Jack Williamson Tom Easton - Essay

Tom Easton

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Jack Williamson has added one more to his "Legion of Space" trilogy: The Queen of the Legion. He needn't have bothered. His effort is trite and superficial. It satisfies no sense of wonder, suspends no disbelief. His characters seem little better than puppets on a stage. He has done much better.

What's the problem?…

The story begins with a child, Jill Gyrel, who wants to join the Legion when she grows up. But the Legion is in trouble. The folks back home don't believe the Legion ever really saved the universe. They're cutting funds, drying up support, egged on by pacifists.

Jill's daddy disappears on a mission into the mysterious Nebula. His partner eventually returns, strangely changed, to marry her mother. Both join the peaceniks and embezzle Jill's inheritance. Jill flees home, then heads for space to join the Legion. But the Legion is accepting no recruits, and the Keeper of the Peace, who guards the Legion's ultimate weapon, has just been assassinated. Jill takes off on her own search for destiny, aided by coincidence and the immortal Giles Habibula. She finds the threat—parasitic aliens are taking over human minds and using their hosts to disarm all opposition. She finds her daddy and loses him. She learns the secret of the Nebula. She saves humanity, and she becomes the new Keeper of the Peace, the Queen of the Legion.

It's classic stuff, yes. It would have gone down well once upon a time. But Golden Age gold is a gold that tarnishes. SF has matured. So has Williamson, who should know better than to repeat himself.

Tom Easton, in a review of "The Queen of the Legion" (© 1983 by Davis Publications, Inc.; reprinted by permission of the author), in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, Vol. CIII, No. 6, June, 1983, p. 109.