I meant to have this review posted a few days ago, but Real Life got in the way. (I am legally prohibited from discussing the situation; its a personnel matter.) I just finished reading the story a little while ago.
It’s definitely a blend of Brackett setting and Howardian themes. James Douglas, AKA Jamie, is the commander of the Earth forces on the planet Venus. There’s some indication this may taken place in the future of the Northwest Smith series. In the first scene, Jamie comes in and asks for segir whiskey, the preferred drink of Northwest Smith. If it is the same future, it’s much later along the timeline.
You can’t blame him for wanting a drink. He’s in a bad situation. He’s just received his orders to evacuate Venus. The Empire of Earth is falling. Barbarians, the less developed races in the solar system in this instance, have conquered Mars and are in the process of invading Earth. There are overtones of ancient Rome in this setup. Jamie’s Venusian lover, Quanna, begs him to take her to Earth. He refuses, so she takes matters into her own hands.
Jamie is dealing with an outlaw chieftain, Vastari, who is the only person who can unite the squabbling Venusian tribes into a single unit. Vastari sees himself as a freedom fighter, a soldier struggling to throw off the yoke of tyranny. He’s also Quanna’s brother. Jamie thinks she’s a loyal lover. Vastari thinks she’s a loyal spy. Quanna is only loyal to herself. Continue reading →
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 →
Poul Anderson was born on this date, November 25, in 1926. He passed away in 2001. It’s hard to believe that he’s been gone that long.
Anderson was best known for his science fiction, but he was also an accomplished fantasy author. I debated whether to post this tribute over at Futures Past and Present, but decided to go with the main blog.
It’s hard to go wrong with Anderson. I grew up reading his future history and from there branched out to his other works. In more recent years, I’ve read mostly his fantasy.
Unfortunately I’ve not read much of his work in recent years. Too many other things demanding my attention. The last thing I read by him was The Broken Sword. It had been part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, and I had been intending the review to be my next post in my look at that line for Black Gate. Life got in the way, and I had to let some things drop. The BAF series of posts was one of them. Enough time has passed that I would need to reread the book before I reviewed it. Too many details have faded. Another project for a different day.
If you’ve not read Anderson, or not read much of his work, or not read him in a while (this would be me), do yourself a favor and check him out. He was one of the giants of the field, and it’s a shame that he may be forgotten by the younger generation. Much of his work is available in inexpensive ebook editions. NESFA Press has a series of his collected short fiction available in hardcover (in case anyone was wondering what to get me for Christmas).
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 →