The Year of the Quiet Sun Critical Essays

Wilson Tucker


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Year of the Quiet Sun, which won a retrospective John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1976, came out in paperback six years earlier as an Ace Science Fiction Special edited by Terry Carr. The novel owes something to H. G. Wells’s classic The Time Machine (1895), both in the fact that a mechanical time traveling device is used (rather than a dream or divine intervention, as in some earlier stories) and in the outcome for the protagonist. It covers a shorter time span and, perhaps for that reason, seems more realistic despite the lack of detailed explanation of how the time machine works. Wilson Tucker provides so much detail in his description of its appearance, its operation, and his characters’ reactions to it that the reader tends to accept it at face value.

The Year of the Quiet Sun comes late in Tucker’s writing career, which began with magazine science fiction in the 1940’s. He had published fanzines for a decade prior to that, served as president of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, and was honored as a fan, rather than a writer, at several world science-fiction conventions. His first novel, The Chinese Doll (1946), was a mystery. His first science-fiction novel was The City in the Sea (1951). He continued to write in both genres, but even in his mysteries he used the names of science-fiction fans and writers for some of his characters. These became known as “Tuckerisms.”


(The entire section is 415 words.)