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.

While her work is on the surface science fiction, she very much brought a sword and sorcery sensibility to the tales she told.  She also was a master of hardboiled characters.  If Raymond Chandler or Dashille Hammett had written for the science fiction pulps, I suspect their work would have very much resembled that of Leigh Brackett.  It’s been too many years since I read her work, and I’m rediscovering just how good she was as I’m rereading “The Moon That Vanished”.  Anyway, I’m going to post all the Leigh Brackett articles here because I think the tone of the stories will fit better here than on my science fiction blog.

Blind VoicesI’m also rereading A Gnome There Was, a collection of Henry Kuttner’s short stories, and I’ll be reading more Kuttner (as well as C. L. Moore).  I’d really like to spend my reading time this month revisiting old favorites, but that’s probably not going to happen as much as I’d like.  There are one or two novels I didn’t get to during the fall, Tom Reamy’s Blind Voices and Frank Herbert’s Destination Void foremost among them.  There are also several Simak titles I’ve got in the stack, including the first volume of his collected stories, I am Crying All Inside.  (The new collected stories, not the titles Darkside Press put out about eight years ago, give or take.)

I need to finish the Ballantine Adult Fantasy post over Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword for Black Gate.  (John, if you’re reading this, I’ve not quit.)  I’ve always scanned my personal copies of the covers for that series, and the laptop I’ve got doesn’t talk to my scanner.  Maybe after Christmas I’ll be able to replace the computer system.

I’ve got a handful of commitments to finish up, but I don’t see a lot of new titles popping up.  Most of what I’ve got to finish is scinece fiction, so things should be pretty active over on Futures Past and Present.  I didn’t finish some of the things I thought I would over Thanksgiving because I got distracted by a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle and silent film comedies on YouTube.  (I was reading a book about the Roscoe Arbuckle case and watched some of his films.)

On the writing front, I’ve got several projects in various stages of completion, or incompletion to be more precise.  I’m not ready to talk about them yet, but I’m hoping once finals are over, grades are in, and some committee meetings are done, I can make some progress on them.

4 thoughts on “In the Deep and Dark December

  1. Paul McNamee

    So. Much. To. Read!

    Ambitious plans. Good to hear.

    I am in the middle of Robert Low’s THE WHALE ROAD and enjoying the hell outta it.

    I did grab my copy of TALES FROM THE OTHERVERSE and will read that next to get you a review.

    After that I have a few top choices for next reads but it’s anyone’s guess what will bubble to the top.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Thanks for the forthcoming review of TALES OF THE OTHERVERSE.

      I read THE WHALE ROAD a few years ago and loved it. It felt more like a fantasy novel than most fantasy novels I’ve read in that the characters believed in dwarves and all the other supernatural beings from Norse mythology, and what’s more their actions were consistent with those beliefs. I’ve got the third and fourth books in that series, but I haven’t found the second. Yeah, yeah, I know, I could get it on line, but that removes the fun of the hunt. And it’s not like I don’t have anything else lying around to read.

      Very ambitious, and while I probably won’t get to everything I’m trying to read, it will be fun to try.

      1. Paul McNamee

        Unbelievably, I am reading a library copy of THE WHALE ROAD. 🙂 I took my son to the town library last week. He picked a DVD and suggested I get a book. I was happily surprised they had THE WHALE ROAD. They have another one in the series, too. I think it is the second book but I’m not entirely sure.

        Yes, it feels like “low fantasy.” Or at least it has a sense of magical realism.

        While I like the t.v. series VIKINGS, that show is a bit more on the king maker and breaker track. I like that THE WHALE ROAD is more about adventure. Shades of Cormac Mac Art.

        1. Keith West Post author

          There’s another viking series that I’m blanking on. It was mentioned on Frontier Partisans a few weeks ago. I’ve got the first one in it and am hoping to work it in soon.


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