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Leigh Brackett

Leigh Brackett (December 7, 1915 - March 18, 1978), although best known for her fantasy and science fiction, also wrote mystery novels and Hollywood screenplays, most notably "The Big Sleep" (1945), "Rio Bravo" (1958) and "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) She received the Hugo award posthumously for this in 1981. The last was a departure for Brackett, since until then, all of her science fiction had been in the form of novels and short stories rather than screenplays.

Her first published science fiction story was "Martian Quest", which appeared in the February 1940[?] issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Her first novel, "No Good from a Corpse", published in 1944, was a hard-boiled mystery novel in the tradition of Raymond Chandler. Hollywood director Howard Hawks was so impressed by this novel that he had his secretary call in "this guy Brackett" to help William Faulkner write the script for "The Big Sleep" (1946). The film, starring Humphrey Bogart and written by Leigh Brackett, William Faulkner, and Jules Furthman[?], is considered one of the best movies ever made in the genre.

In 1946, Brackett married science fiction author Edmond Hamilton, and may well have had a positive influence on the quality of his own writing. In the same year, Planet Stories[?] published one of Brackett's most influential short stories, "Lorelei of the Red Mists", a collaboration with Ray Bradbury, featuring Eric John Stark, Brackett's hallmark science fiction character.

While Brackett published mainly short fiction in the 1940s, she concentrated on longer works of fiction in the fifties and early sixties. By the mid-1950s, however, most of Brackett's writing was for the more lucrative film and television markets. She returned to science fiction in the seventies with the publication of "The Ginger Star" (1974), "The Hounds of Skaith" (1974) and "The Reavers of Skaith" (1976), collected as "The Book of Skaith" in 1976, again featuring Eric John Stark.

Most of Brackett's science fiction is best characterized as either Space Opera or Planetary Romance[?], the latter mainly centering on a Martian venue influenced by Percival Lowell and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Brackett's Mars is a world of Science Fantasy[?], an arid, dying planet, populated by ancient, decadent and mostly humanoid races (see Mars in fiction). Their iron-age technology allows for plenty of swordplay and similar action, while the remnants of ancient super-technology and occasional psi powers play the part of magic. Brackett's seventies venue Skaith is less arid but otherwise similar.

Eric John Stark, Brackett's most memorable character, is sometimes compared to Robert E. Howard's Conan, but is in many respects closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan or Rudyard Kipling's Mowgli. Stark, an orphan from earth, is raised by the semi-sentient aboriginals of Mercury, who are later killed by earthmen. He is saved from the same fate by a terran official, who adopts Stark and becomes his mentor. When threatened, however, Eric John Stark frequently reverts to the primitive N'Chaka, the "man without a tribe" he was on Mercury. Thus, Stark is the archetypical modern man—a beast with a thin veneer of civilization.

Brackett's critically most acclaimed science fiction novels are "The Sword of Rhiannon" (1953) and "The Long Tomorrow" (1955). The former is most memorable for its vivid description of Mars before its oceans evaporated. The latter describes an agrarian, deeply technophobic society that develops after a nuclear war, and is singled out for praise because of its more obvious relevance to the present rather than its stylistic merits.

Table of contents

Bibliography Novels

  • Enchantress of Venus (1949)
  • City of the Lost Ones
  • Shadow Over Mars (1951)
  • The Nemesis from Terra (1961 US)
  • The Starmen (1952)
  • The Galactic Breed (1955)
  • The Starmen of Llyrdis (1976)
  • The Sword of Rhiannon (1953)
  • The Big Jump (1955)
  • The Long Tomorrow (1955)
  • Alpha Centari or Die! (1963)
  • Alpha Centauri - or Die! (1963)
  • People of the Talisman (1964) - Expansion of "Black Amazon of Mars"
  • The Secret of Sinharat (1964)
  • The Ginger Star (1974)

Magazine Appearances

  • The Ginger Star (Part 1 of 2) (1974)
  • The Ginger Star (Part 2 of 2) (1974)
  • The Hounds of Skaith (1974)
  • The Reavers of Skaith (1976)

Collections

  • The Coming of the Terrans (1967)
  • The Halfling and Other Stories (1973)
  • The Book of Skaith (1976)
  • The Best of Leigh Brackett (1977)
  • Martian Quest: The Early Brackett (2000)

Anthologies

  • The Best of Planet Stories No. 1 (1974)
  • The Best from Planet Stories #1 (1975)
  • The Best of Planet Stories (1975)

Short Fiction

  • Martian Quest (1940)
  • The Stellar Legion (1940)
  • The Treasure of Ptakuth (1940)
  • Citadel of Lost Ships (1941)
  • The Demons of Darkside (1941)
  • The Dragon-Queen of Jupiter (1941)
  • Interplanetary Reporter (1941)
  • No Man's Land in Space (1941)
  • Retreat to the Stars (1941)
  • Water Pirate (1941)
  • Child of the Green Light (1942)
  • Child of the Sun (1942)
  • Cube from Space (1942)
  • The Halfling (1942)
  • Out of the Sea (1942)
  • Outpost on Io (1942)
  • The Sorcerer of Rhiannon (1942)
  • The Blue Behemoth (1943)
  • Thralls of the Endless Night (1943)
  • The Jewel of Bas (1944)
  • Shadow Over Mars (1944)
  • Terror Out of Space (1944)
  • The Veil of Astellar (1944)
  • The Vanishing Venusians (1945)
  • Lorelei of the Red Mist (1946) with Ray Bradbury
  • The Beast-Jewel of Mars (1948)
  • The Moon That Vanished (1948)
  • City of the Lost Ones (1949)
  • The Lake of the Gone Forever (1949)
  • Queen of the Martian Catacombs (1949)
  • Quest of the Starhope (1949)
  • Sea-Kings of Mars (1949)
  • The Sword of Rhiannon (Excerpt) (1949)
  • The Sword of Rhiannon (1949)
  • The Citadel of Lost Ages (1950)
  • The Dancing Girl of Ganymede (1950)
  • The Truants (1950)
  • Black Amazon of Mars (1951)
  • The Starmen of Llyrdis (1951)
  • The Woman from Altair (1951)
  • The Last Days of Shandakor (1952)
  • The Shadows (1952)
  • Shannach - The Last (1952)
  • The Ark of Mars (1953)
  • Mars Minus Bisha (1954)
  • Runaway (1954)
  • Teleportress of Alpha C (1954)
  • The Tweener (1954)
  • Last Call from Sector 9G (1955)
  • All the Colors of the Rainbow (1957)
  • The Other People (1957)
  • The Queer Ones (1957)
  • The Road to Sinharat (1963)
  • Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon (1964)
  • Come Sing the Moons of Moravenn (1973)
  • How Bright the Stars (1973)
  • Mommies and Daddies (1974)
  • Stark and the Star Kings (unpublished) with Edmond Hamilton
Non-Science Fiction
  • No Good from a Corpse (1944)
  • Stranger at Home (1946) [as George Sanders
  • An Eye for and Eye (1957)
  • The Tiger Among Us (1957)
  • Fear No Evil (1960 UK)
  • 13 West Street (1962)
  • Rio Bravo (1959) - Novelization based on the screenplay by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett.
  • Silent Partners (1969)



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