Cover image for The silicon dagger
The silicon dagger
Williamson, Jack, 1908-2006.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Tor, [1999]

Physical Description:
303 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates Book."
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A near-future novel of technology, conspiracy, & revolution by award-winning Grand master Jack Williamson.

Author Notes

Author Jack Williamson was born in Bisbee, Arizona on April 29, 1908. In the 1950's, he received both his BA and MA degress in English from Eastern New Mexico University. After receiving his PhD from the University of Colorado, he taught linguistics, the modern novel and literary criticism at Eastern New Mexico University until he retired in 1977.

At the age of 20, he published his first story, The Metal Man, in a December 1928 issue of Amazing Stories. Since then he has written more than 50 novels and at least 15 short story collections. Some of his best known works are The Humanoids, The Legion of Time, Manseed, and Lifeburst. He also published numerous collaborations with fellow science fiction author Frederik Pohl. He received numerous awards including the Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award. He was an inaugural inductee in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and was named a Grand Master of Science Fiction by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1976. He died at his home in Portales, New Mexico on November 10, 2006.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

After seven decades as a published writer, Williamson continues to be a master of his craft. His latest novel is the deceptively simple story of a man sent to a small Kentucky town to investigate the murder of his brother, an investigative reporter who apparently stumbled on a secret high-tech plot. The plot turns out to be real enough, with the town eventually surrounding itself with an effective force shield, which leads to a confrontation with the U.S. government and to dire peril and divided loyalties for investigator Clay Barstow and many others. This theme has been exploited so often in sf for, among other purposes, libertarian tracts. Finding it again in a novel in which its inherent grimness is played out by characters, all of whom have motivations, if not necessarily admirable ones, is a welcome relief. Williamson's understated prose heightens dramatic impact, and his characterizations are as solid as ever. Let us hope that this is far from his last book. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

A divided America provides the setting for Williamson's (The Black Sun) unfortunate latest, an ill-considered scenario in which one small Kentucky county threatens the U.S. government with an ultimate weapon. When his journalist brother is slain for investigating possible terrorist activity in McAdam County, Clay Barstow, who had been working as his brother's research assistant, is recruited by the FBI to pose as a graduate student and investigate. Despite his lack of expertise in espionage, Barstow agrees. He soon meets the members of the Kentucky Rifles, a local militia bent on defending themselves against "the liberal crazies in Washington and the international bankers." The editor of the local newspaper explains the pervasive mistrust in the county of big government by describing information technology as "the silicon dagger... a weapon of stealth" that enslaves much of the populace to "the elite classes." Barstow's link with the FBI is soon compromised; he runs afoul of the militia and the locals realize he's that nosy journalist's brother. The militia seizes power and declares the county's independence. Although the president refuses to back down, the county's silicon shieldÄa force fieldÄstops any missiles or planes from breaking through, forcing a negotiation for the county's nationhood. Burdened by excessive discourse on individual rights and a contrived narrative, this novel reads more like a thesis against the Internet and its intrusiveness than the work of a renowned SF veteran. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The murder of his brother draws investigator Clay Barstow to McAdam City, KY, to search for the killer. Along the way, Barstow discovers the existence of a new technology powerful enough to force the government to the brink of civil war. Veteran sf author Williamson (The Black Sun, LJ 2/15/97) deftly weaves together modern concerns with old-fashioned storytelling in this fast-moving sf thriller, which belongs in large collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.