Today is the birthday of Leigh Brackett, one of the most influential authors in the field of space opera and planetary romance, or if you prefer of sword & planet, a hard boiled writer and screenwriter, and the wife of Edmond Hamilton.
I first discovered Brackett in the mid 80s, with an Italian translation of The Sword of Rhiannon. Only twenty-odd years later I’d find out that the translation was heavily manipulated, but even in that unfaithful version, I was hooked.
The Skaith books followed – in English, the three Ballantine-Del Rey volumes. And then anything else, in whatever form I was able to find.
It is reading Leigh Brackett that I was made aware of the connection between pulp science fiction and hard boiled fiction. Someone observed that all of Brackett’s heroes were, in the end, Humphrey Bogart, even when they walked the alien dust of distant planets. And this is not a bad thing. By coupling the sense of wonder of the Golden Age of Science Fiction with the melancholy and cynicism of hard boiled, Brackett created a universe that had an incredible stopping power, and feel fresh and exciting seventy years on.
But instead of reading my ramblings, check out this article, called Queen of the Martian Mysteries, by the Michael Moorcock.
And afterwards, check out Black Amazon of Mars, and judge by yourself.