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17 February 2012

T(homas) Jackson King was born in Houston on May 24th 1948. He’s a professional poet, archaeologist, investigative journalist, and author. (Yet another born in the 1940s, and who carries on several professions.) King’s first book, Retread Shop, appeared in 1988 from Warner Books under the Questar imprint. If you liked Stephen Goldin’s Jade Darcy books duo, and Julie Czerneda’s first Clan Trilogy then you will probably like Retread Shop since it too has multiple aliens, an eatery, and an infinity of odd events that range from riots, to conspiracy, to exploring new worlds and to alien eating habits.
Retread Shop is the story of Billy McGuire whose parents died four years ago, he’s sixteen when the story starts and for those four years he’s scraped a desperate living at the Retread Shop, a sort of space-going bazaar for second-hand alien technology. The locale is an asteroid of immense size, large population, many alien species, and where nothing’s free, not air, not water, not sleeping space, not clothing; nothing. Billy is hanging on by his fingernails until the day, when, not having eaten for two days, he steals fruit from Zilkie’s shop and is caught. He’s offered a deal, work in exchange for food, he accepts and his life begins to change under the auspices of the alien Zilkie and his mind-mate Melisay.
But there’s more going on under the shop surface that Billy realizes, and in the end he takes sides when an uprising pits alien against alien to control the shrine at the heart of his home, and for possession/control of the last of an ancient species. Billy isn’t handed anything on a platter, he works hard, sometimes going a step backwards, but mostly forwards although nothing is easy for him. It’s a real reader’s ride and thoroughly entertaining. And, sigh, once again I wish that the author would write more books set in this background.
There was a long gap between books, but in 1996, King had a collaboration, “Ancestor’s World” (Ace) with Anne Crispin. This was the 6th book in the Starbridge series-an excellent series in its own right.
In this book Ambassador Burroughs and archaeologist Gordon Mitchell become the targets of a radical faction that will do anything to gain the power of more advanced species, even kill. I have no way of knowing how this collaboration was worked, but however it was done this was another fine book in the series and a tribute to King. His third book (Judgment Day and Other Dreams) is a collection which should still however be worth a look as one of his tales was reprinted in Year’s Best Fantastic Fiction in 1997.

(note: Author publishes as by: T. Jackson King for fiction; Tom Jackson King for non-fiction news; or Thomas J. King Jr. for scientific papers and reports.)

Retread Shop. New York: Warner Books/Questar, 1988.
Ancestor’s World. With A.C. Crispin. New York: Ace Books, 1996.
Judgment Day And Other Dreams. Virginia: Fantastic Books, 2009.
Little Brother’s World. young adult SF, Fantastic Books, 2010.

Short Stories
“Winnowing The Chaff,” Pandora, Fall 1989, No. 24.
“Winnowing The Chaff,” M&F magazine, June 1992 (Russian reprint; Dnepropetrovsk,Uk)
“Tears For Ozymandias,” Pandora, Spring 1992, No. 27.
“The Fire Rains,” Pandora, Fall 1992, No. 28.
“The Tides of Fear,” Figment, Summer 1992, No. 10.
“The Fellowship of Manzanar,” Figment, Winter 1992, No. 12.
“The Dance,” Midnight Zoo, April 1993, Vol. 3, No. 4.
“The Memory Seller,” Expanse, Winter 1994, No. 2.
“Sumiko’s Hope,” Absolute Magnitude, Winter/Spring 1995, No. 2.
“Litter Control,” Analog, April 1995.
“Judgment Day at John’s Bar,” Pulphouse: A Fiction Magazine, Summer 1995, No. 19.
“Endless Summers,” Tomorrow, August 1995, No. 16.
“Judgment Day at John’s Bar,” VB Tech Journal, September 1995 (reprint).
“Alien Blood,” Aberrations, November 1995.
“The Gate of Ishtar, From Babylon, In Berlin,” Aberrations, April 1996.
“Paladin,” Absolute Magnitude, Fall/Winter 1997.
“Judgment Day at John’s Bar,” Year’s Best Fantastic Fiction, November 1997 (reprint).
“A Lesser Michaelangelo,” The Silver Web, No. 15, Winter 2002.
I have included here only Mr. King’s genre work, for other items look up the alternate names listed just before ‘books’.

1 Comment »

  1. April 10, 2012–Hi Lyn. Thanks a LOT for the fine profile of me and my writings that you have posted above. Did you get the longish email I sent you to your 2010 SFWA email address? I will look around and see if I find another email address for you. Best, Tom.

    Comment by Tom/T. Jackson King — 11 April 2012 @ 13:21

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