During the 50’s and 60’s “Space Opera” and James H. Schmitz were almost synonymous. He was famous for his tales of interstellar secret agents and galactic criminals, and particularly for heroines such as Telzey Amberdon and Trigger Argee. Many of these characters had enhanced “psionic” powers that let them use their minds as well as their weapons to foil their enemies. All of them were resourceful in the best heroic tradition.
The collection of his stories the Resurrected Press publication, James H. Schmitz Resurrected: Selected Stories of James H. Schmitz, do have several examples of this type of tale, with “The Star Hyacinths” and “The Winds of Time” both being in the classic “Space Opera” mold. But it also includes works that demonstrate Schmitz’s versatility. This is particularly so in the shorter works, “An Incident on Route 12,” “The Other Likeness,” “Oneness.” and “Ham Sandwich.” Each of these stories ends with a twist that would not be out of place in a “Twilight Zone” episode.
“Watch the Sky” is anything but a typical “Space Opera.” It features a ragged group of colonists on a backwater planet facing a dubious past and an insecure future. There are no intrepid secret agents, no psi-powers, just a surprising resolution.
On the surface, “Gone Fishing” is the story of a con man who tries to steal a revolutionary invention from a scientist. The story, however, has a much deeper subtext, dealing with what is really important in life, and what do we need to make us happy. It certainly is cosmic in its implications, but in a way completely different than the usual aliens trying to conquer the universe story.
Schmitz’s “Space Operas” are certainly fun to read, and he would be remembered if that was all he had written. But he also wrote other types of stories that are equally entertaining in their own ways. I hope you will enjoy the ones collected here.
About The Author
James H. Schmitz (October 11, 1915- April 18, 1981) was born in Hamburg, Germany of American parents where he grew up. During World War II he served in the Pacific as an aerial photographer for the Army Air Corps. His best known novel is The Witches of Karres.
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