Science-Fiction Writer Jack Williamson Dies at 98

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Science-fiction writer Jack Williamson explored the dark side of science and technology. He died on Friday at the age of 98. Williamson will be remembered as a founding father of twentieth-century science fiction. Williamson sold his first story in 1928 to a pulp magazine. His most famous book was the 1947 novel The Humanoids.


The idea of using machines to simulate disaster might've amused the science fiction writer Jack Williamson. His writing explored the dark side of science and technology. And when he died on Friday, he was remembered as a founding father of 20th century science fiction.


Jack Williamson sold his first story in 1928 to a pulp magazine called Amazing Stories. By the late 1930s he was accomplished enough to have an influence on a young writer named Ray Bradbury.

Mr. RAY BRADBURY (Writer): I used to go over to his apartment and I'd take my terrible stories over. And he'd read them and tried to help me become a good writer. And I'm glad that he lived to be almost a hundred, because his effect on other people and on me was titanic and wonderful.

MONTAGNE: Jack Williamson's most famous book was the 1947 novel The Humanoids. That story asked if people would really be better off of robots did the work.

INSKEEP: Jack Williamson died on Friday at the age of 98 at home in New Mexico. He leaves behind stories that were desperately optimistic, according to Patrice Caldwell. She taught creative writing with him. And here she reads the final words from Williamson's last novel, The Stonehenge Gate, published just last year.

Ms. PATRICE CALDWELL (English, Eastern New Mexico University): When I feel depressed by news of spreading terror here on Earth and the dread of a dark tide to overwhelm civilization, it cheers me to recall that we are the new Omegans with that magnificent legacy waiting for us. We have survived the death of our first son. Bad times may come, but surely we'll prevail.

MONTAGNE: Jack Williamson's colleague, Patrice Caldwell. She'll speak at a memorial for the author tomorrow at Eastern New Mexico University.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from