What are people saying about Leigh Brackett with her birthday coming up? Very little, actually, aside from a few token mentions here and there in articles about the new Star Wars. But here are some worthwhile highlights.
The Pulp Swordsmen: Eric John Stark (Castalia House) – L. Sprague de Camp in his usually bi-monthly letter in REHupa bemoaned that he did not approach Leigh Brackett first to co-write Conan stories instead of Lin Carter. de Camp had realized in hind sight that Brackett had a much better grasp on barbaric characters than Carter (or himself).
Steve Carper: The Women of Gnome Press (New York Review of Science Fiction) – She was known for writing hard, “masculine” prose.
New Leigh Brackett Story Announced (Adventures Fantastic) – This year is the centennial of Leigh Brackett’s birth. I’m ashamed to say I missed that. Fortunately, Stephen Haffner is on the ball and has prepared a book to mark the occasion. It contains an unpublished story as well her nonfiction and interviews with a number of friends.
Celebrating Leigh Brackett (Howard Andrew Jones) – She wrote screenplays with Faulkner AND mentored Ray Bradbury AND wrote the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back. She was writing about heroes who would have been comfortable plying the space lanes beside Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds decades before those characters were ever conceived. Most importantly, though, she was simply an incredibly gifted adventure writer who wrote with fantastic atmosphere, wonderful pacing, and dynamic characters. She’s one of my very favorite writers, and she’s had a tremendous influence that (unfortunately) has often gone unsung.
13 Movies to Watch After You See The Empire Strikes Back (Filmschool Rejects) – Leigh Brackett, who wrote much of The Empire Strikes Back until her death in 1978, had a fascinating career. Despite being an acclaimed prolific sci-fi author, the Star Wars sequel was her only movie of that genre. Instead, she collaborated with Howard Hawks on the film noir standard The Big Sleep and a number of Westerns. She was consistently great, but her first film, a different sort of pulpy genre picture, isn’t quite on the level of the others. The Vampire’s Ghost is hardly a bad movie, though. It’s about a vampire who owns a bar and casino in an African port town.