Category Archives: C. L. Moore

In the Deep and Dark December

[cue Simon and Garfunkle]

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.

Leigh Brackett

Leigh Brackett

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

The Women Other Women Don’t See

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.group of men

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

Henry Kuttner at 100

kuttnerOne 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

Blogging Jirel of Joiry: Black God’s Kiss

Black God's KissBlack God’s Kiss
C. L. Moore
Paizo
trade paperback $12.99

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

Blogging Northwest Smith: The Cold Gray God

150px-Weird_Tales_October_1935“The Cold Gray God” adds a slight Lovecraftian element to the Northwest Smith saga.  First published in the October 1935 issue of Weird Tales, the story opens with Smith being accosted on the street of Righa, a city in the polar regions of Mars, by a fur clad woman.  Smith thinks she’s a Venusian, but she behaves in a way a Venusian woman wouldn’t.  Fro one thing, she touches him.  I couldn’t help but think of women in Islamic countries from the way she is describes.

Although he’s somewhat repulsed by her, there’s something familiar about her, too.  At her request, Smith accompanies her back to her house.  There he discovers she’s a famous singer who simply vanished a few years earlier.  She asks him to help her retrieve a box from a man who is frequently a notorious bar.  She tells Smith he can name his own price, hinting that he can have her it that’s what he wants.  Leery, Smith still accepts her offer, asking for ten thousand dollars. Continue reading

Catherine Lucille Moore: Fantasy and Science Fiction Pioneer

C. L. MooreNot to mention one of the most important writers of the past century.

Catherine Lucille Moore, better known as C. L. Moore, was born on this day in 1911.  She sold her first story, “Shambleau”, in 1933.  (review here)

In certain circles among science fiction and fantasy authors and fans, one can find a popular belief that women authors have been suppressed and had their voices silenced by The Patriarchy.  And That Has to Change.  While it is true that until recently more authors have been men than women, one has to wonder what parallel universe some of these people have fallen out of.  Either that or if what they’ve been smoking is home grown or Columbian imported.  Many of them act like they’ve never heard of Ursula K. Le Guin, Leigh Brackett, Kate Wilhelm, or Andre Norton, among others. Continue reading

Moore Than Just a Kuttner Kornucopia

Detour to OthernessDetour to Otherness
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
Cover art by Richard Powers
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
Afterward by Frederik Pohl
Haffner Press
Hardcover $40, limited edition hardcover $150

In the history of the science fiction and fantasy fields, there have been few authors as versatile as the husband and wife team of Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore. This is especially true at short lengths. (Since Kuttner was an early mentor of Ray Bradbury, this is hardly surprising.)

In the early 1960s, Ballantine Books published two collections of their work, Bypass to Otherness and Return to Otherness. Stephen Haffner states on the page for Detour to Otherness that a third volume was planned but never published. I’ve never heard this before, but I’m more than willing to take his word for it.

The first two Otherness titles contain selections from several of Kuttner’s most popular and well-remembered series. The Hogbens are represented, as is Galloway Gallegher, a scientific genius but only when he’s drunk. Also included is the first of the Baldy stories that comprised the mosaic novel Mutant. They don’t have some of his best known stories, which may not have been available at the time because they were in another book from a different publisher (Line to Tomorrow, Bantam), but this is one of the best samplings of Kuttner and Moore’s work.

Haffner has assembled enough stories for a third collection and combined them in the present volume. That section of the book is called Detour to Otherness, which is also the title of the omnibus.

Haffner had nothing to do with the selections in Bypass and Return, he was responsible to the stories in Detour. Thus, while critiquing the choices in the original volumes is a waste of time, it is very much on the strength of the stories in Detour that the volume will rise or fall. None of these stories has appeared in a Kuttner collection before, although most of them have been reprinted somewhere. I’d read almost all of them before. Let’s look at them more closely. Continue reading

Blogging Northwest Smith: Nymph of Darkness

Gosh Wow“Nymph of Darkkness”
C. L. Moore

For years, “Nymph of Darkness” was one of the rarest Northwest Smith stories. The reason was because C. L. Moore refused to give permission for the story, first published in 1935, to be reprinted. It wasn’t until the 1981 Worldcon that she relented. The first book reprinting occurred the following year in Gosh! Wow! Sense of Wonder, edited by Forrest J. Ackerman.

Ackerman, it turns out co-wrote the story with Moore, although she retained 75% of the rights, meaning it wouldn’t be reprinted without her permission. A technicality in the copyright for the story actually allowed it to be reprinted once against her wishes.

“Nymph of Darkness” first appeared in Fantasy Magazine in April 1935 and was later reprinted in Weird Tales in the December 1939 issue. It wasn’t included when most of the other stories were published in the 1950s by Gnome Press.

I’m not sure why Moore didn’t allow for its reprinting. The story, in my mind at least, is a good story. It’s not as long as most of the others, but still, it’s solid. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, C. L. Moore

C L Moore chin on handWhile it’s not quite January 24 where I am just yet, it is a few times zones east of here, and that’s good enough for me.  Especially since tomorrow is going to be a pretty full day.

Fantasy and science fiction author C. L. Moore was born this day in 1911.  After her marriage, her writing was overshadowed by that of her husband Henry Kuttner.  This was in part because Kuttner’s byline got a higher word rate that hers.

Even so, Moore had a major impact on the field.  Her Jirel of Joiry was one of the first women fighters in the field of sword and sorcery, a direct forerunner of Red Sonja.  And Northwest Smith was clearly one of the models for Han Solo.

I started a series of posts last year taking an in-depth look at the Northwest Smith stories.  I stopped when I got to “Nymph of Darkness”.  This was co-written with Forrest J. Ackerman.  I have a book in which Ackerman discusses the story.  Unfortunately, it was not on  the shelf.  I finally found the book in a box that hadn’t been unpacked from when we moved in 2012.  Look for more Northwest Smith posts soon.

Decades Years ago, when I was in college, I saw an autograph book that contained pictures of science fiction and fantasy writers, one per page.  The page for C. L. Moore had a picture of her sitting on what appeared to be the back steps of a house.  I’ve not seen that picture since.  It doesn’t appear to be online anywhere.  If anyone has a copy of that picture, I would appreciate your sending it to me.

For those who are interested, as well as the morbidly curious, here are the Northwest Smith posts I’ve done so far:

“Shambleau”
“Black Thirst”
“Scarlet Dream”
“Dust of Gods”
“Juhli”

 

Worldcon Report, Part 1

This is going to be the written report, mostly without pictures because I haven’t had time to sort through the ones I took and see what I want to post.  It’s been one of those weeks at work and it started on the way down to San Antonio.  I spent more time than I would have liked dealing with a couple of problems that waited until I was on the road to arise.  I post some pictures in the next few days.

20130829_190021

James Gunn at his reception.

I had to teach class Thursday morning, so by the time I got to San Antonio, checked into the hotel and hoofed it over to the convention center to register, I just made it before registration closed.  I wandered the dealer’s room and familiarized myself with the layout before grabbing a bite.  At least I intended to.  I ran into Adrian Simmons, editor of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and ended up accompanying him to a private, invitation-only reception for James Gunn.  Adrian had been invited, and I went along as his guest.  It was a great event, and I took advantage of the opportunity to speak with him.  He’s 90, and critics are calling his new novel his best.  I picked up a signed copy before the weekend was over.  There’ll be a review going up at Futures Past and Present sometime in the next few months.  Learning of Fred Poh’s death made me extra glad I grabbed a signed copy, in spite of being a little overbudget.

20130829_204522

What would you eat for a book?

Later I attended the Bookswarm party, which was packed.  I got a chance to talk to Martha Wells for a few minutes, and I walked away with two free books.  The theme of the party was Eat a Bug, Get a Book.  The bugs were sanitized and freeze dried.  (I ate a mole circket and a dung beetle and got The Other Half of the Sky edited by Athena Andreadis and Exile by Betsy Dornbush.)  The highlight of the party was getting to meet Brad Beaulieu, Douglas Hulett, Courtney Schafer, and Zachary Jernigan.  If you haven’t read them, you should.  Other than a glimpse of Jernigan from across the street, the only one of that group that I saw after that night was Courtney Schafer.

The next day was one of those where there was about twelve hours of programming I wanted to attend, all of it in a three hour block.  I went to most of the Robert E. Howard panels, of which there were many.  Most of the hanging out I did with friends was with members of the Robert E. Howard Foundation or chatting with folks at parties.  Saturday was much the same, but Sunday was a little more relaxed.  Among the non-Howard panels I attended were a discussion of C. L. Moore’s “Vintage Season”, the history of firearms in the 1800s, a discussion on writing that included Michael Swanwick and James Patrick Kelly, a panel of Texas writers who have passed on, and readings by Jack McDevitt and Howard Waldrop.  I only caught part of the panel on sword and sorcery since it was up against one of the more interesting Robert E. Howard panels.  The autographing lines were either nonexistent or ridiculously long, so I only got a few signatures.

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Sword and Sorcery Panel: (l. to r.) Stina Leitch, Lou Anders, Sam Sykes, Saladin Ahmed, Chris Willrich

I went to the Alamo Saturday morning with Bill Cavalier, editor of REHupa.  He hadn’t seen it, and it had been a while since I had paid my respects.  Next to the Alamo is the Menger Hotel.  Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders in the bar, and it’s something of a mini-museum.  I’ll do a write-up of it on Dispatches From the Lone Star Front over the weekend.

I didn’t try to attend the Hugos.  I wasn’t impressed with the slate of nominees for the most part.  But it’s a popularity contest, and currently my tastes and those of the field are in a state of moderate divergence.  The Legacy Circle of the REH Foundation went to dinner Saturday night.

There were some free books, including NESFA’s three volume Chad Oliver set.  I found the first two of the Heinlein juveniles I was missing, and picked up an extra copy of Glory Road.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of that novel.  I read it when I was about 14, and it’s about time for a reread.

20130901_103845

It’s good to be the king.

Some overall thoughts.  First, this was the first time I’ve been able to attend a Worldcon.  It wasn’t quite what I expected.  I’ve attended World Fantasy twice, and the density of pros in that venue is high, but then that’s a convention that’s aimed at pros.  Worldcon is more geared for fans.  I never saw some of the bigger names, although I know they were there.  Most of the ones I did see, I only saw once or twice.  The convention center is a bit too spread out for this sort of event.

I was surprised at crowded it wasn’t.  I was also a little surprised with how old the average attendee seemed to be.  While people seemed to be having a good time, I didn’t detect a great deal of excitement.  Maybe that’s because I’m getting older, but everything seemed more laid back than I was expecting.

I’d certainly attend another Worldcon, but only if it wasn’t at the same time classes started.  And only if it wasn’t too far away.  While I enjoyed it and am glad I went, I wouldn’t travel halfway around the world, or even the country, to repeat the experience.

I’ll post some more photos later in the week.