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C. L. Moore

(art by Josephine Wall "Spirit of Flight")

C. L. Moore fiction is magical in a very intense sort of way. It is very passionate, adventurous, lively affair - with more colors and sounds than you'd usually encounter in a full-size modern fantasy novel. It is a gorgeous tapestry, just like the picture above - and yet, very subdued with hints of much better things to come. Too bad, she retreated from writing with the death of her husband and collaborator Henry Kuttner. She was once in a lifetime event in history of literature, never to be imitated.


"An Autobiographical Sketch of C. L. Moore"
© Fantasy Magazine, June 1936
--/ humour award
--/ style award
I rarely mention non-fiction here, but this little gem of autobiography is so hilarious and "to the point" that it ranks the best of C. L. Moore's writings! Pure entertainment, as she describes her normal and at the same time weird life as a writer - including her tongue-in-cheek guide on how NOT to write pulp fantasy. This little sketch was only reprinted once in "Echoes of Valor" fabulous anthology.


"Black God's Kiss"
(Jirel Of Joiry series)
© Weird Tales, October 1934
Jirel Of Joiry, 1977
--/ third place f story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value

Subtitled as the "Weirdest Story Ever Told", this story would easily bring entire Industrial Light and Magic to their knees. I'd like to see computers grow up to render even 10 frames of the climactic scenes of that story.

The visionary world is mind-numbingly intense here, almost psychedelic, the landscapes and magic wonders quickly speed up to sweep a reader along - and the reader is only all too happy to follow such an engaging red-haired heroine as Jirel of Joiry. These were the times when writers weren't afraid to be too sentimental or passionate, too "purple" in their prose or blood-red in their intentions. This is fantasy fiction ALIVE... as opposed to some bleary-eyed lobsters, which sluggishly crawl inside a tank in the supermarket, ready to be consumed - oh boy, you can tell I hate the diluted prose...

C. L. Moore writing had spunk, gusto, you name it. "Black God's Kiss" is a hugely entertaining piece of amazon sorcery adventure (with time / space warps thrown in for the good measure), which launched Jirel of Joiry series and C. L. Moore popularity with readers.


"Black God's Shadow"
(Jirel Of Joiry)
© Weird Tales, Sep 1934
Jirel Of Joiry, 1977
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"Black Thirst"
(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Apr 1934
Shambleau and Others, 1953
Shambleau, Galaxy Novels, 1958
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value

"The Cold Gray God"
(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Oct 1935
Northwest Of Earth, 1954
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

© Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Oct 1946
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

"The Dark Land"
(Jirel Of Joiry)
© Weird Tales, Jan 1936
Jirel Of Joiry, 1977
--/ cool f story
--/ wonder award

"Doorway Into Time"
© Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Sep 1943
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ rare find

"Dust Of The Gods"
(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Aug 1934
Northwest Of Earth, 1954
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

(Jirel Of Joiry)
© Weird Tales, Aug 1939
Northwest Of Earth, 1954
Jirel Of Joiry, 1977
--/ cool f story

"Jirel Meets Magic"
(Jirel Of Joiry)
© Weird Tales, Aug 1935
Northwest Of Earth, 1954
Jirel Of Joiry, 1977
--/ fourth place f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"Judgement Night" (nv)
© Astounding, Aug 1943
book: Gnome, 1952
--/ cool sf novel

(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Mar 1935
Northwest Of Earth, 1954
--/ cool sf story


"Lost Paradise"
(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Jul 1936
Northwest Of Earth, 1954
--/ cool sf story

Space adventurer Northwest Smith learns about the downfall of a mighty alien race; there is certain bittersweet mood to the story, just like to all Moore space stories - almost like heavy layered chocolate cake with rum and cognac flowing from inside the crumbling black filling, with orchid flowers sleepily bending over the ornate plate, mixing their heady smell with the soaring aroma of vanilla topping's lacework architecture. So here you have it.
review: 13-Jul-06 (read in 2004)


"No Woman Born"
© Astounding, Dec 1944
The Best Of C. L. Moore, 1974
--/ second place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award

"Nyusa, Nymph of Darkness"
(with Forrest J Ackerman)
(also as "Nymph of Darkness")
(Northwest Smith)
© Fantasy Magazine, Apr 1935
--/ cool f story
--/ rare find


"Quest of the Starstone"
(with Henry Kuttner)
(Jirel of Joiry series;
Northwest Smith series)
© Weird Tales, Nov 1937
--/ fourth place f novelette
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

Rare story, one of the four "orphaned" Jirel of Joiry and NorthWest Smith stories that were never reprinted before the unique "Echoes of Valor" anthology came around in the 1980s. This is even more remarkable, given that this novelette features Jirel of Joiry and Northwest Smith together for the first and only time!

A plucky redhead, with more passion and bravery in her than in perhaps any sword-and-sorcery heroine out there, Jirel gets a chemistry flowing and sparks flying with that filibustier of the spaceways - a hardened Harrison-Ford-like cowboy Smith. Some groovy jumping around in time machine with weird magicians in tow ensues, and so much more: this is a solid "Weird Tales" hit, and it's beyond me why it wasn't reprinted properly. Tons of special effects and entertaining character play.


"Scarlet Dream"
(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, May 1934
Shambleau and Others, 1953
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Nov 1933
Avon Fantasy Reader, No. 7, 1948
Shambleau and Others, 1953
Shambleau, Galaxy Novels, 1958
--short fiction : 1971 Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll /25
--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ shock value

"Song In A Minor Key"
(Northwest Smith)
© Fantastic Universe, Jun 1957
Northwest Of Earth, 1954

"The Tree Of Life"
(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Oct 1936
Shambleau and Others, 1953
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award


"Vintage Season"
(as by Lawrence O'Donnell)
(with Henry Kuttner)
© Astounding, Sep 1946
No Boundaries, 1955
--novella : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll W
--/ third place time sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award

Tourists from the future come to witness various disasters in the past, just for the thrill of it. The idea has been used many times since (John Varley's "Millennium", Wyndham's "Pawley's Peeholes", movies, TV episodes, etc.), but this is definitely the original treatment. They say C. L. Moore largely wrote this story, with some minor additions by Henry Kuttner (maybe an encouraging kiss or two :) - this married couple of great writers were the essence of creative cuteness, as far as I can tell. Their stories were always the product of both minds, with Kuttner probably responsible for more off-beat humour, and Moore - for the "proper" plot outlines. Although, not so sure about "proper", after reading her wild fantasy outings in "Weird Tales") "Vintage Season" turned out to be a true classic, understated novella of great charm and mystery, one of the most beloved stories to ever appear in "Astounding". A fresh take on real estate success: "A couple with a mundane, everyday house to sell find themselves unwilling landlords to a trio of renters who are anything but mundane and who seem to have a particular and uncommon interest in their home. And they are not the only ones - another equally odd group also want exclusive rights to the house, at any cost." "Location, location, location" is the key to success in real estate, with location in time suddenly becoming way more important.
review: 21-Sep-06 (read in 1987)


(Northwest Smith series)
© Leaves #2, 1938
Horrors Unknown, ed. Sam Moskowitz, 1971
--/ cool f novella
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

There are similarities to Jack Williamson's "Wolves of Darkness" (most notably) and H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" - all written in a purple prose of A. Merritt, though with more gusto... extremely rare adventure, published in the obscurest fanzine of them all (not even one proper mention on the web!). I have a thing for obscure quality fanzines... Sometimes they publish absolute gems, and this is one of them. Delicate and yet savage fantasy, with bizarre race of female werewolves, ghost beings (like in "Final Fantasy") haunting Zothique-esque landscape. So much atmosphere that you can drown in it. Pure indulgence.


(Northwest Smith)
© Weird Tales, Feb 1936
Northwest Of Earth, 1954
--/ cool sf story


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Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

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Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
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Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
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H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

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more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

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"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

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Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

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Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

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Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

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Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
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Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
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"To Live Forever"
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incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
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Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
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Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
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Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

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More "Galactic North" Stories
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Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

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Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
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Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
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Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
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Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
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Henry Kuttner Review

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Robert A. Heinlein Review

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Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
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"Burning Chrome"
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Astounding Stories, May 1935

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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

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Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

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