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Edmond Hamilton

Edmond Hamilton Essay - Critical Essays

Hamilton, Edmond

Hamilton, Edmond 1904–

American science fiction writer. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)

Out of the twenties into the early thirties came Hamilton—and a sudden spark that was momentarily to light up the greatest concept of the world of science-fiction ideas: the galactic civilization.

That spark was the Interstellar Patrol. Corn, pure corn. A style marked by endless exclamation points, a gosh-wow-golly type of writing, our side against theirs plotting, a last-minute rush to the lever that alone would save or destroy the day, and a bang ending leaving everyone breathless. No characterization at all—everything strictly cardboard, and the universe very mechanistic too. And yet—the Interstellar Patrol was the crude tiny spark that hinted at what this is all about.

Modern science fiction is delineated by the farthest boundaries of time and space. And the galactic civilization is the turning point of this universe building. A civilization of intelligent beings, in contact with each other, trading with each other, banded together in some sort of Federation of the Stars to assist, to enlighten, to defend. It implies a lot—oh, how much it implies!

There it was in those crude wild formula stories of Edmond Hamilton in the lurid pages of Weird Tales in 1929 and 1930. The Interstellar Patrol…. Hamilton is still writing, he is far more sophisticated, far more able and skilled a storyteller than the youth who pounded out those tales of the Patrol, but he surely cannot hope to surpass that concept which for one moment pushed the borders of science fiction ahead.

Donald A. Wolheim, in his The Universe Makers, Harper & Row, 1971, pp. 30-2.