Star Bridge

Jack Williamson might have been a legendary name in the field for a quarter century, but by the 1950s a case of writer’s block ate seriously into his production. Other writers came to his aid by stretching fragments and ideas of his out to novel length. Frederik Pohl did so with the Undersea trilogy and new face James Gunn took over this work. He later wrote:

I spent eight hours a day in my basement office, turning out ten pages a day and rewriting it once. That meant I could write a short story in a week, a novelette in two weeks, a short novel in four weeks, and a novel in three months. I wrote This Fortress World and Star Bridge that way, and both got published by Gnome Press in 1955, but I got a total of $500 ($450 when my agent took his percentage) for This Fortress World and half that (Jack got half)  for Star Bridge.

The front flap describes the novel:

It is [Alan Horn, a soldier of fortune] who singlehandedly takes on the gigantic task of smashing an interstellar dynasty. His opponent is only a single “business” concern, but it is the ruthless master of civilization and invincible in its system of rule. As a trading company it holds the secret of the Tubes – the strange, endless cylinders of energy which somehow foreshorten space.

Only a couple of words need be changed to make that the plot of Clifford Simak’s 1951 Empire, in which two scientists take on the energy company which controls the accumulators and therefore all the solar system. Not an accusation of plagiarism, but another entry on the list of 50s novels which used big predatory businesses as the enemy.

Villiers Gerson reviewed Star Bridge for the July 10, 1955 New York Times Book Review.

The pace and shock value of this fast-moving blood-and-thunder novel should find many enthusiasts among science fiction fans.

Floyd C. Gale reviewed it for the November 1955 Galaxy

None of the [other characters] come alive, but, then, who’s got time to be a character when there’s so much to do? [italics in original]

Star Bridge, by Jack Williamson & James Gunn, 1955, title #46, 221 pages, $3.00, 5000 hardback copies printed, 900 remaindered. Striped gray cloth with red spine, and black lettering. Jacket design by Mel Hunter. “First edition” stated on copyright page. Type set by Slug Composition Company. Printing and binding by H. Wolfe. Back cover: 39 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11St., New York 3

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