Title: The Pro
Author: Edmond Hamilton
Type: short story
Almost we would omit references to the Grand Old Days of Magazine Science Fiction for fear of conjuring up images that either we or the author of this story are confined to a bath-chair and gout-stool (neither of us is; and mind your clumsy feet)- but accuracy forbids. In the Grand Old Days of Magazine Science Fiction, videlicet the otherwise non-grand 30s, then, a querulous reader wrote to one SF magazine and complained that
“Edmond Hamilton is always saving worlds … The implication was not that Mr. Hamilton collected them in a morocco album, but that his stories often dealt with their rescue from evil. Pax. He was and is not only a realist but an optimist—both attributes being manifested in this cool and competent and utterly believable story which links the Science Fiction past with its already beginning-to-be-realized-and-vindicated-present. Edmond Hamilton appears here for the first time since 1954. It is nice to have him aboard again.
Mr. Hamilton writes of himself:
“I sometimes feel like a time-traveller, for this reason: I’m 59 years old, which isn’t so old these days (it isn’t, is it, honest?) But my formative first 7 years were spent on a Ohio farm so far back in, that it must have had a time-lag of a decade. Horses reared up in buggy-shafts at sight of an automobile, and a steam-
threshing-machine was a thing which frightened me horribly.
Yet last month I flew home from London in a jet in 5 or 6 hours, and the rockets stand on the launching-pads ready to make for the moon, and only the fact that I was blessed or cursed with a science fictional imagination has prevented me from exclaiming, “Stop the world, etc. …”
I wrote my first s-f story when I was 14. It was “The Plant That Was Alive.” It was also Terrible. No one bought it. I was at that time, however, unquenchable. … I was a freshman in college and supposed to be a child prodigy, and I took that seriously and loftily ignored study and broke rules and got canned out of school
after three years. But I kept trying to write s-f, and in February, 1926, succeeded in selling the old Weird Tales.
What a thrill it was when, a month later, a science-fiction magazine appeared! A couple of years later when a second s-f magazine appeared, I decided to become a professional writer. I’m filled with retrospective admiration for a decision so costnically heroic and stupid. To make matters worse, my next 42 stories sold without a refection … only then did I start to get the bumps and learn.
But I’ve stuck to it ever since. I love to tell adventure stories and have told hundreds … but every now and then I want to write something quite different. THE PRO is one of the different ones.”
- The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 27, no. 4, October 1964, (Oct 1964, ed. Avram Davidson, publ. Mercury Press, Inc., $0.40, 132pp, Digest, magazine), pp. pp. 21-32. Cover: Chesley Bonestell
- Great Science Fiction Stories About the Moon, (1967, ed. T. E. Dikty, publ. Frederick Fell, 221pp, hc, anth)
- The Best of Edmond Hamilton, (Apr 1977, Edmond Hamilton, publ. Nelson Doubleday / SFBC, #1561, $2.98, xvii+334pp, hc, coll) Cover: Don Maitz
- The Best of Edmond Hamilton, (Aug 1977, Edmond Hamilton, publ. Del Rey / Ballantine, 0-345-25900-9, $1.95, xviii+381pp, pb, coll) Cover: H. R. Van Dongen
- Inside the Funhouse: 17 Sf Stories About SF, (Aug 1992, ed. Mike Resnick, publ. AvoNova, 0-380-76643-4, $4.99, 246pp, pb, anth) Cover: Tim O’Brien
- The Best of Edmond Hamilton, (Nov 2010, Edmond Hamilton, publ. Phoenix Pick, 978-1-60450-489-7, $14.99, 348pp, tp, coll)