“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 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.
The Sword of Rhiannon was originally published under the title “The Sea-Kings of Mars” in the June 1949 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. I’m not sure if the story was expanded for book publication. I can certainly understand the change of title. The Mars in this story is an ancient Mars that still contains plenty of water, not the dry and dusty global desert of Brackett’s other works.
The story opens with Matt Carse, who is sort of an Indiana Jones type archaeologist but with less ethics, being lured to a cavern on present day Mars. A two bit thief has found the millennia lost cavern in which the god Rhiannon was imprisoned. (This Rhiannon has no connection to the witch from Welsh mythology.) Rhiannon is something of a Prometheus figure, punished by the other gods because he gave advanced technology, specifically weapons, to some of the early Martian races. Continue reading →
A Gnome There Was
Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore)
Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 276 pg., $2.50
Cover drawing by Ed Cartier
I’ve got about half a dozen posts I need to write, including one for another blog, but with the blizzard, we’ve been cooped up in the house. That means between my wife watching TV with the volume up too loud and my son monopolizing the laptop everytime I have to do something responsible, I’ve not gotten much done as far as reading, blogging, or writing is concerned. I’m typing this after everyone else has gone to bed.
I started A Gnome There Was just before Thanksgiving. I tracked down a copy some years ago simply because I was trying to find a copy of the short story “Jesting Pilot”, and this was the easiest way. Turns out there is another story in it that I discovered last night has never been reprinted since this book was published. At the time I thought “Jesting Pilot” was the only story I hadn’t read.
Anyway, I was getting tired of some of the stuff I was being sent to review, something I’ll discuss in my year end post in a day or so. I decided to revisit some of my favorite Kuttner stories (something like literary comfort food). Since many of them are in this book, that’s the one I chose. Continue reading →
“A God Named Kroo”
Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1944, p. 13-43
Henry Kuttner was one of the most prolific science fiction and fantasy authors who wrote for the pulps in the 1940s, although he didn’t limit himself to those genres. The winter 1944 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories is an example. He has three stories in this issue. The one given top billing on cover is what we’ll look at today. Oddly, the illustration is for a story not listed on the cover, “Venusian Nightmare” by Oscar J. Friend writing as Ford Smith.
The second story of Kuttner’s is “Trophy” as by Scott Morgan. This wasn’t one of Kuttner’s more common pen names. I’ll be looking at it on Futures Past and Present in a day or so. The third story, “Swing Your Lady”, is bylined Kelvin Kent and is part of Kuttner’s Pete Manx series. Haffner Press is going to reprint this one in a collection of Kuttner’s stories under his Kelvin Kent pseudonym, so I’ll hold off on reviewing that one.
Kroo was once a powerful, if minor, Tibetan deity. He enjoyed worship, human sacrifices, the whole nine yards. Now his only follower is a yak that wandered into his temple grounds one night looking for a place to graze. As you might can guess, this isn’t going to be a serious story. Kuttner was known for his dry and often sardonic sense of humor, and it’s on display here. Continue reading →
If you were stranded on a desert island and could have one complete run of a pulp magazine to help you while away the hours, which one would it be? For those of you who are anal retentive, assume that food, water, and shelter are not an issue.
Oh, and you’re alone. I don’t want to know what type of harem you would have on a desert island. That’s a different blog post on a different blog written by a different blogger. The thought of what some of you people might come up with on that one frankly scares me.
For the purposes of this thought experiment, any pulp that survived after the early 1950s (I’m thinking Astounding here) when the pulp market collapsed can only be included up through 1953. Any magazine that started in the 1950s (F&SF, Galaxy, etc.) is outside the bounds of consideration. Here are my top ten choices: Continue reading →