Leigh Brackett at 101

Brackett2As I’m sure you’ve figured out if you’ve spent much time at this site, I’m a huge Leigh Brackett fan.  Today (December 7, 2016) marks her 101st birthday.  I’ve been observing the occasion with looks at The Sword of Rhiannon, “The Sorcerer of Rhiannon“, and “The Veil of Astellar“.  I’m going to try to work “The Enchantress of Venus” in sometime over the next week or so.

If you’ve not read Brackett, do your self a favor.  Read her.  There are very few writers who can write fast paced action adventure with complex and flawed characters like she can and do so with a sense of poetry.

Here’s a quote I found in which she explains what plot is.  It’s a pretty good definition.

brackett quote

23 thoughts on “Leigh Brackett at 101

      1. Woelf Dietrich

        The thing is, I’ve read so many books over the years, I would not be surprised if, in fact, I had a read one or two of her books. If i had read more than two I would have remembered it. My memory loves to challenge me now and then. Going back to my roots and reading the legends of old is a recent thing. At the very least I’m rediscovering awesome authors.

        1. Keith West Post author

          I’ve been trying to read a mix of both current and classic stuff and compare the two groups. This is an informal thing, nothing structured. But what I’m finding is there is a huge difference between the classic authors and many of the current ones who aren’t following in their footsteps. But that’s another post for another day.

          1. Woelf Dietrich

            I would love to read that post. I’ve actually been toiling with this idea about how authors today differ from those that came before them and how our reading tastes have shifted over time. And yet, it could not have shifted all that much because I’m constantly looking for that one book that pushes the right buttons and I’ve yet to find it among modern fantasy authors. Some have gotten close, like Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire series or James Moore’s Seven Forges. Luckily I’m still working my way through Gemmell’s books.

          2. Keith West Post author

            That’s a post I’m going to want to take my time on, but I am going to write it. It might be my capstone post on the various Year’s Best anthologies, if I can finish all of them by the end of the year. I don’t want to attack any particular writer, nor be viewed as doing so. I’m sure I will by someone, but that’s to be expected in this day and age. I’ve only read Lawrence’s first book, but I enjoyed it and need to get back to that series. I’ve got the eARC of the first volume of Moore’s new series on the ereader. I’m hoping to have it read and reviewed by Christmas. Gemmell I need to spend more time with.

            I think the problem today is too many authors try to make a Socially Relevant Statement with their work and forget that the first rule of fiction writing, especially genre fiction, is to tell an entertaining story. I read a short story in the current issue of Analog last week by a critically acclaimed writer, one I wouldn’t have expected to find in that publication. The story started out okay, but by the end I knew I would avoid that author in the future. And I really didn’t see why it was in Analog. It struck me as the type of story that would fit better in Asimov’s or F&SF. But I’ve not read the magazines regularly the last few years. Maybe that story was an exception or maybe Analog has changed. I’ll need to read more to be sure.

          3. Woelf Dietrich

            I agree with you. I remember reading something the other idea. The person was lauding a story they enjoyed where the hero was a hero without the sadness and self-pity and teary-eyed self-examination so popular these days. And that is the thing, see. A protagonist doesn’t need to carry their humanity on their sleeves. That is not what makes them complicated or interesting. I love good action and adventure. I even like complicated characters, but not the mope kind.

            I rarely watch TV because every damn show has some kind of social statement and it takes me out of the story. Same with certain books. I know our tastes differ but to me, power comes from making a statement without having to draw a map and directions and pictures with bright neon arrows. When you’ve finished the book and sit back and the impact of it is still rolling through your mind–that is when it is the most powerful. It’s not supposed to be obvious.

          4. Keith West Post author

            I either saw that same post or one very much like it. I liked flawed characters, but the constant self-pity and angst get old after a while. I’m not a teenager any more. I am more interested in the aging hero contemplating his impending geezerdom and refusing to go quietly than I am about the misunderstood special snowflake whining about how hard he has it or the prophesied golden child who will be the greatest hero EVAR. I like heroes who become heroes because they find themselves in bad situations and make the right choices even when those choices are hard and costly. These are often ordinary men and women trying to quietly live their lives when the universe intervenes. Those are heroes I relate to, respect, and want to be like. Not some snot-nosed punk (no matter how old) who is trying to be the next Thomas Covenant. The author writing that type of person isn’t Donaldson, and even Donaldson gets old.

            I’ve pretty much given up on TV, although mainly due to time constraints. But you’re right about shows trying to make social statements. No thanks. I’ll read a book. And while our tastes are different, but I think the similarities outweigh the differences. Your statement about making a statement without drawing a map is spot-on.

          5. Keith West Post author

            I’ve got it. That’s one of the ones I keep intending to read that I haven’t gotten to yet.

          6. Keith West Post author

            I’m inclined to think so. As I’ve gotten older, I find I relate the aging hero more and more. Probably because I’m getting older rather than more heroic.

          7. Woelf Dietrich

            I hear you. I have to constantly fight against my growing cynicism. Which makes finding a good story with old school principles all the more important. Or write the damn thing myself.

          8. Keith West Post author

            I’m opting for the latter, if I can ever get some uninterrupted time on a consistent basis.

          9. Woelf Dietrich

            That’s the thing, finding uninterrupted time. I recently started a new job which meant I had to change my routine. I get up at 4am now and write for two hours (The kids wake up around 6am). Have to admit, I find it invigorating. Because it is at a set time I’m more productive and because it’s so early there are no distractions or interruptions. The downside is I run out of gas by 9pm.

          10. Keith West Post author

            Sounds like my life, but I start my routine of getting the household ready at about 5:15. And if I’m in bed by 11:00, it’s usually an early night. I wish I could fit two hours of writing in. Maybe after the new year starts I’ll be able to have some consistency in my schedule.

  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Leigh Brackett! | Cirsova

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *