and method Jack Williamson parlayed into popularity for eight years.

Yet the strange thing about it was that Jack Williamson was one of the most versatile science fiction authors ever to sit down at the typewriter. When the vogue for science fantasy altered to super science, he created the memorable super lock picker Giles Habilula as the major attraction in a rousing trio of space operas , The Legion of Space, The Cometeers and One Against the Legion. When grim realism was the order of the day, he produced Crucible of Power and when they wanted extrapolated theory in present tense, he assumed the disguise of Will Stewart and popularized the concept of contra terrene matter in science fiction with Seetee Ship and Seetee Shock. Finally, when only psychological studies of the future would do, he produced "With Folded Hands ..." "... And Searching Mind."

The Cosmic Express is of special interest because it was written during Williamson's A. Merritt "kick," when he was writing little else but, and it gave the earliest indication of a more general capability. The lightness of the handling is especially modern, barely avoiding the farcical by the validity of the notion that wireless transmission of matter is the next big transportation frontier to be conquered. It is especially important because it stylistically forecast a later trend to accept the background for granted, regardless of the quantity of wonders, and proceed with the story. With only a few thousand scanning disk television sets in existence at the time of the writing, the surmise that this media would be a natural for westerns was particularly astute.

Jack Williamson was born in 1908 in the Arizona territory when covered wagons were the primary form of transportation and apaches still raided the settlers. His father was a cattle man, but for young Jack, the ranch was anything but glamorous. "My days were filled," he remembers, "with monotonous rounds of what seemed an endless, heart breaking war with drought and frost and dust storms, poison weeds and hail, for the sake of survival on the Llano Estacado." The discovery of AMAZING STORIES was the escape he sought and his goal was to be a science fiction writer. He labored to this end and the first he knew that a story of his had been accepted was when he bought the December, 1929 issue of AMAZING STORIES. Since then, he has written millions of words of science fiction and has gone on record as follows: "I feel that science fiction is the folklore of the new world of science, and the expression of man's reaction to a technological environment... Continue reading book >>




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