Reviews: Moore, C.L.

The End of Laughter and Soft Lies

Earth’s Last Citadel — C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner

1943’s Earth’s Last Citadel is a standalone far-future adventure by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner.

Alan Drake’s desperate bid to get genius Sir Colin out of a North African war-zone is stymied when the two are ambushed by Axis agents Karen Martin and Mike Smith. Karen and Mike catch up to Alan and Sir Colin just after the pair stumble across a mysterious object in the desert. The Nazis barely have time to gloat before they and their prey are bewitched into entering what appears to be an alien spacecraft.

The four do not emerge from their captor’s craft for a very very very long time.

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Born to Die

Judgment Night — C.L. Moore

C. L. Moore’s short novel Judgment Night was serialized in two issues of John W. Campbell’s Astounding back in 1943. Judgment Night is also the title of a collection published by Dell back in the Disco Era (which is how I encountered the story) .. but the edition I have in hand is Diversion Books’ 2015 ebook. They’ve presented the novel as a standalone—which it is. Not only are there no sequels of which I am aware, it’s not clear to me how there could be.

The race that holds Ericon holds the galaxy, because the race that holds Ericon can draw on the wisdom of the Ancients. Access to the Ancients does not mean that one will be able to put their wisdom to effective use. In fact, dynasty after dynasty have interpreted the advice they were given in ways that led to their doom. All human governments are as mortal (if not so short-lived) as their members.

Our protagonist, Juille, believes that she can defy fate.

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The timing of this review is entirely coincidental

Doomsday Morning — C. L. Moore

I had never even heard of C. L. Moore’s 1957 novel Doomsday Morning until an ebook version showed up in my inbox. It would have made a fine election day review, if only I had read it a bit earlier. Oh, well.

President Raleigh rebuilt America after the Five Days War and a grateful electorate has re-elected him five times. Of course, the electorate might have been nudged in that direction by one of the tools Raleigh created to rebuild America: Communications US aka Comus. Constant monitoring and finely targeted media control allow the government to nudge Americans in the direction of the most sensible decisions.

Now Raleigh is dying. Someone will have to replace him. Comus boss Tom Nye is determined to be that someone … but there’s a hitch. Which I will explain later. Tom schemes to remove the hitch with the aid of an old friend, the once great actor1 Howard Rohan …

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Unexpected Rediscovery Review!

The Best of C.L. Moore — C. L. Moore

As previously mentioned, I am very fond of Ballantine’s Classic Library of Science Fiction. That said, editor Lester del Rey did have one blind spot in common with many of his contemporaries. You won’t find many women in Ballantine’s Classic Library of Science Fiction.

I note just two: Leigh Brackett, reviewed here fairly frequently, and Catherine Lucille Moore, the author of this week’s Rediscovery. Diversion has republished Moore’s 1975 collection, The Best of C. L. Moore, as an ebook. More relevantly to this review, they sent me a copy.

Moore was prolific and well-regarded. She would have been the second woman to be named Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Writers of America, had her second husband not intervened. He claimed that the honour would only confuse her (Moore had Alzheimer’s). But her work has nonetheless been acknowledged in other ways … by collections like this one, for example.

Note: this edition is not quite identical with the 1975 edition; the new ebook omits Lester del Rey’s introductory essay, 40 Years of C. L. Moore.

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Special Double Review! Part Two!

Black God’s Kiss — C.L. Moore

I would like to say that Jirel would never wear a battle-bikini. She wears a full set of armour, enough that it’s not clear if she is a man or a woman.

Two thousand years before Northwest Smith wandered between the planets, Jirel used her impressive capacity for violence to rule and protect the fiefdom of Joiry, somewhere in France. Proud, easy to offend, and very, very stabby, Jirel is not stupid but she never over-thinks situations, preferring direct solutions.

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Special Double Review! Part One!

Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith — C.L. Moore

And now, a very special double review!

C.L. Moore was one of the comparatively few1 women active in pulp-era fantasy and science fiction. Whether on her own or with husband Henry Kuttner (whom she met when he sent her fan mail), she was one of the big names of the period. Moore won both the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and the Gandalf Grand Master Award; she would have been the first woman Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America had her second husband not intervened to prevent this2 on the grounds it would confuse Moore, now suffering from Alzheimers .

Among her many works were two series linked by a common setting. Her two protagonists, Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry, were born two thousand years apart in a solar system that was old before humans ever conquered it:

Man has conquered space before. You may be sure of that. Somewhere beyond the Egyptians, in that dimness out of which come echoes of half-mythical names — Atlantis, Mu — somewhere back of history’s first beginnings there must have been an age when mankind, like us today, built cities of steel to house its star-roving ships and knew the names of the planets in their own native tongues — heard Venus’ people call their wet world “Sha-ardol” in that soft, sweet slurring speech and mimicked Mars’ guttural “Lakkdiz” from the harsh tongues of Mars’ dryland dwellers. You may be sure of it. Man has conquered Space before, and out of that conquest faint, faint echoes run still through a world that has forgotten the very fact of a civilization which must have been as mighty as our own.

Humans are not the only ones who have left relics across the many habitable worlds of the Solar System. Visitors from other stars and other universes have also laid claim the worlds orbiting the sun. Some of those visitors are long since gone. Others….

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