Monday, June 22, 2009
Northwest of Earth by C. L. Moore
Northwest of Earth is a collection of the tales concerning the space-ways faring rogue, Northwest Smith. Descriptively, one's first impression is that Smith is the prototype for Han Solo. Ray-gun at the hip, leather outfit and scarred face, Smith is an outlaw of the solar system. These stories, written during the Weird Tales heyday of the 1930s, feature the typical solar system of a dry Mars and jungle Venus, but both quite habitable and populated by various races.
While Smith is pure space opera character, though, these stories are not. These stories read far more like Clark Ashton Smith's weird stories. The planets are full of ancient mysteries, lost races, strange civilizations. Smith constantly encounters cosmic horror style antagonists, not aliens. The only time the ray-guns blaze are when dispatching an ancient monster. No shoot-outs here, nor any spaceship dogfights. The stories have far more atmosphere than action.
So, as a different, scifi take on atmospheric weird tales, the Northwest Smith stories are worth a read.
But, as a pure adventure space opera read, Northwest of Earth are not the stories you are looking for.
On a side note; this collection comes from Paizo's Planet Stories line. They have put many old tales into print with more to come. Check them out if you haven't!