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A long lost space opera classic is finally seeing print

Illustration for article titled A long lost space opera classic is finally seeing print

Edmond Hamilton was one of space opera's great early writers, along with E.E. "Doc" Smith and Hamilton's wife, Leigh Brackett. And his great opus was the Star Kings saga, which never had an ending. Until now.


A small press, Futures Past Editions, has found the makings of a final Star Kings book, The Last of the Star Kings, which was published in a series of digest magazines from the 1950s. These are two "complete novels" which tell stories set long before and long after the Star Kings saga, and help to flesh out the universe which Hamilton created.


According to the press release from Futures Past:

Edmond Hamilton's The Star Kings (first published in Amazing Stories in 1949) is one of the jewels in the crown of early space opera, rivaled only by E. E. Smith's Lensmen Series and Jack Williamson's Legion of Space Saga. In 1966, in response to continuing reader demand, Hamiltonpenned a sequel titled Return of the Stars. These two novels, along with a short story called Stark and the Star Kings—written in collaboration with his wife, Leigh Brackett—were thought to comprise the entire Star Kings saga.

…That is, until earlier this year when the editors of Futures Past Editions discovered, in a series of 1950s digest magazines, two further "complete novels" by Hamilton set in the Star Kings universe. One, The Star Hunter, takes place a few thousand years before the events of the Star Kings. The second,The Tattooed Man, is the capstone of the saga, taking place tens of thousands of years after the era of the Star Kings, when they are a half-forgotten legend believed only by children. It is possible that this story's connection withThe Star Kingswas overlooked because it was issued under a pseudonym bestowed by the magazine's publisher. It was identifiable as part of the Star Kings saga only because the climactic scene took place at one ofThe Star Kings'key locations.

The Last of the Star Kingsis a Futures Past pulp reprint "Ultimate Edition". In addition to the original magazine text of the story, Ultimate Editions typically feature a new introduction, material by the author about her or his own life or the story itself, the original unaltered magazine cover (or covers), and other special material.

The Last of the Star Kingsincludes these and a very special extended version of Edmond Hamilton's future history (as given inThe Star Kings), which covers the two thousand centuries between our own time and that of the Star Kings. (According to an earlier statement by the author, more than half of his science fiction stories are set in this future history, which also includes his famed Captain Future novels). This iteration of his future history charts the events of the millennia which followThe Star Kings,from a long Golden Age through the fall of the star kingdoms and onward to an era when they are almost forgotten and considered only a myth.

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OMG,YES! Hamilton is such an underrated writer. He wrote awesome and thought provoking short fiction in the Pre-Golden Age Era of the 1930s such as "The Man Who Evolved" and "The Accursed Galaxy". But his best work is still probably the Captain Future series.

This series went from traditional space opera into very insightful speculative fiction stories about the future of mankind (largely due to the influence of Leigh Brackett).

Sadly the Captain Future stories were largely forgotten in the following decades until in 1978 Toei adapted all the Hamilton stories into an anime that was popular all over the world...except in the US where it saw extremely limited distribution.