Published in the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales, “Hellsgarde” is in many ways the last of the Jirel stories, at least her solo adventures. She will meet up with Northwest Smith in “Quest of the Starstone”. That’s another post for another day. “Starstone” was actually published first, in 1937, but all collections I’ve seen place it last in the book.
I found this story to have a bit more depth than “The Dark Land”, which we looked at yesterday. YMMV. There will be spoilers in this post. You have been warned.
It opens with Jirel riding to the castle of Hellsgarde,which sits in a vast swamp of quicksand and only appears at sunset. Two hundred years ago, Andred, master of Hellsgarde had found a great treasure which he kept in a small box. No one knew the exact nature of the treasure, but many coveted it. Andred died defending his treasure, but his killers never found it. Since then many have died trying to find it, and Hellsgarde has gained an evil reputation.
Now Guy of Garlot has taken some of Jirel’s men prisoner. He’s told Jirel that he will kill them unless she brings him Andred’s box from Hellsgarde. Guy’s fortress sits atop an unassailable cliff. Jirel has no choice but to go for the treasure. Guy is too cowardly to attempt finding it himself. Although it’s never stated, I suspect Guy hopes to take control of Jirel’s lands if she fails. Continue reading →
“The Dark Land” was the fourth of the Jirel of Joiry stories. It was originally published in the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales.
Of all the Jirel stories I’ve looked at so far, I found this to be the weakest. The story opens with Jirel lying unconscious and near death from a pike wound to the side. As the priest shows up to give her last rites, she disappears.
She finds herself on a platform facing a giant statue of a man. Around his head is a crown of flames. It isn’t long before the subject of the statue shows up. He appears in a swirl of light whose description sounds a lot like the transporter effects from Star Trek TOS.
The man informs her his name is Pav. He’s brought her to his kingdom of Romne. He intends for Jirel to be his queen. It’s her fiery fighting nature that’s drawn his attention. Continue reading →
Weird Tales editorial office, l. to r., unknown, Farnsworth Wright, Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch
By the time of his death in 1940, Farnsworth Wright had become one of the most influential editors the field of the fantastic would ever see. Wright was born in 1888 on July, 29. I would argue his influence on science fiction, fantasy, and horror has been greater than any other editor, including John W. Campbell, Dorothy McIlwraith, Fred Pohl, Ray Palmer, or Hugo Gernsback.
Yes, I realize that last sentence could be controversial, especially the inclusion of Campbell and Gernsback. So be it. Farnsworth Wright edited Weird Tales during what is considered to be the magazine’s golden age. The authors he published have had a greater impact on the literature of the fantastic than those of any other editor at any time in history. Continue reading →
“When the Bough Breaks”
as by Lewis Padgett
originally published in Astounding Science Fiction November 1944
Henry Kuttner was born on April 7, 1915. Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that Kuttner is probably my favorite author, at least on days ending in “y”. After his marriage to C. L. Moore, everything he and Moore wrote was a collaboration to one degree or another.
Both authors were masters of fantasy, science fiction, and and everything in between, including horror. Much of their best work was published in Astounding in the mid-1940s. Almost all of these stories have been collected in at least one of Kuttner’s collections, either in his lifetime or in the years since. There are a few that haven’t, which I’ll address at another time. Continue reading →
“The Dancing Girl of Ganymede”
Originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb. 1950
I read “The Dancing Girl of Ganymede” for the first and, until I reread it yesterday, only time when I read The Halfling and Other Stories back in high school. I’m not sure why I haven’t reread it more. It’s an excellent story, and one that put me in mind of two other famous works, one of science fantasy and one of science fiction.
This story is a mature work by Brackett, one of her later works, and you can see it in the way she both executes the story, the twist the tale takes midway through, and the serious themes she injects. This one is more than must pulp adventure escapism (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Edmond Hamilton, her husband, writes in the introduction to The Best of Leigh Brackett, that she would write science fiction when not actively writing screenplays in Hollywood. A quick check with the ISFDB shows a hiatus of Brackett stories from the mid-1940s until about 1950, when there was another wave of her work hitting the magazines, the story under consideration among them. I’ll be looking at this story in detail, so consider this to be the standard SPOILER ALERT. Continue reading →
The original Star Wars came out when I was in elementary school, and it was a mind-warping experience. I had come to science fiction and fantasy through comics, but it was the sense of wonder and excitement this movie generated that turned me from reading mystery books to reading science fiction books checked out from the school library. As I read above grade level, I was soon searching out science fiction in the adult section of the public library and in book stores. Like a second hand book store at the flea market.
This place sold second hand paperbacks for a quarter, IIRC. The covers were stripped, which meant the books had been reported to the publishers as having been been pulped and the covers returned for credit. In other words, they were technically stolen. I didn’t know that then. There were a number of titles I recognized, such as some H. P, Lovecraft. I picked up The Best of Jack Williamson there, and later The Best of L. Sprague de Camp.
The Williamson volume started with stories from the 30s and went up to the 70s. There was an introduction by Frederik Pohl and an afterward by Williamson. This was the pattern of the series. An introduction by an author or editor associated with the writer of the book, and if the author was still living (most were but not all) he or she contributed an afterward. My mind was blown. David Hartwell once said the golden age of science fiction is thirteen. I was, and it was. Continue reading →
Born on January 24, 1911, C. L. Moore is one of the favorite writers around these here parts. As I stated a couple of days ago on Robert E. Howard’s birthday, I’m going to be focusing on a work by writers I’ve done multiple birthday posts on rather than trying to come up with something original in a tribute essay. Today’s story is “Jirel Meets Magic”.
Originally published in the July 1935 issue of Weird Tales, “Jirel Meets Magic” is the third story of the Lady of Joiry. It opens with Jirel leading a charge over the drawbridge of a castle, breaking the ranks of the defenders trying to stand against her, and calling for her soldiers to bring her a wizard named Giraud.
Why is Jirel attacking the castle? Who is Giraud? What is Jirel’s reason for wanting to kill him? Who cares? Moore’s writing pulls the reader in, sweeping him along at a breakneck pace. These questions will be answered, but for now all that matters is the heady rush of battle.
Well, sort of. Merritt’s birthday was actually yesterday, but classes started the day before yesterday. I was kinda busy.
Abraham Merritt was born on January 20, in Beverly, New Jersey. He died in 1943. Merritt was arguably the most highly regarded fantasy author of his day, with a fantasy magazine named for him after his death. He was an assistant editor and later editor of The American Weekly, a position which apparently left him little time to pursue his own writing. Even so, his work cast a long shadow over the field and his influence is still felt today, although most readers are probably unaware of that influence. Continue reading →
The Fairy Chessmen
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore writing as Lewis Padgett
originally published in two parts in Astounding Science Fiction, Jan. 1946 and Feb. 1946
I’ve had a copy of this short novel for years but have never gotten around to reading it until recently. For some reason, I struggled a bit to get into to it. That’s not normally a problem I have with Kuttner, even when he isn’t at the top of his game. It may have had something to do with reading it on my phone. I tend to be interrrupted more when I’m reading in that format.
Today, April 7, 2016, marks the 101st birthday of author Henry Kuttner.
I was going to read and review one of Kuttner’s longer works and had chosen The Fairy Chessmen. That review will come in a few days. I’m not quite halfway through it and won’t be able to finish it before tomorrow.