Leigh Brackett Wins Retro-Hugo for Shadow Over Mars

A lot of the 2020 Hugos stuff we’ve taken a minute to look at is really bad.* This isn’t the case for the 1945 Retro Hugos.

Leigh Brackett’s book with the cute bird girl won Best Novel.

Given how bad a lot of the contemporary nominees are, it’s pretty impressive that something this good would win!

We absolutely adore Leigh Brackett, and recommend you check out everything you can get your hands on by her!

If you haven’t already, you ought to check out our illustrated edition of her Stark Planet Stories novellas!

*[See our editor Xavier’s blog for some prime examples]

Shadow Over Mars/The Nemesis From Terra by Leigh Brackett

batman diversity

I’m not going to to try to pick apart any great meaning or symbolism out of this. I’m just going to dump some stuff and hope it sounds awesome enough to check out.

Shadow Over Mars has got a dozen weird alien races, hot space babes, ray-gun fights, helicopter crashes, ancient martian castles, ancient martian crucifixions, evil dwarfs, a telepathic black man, fist-fights, and menthols to go around.

It ends in a literal balls-out fist-fight* ¬†for the fate of the planet, where someone’s thumb gets ripped off and somebody gets beat down with the corpse of a Martian transcendent and strangled while a pretty girl looks on in terror.

It’s no wonder Kent stuck a full page ad in this; at one point Rick manages to ward off the effects of the powerful Martian hallucinogenic perfumes in the pit of deadly pleasures by taking drags off the smokes that the barbarians forgot to take from him.
I have created this elaborate diagram to illustrate the relationships between the characters in Shadow Over Mars.

Shadow over mars

Kyra, the bird-girl, is in wuv with Rick.

Rick, despite thinking Kyra’s a great gal, loves Mayo McCall.

Mayo, a Martian Rights activist, is in love with Rick because she thinks he’s gonna save Mars.

Jaffa Storm, scary psychic black man from Venus, wants to do some rough stuff to Mayo and show her why she’s wrong.

Hugh St. John, who wants to save Mars through politics & intrigue, is in love with Mayo, but he’s a total tool so Mayo’s not interested.

Eran Mak, St. John’s Martian protege, comes across as wanting to be St. John’s butt-buddy. They’re made for each other. I imagine him looking like a Martian Adolf Hipster all “I did what I did for Mars, man!”

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about Jack Vance’s the Gray Prince, sci-fi guaranteed to make a liberal’s head explode!

Why does my copy's cover have a boring picture of a guy hiding behind a rock shooting at some blobby thing? This cover is awesome and it's something that happens in the book!

Why does my copy’s cover have a boring picture of a guy hiding behind a rock shooting at some blobby thing? This cover is awesome and it’s something that happens in the book!

*:I don’t remember how or why Rick ended up naked in the abandoned polar city of the ancient lost race, but he did.