“The Veil of Astellar” Thrilling Wonder Stories, Spring 1944
There are going to be spoilers in this post. I’ll put them below the Read More cutoff, but be advised they’re there.
Edmond Hamilton wrote in his introduction to The Best of Leigh Brackett that the narrator of this story, Steve Vance, was modeled on Humphrey Bogart. This was pure speculation on Hamilton’s part because Brackett wasn’t saying. I’ve been a big Bogart fan ever since we watched Casablanca in sophomore English in high school, and it’s still my favorite film. It’s not hard to hear Bogart’s voice when you read this story. Hamilton said he did every time he read it.
This is a unique item. The only collaboration between two great science fiction authors, Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury. Here’s how it came about:
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 just preordered this! This year is the centennial of Leigh Brackett’s birth. I’m ashamed to say I missed that.
Fortunatley, Stephen Haffner is on the ball and has prepared a book to mark the occasion. It contains an unpublished story as well her nonfiction and interviews with a number of friends. You can order your copy here.
If the style of the lettering on the book is familiar, there’s a reason for that. Before her untimely death from cancer in 1978, Leigh wrote the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back. She also wrote the screenplays for the films The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Rio Bravo starring John Wayne.
Brackett brought a hard boiled sensibility to her tales of outer space adventure. Haffner Press is to be thanked for bringing her work back in high quality archival format. Many of Haffner’s Brackett titles are out of print, but check out the ones that aren’t. And order Leigh Brackett Centennial before all the hardcore Star Wars fans find out about it and buy up all the copies.