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.

I had hoped to read and review one of the stories in time for this post, but Real Life got in the way as it has several times this week.  Look for a flurry of posts written over the weekend and showing up next week. (I hope.)

The story I’m reading is a novella that reads like a combination of Leigh Brackett and Robert E. Howard. Adventure in the solar system, meditations on barbarism vs. civilization, just to give a hint of the flavor. I’m about a third of the way through, so look for that one sometime in the next few days.

And if you have a chance today, pick up and read something by Moore.  Northwest Smith, Jirel of Joiry, or a collaboration with Kuttner. It will be hard to go wrong with one of those.

As a footnote to this post, I’m going hoping to finish the Jirel and Northwest Smith stories and collect all those posts into a book at some point this year.  That’s the plan. That was the plan last year, too, so we’ll see.

12 thoughts on “Rereading C. L. Moore

  1. Pingback: Waiting on Wednesday: C.L. Moore | Every Day Should Be Tuesday

  2. Matthew

    I have a The Best of C.L. Moore (and the Best of Henry Kuttner) that I need to read but I may reread one of her Northwest Smith or Jirel stories.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Those are both good collections, although the Kuttner volume left out some of his best due to space considerations, such as some of my favorites like “We Kill People” (which has never been in a Kuttner collection AFAIK), “When the Bough Breaks”, “Compliments of the Author”, “Jesting Pilot”, and “This is the House”.

        1. Keith West Post author

          Great post, Deuce. (Kicks self for not thinking of that approach.) If you ever want to do a guest post on what those writers you named saw in Moore’s writing, just let me know.

  3. Manly Reading

    Hmmm.. sounds like its “There Shall be Darkness” you are talking about – that story could stand up to Brackett and Howard in any adventure anthology I could think of. I’ll also be interested to see what you think of “Fruit of Knowledge” – that could never be written today, I think.

    1. Keith West Post author

      That’s exactly the story. I’m playing catch-up at work tonight and hoping I can get done in time to finish it when I get home.

      I read “Fruit of Knowledge” in high school. All I remember was that it was a Garden of Eden story and I didn’t like as much most of Kuttner and Moore’s other stuff. I’ll definitely reread at some point this year.

  4. John E. Boyle

    Thanks for drawing attention to a great writer who deserves to be better known.

    Happy Birthday, C.L. Moore!

    (and thanks for the tip on the Miracle in 3 Dimensions book, not familiar with it at all)

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