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Leigh Brackett

(1915-1978)
Leigh Brackett was born in Los Angeles and raised near Santa Monica. Having spent her youth reading stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H Rider Haggard, she began writing fantastic adventures of her own. Several of these early efforts were read by Henry Kuttner, who critiqued her stories and introduced her to the SF personalities then living in California, including Robert Heinlein, Julius Schwartz, Jack Williamson, Edmond Hamilton and Ray Bradbury. Between writing screenplays for such films as Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Hatari!, and The Long Goodbye, she produced novels such as the classic The Long Tomorrow (1955) and the Spur Award-winning Western, Follow the Free Wind (1963). Brackett married Edmond Hamilton on New Year’s Eve in 1946, and the couple maintained homes in the high-desert of California and the rural farmland of Kinsman, Ohio. Just weeks before her death, she turned in the first draft screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back and the film was posthumously dedicated to her.
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The Book of Skaith

The Book of Skaith — (1974) Eric John Stark, Outlaw of Mars, travels beyond the solar system for exciting science fantasy adventures on the planet of Skaith, a lawless sphere at the edge of the known universe. Raised as a savage on the hostile planet of Mercury and honed into a fearless warrior in the low canals of the Red Planet, Stark is one of science fiction’s greatest adventurers and is Leigh Brackett’s most famous character. In The Ginger Star, Simon Ashton, Stark’s foster father, has been kidnapped by the Lords Protector, and only Stark can rescue him!

The Ginger Star

The Ginger Star: “The Queen of Space Opera” comes roaring back

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The Ginger Star by Leigh Brackett

Old-time fans of Leigh Brackett’s most famous character, Eric John Stark, would have to exercise a great deal of patience after the first three Stark stories — “Queen of the Martian Catacombs,” “Enchantress of Venus” and “Black Queen of Mars” — appeared in the pages of Planet Stories magazine, from 1949 - ’51. It would be a good 13 years before the author revisited her “Conan of the spaceways,” and then it was to only revise and expand the first and third tales to create the short novels The Secret of Sinharat and People of the Talisman. Another decade would pass before Brackett touched on the character again (to be fair, Leigh was more of a screenwriter for film and television at this point in... Read More

The Hounds of Skaith: Doing what all great sequels should

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The Hounds of Skaith by Leigh Brackett

After a solid decade of no new fiction from the pen of Leigh Brackett, the so-called “Queen of Space Opera,” the author released, in 1974, the first volume of what would ultimately be called her SKAITH TRILOGY. But fortunately, her fans would only have to wait a mere matter of months before the sequel to the first book, The Ginger Star, was published. That second volume, The Hounds of Skaith, managed to accomplish what all great follow-up novels should: enlarge on the scope of the previous story, introduce new and fascinating characters, clarify and enlighten what had come before while at the same time weaving new plot threads, and leave the reader wanting still more. The book is a total success in th... Read More

The Reavers of Skaith: A sweeping finale to a wonder-filled trilogy

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The Reavers of Skaith by Leigh Brackett

First released in 1976, The Reavers of Skaith serves as both the wonderful finale of author Leigh Brackett’s SKAITH TRILOGY AND a fitting coda to her 36-year career. Reavers, as it turned out, would be Brackett’s final piece of published fiction before her death, at age 62, in 1978. Of course, the so-called “Queen of Space Opera” was not completely idle during her final years — she kept busy by writing the initial draft for a little picture to be later known as The Empire Strikes Back — but Reavers would serve as the finale of her wonderful authorial career. Fortunately, Brackett went out with a bang, and fans of the first two books in this particular trilog... Read More

The Starmen of Llyrdis: A small but perfect gem from “The Queen of Space Opera”

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The Starmen of Llyrdis by Leigh Brackett

For fans of sci-fi’s Golden Age, it has been a sort of literary guessing game to riddle out which stories were written by Henry Kuttner and which by his wife, C.L. Moore. And this has proved to be no easy task, as the two, as legend goes, were so in rapport that one could pick up in mid-paragraph where the other had left off. But for several reasons, no such difficulty could ever be presented by Golden Age stalwart Edmond “The World Wrecker” Hamilton and his wife, “The Queen of Space Opera,” Leigh Brackett. For one thing, their writing styles were so very different that they hardly ever collaborated. Hamilton, who I l... Read More

The Halfling and Other Stories: Eight marvelous tales from the “Queen of Space Opera”

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The Halfling and Other Stories by Leigh Brackett

The Halfling and Other Stories gathers together eight tales, of varying lengths, that Leigh Brackett, the so-called “Queen of Space Opera,” wrote between the years 1943 and ’57. The collection initially appeared as an Ace paperback in ’73, but it was the second edition, released in ’83, that this reader was fortunate enough to lay his hands on. This is a generous collection of over 300 pages of Brackett’s work, and for the most part, the stories reveal Brackett at the very peak of her form.

The anthology, however, does not begin with its strongest selections. “The Halfling” itself, a novelette (7,500 - 17,500 words) that first appeared in the February ’43 issue of Astonishing Stories, is a minor ... Read More

The Secret of Sinharat & People of the Talisman: A wonderful double feature

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The Secret of Sinharat & People of the Talisman by Leigh Brackett

Leigh Brackett, the so-called “Queen of Space Opera,” would have turned 100 years old on 12/7/2015, and to celebrate her recent centennial in my own way, I have resolved to read five novels featuring her most well-known character: Eric John Stark. Brackett, of course, was already something of a well-known commodity before her first Stark story appeared in 1949; she had already placed no fewer than 32 short stories and novelettes, beginning in 1940, in the various pulp publications of the day, thereby establishing herself as the most important female sci-fi author of the Golden Age (other than C.L. Moore, of course). Her Stark tales, all three o... Read More

The Coming of the Terrans: A wonderful collection from the “Queen of Space Opera”

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The Coming of the Terrans by Leigh Brackett

Just recently, I reviewed The Best of Leigh Brackett, a big, 400+-page affair from Ballantine Books that was first released in 1977. But this collection was not the first to gather the older works of Leigh Brackett, the so-called “Queen of Space Opera” into a nice, compact collection. That honor, it seems, goes to the volume entitled The Coming of the Terrans, which was released by Ace in 1967. The Best of book was a deluxe affair, with a foreword by Brackett’s husband, Edmond Hamilton, an afterword by Brackett herself, fan map... Read More

The Best of Leigh Brackett: A wonderful collection from the “Queen of Space Opera”

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The Best of Leigh Brackett by Leigh Brackett

Back in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Ballantine Books had a wonderful thing going with its “Best of” anthology series: 21 generously packed books celebrating 21 of the most influential authors of science fiction’s Golden Age, all reasonably priced at $1.95 (I refer here to the paperback editions, all of which I managed to collect) and all featuring beautiful cover art and informative introductions by a distinguished sci-fi author or critic. I loved every one of the “Best of” collections back when (OK, I wasn’t overly fond of The Best of John W. Campbell), and found them all to be perfect introductions to the 21 writers involved. But of all those many volumes, one of my favorites of the bunch was The Best ... Read More

SFM: Brackett, Vo, Vernon, Bachus, Abercrombie

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.



Enchantress of Venus by Leigh Brackett (1949, $0.99 at Amazon)

The world celebrated what would have been the 100th birthday of Leigh Brackett on December 7, 2015, and to celebrate the centennial of the so-called “Queen of Space Opera” in my own way, I have resolved to finally read five novels featuring her most famous character, Eric John Stark. My only previous acquaintance with the Earth-born, Mercury-raised Conan... Read More

Science Fiction Super Pack #1: A generally above-average anthology

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Science Fiction Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Like the companion fantasy volume, Science Fiction Super Pack #1, edited by Warren Lapine, only has one story I didn't think was good, and it's a piece of Lovecraft fanfiction. H.P. Lovecraft's overwrought prose doesn't do much for me even when Lovecraft himself writes it, and much less so when it's attempted by imitators. And Lovecraft's stories at least have something frightening that happens in them; these two stories (in this volume and the other) only have visions of aspects of the Mythos and crazy people ranting, which isn't scary or interesting. Everything else was good, occasionally even amazing.

Again like the fantasy volume, it more ... Read More