JAKES, John (William)

JAKES, John (William)
   US writer best known for sf and fantasy before his Bicentennial series of novels, which traces the fictional history of a US family over the past 200 years; it achieved extraordinary bestsellerdom, undoubtedly justifying, at least financially, his decision to retire from the genre. Most of his shorter work, beginning with "The Dreaming Trees" forFantastic Adventures in 1950, was written by the 1960s - a good selection appearing as The Best of John Jakes (coll 1977) ed Martin H. GREENBERG and Joseph D. OLANDER - and he published his last sf novel in 1973. Hegenerally displayed competence, but his early work lacked bite and his later novels, though sharper, were published in some obscurity. He was in any case from the first actively involved in other genres, and published at least 20 books, including several historicals as by Jay Scotland, before When the Star Kings Die (1967), the first volume in the Dragonard series of SPACE OPERAS, marked his full-scale entry into the field. The 3 novels in the sequence - the others are The Planet Wizard (1969) and Tonight We Steal the Stars (1969 dos) - follow the adventures of theDragonard clan as they guard II Galaxy and its corporate "star kings" against various perils. His second series, the Brak the Barbarian SWORD-AND-SORCERY epic, includes Brak the Barbarian (coll of linkedstories 1968), Brak the Barbarian versus the Sorceress (1963 Fantastic as "Witch of the Four Winds"; exp 1969; vt Brak the Barbarian - The Sorceress1970 UK; vt The Sorceress 1976 UK), Brak the Barbarian versus the Mark of the Demon (1969; vt Brak the Barbarian - The Mark of the Demons 1970 UK; vt The Mark of the Demons 1976 UK), Brak: When the Idols Walked (1964 Fantastic Stories; exp 1978) and The Fortunes of Brak (coll 1980). Thedeep debt of these stories to Robert E. HOWARD's Conan tales was acknowledged in the publication of Mention my Name in Atlantis (1972), an amusing pastiche of the subgenre.Out of the several sf novels JJ published 1969-73, three stand out. Six-Gun Planet (1970) depicts a deliberatelyarchaic colony planet called Missouri complete with ROBOT gunfighters, just as in the later film WESTWORLD (1973). Black in Time (1970) presents vignettes from Black history dramatized through a TIME-TRAVEL plot device. On Wheels (1973), set about a century hence, tautly depicts a mobile USsubculture whose members live, breed and die on wheels, whether in large trailers or on their own vehicles, never leaving the Interstate highway system, never dropping below 40mph (65kph). Their god is the Texaco Firebird, which they see only at the moment of death. As SATIRE the storyis simple but gripping, like most of JJ's best work.
   Other works: The Asylum World (1969); The Hybrid (1969); Secrets of Stardeep (1969) and Time Gate (1972), both juveniles, later brought together as Secrets of Stardeep, and Time Gate (omni 1982); The Last Magicians (1969); Mask of Chaos (1970); the Gavin Black novels, being Master of the Dark Gate (1970) and Witch of the Dark Gate (1972); Monte Cristo \#99 (1970); Conquest of the Planet of the Apes * (1974); Excalibur! (1980) with Gil Kane.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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