James H. Schmitz (1911 - 1981) was an American science fiction writer, mostly in short stories. He is noted for many of his protagonists being (to reluctantly resort to a much-abused expression) strong female characters.
The majority of his stories are set in the Federation of the Hub
. The most prominent recurring characters are Telzey Amberdon, an independent-minded psychic Action Girl
, and Trigger Argee, a secret agent. There are several stories in which the two team up, set after their respective solo adventures.
Another, smaller, group of stories features the Zone Agents of Vega, a group of idiosyncratic secret agents who guard the worlds of the Vegan Confederacy under a variety of guises. (One, for instance, appears to be travelling saleswoman, living out of a little caravan drawn by a funny-looking draught animal — but the caravan is also a fully-functional spacecraft, and the "draught animal" is one of her fellow Agents.)
His only three actual novels are all quite short by modern standards; the longest is the standalone The Witches of Karres
, an adventure comedy involving a trio of psychic children.Baen Books
have brought his work back into print in recent years. The reissue attracted some controversy among long-standing fans because of the editor's decision to tighten up a few of the stories, a process that in some cases more closely resembled major surgery. The non-Hub stories are collected in Agent of Vega
(containing all, but not only, the Zone Agents stories) and Eternal Frontier
Works by James H. Schmitz with their own trope pages include:
Other works by James H. Schmitz contain examples of:
- Action Girl
- The Fair Folk: In "Summer Guests"
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: In Agent of Vega, the relationship between Earth and the Confederacy is very reminiscent of that between the UK and the USA.
- The Federation: The Confederacy of Vega.
- Healing Vat: In Agent of Vega, Iliff delivers his final mission report from one, after his near-fatal confrontation with the Big Bad of his story.
- Psychic-Assisted Suicide: In "Rogue Psi".
- Psychic Powers: in the Agent of Vega series such powers, technologically boosted, are almost universal though degree of strength varies.
- The Radio Dies First: In "The Beacon to Elsewhere", the protagonist prudently packs two radios, but they're both taken out when his vehicle crashes. (One ran off the same power source as the vehicle, the failure of which caused the crash, and the other had an independent power source, but was damaged in the crash itself.)
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Barney Chard's prison in "Gone Fishing" — a well-appointed cabin, in the mountains, overlooking a lake. On an alien planet.
- Space Police: The agents of Vega
- The Spymaster: The Third Co-ordinator of the Vegan Confederacy