Darker than You Think Essay - Critical Essays

Jack Williamson


Jack Williamson occupies a unique position in science fiction. Born in 1908, he sold his first published work to Hugo Gernsback’s Amazing Stories for $25 in 1928. From that day, he was committed to a lifetime of writing science fiction.

As a student of psychology, nuclear physics, and later linguistics, he always infuses science and technology into his fiction. It is difficult to call him innovative, but he has always been a prominent figure in American science fiction and has been a respected peer and personal acquaintance of Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and many others.

Williamson sold the original version of Darker than You Think to Unknown in 1940. In 1948, he rewrote the book as a novel and sold it to Fantasy Press. It did not sell particularly well but has been reprinted several times. The book has always been well known among the science-fiction cognoscenti, but it is difficult to claim that it has “classic” status, though some blurbs have gone so far as to call it the finest werewolf story. What sets the book apart from others is its ending: Not only does the werewolf side of the character prevail, but the protagonist, Barbee, also accepts himself as a werewolf, which implies that he regards himself as an enemy of humankind. Being a werewolf in Williamson’s anthropology is not merely a matter of having an irresistible thirst for human blood, nor is it a mere character flaw. If humans...

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