Monday Morning Brackett
It’s been a madhouse here with me working pretty much night and day towards a book deadline, so my weekly posts have been greatly reduced. I should have things back to at least three updates (hopefully interesting ones) a week, possibly THIS week.
Right now I need to go make some final adjustments to some action sequences, but I wanted to leave you with some links to other Leigh Brackett articles that popped up over the last few days.
On a disappointing note, there’s apparently been some controversy about just how useful Brackett was to The Empire Strikes Back, and related matters. There’s a nice rebuttal here, which should catch you up if it’s new to you. I think I’m most saddened that SO many people are only going to be hearing about her in relation to Star Wars and might be less inclined to seek out her work owing to some of the articles circulating. Brackett is FAR more important to science fiction and fantasy than Star Wars… except that Star Wars seems to have penetrated the public consciousness to a far greater extent, so in the long run perhaps she isn’t. And that also saddens me. She was so far ahead of her time that I wonder if Star Wars or Firefly would even have existed without her blazing a trail.
Commenters on Sarah Hoyt’s site, linked above, suggest that the reason Brackett’s forgotten is that she’s a conservative and that there’s some kind of conspiracy from the substantially liberal writing industry.
I happen to be fairly liberal in my social and religious outlook and have known for ages that two of my three biggest writing heroes were conservatives. It hasn’t ever stopped me from digging them, but perhaps that’s a comment upon me rather than others. In any case, I don’t think Brackett’s political opinions are widely known anymore, and am more inclined to believe her relative obscurity can be traced to two things.
1. Lack of a sense of history among fantasy and science fiction readers, who seem only to read what’s currently in print, and 2. The simple fact that Brackett only ever created ONE series character. And, let’s face it, Stark only turns up in three short stories before appearing in three novels at the end of Brackett’s career (and, long after her death, Stark appears in a fourth weak tale she wrote with Edmund Hamilton). The short stories are set on a Mars and Venus that don’t exist, and modern readers don’t seem to be able to deal with that. Maybe if the novels had been fantastic with a capital F it would have made a difference, but the third one always read to me like a contractual obligation, which was a real disappointment.
It’s my guess that if she had created more series characters, or had written more adventures featuring Stark, she would be more widely read. People just seem to prefer revisiting the same characters rather than constantly being introduced to new ones. For many readers it’s not the author who matters as much as the characters. To paraphrase Spock (well, Theodore Sturgeon), it is not logical, but it is often true.
Incidentally, speaking of Stark, Haffner Press recently announced that there’s going to be another Brackett hardback from their stable, so if you’re wanting a complete collection of her tales — including the outline for the fourth, never written Stark novel — you should send them money. I know I will.