There are a number of birthdays today in the fields of the fantastic, including but not limited to C. J. Cherryh (1942), Timothy Zahn (1951), and S. Andrew Swann (1966). But there are two writers born on this date (September 1) against whom all others with birthdays today pale in comparison. Continue reading
Both authors were living in the Los Angeles area in the 1940s, and both had been working hard to develop their craft as writers. Both were regulars in Planet Stories at the time. They were friends who had both been mentored by Henry Kuttner. They used to meet once a week to read and critique each other’s work.
Brackett had sold some detective short stories as well as one novel, No Good From a Corpse. The novel caught the attention of movie producer Howard Hawks, who decided he wanted Brackett to work on the screenplay for his next project. She was approximately halfway through a novellette she was writing for Planet Stories that was set on Venus (More about Brackett’s Venus in a bit.) when she got a call from Hawks, or more probably his secretary. Which is how Brackett launched her screenwriting career by coauthoring with William Faulkner the script for Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. How freakin’ cool is that? Continue reading
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.
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. Continue reading
I got an email a couple of weeks ago from Scott Gable asking if I would be interested in reviewing Ghost in the Cogs. I had a lot of commitments on my plate (still do), but since the last steampunk anthology I’d read and the last ghost story anthology I’d read had both been quite enjoyable, I decided to give it a go. This blending of genres seemed a natural combination, and it’s not one I’ve seen done a lot. Now, I’ve not read a large amount of steampunk, primiarily because there’s so much of it and I only have so much time. It seems I made the right decision to read Ghost in the Cogs.
There are 22 stories in this anthology. I’m not going to attempt to provide a quick synopsis of all of them. I’ll do what I usually do and highlight the ones I liked best. But I want to make some general remarks before I do. Continue reading
If you aren’t reading Howard Andrew Jones’ blog, then you’ve been missing some good posts. He and Bill Ward have been reading through works by major fantasy authors for about a year now and discussing them. They started with a couple of collections by Lord Dunsany and then moved on to Swords Against Darkness and Swords in the Mist, two Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser collections by Fritz Leiber. Each week they’ve discussed the story they’ve read and invited anyone interested in doing so to read along with them.
Today Howard posted a wrap-up of Swords in the Mist and a discussion of their next project. This will be The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian. Today’s post was mostly about Conan, not so much about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Next week they discuss Howard’s essay “The Hyborian Age” before launching into the stories themselves.
If you’re a Howard fan, or just a Conan fan, you should check it out.
Classes start today; I’ve got one from11:00 – 1:50. On top of that, my wife is having shoulder surgery tomorrow morning. Nothing big, i.e., not a rotator cuff, but I’ll be tied up with that and won’t be at work. Depending on how long her parents stay and if her painkillers are working, I may or may not be at work on Friday. (It hey are here and the drugs aren’t working, I’m coming in to work.) Anyway, I might not be very active online until next week.
In the meantime, there’s a new Kickstarter readers of this blog might be interested in. It’s called, Farewell, Something Lovely. The title is a play on Raymond Chandler’s novel, Farewell, My Lovely. It’s a collection of hardboiled sword and sorcery tales by Fraser Ronald. Since S&S and hardboiled/noir are two of my three favorite subgenres, I’m looking forward to this one.
And if you haven’t been following the discussion at Howard Andrew Jones’ blog on the relationship between hardboiled and sword and sorcery, start here.