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Schmitz, James H.(1911–1981)
James Schmitz published his first short story in 1943, and several years later began a series of space adventures, collected as Agent of Vega (1960), that included such classics as the title story and “The Second Night of Summer.” He would continue to write impressive short fiction throughout the 1960s, although much of his later work began to fall into a formula. Some of his other noteworthy short stories include “The Big Terrarium” and “The Summer Guests.”
The same is not true of The Witches of Karres (1966), easily Schmitz’s best novel. This time there are three teenaged girls, each of whom possesses psi talents for which they have been forced into slavery. They are subsequently rescued by a hardboiled space captain who becomes enraged by, and finally reconciled to, their impish sense of humor. The chemistry among the characters is superb, but unfortunately Schmitz never managed to achieve this level of characterization again. A recent sequel, The Wizard of Karres (2004) by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer, fails to measure up to the original. The Demon Breed (1968) is also set in the Hub universe, but it was more reminiscent of Andre NORTON’s otherworld adventures. Aliens invade and conquer a remote human colony, but the protagonist manages to avoid capture, escaping into the wilderness with three mutated otters. With their help, she eventually manages to signal for help.
Telzey returned for another full-length adventure in Lion Game (1973). After escaping death at the hands of a psi-talented assassin, Telzey investigates a new alien race with territorial ambitions and publicizes their plot in time to avert an interstellar war. Schmitz’s final novel was not part of the Hub universe. The Eternal Frontiers (1973) is set on another colony planet whose inhabitants have split into two hostile factions. They are forced to put aside their differences when a third party, consisting of belligerent aliens, enters the fray. Despite an interesting opening, the novel quickly bogs down into predictable melodramatic paths.
DON D’AMMASSA, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, 2005