WILLIAMS, Walter Jon
(1953-)
   US writer whose first works were nautical tales as by Jon Williams, beginning with The Privateer (1981). He began to publish sf with Ambassador of Progress (1984), an unexceptional novel in which a female agent whose mission is to revive civilization makes contact with an abandoned, semi-feudal colony planet. Knight Moves (1985) describes the attempts of an immensely powerful immortal and his old friends and enemies to discover a technique of MATTER TRANSMISSION and to repopulate an almost abandoned Earth with fantastic creatures taken from MYTHOLOGY, in a style reminiscent of the early Roger ZELAZNY. But it was with the appearance of CYBERPUNK that WJW seemed to have found his true voice as a writer. In theHardwired sequence - Hardwired (1986), stories like "Video Star" (1986), Voice of the Whirlwind (1987) and Solip:system (1989 chap) - he displayed a fascination with intensely detailed surfaces, biologically invasive gadgetry, and the effects of powerful corporations and rapidly changing technology on (romanticized) social outsiders. The first tale, in which underdogs of a repressed Earth rebel against dominant orbital corporations - proved sufficiently popular to spawn a role-playing game (GAMES ANDTOYS) based on it, despite the unlikelihood of much of its plot; the game is presented in Hardwired: The Sourcebook (1989 chap). In the rather better second tale the CLONE of an alienated one-time corporate soldier, brought to life on the original's death, hunts for clues to that first demise in a narrative richly informed by Zen and speculations on the nature of identity.The Crown Jewels sequence - The Crown Jewels (1987) and House of Shards (1988) - comprises two "divertimenti" describing theadventures of a Raffles-like burglar in a cod-Oriental future human culture heavily influenced by ALIENS to whom style is sacred. But WJW retained a cyberpunk outlook for his next major novel, Angel Station (1989), in which family groups of interstellar traders both fight tosurvive as major corporations squeeze down their markets, and also betray each other for the chance to deal with a newly discovered alien race. Facets (coll 1990) assembles most of his short fiction. In the tautly toldDays of Atonement (1991) WJW moved to a NEAR FUTURE USA where a macho small-town sheriff struggles with the physics needed to understand an apparent outbreak of bodily resurrections at the nearby Advanced Technological Laboratories. ARISTOI (1992) goes in the other direction,into a FAR-FUTURE venue once again evocative of Zelazny. Wall, Stone, Craft (1993 chap) ingeniously posits an ALTERNATE WORLD in which LordByron, unhampered by a club foot, becomes one of the heroes of Waterloo, and subsequently interacts with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, here powerfully imagined, so that Frankenstein (1818), and all of sf to come, is inevitably created. Ingenious and energetic and knowing, WJW seems very much at home with the mature GENRE SF of the 1980s and 1990s.
NT
   Other works: Elegy for Angels and Dogs (1990 dos), a sequel to Zelazny's The Graveyard Heart (1964 Fantastic; 1990 chap dos), with which it is boundsequentially (DOS-A-DOS); Dinosaurs (1991 chap).
   See also: CYBORGS; PSI POWERS; WILD CARDS.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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