Published in the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales, “Hellsgarde” is in many ways the last of the Jirel stories, at least her solo adventures. She will meet up with Northwest Smith in “Quest of the Starstone”. That’s another post for another day. “Starstone” was actually published first, in 1937, but all collections I’ve seen place it last in the book.
I found this story to have a bit more depth than “The Dark Land”, which we looked at yesterday. YMMV. There will be spoilers in this post. You have been warned.
It opens with Jirel riding to the castle of Hellsgarde,which sits in a vast swamp of quicksand and only appears at sunset. Two hundred years ago, Andred, master of Hellsgarde had found a great treasure which he kept in a small box. No one knew the exact nature of the treasure, but many coveted it. Andred died defending his treasure, but his killers never found it. Since then many have died trying to find it, and Hellsgarde has gained an evil reputation.
Now Guy of Garlot has taken some of Jirel’s men prisoner. He’s told Jirel that he will kill them unless she brings him Andred’s box from Hellsgarde. Guy’s fortress sits atop an unassailable cliff. Jirel has no choice but to go for the treasure. Guy is too cowardly to attempt finding it himself. Although it’s never stated, I suspect Guy hopes to take control of Jirel’s lands if she fails. Continue reading →
“The Dark Land” was the fourth of the Jirel of Joiry stories. It was originally published in the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales.
Of all the Jirel stories I’ve looked at so far, I found this to be the weakest. The story opens with Jirel lying unconscious and near death from a pike wound to the side. As the priest shows up to give her last rites, she disappears.
She finds herself on a platform facing a giant statue of a man. Around his head is a crown of flames. It isn’t long before the subject of the statue shows up. He appears in a swirl of light whose description sounds a lot like the transporter effects from Star Trek TOS.
The man informs her his name is Pav. He’s brought her to his kingdom of Romne. He intends for Jirel to be his queen. It’s her fiery fighting nature that’s drawn his attention. Continue reading →
Weird Tales editorial office, l. to r., unknown, Farnsworth Wright, Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch
By the time of his death in 1940, Farnsworth Wright had become one of the most influential editors the field of the fantastic would ever see. Wright was born in 1888 on July, 29. I would argue his influence on science fiction, fantasy, and horror has been greater than any other editor, including John W. Campbell, Dorothy McIlwraith, Fred Pohl, Ray Palmer, or Hugo Gernsback.
Yes, I realize that last sentence could be controversial, especially the inclusion of Campbell and Gernsback. So be it. Farnsworth Wright edited Weird Tales during what is considered to be the magazine’s golden age. The authors he published have had a greater impact on the literature of the fantastic than those of any other editor at any time in history. Continue reading →
“When the Bough Breaks”
as by Lewis Padgett
originally published in Astounding Science Fiction November 1944
Henry Kuttner was born on April 7, 1915. Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that Kuttner is probably my favorite author, at least on days ending in “y”. After his marriage to C. L. Moore, everything he and Moore wrote was a collaboration to one degree or another.
Both authors were masters of fantasy, science fiction, and and everything in between, including horror. Much of their best work was published in Astounding in the mid-1940s. Almost all of these stories have been collected in at least one of Kuttner’s collections, either in his lifetime or in the years since. There are a few that haven’t, which I’ll address at another time. Continue reading →
Born on January 24, 1911, C. L. Moore is one of the favorite writers around these here parts. As I stated a couple of days ago on Robert E. Howard’s birthday, I’m going to be focusing on a work by writers I’ve done multiple birthday posts on rather than trying to come up with something original in a tribute essay. Today’s story is “Jirel Meets Magic”.
Originally published in the July 1935 issue of Weird Tales, “Jirel Meets Magic” is the third story of the Lady of Joiry. It opens with Jirel leading a charge over the drawbridge of a castle, breaking the ranks of the defenders trying to stand against her, and calling for her soldiers to bring her a wizard named Giraud.
Why is Jirel attacking the castle? Who is Giraud? What is Jirel’s reason for wanting to kill him? Who cares? Moore’s writing pulls the reader in, sweeping him along at a breakneck pace. These questions will be answered, but for now all that matters is the heady rush of battle.
The Fairy Chessmen
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore writing as Lewis Padgett
originally published in two parts in Astounding Science Fiction, Jan. 1946 and Feb. 1946
I’ve had a copy of this short novel for years but have never gotten around to reading it until recently. For some reason, I struggled a bit to get into to it. That’s not normally a problem I have with Kuttner, even when he isn’t at the top of his game. It may have had something to do with reading it on my phone. I tend to be interrrupted more when I’m reading in that format.
Today, April 7, 2016, marks the 101st birthday of author Henry Kuttner.
I was going to read and review one of Kuttner’s longer works and had chosen The Fairy Chessmen. That review will come in a few days. I’m not quite halfway through it and won’t be able to finish it before tomorrow.
“Black God’s Shadow”
C. L. Moore
First published in Weird Tales, December 1934
“Black God’s Shadow” is the second Jirel of Joiry tale, a direct sequel to “Black God’s Kiss“. The story opens while Jirel waking from a dream in which Guillaume is calling her named. She’d sent Guillaume to his death with a kiss from the Black God she had encountered in a strange world she’d entered through a tunnel beneath her castle.
Now she realizes that she’s doomed him to an eternity of torment. Overwhelmed by guilt, Jirel returns to that strange otherworld to seek some way of freeing Guillaume’s soul so he can go to his eternal rest. Continue reading →
Today marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of science fiction and fantasy author C. L. Moore. I wrote last year about what a pioneer she was on both her birthday and later in the year.
This year I’m going to mark that anniversary differently. Rather than repeat myself, this will be a short announcement, a reminder if you will. Before her marriage to Henry Kuttner, at which point everything they wrote became a collaboration to a greater or lesser degree, Moore had established herself as one of the premiere writers in both the science fiction and fantasy fields. Her iconic characters Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry became the template of numerous characters to come.
I’ve blogged about both Smith and Jirel over the last couple of years, but those projects have gotten stalled. I’m going to reboot them and finish those stories. Look for a new Jirel post soon.
Until then, raise a glass in Catherine Moore’s memory and read some of her stuff. You’ll be glad you did.
A Gnome There Was
Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore)
Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 276 pg., $2.50
Cover drawing by Ed Cartier
I’ve got about half a dozen posts I need to write, including one for another blog, but with the blizzard, we’ve been cooped up in the house. That means between my wife watching TV with the volume up too loud and my son monopolizing the laptop everytime I have to do something responsible, I’ve not gotten much done as far as reading, blogging, or writing is concerned. I’m typing this after everyone else has gone to bed.
I started A Gnome There Was just before Thanksgiving. I tracked down a copy some years ago simply because I was trying to find a copy of the short story “Jesting Pilot”, and this was the easiest way. Turns out there is another story in it that I discovered last night has never been reprinted since this book was published. At the time I thought “Jesting Pilot” was the only story I hadn’t read.
Anyway, I was getting tired of some of the stuff I was being sent to review, something I’ll discuss in my year end post in a day or so. I decided to revisit some of my favorite Kuttner stories (something like literary comfort food). Since many of them are in this book, that’s the one I chose. Continue reading →