Rereading C. L. Moore

Catherine Lucille (C. L.) Moore was born today (January 24) in 1911. These days she’s remembered for one of three things. Creator of Northwest Smith. Creator of Jirel of Joiry. Wife and writing partner of Henry Kuttner and coauthor of some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy classics of the 1940s.

All of which are achievements which should be acknowledged. Moore was one of the best stylists of her era and a true trailblazer.  But she also wrote quite a bit of fiction that was her solo work that wasn’t Northwest Smith or Jirel but in many cases was just as good.

Much of this short fiction is collected in Judgment Night or The Best of C. L. Moore. I’m going to be dipping back into those volumes as it’s been years and in some cases decades since I read some of those stories. Outside of a small circle of pulp fans, she’s not that well known, and I aim to change that as much as I can.

But first I’m going to read some C. L. Moore that I’ve not read at all. Ten years ago a collection entitled Miracle in Three Dimensions was published.  I’ll talk further about this book in future posts. The thing about the book that makes it stand out is it contains five stories that have never appeared in one of Moore’s collections (although three of them have been anthologized), one of which has never been published before its appearance in this book if the ISFDB is correct. Continue reading

Robert E. Howard’s Birthday, 2018

As far as I know, there aren’t any Howard Anniversaries this year. If there are, they’ve slipped my mind. I usually read something by an author whose birthday I’m posting about. The problem is all the Howard stories I want to read or reread are too long given the time available. I’d still be reading them on C. L. Moore’s birthday (two days after Howard’s).

Instead, I’m going to do something a little different.

Howard was born on January 22, 1906. One hundred twelve years ago. The world has changed a lot since then. Continue reading

Poe’s Birthday

Edgar Allan Poe was born on this date (January 19) in 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts.

I doubt anyone reading this blog intentionally, as opposed to stumbling across it, needs an explanation of who he was and the influence he still has. He casts one of the longest shadows over the field of dark literature.

I’ll read something by him in a little while.  I haven’t decided what yet. But I thought I would ask, what’s your favorite story by Edgar Allan Poe? Or poem for that matter?

Cross Genre-ing

I got into a conversation on Twitter this morning with PC Bushi that grew to include several other individuals. Mr. Bushi initiated things by saying Leigh Brackett’s short story “The Woamn From Altair” demonstrated her range as a writer because it was a well-written story that wasn’t an adventure story.  I agreed. (If you’re interested, my review from a couple of years ago is here.)

Early in the course of the conversation, he linked to a post he had written about Jack Vance and Andre Norton, discussing their versatility as writers.  He says some good stuff, and you should check it out.

The conversation moved onto to all the genres Brackett wrote in.  In addition to space opera and science fiction, she also wrote detective stories (which is what got her the job writing for Howard Hawks on The Big Sleep) and westerns. This discussion got me to thinking… Continue reading

Clark Ashton Smith at 125

Clark Ashton Smith was born on January 13 in 1893. He was one of the greatest fantasists of the Weird Tales era on indeed any era. Writing contemporaneously with Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft, Smith was considered one of the big three of what many consider to be the golden age of Weird Tales.

Unfortunately, he has not fared as well as those two in the years since he died.  (Smith died in 1961, but he had stopped writing fiction years before.)  He is still revered among fans of weird fiction, but he is not as well known among the general public. This is highly unfortunate.

There are probably several reasons contributing to this relative obscurity compared to his two contemporaries named above.  For one thing, he never had any series characters, such as Howard did, with Conan being the most well known. Much of Lovecraft’s work was set in what has become known as the Cthulhu Mythos, uniting a variety of stories against a common background with common elements.  Smith wrote multiple tales set in a number of story cycles, but for the most part these works shared a setting with no recurring characters and no mythos to link them.

Smith’s style is probably the biggest obstacle a modern reader needs to overcome. He started out as a poet, and with its lush prose, his work reflects that. Smith knew his way around a dictionary and wasn’t afraid to use it. While this might be off-putting and not in line with contemporary trends, I personally find it a good thing. While reading Smith might involve some mental work, and not something to be attempted at bedtime if you’re tired, I have always found reading Smith to be rewarding. Continue reading

Quick Writing Question

Serious question.  I’ve been tracking my daily word count for the last week. I’ve keeping a cumulative track in a spreadsheet as well as a daily count on a calendar.  It’s new words, so I just add that day’s count to the total every day.

I’m almost  done with the current WIP. I think the next thing will be a revision and expansion of something I didn’t get right the first time but think I know how to fix.

My question is how do I do word count when I’ll be editing and deleting as well as writing. Some scenes will be modified, cut, expanded, that sort of thing. Is there an easy way to keep track of what you’ve done that day?

Birthday Musings: Why We Need More Men Like J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on this date (January 3) in 1892 in what is now South Africa. He needs to introduction here.

For this birthday observance, I’m going to use the quote on the left as my jumping off point. I’ve subtitled this post “Why We Need More Men Like J. R. R. Tolkien”.  That’s not just clickbait.

Tolkien wrote one of the most influential works of literature, one that resonates with people and is still popular nearly half a century after his death.  I want to briefly examine why that is. Continue reading

A Birthday for Beaumont

Charles Beaumont

Charles Beaumont was born on this date (January 2) in 1920.  If you watched The Twilight Zone marathon on the SyFy Channel over the weekend, you probably saw one or two episodes that he wrote. His birthday is often overlooked since he shares it with a more famous author, Isaac Asimov.

Beaumont died way too young in 1967, but he left a mark of the field of the fantastic that still lingers today if you know where to look and what to look for.  And not just because he wrote some of the best remembered episodes of The Twilight Zone, either. Continue reading