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 →
I’m not a huge Simon and Grafunkle fan, but I couldn’t help but steal the title of this post from “I am a Rock”. Here are my reading/writing/blogging plans for the last month of the year.
The big thing is that Leigh Brackett’s birthday is next Monday, December 7. It’s her centennial, and I’ll be focusing a lot on her work this month. I’m not the only one. Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward will be discussing “The Moon the Vanished”, one of her novellas set on a swampy Venus next Monday on Howard’s blog. Click here for details and join the discussion. I’m not going to be discussing that particular story here, but I will take some detailed looks at some others. I’m probably going to start with “Lorelei of the Red Mist”, which she began and Ray Bradbury finished when Howard Hawks offered her a job writing the screenplay to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep with William Faulkner. You can get electronic copies of both stories in Swamps of Venus from Baen ($4), or get the Solar System bundle for $20. Continue reading →
Trigger Warning: Humor, Snark, Truth, Thoughts That Might Be Different Than Yours.
In case you’re wondering, yes, the title of this post is a riff on the James Tiptree, Jr., story “The Women Men Don’t See”. And yes, there is a book review buried in here. I’ll provide the pertinent information about the book later. First, though, some context.
I’ve heard for years that there were virtually no women writers in science fiction and fantasy before [insert date du jour here] because they were discriminated against by all the men in the field and had to use masculine pseudonyms or initials if they wanted to write sf/f. The actual date when this began to change is something of a moving target and depends loosely on the age of the person making the statement.
This belief is pretty widely held in the field, to the point that it’s almost holy writ. And while men have spread this myth, women tend to be the loudest in voicing it. Continue reading →
One of my all-time favorite writers was born 100 years ago on this date. Henry Kuttner was a prolific author who wrote in multiple genres. Kuttner started out writing Lovecraft pastiche for Weird Tales.
Kuttner mentored Ray Bradbury and wrote the ending to Bradbury’s “The Candle” when Bradbury got stuck. In the introduction to the Ballatine/Del Rey edition of The Best of Henry Kuttner (there was a 2 volume British edition by the same name with more and different stories), Bradbury says in reference to “The Graveyard Rats” that Kuttner didn’t want to be remembered as a minor league Lovecraft. That’s a paraphrase, as I don’t have the book here with me. I looked at “The Graveyard Rats” on Kuttner’s birthday last year. Continue reading →
Shortly after she began chronicling the adventures of Northwest Smith, C. L. Moore created a second series character, one that would have an even greater impact on the genre. I’m talking, of course, about Jirel of Joiry.
Instead of setting these stories in space like she did with Northwest Smith, or in some age before the dawn of recorded history, like Howard did with Conan, Moore chose to place Jirel in the fictional French kingdom of Joiry, square in the Middle Ages.
There were only five Jirel stories, plus the Jirel and Northwest Smith team-up “Quest of the Starstone” that she wrote with her husband Henry Kuttner. But for the first time in the history of the field, here was a female character who was worthy of her own series. Note: the rest of this post will contain spoilers. Continue reading →