Sunday, November 13, 2016

Jack Williamson and Jack Parsons


Jeff Jones cover for Darker Than You Think

I have been reading a lot of classic SF lately (as part of my duties with the Libertarian Futurist Society) and I can report that Jack Williamson's novella, "With Folded Hands," holds up really well. I haven't yet read the novel-length version, The Humanoids.

But the work I wanted to mention today is perhaps Williamson's best-remembered work, Darker Than You Think, a werewolf novel. Have any of y'all read it? I finally read my copy after getting it autographed by Williamson at the 1998 worldcon. (Williamson, born in 1908 in "Arizona territory," spanned a long period of science fiction with his work. As a teenager, Isaac Asimov was a fan. When I was a teenager, I read some of his latest stories in the Ted White-edited "Amazing." Williamson won a Hugo for best novella in 2001).

Darker ThanYou Think is a really good fantasy novel. It tells the story of a young man's attraction to a young red haired woman who turns out to be a rather wild girl.  When I finished "With Folded Hands" the other day, I looked up entries about Williamson at the Science Fiction Encylopedia and on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia piece quotes this from Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist Jack Parsons by George Pendle:

"Parsons had a particular interest in one of Williamson's stories that had recently appeared in the fantasy magazine Unknown.
...
"The story's description of a scarlet-haired woman riding a great beast recalled Crowley's own personal mythology, and the tale of Will Barbee seems to have captured Parsons' imagination because it resonated with his own awakening fervor for the OTO."

2 comments:

Rarebit Fiend said...

I've had Darker Than You Think on my bookshelf since I first started studying the occult/magic/Parsons and finally read it this past summer. It took me one sitting so I was pretty riveted by it, the scene towards the end where he turns into a pterodactyl after his rather visceral death was amazingly entertaining to read. Perhaps the Whore of Babalon is a more ubiquitous character in art than Parsons would have like to believe but the scene where he is ridden in the form of a saber-tooth tiger beast by the witch is visually striking. Erotic and atmospheric, the novel reminded me of the Val Lewton Cat People films.

So I've read Stranger in a Strange Land, Darker Than You Think, the final of the big three sci-fi novels associated with Parsons would be Anthony Boucher's "Rocket to the Morgue." Have you ever checked it out?

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I have not yet read "Rocket to the Morgue" but it now goes on my radar screen.