Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett


Number of words : 21000
Percent of complex words : 7.1
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 10.6


Fog : 7.1
Flesch : 76.2
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.3



Capital of Galactic Center

The Hub

Major city there.

Senya Dik

Sister planet to Nanta Dik, in Sector 9G.


Lloyd Durham

An ex-agent and current drunk.


An administrator in charge, uses his influence to prevent Dik requests to the Federation getting heard.

Susan Hawtree

His daughter, and a love of Durham's, involved in the accident that wrecked his career.


Hawtree's parter, who oversees Universal Mineral operations in Sector 9G.


Durham's Mintakan girlfriend.

Willa Paulsen

Durham's ex-fiancee.


A dodgy joint proprietor in on trying to set Durham up with Baya.


Female Nantavan agent out to get Durham.


Her male partner.


Ruler of Senya Dik.


Terran consul in league with Jubb, wanting to get evidence against Hawtree.



Robot domestics. Durham and Hawtree had them, the models differ.

Bitter Star

A created being that is an energy absorber, sucking in all around it until things freeze.



A star.

Nanta Dik

World in Sector 9G where Durham's mission takes him.


Margaretta K

Ship to Nanta Dik Durham has been booked for.


A tug of Morrison's.



People of Senya Dik. Have four legs.


People of Nanta Dik.


Senyan aliens able to go insubstantial and stun on contact, they are not made of matter, and are a creation.


Universal Minerals

Rapacious mining company basically looting the Sector, with Hawtree providing the interference.


Political organisation of worlds in the galaxy.


Lloyd Durham is a broken down ex-agent on Galactic Center, living with little in a cheap apartment, having blown his job and his fiancee, and a possible relationship with the woman he really loves thanks to a vehicular accident. Susan Hawtree is the daughter of a high ranking diplomat, who summons Durham for a mission. This lands him in the middle of something very serious.

First, Nantavan agents are after him, and then Senyan darkbirds - and Susan gets in the middle when she comes to say goodbye to him, little realising he isn't going home, but on a mission for her father. Nanta Dik and Senya Dik are the two inhabited worlds in Sector 9G.

Unknown to Durham he was supposed to get drunk and blab his mission, helping to start a war between the two worlds. This would be to the advantage of Universal Minerals, a mining company run by Morrison, with Hawtree as his partner running diplomatic interference and allowing him to get away with anything. The two Dik worlds have been in conflict in the past, so are manipulable.

Durham takes his mission seriously, and when he works it out thanks to talking with the Nantavan agents, and the Senyan leader he realises he should flip, and try and hang his boss and partner, and hopefully keep Susan alive. The Senyan planet is problematic in that they are not oxygen breathers.

One of the angles that Morrison had taken was rumours about a destructive force that legend said had terrorised the Nantavans in the past. Little does Morrison know that this is real, and the leader of the Senyans knows how to control it. Or hope he does. Because it is one giant energy drain, leaving those it affects frozen - and it can devastate planets.

With Morrison's agents and men able to provoke armed conflicts between Senyans of different sympathies. The Terran consul Karlovic, who has been working with the Senyans to try and work out who was the dodgy diplomat preventing their requests for aid from the Federation, must work with Durham. Their only choice now is to appeal to Jubb to unleash the Bitter Star, as the only thing that can stop Morrison. Before their air runs out. Of course, it may also destroy everything if they get it wrong and the darkbirds can't or won't control it.

4.5 out of 5

Federation : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Political organisation of worlds in the galaxy.

4 out of 5

Universal Minerals : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Rapacious mining company basically looting the Sector, with Hawtree providing the interference.

4 out of 5

Darkbirds : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Senyan aliens able to go insubstantial and stun on contact, they are not made of matter, and are a creation.

4 out of 5

Nantans : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

People of Nanta Dik.

4 out of 5

Senyans : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

People of Senya Dik. Have four legs.

4 out of 5

Varney : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A tug of Morrison's.

3.5 out of 5

Margaretta K : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Ship to Nanta Dik Durham has been booked for.

3.5 out of 5

Nanta Dik : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

World in Sector 9G where Durham's mission takes him.

3.5 out of 5

Mintaka : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A star.

3 out of 5

Bitter Star : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A created being that is an energy absorber, sucking in all around it until things freeze.

4 out of 5

Servall : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Robot domestics. Durham and Hawtree had them, the models differ.

4 out of 5

Karlovic : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Terran consul in league with Jubb, wanting to get evidence against Hawtree.

3.5 out of 5

Jubb : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Ruler of Senya Dik.

3.5 out of 5

Wanbecq : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Her male partner.

3.5 out of 5

Wanbecq-ai : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Female Nantavan agent out to get Durham.

3.5 out of 5

Varnik : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

A dodgy joint proprietor in on trying to set Durham up with Baya.

3 out of 5

Willa Paulsen : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Durham's ex-fiancee.

3 out of 5

Baya : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Durham's Mintakan girlfriend.

3.5 out of 5

Morrison : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Hawtree's parter, who oversees Universal Mineral operations in Sector 9G.

3.5 out of 5

Susan Hawtree : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

His daughter, and a love of Durham's, involved in the accident that wrecked his career.

3.5 out of 5

Hawtree : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

An administrator in charge, uses his influence to prevent Dik requests to the Federation getting heard.

3.5 out of 5

Lloyd Durham : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

An ex-agent and current drunk.

4 out of 5

Senya Dik : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Sister planet to Nanta Dik, in Sector 9G.

4 out of 5

The Hub : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Major city there.

4 out of 5

Pax : Last Call From Sector 9G - Leigh Brackett

Capital of Galactic Center

4 out of 5

The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett


Number of words : 80000
Percent of complex words : 5.8
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 18.0


Fog : 9.5
Flesch : 74.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.3

: The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett


A post nuclear holocaust USA where the oldest people still alive were very young children at the time. It is now politically dominated by Mennonite types who are against technology and expansion, and some of them are of the more violent persuasion. That is, they will stone offenders to death.

Piper's Run

Colter's home town, in Pennsylvania.


A larger town, approaching the legal limit for development according to the Thirtieth Amendment. Situated on the North bank of the Ohio. Most of the people of a different sect here.


A commercial rival town on the Kentucky side of the Ohio.


A hidden mountain settlement with a functioning computer, doing research into anti-nuclear defenses: "named for Henry Waltham Barter, the Secretary of Defense who had it built". It is near the Fall Creek mining town.


Len Colter

Boy that favors learning and advancement. Acquires some physics books and a radio against the wishes of the elders.

Esau Colter

Len's cousin, their destinies entertwined.

Amity Taylor

Girl from refuge, love interest of both and later wife of Esau.

Elijah Colter

Len's father.

Judge Taylor

Refuge authority figure and conservative.

Reba Taylor

His wife and Amity's mother.

Mike Dulinsky

Refuge businessman who wants to expand past the legal limits, forces a conflict.

Ed Hostetter

Bartorstown trader and agent keeping an eye on Len.


Len's grandmother.

David Colter

Esau's father, a conservative.

James Colter

Len's brother.


Len's mother.


Man who is stoned to death for being a progressive.

Mr. Nordholter

The schoolmaster and Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Spofford

Miller and James future father-in-law.

Mr. Glasser

Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Harkness

Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Clute

Piper's Run councilman.

Mr. Fenway

Piper's Run councilman.


New Mennonite in Refuge.


Refuge conservative.

Noah Burdette

Twin Lakes preacher who comes with farmers to confront Dulinksy and shotguns him down.


Refuge conservative that tries to lynch Len.


Refuge conservative that tries to lynch Len.

Harry Sherman

Bartorstown mine superintendent.

Joe Kovacs

Bartorstown river-boat man.


Bartorstown radio operator.


Bartorstown electronics man.


Bartorstown administrator and canal operator.


Bartorstown boiler operator.


Bartorstown man, father of Joan and hence father-in-law of Len.

Julio Gutierrez

Bartorstown chief physicist.

Frank Erdmann

Bartorstown electronics engineering chief.

Mary Sherman

Sherman's wife and manager.

Joan Wepplo

Wepplo's disaffected daughter, becomes Len's wife.


Bartorstown man.

Jim Sidney

Bartorstown steam plant chief.

Irv Rothstein

Bartorstown librarian.


New Mennonites

Mutated and more aggressive form of the pre-holocaust strain.

Old Mennonites

Pre holocaust religious sect.


Pre holocaust religious sect.

Church of Holy Thankfulness

Called Kellerites after the James P. Keller who founded the sect. Many such in Refuge.


Group of wandering extreme religious crazies that can be aggressively violent.



The name for Bartorstown's computer.


Solution Zero

Term for the possibility that Bartorstown will never be able to discover a working forcefield as an anti-nuclear defence.


Len and Esau Colter are older boys in a New Mennonite society that is around 3 generations removed from a nuclear war that destroyed the cities. This particular religious group grew out of the old being suited to life in this setting. They have seized political power in some places. They believe in keeping a static way of life, and have amended the Constitution to limit the size of human settlements by law. This also inclues technological proscription as work of the devil. Complete with stonings to death, etc.

Len and Esau want more, and after having their childhoods literally beaten out of them due to an incident with some purloined textbooks and a radio decide they will leave. They do, and go to Refuge. This town is run by a different sect, and is more commerce oriented, as opposed to agriculture. One local businessman is looking to expand past the limits of the law, and Len takes his side. This leads to a literally fiery and violent confrontation where Dulinsky is shot.

A Bartorstown traded named Hostetter had been keeping an eye on Len, and manages to get the boys and Amity out of trouble, and takes them on the trek to Bartorstown. They find out they have nuclear power and a computer, and are rather stunned. Their upbringings clash very hard with what they see, mentally. Esau is both less bright and now also a father, so manages to settle. Len falls in with Joan, who has teenaged boredom with being stuck in the one place, and sees Len as a way out, little understanding how things are out in the world, even though Len does. An attractive young woman, she marries him and they do make a run for it - but what to do when you have no place in particular to go and it is hard to go anywhere or be accepted anywhere is a big problem.

Hostetter tracks them down, and it is life or death decision time, absolutely, for Len. Bartorstown can't have people leading a raid to their facility, so it is up to Len as to what he will do. Joan has had enough, too.

4 out of 5

Solution Zero : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Term for the possibility that Bartorstown will never be able to discover a working forcefield as an anti-nuclear defence.

4 out of 5

Clementine : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

The name for Bartorstown's computer.

4 out of 5

Ishmaelites : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Group of wandering extreme religious crazies that can be aggressively violent.

4 out of 5

Church of Holy Thankfulness : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Called Kellerites after the James P. Keller who founded the sect. Many such in Refuge.

3.5 out of 5

Amish : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Pre holocaust religious sect.

3 out of 5

Old Mennonites : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Pre holocaust religious sect.

3 out of 5

New Mennonites : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Mutated and more aggressive form of the pre-holocaust strain.

4 out of 5

Irv Rothstein : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown librarian.

3 out of 5

Jim Sidney : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown steam plant chief.

3 out of 5

Jones : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown man.

3 out of 5

Joan Wepplo : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Wepplo's disaffected daughter, becomes Len's wife.

3.5 out of 5

Mary Sherman : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Sherman's wife and manager.

3 out of 5

Frank Erdmann : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown electronics engineering chief.

3 out of 5

Julio Gutierrez : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown chief physicist.

3 out of 5

Wepplo : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown man, father of Joan and hence father-in-law of Len.

3 out of 5

Charlie : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown boiler operator.

3 out of 5

Rosen : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown administrator and canal operator.

3 out of 5

Petto : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown electronics man.

3 out of 5

Collins : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown radio operator.

3 out of 5

Joe Kovacs : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown river-boat man.

3 out of 5

Harry Sherman : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown mine superintendent.

3 out of 5

Watts : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Refuge conservative that tries to lynch Len.

3 out of 5

Ames : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Refuge conservative that tries to lynch Len.

3 out of 5

Noah Burdette : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Twin Lakes preacher who comes with farmers to confront Dulinksy and shotguns him down.

3 out of 5

Meyerhoff : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Refuge conservative.

3 out of 5

Fisher : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

New Mennonite in Refuge.

3 out of 5

Mr. Fenway : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Piper's Run councilman.

3 out of 5

Mr. Clute : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Piper's Run councilman.

3 out of 5

Mr. Harkness : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Piper's Run councilman.

3 out of 5

Mr. Glasser : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Piper's Run councilman.

3 out of 5

Mr. Spofford : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Miller and James future father-in-law.

3 out of 5

Mr. Nordholter : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

The schoolmaster and Piper's Run councilman.

3 out of 5

Soames : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Man who is stoned to death for being a progressive.

3 out of 5

Ma : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Len's mother.

3 out of 5

James Colter : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Len's brother.

3 out of 5

David Colter : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Esau's father, a conservative.

3 out of 5

Gran : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Len's grandmother.

3 out of 5

Ed Hostetter : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Bartorstown trader and agent keeping an eye on Len.

3.5 out of 5

Mike Dulinsky : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Refuge businessman who wants to expand past the legal limits, forces a conflict.

3.5 out of 5

Reba Taylor : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

His wife and Amity's mother.

3 out of 5

Judge Taylor : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Refuge authority figure and conservative.

3.5 out of 5

Elijah Colter : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Len's father.

3.5 out of 5

Amity Taylor : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Girl from refuge, love interest of both and later wife of Esau.

3.5 out of 5

Esau Colter : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Len's cousin, their destinies entertwined.

4 out of 5

Len Colter : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Boy that favors learning and advancement. Acquires some physics books and a radio against the wishes of the elders.

4 out of 5

Bartorstown : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

A hidden mountain settlement with a functioning computer, doing research into anti-nuclear defenses: "named for Henry Waltham Barter, the Secretary of Defense who had it built". It is near the Fall Creek mining town.

4 out of 5

Shadwell : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

A commercial rival town on the Kentucky side of the Ohio.

3 out of 5

Refuge : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

A larger town, approaching the legal limit for development according to the Thirtieth Amendment. Situated on the North bank of the Ohio. Most of the people of a different sect here.

4 out of 5

Piper's Run : The Long Tomorrow - Leigh Brackett

Colter's home town, in Pennsylvania.

4 out of 5

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A World Is Born - Leigh Brackett

Online audio story, librivox version.

3.5 out of 5

A World Is Born - Leigh Brackett

Online story.

3.5 out of 5

The Project Gutenberg eBook, A World is Born, by Leigh Douglass Brackett
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: A World is Born

Author: Leigh Douglass Brackett

Release Date: September 8, 2007 [eBook #22544]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


E-text prepared by Greg Weeks, Joel Schlosberg,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Transcriber's Note:
This eBook was produced from Comet magazine, July 1941, pp. 56-70. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

p. 56

The first ripples of blue fire touched Dio's men. Bolts of it fastened on gun-butts, and knuckles. Men screamed and fell. Jill cried out as he tore silver ornaments from her dress.


Mel Gray flung down his hoe with a sudden tigerish fierceness and stood erect. Tom Ward, working beside him, glanced at Gray's Indianesque profile, the youth of it hardened by war and the hells of the Eros prison blocks.

A quick flash of satisfaction crossed Ward's dark eyes. Then he grinned and said mockingly.

"Hell of a place to spend the rest of your life, ain't it?"

Mel Gray stared with slitted blue eyes down the valley. The huge sun of Mercury seared his naked body. Sweat channeled the dust on his skin. His throat ached with thirst. And the bitter landscape mocked him more than Wade's dark face.

"The rest of my life," he repeated softly. "The rest of my life!"

He was twenty-eight.

Wade spat in the damp black earth. "You ought to be glad—helping the unfortunate, building a haven for the derelict...."

"Shut up!" Fury rose in Gray, hotter than the boiling springs that ran p. 57from the Sunside to water the valleys. He hated Mercury. He
hated John Moulton and his daughter Jill, who had conceived this plan of building a new world for the destitute and desperate veterans of the Second Interplanetary War.

"I've had enough 'unselfish service'," he whispered. "I'm serving myself from now on."

Escape. That was all he wanted. Escape from these stifling valleys, from the snarl of the wind in the barren crags that towered higher than Everest into airless space. Escape from the surveillance of the twenty guards, the forced companionship of the ninety-nine other veteran-convicts.

Wade poked at the furrows between the sturdy hybrid tubers. "It ain't possible, kid. Not even for 'Duke' Gray, the 'light-fingered genius who held the Interstellar Police at a standstill for five years'." He laughed. "I read your publicity."

Gray stroked slow, earth-stained fingers over his sleek cap of yellow p. 58hair. "You think so?" he asked softly.

Dio the Martian came down the furrow, his lean, wiry figure silhouetted against the upper panorama of the valley; the neat rows of vegetables and the green riot of Venusian wheat, dotted with toiling men and their friendly guards.

Dio's green, narrowed eyes studied Gray's hard face.

"What's the matter, Gray? Trying to start something?"

"Suppose I were?" asked Gray silkily. Dio was the unofficial leader of the convict-veterans. There was about his thin body and hatchet face some of the grim determination that had made the Martians cling to their dying world and bring life to it again.

"You volunteered, like the rest of us," said the Martian. "Haven't you the guts to stick it?"

"The hell I volunteered! The IPA sent me. And what's it to you?"

"Only this." Dio's green eyes were slitted and ugly. "You've only been here a month. The rest of us came nearly a year ago—because we wanted to. We've worked like slaves, because we wanted to. In three weeks the crops will be in. The Moulton Project will be self-supporting. Moulton will get his permanent charter, and we'll be on our way.

"There are ninety-nine of us, Gray, who want the Moulton Project to succeed. We know that that louse Caron of Mars doesn't want it to, since pitchblende was discovered. We don't know whether you're working for him or not, but you're a troublemaker.

"There isn't to be any trouble, Gray. We're not giving the Interplanetary Prison Authority any excuse to revoke its decision and give Caron of Mars a free hand here. We'll see to anyone who tries it. Understand?"

Mel Gray took one slow step forward, but Ward's sharp, "Stow it! A guard," stopped him. The Martian worked back up the furrow. The guard, reassured, strolled back up the valley, squinting at the jagged streak of pale-grey sky that was going black as low clouds formed, only a few hundred feet above the copper cables that ran from cliff to cliff high over their heads.

"Another storm," growled Ward. "It gets worse as Mercury enters perihelion. Lovely world, ain't it?"

"Why did you volunteer?" asked Gray, picking up his hoe.

Ward shrugged. "I had my reasons."

Gray voiced the question that had troubled him since his transfer. "There were hundreds on the waiting list to replace the man who died. Why did they send me, instead?"

"Some fool blunder," said Ward carelessly. And then, in the same casual tone, "You mean it, about escaping?"

Gray stared at him. "What's it to you?"

Ward moved closer. "I can help you?"

A stab of mingled hope and wary suspicion transfixed Gray's heart. Ward's dark face grinned briefly into his, with a flash of secretive black eyes, and Gray was conscious of distrust.

"What do you mean, help me?"

Dio was working closer, watching them. The first growl of thunder rattled against the cliff faces. It was dark now, the pink flames of the Dark-side aurora visible beyond the valley mouth.

"I've got—connections," returned Ward cryptically. "Interested?"

Gray hesitated. There was too much he couldn't understand. Moreover, he was a lone wolf. Had been since the Second Interplanetary War wrenched him from the quiet backwater of his country home an eternity of eight years before and hammered him into hardness—a cynic who trusted nobody and nothing but Mel 'Duke' Gray.

"If you have connections," he said slowly, "why don't you use 'em yourself?"

"I got my reasons." Again that secretive grin. "But it's no hide off you, p. 59is it? All you want is to get away."

That was true. It would do no harm to hear what Ward had to say.

Lightning burst overhead, streaking down to be caught and grounded by the copper cables. The livid flare showed Dio's face, hard with worry and determination. Gray nodded.

"Tonight, then," whispered Ward. "In the barracks."

Out from the cleft where Mel Gray worked, across the flat plain of rock stripped naked by the wind that raved across it, lay the deep valley that sheltered the heart of the Moulton Project.

Hot springs joined to form a steaming river. Vegetation grew savagely under the huge sun. The air, kept at almost constant temperature by the blanketing effect of the hot springs, was stagnant and heavy.

But up above, high over the copper cables that crossed every valley where men ventured, the eternal wind of Mercury screamed and snarled between the naked cliffs.

Three concrete domes crouched on the valley floor, housing barracks, tool-shops, kitchens, store-houses, and executive quarters, connected by underground passages. Beside the smallest dome, joined to it by a heavily barred tunnel, was an insulated hangar, containing the only space ship on Mercury.

In the small dome, John Moulton leaned back from a pile of reports, took a pinch of Martian snuff, sneezed lustily, and said.

"Jill, I think we've done it."

The grey-eyed, black-haired young woman turned from the quartzite window through which she had been watching the gathering storm overhead. The thunder from other valleys reached them as a dim barrage which, at this time of Mercury's year, was never still.

"I don't know," she said. "It seems that nothing can happen now, and yet.... It's been too easy."

"Easy!" snorted Moulton. "We've broken our backs fighting these valleys. And our nerves, fighting time. But we've licked 'em!"

He rose, shaggy grey hair tousled, grey eyes alight.

"I told the IPA those men weren't criminals. And I was right. They can't deny me the charter now. No matter how much Caron of Mars would like to get his claws on this radium."

He took Jill by the shoulders and shook her, laughing.

"Three weeks, girl, that's all. First crops ready for harvest, first pay-ore coming out of the mines. In three weeks my permanent charter will have to be granted, according to agreement, and then....

"Jill," he added solemnly, "we're seeing the birth of a world."

"That's what frightens me." Jill glanced upward as the first flare of lightning struck down, followed by a crash of thunder that shook the dome.

"So much can happen at a birth. I wish the three weeks were over!"

"Nonsense, girl! What could possibly happen?"

She looked at the copper cables, burning with the electricity running along them, and thought of the one hundred and twenty-two souls in that narrow Twilight Belt—with the fierce heat of the Sunside before them and the spatial cold of the Shadow side at their backs, fighting against wind and storm and heat to build a world to replace the ones the War had taken from them.

"So much could happen," she whispered. "An accident, an escape...."

The inter-dome telescreen buzzed its signal. Jill, caught in a queer mood of premonition, went to it.

The face of Dio the Martian appeared on the screen, still wet and dirty from the storm-soaked fields, disheveled from his battle across the plain in the chaotic winds.

"I want to see you, Miss Moulton," he said. "There's something funny I think you ought to know."

"Of course," said Jill, and met her p. 60father's eyes. "I think we'll see, now, which one of us is right."

The barracks were quiet, except for the mutter of distant thunder and the heavy breathing of exhausted men. Tom Ward crouched in the darkness by Mel Gray's bunk.

"You ain't gonna go soft at the last minute, are you?" he whispered. "Because I can't afford to take chances."

"Don't worry," Gray returned grimly. "What's your proposition?"

"I can give you the combination to the lock of the hangar passage. All you have to do is get into Moulton's office, where the passage door is, and go to it. The ship's a two-seater. You can get her out of the valley easy."

Gray's eyes narrowed in the dark. "What's the catch?"

"There ain't none. I swear it."

"Look, Ward. I'm no fool. Who's behind this, and why?"

"That don't make no difference. All you want ... ow!"

Gray's fingers had fastened like steel claws on his wrist.

"I get it, now," said Gray slowly. "That's why I was sent here. Somebody wanted me to make trouble for Moulton." His fingers tightened agonizingly, and his voice sank to a slow drawl.

"I don't like being a pawn in somebody else's chess game."

"Okay, okay! It ain't my fault. Lemme go." Ward rubbed his bruised wrist. "Sure, somebody—I ain't sayin' who—sent you here, knowin' you'd want to escape. I'm here to help you. You get free, I get paid, the Big Boy gets what he wants. Okay?"

Gray was silent, scowling in the darkness. Then he said.

"All right. I'll take a chance."

"Then listen. You tell Moulton you have a complaint. I'll...."

Light flooded the dark as the door clanged open. Ward leaped like a startled rabbit, but the light speared him, held him. Ward felt a pulse of excitement beat up in him.

The long ominous shadows of the guards raised elongated guns. The barracks stirred and muttered, like a vast aviary waking.

"Ward and Gray," said one of the guards. "Moulton wants you."

Gray rose from his bunk with the lithe, delicate grace of a cat. The monotony of sleep and labor was ended. Something had broken. Life was once again a moving thing.

John Moulton sat behind the untidy desk. Dio the Martian sat grimly against the wall. There was a guard beside him, watching.

Mel Gray noted all this as he and Ward came in. But his cynical blue eyes went beyond, to a door with a ponderous combination lock. Then they were attracted by something else—the tall, slim figure standing against the black quartz panes of the far wall.

It was the first time he had seen Jill Moulton. She looked the perfect sober apostle of righteousness he'd learned to mock. And then he saw the soft cluster of black curls, the curve of her throat above the dark dress, the red lips that balanced her determined jaw and direct grey eyes.

Moulton spoke, his shaggy head hunched between his shoulders.

"Dio tells me that you, Gray, are not a volunteer."

"Tattletale," said Gray. He was gauging the distance to the hangar door, the positions of the guards, the time it would take to spin out the combination. And he knew he couldn't do it.

"What were you and Ward up to when the guards came?"

"I couldn't sleep," said Gray amiably. "He was telling me bedtime stories." Jill Moulton was lovely, he couldn't deny that. Lovely, but not soft. She gave him an idea.

Moulton's jaw clamped. "Cut the comedy, Gray. Are you working for Caron of Mars?"

Caron of Mars, chairman of the board of the Interplanetary Prison Authority. Dio had mentioned him. Gray smiled in understanding. Caron p. 61of Mars had sent him, Gray, to Mercury. Caron of Mars was helping him, through Ward, to escape. Caron of Mars wanted
Mercury for his own purposes—and he could have it.

"In a manner of speaking, Mr. Moulton," he said gravely, "Caron of Mars is working for me."

He caught Ward's sharp hiss of remonstrance. Then Jill Moulton stepped forward.

"Perhaps he doesn't understand what he's doing, Father." Her eyes met Gray's. "You want to escape, don't you?"

Gray studied her, grinning as the slow rose flushed her skin, the corners of her mouth tightening with anger.

"Go on," he said. "You have a nice voice."

Her eyes narrowed, but she held her temper.

"You must know what that would mean, Gray. There are thousands of veterans in the prisons now. Their offenses are mostly trivial, but the Prison Authority can't let them go, because they have no jobs, no homes, no money.

"The valleys here are fertile. There are mines rich in copper and pitchblende. The men have a chance for a home and a job, a part in building a new world. We hope to make Mercury an independent, self-governing member of the League of Worlds."

"With the Moultons as rulers, of course," Gray murmured.

"If they want us," answered Jill, deliberately missing the point. "Do you think you have the right to destroy all we've worked for?"

Gray was silent. Rather grimly, she went on.

"Caron of Mars would like to see us defeated. He didn't care about Mercury before radium was discovered. But now he'd like to turn it into a prison mining community, with convict labor, leasing mine grants to corporations and cleaning up big fortunes for himself and his associates.

"Any trouble here will give him an excuse to say that we've failed, that the Project is a menace to the Solar System. If you try to escape, you wreck everything we've done. If you don't tell the truth, you may cost thousands of men their futures.

"Do you understand? Will you cooperate?"

Gray said evenly, "I'm my own keeper, now. My brother will have to take care of himself."

It was ridiculously easy, she was so earnest, so close to him. He had a brief kaleidoscope of impressions—Ward's sullen bewilderment, Moulton's angry roar, Dio's jerky rise to his feet as the guards grabbed for their guns.

Then he had his hands around her slim, firm throat, her body pressed close to his, serving as a shield against bullets.

"Don't be rash," he told them all quietly. "I can break her neck quite easily, if I have to. Ward, unlock that door."

In utter silence, Ward darted over and began to spin the dial. At last he said, "Okay, c'mon."

Gray realized that he was sweating. Jill was like warm, rigid marble in his hands. And he had another idea.

"I'm going to take the girl as a hostage," he announced. "If I get safely away, she'll be turned loose, her health and virtue still intact. Good night."

The clang of the heavy door had a comforting sound behind them.

The ship was a commercial job, fairly slow but sturdy. Gray strapped Jill Moulton into one of the bucket seats in the control room and then checked the fuel and air gauges. The tanks were full.

"What about you?" he said to Ward. "You can't go back."

"Nah. I'll have to go with you. Warm her up, Duke, while I open the dome."

He darted out. Gray set the atmosphere motors idling. The dome slid open, showing the flicker of the auroras, where areas of intense heat and cold set up atmospheric tension by p. 62rapid fluctuation of adjoining air masses.

Mercury, cutting the vast magnetic field of the Sun in an eccentric orbit, tortured by the daily change from blistering heat to freezing cold in the thin atmosphere, was a powerful generator of electricity.

Ward didn't come back.

Swearing under his breath, tense for the sound of pursuit in spite of the girl, Gray went to look. Out beyond the hangar, he saw a figure running.

Running hard up into the narrowing cleft of the valley, where natural galleries in the rock of Mercury led to the places where the copper cables were anchored, and farther, into the unexplored mystery of the caves.

Gray scowled, his arrogant Roman profile hard against the flickering aurora. Then he slammed the lock shut.

The ship roared out into the tearing winds of the plain. Gray cut in his rockets and blasted up, into the airless dark among the high peaks.

Jill Moulton hadn't moved or spoken.

Gray snapped on the space radio, leaving his own screen dark. Presently he picked up signals in a code he didn't know.

"Listen," he said. "I knew there was some reason for Ward's running out on me."

His Indianesque face hardened. "So that's the game! They want to make trouble for you by letting me escape and then make themselves heroes by bringing me in, preferably dead.

"They've got ships waiting to get me as soon as I clear Mercury, and they're getting stand-by instructions from somebody on the ground. The somebody that Ward was making for."

Jill's breath made a small hiss. "Somebody's near the Project...."

Gray snapped on his transmitter.

"Duke Gray, calling all ships off Mercury. Will the flagship of your reception committee please come in?"

His screen flickered to life. A man's face appeared—the middle-aged, soft-fleshed, almost stickily innocent face of one of the Solar Systems greatest crusaders against vice and crime.

Jill Moulton gasped. "Caron of Mars!"

"Ward gave the game away," said Gray gently. "Too bad."

The face of Caron of Mars never changed expression. But behind those flesh-hooded eyes was a cunning brain, working at top speed.

"I have a passenger," Gray went on. "Miss Jill Moulton. I'm responsible for her safety, and I'd hate to have her inconvenienced."

The tip of a pale tongue flicked across Caron's pale lips.

"That is a pity," he said, with the intonation of a preaching minister. "But I cannot stop the machinery set in motion...."

"And besides," finished Gray acidly, "you think that if Jill Moulton dies with me, it'll break John Moulton so he won't fight you at all."

His lean hand poised on the switch.

"All right, you putrid flesh-tub. Try and catch us!"

The screen went dead. Gray hunched over the controls. If he could get past them, lose himself in the glare of the Sun....

He looked aside at the stony-faced girl beside him. She was studying him contemptuously out of hard gray eyes.

"How," she said slowly, "can you be such a callous swine?"

"Callous?" He controlled the quite unreasonable anger that rose in him. "Not at all. The war taught me that if I didn't look out for myself, no one would."

"And yet you must have started out a human being."

He laughed.

The ship burst into searing sunlight. The Sunside of Mercury blazed below them. Out toward the velvet dark of space the side of a waiting ship flashed burning silver.

Even as he watched, the flare of its rockets arced against the blackness. They had been sighted.

p. 63

Gray's practised eye gauged the stranger's speed against his own, and he cursed softly. Abruptly he wheeled the ship and started down again, cutting his rockets as the shadow swallowed them. The ship was eerily silent, dropping with a rising scream as the atmosphere touched the hull.

"What are you going to do?" asked Jill almost too quietly.

He didn't answer. Maneuvering the ship on velocity between those stupendous pinnacles took all his attention. Caron, at least, couldn't follow him in the dark without exhaust flares as guides.

They swept across the wind-torn plain, into the mouth of the valley where Gray had worked, braking hard to a stop under the cables.

"You might have got past them," said Jill.

"One chance in a hundred."

Her mouth twisted. "Afraid to take it?"

He smiled harshly. "I haven't yet reached the stage where I kill women. You'll be safe here—the men will find you in the morning. I'm going back, alone."

"Safe!" she said bitterly. "For what? No matter what happens, the Project is ruined."

"Don't worry," he told her brutally. "You'll find some other way to make a living."

Her eyes blazed. "You think that's all its means to us? Just money and power?" She whispered, "I hope they kill you, Duke Gray!"

He rose lazily and opened the air lock, then turned and freed her. And, sharply, the valley was bathed in a burst of light.

"Damn!" Gray picked up the sound of air motors overhead. "They must have had infra-red search beams. Well, that does it. We'll have to run for it, since this bus isn't armed."

With eerie irrelevancy, the teleradio buzzed. At this time of night, after the evening storms, some communication was possible.

Gray had a hunch. He opened the switch, and the face of John Moulton appeared on the screen. It was white and oddly still.

"Our guards saw your ship cross the plain," said Moulton quietly. "The men of the Project, led by Dio, are coming for you. I sent them, because I have decided that the life of my daughter is less important than the lives of many thousands of people.

"I appeal to you, Gray, to let her go. Her life won't save you. And it's very precious to me."

Caron's ship swept over, low above the cables, and the grinding concussion of a bomb lifted the ship, hurled it down with the stern end twisted to uselessness. The screen went dead.

Gray caught the half stunned girl. "I wish to heaven I could get rid of you!" he grated. "And I don't know why I don't!"

But she was with him when he set out down the valley, making for the cliff caves, up where the copper cables were anchored.

Caron's ship, a fast, small fighter, wheeled between the cliffs and turned back. Gray dropped flat, holding the girl down. Bombs pelted them with dirt and uprooted vegetables, started fires in the wheat. The pilot found a big enough break in the cables and came in for a landing.

Gray was up and running again. He knew the way into the explored galleries. From there on, it was anybody's guess.

Caron was brazen enough about it. The subtle way had failed. Now he was going all out. And he was really quite safe. With the broken cables to act as conductors, the first thunderstorm would obliterate all proof of his activities in this valley. Mercury, because of its high electrical potential, was cut off from communication with other worlds. Moulton, even if he had knowledge of what went on, could not send for help.

Gray wondered briefly what Caron intended to do in case he, Gray, made good his escape. That outpost in the p. 64main valley, for which
Ward had been heading, wasn't kept for fun. Besides, Caron was too smart to have only one string to his bow.

Shouts, the spatter of shots around them. The narrow trail loomed above. Gray sent the girl scrambling up.

The sun burst up over the high peaks, leaving the black shadow of the valley still untouched. Caron's ship roared off. But six of its crew came after Gray and Jill Moulton.

The chill dark of the tunnel mouth swallowed them. Keeping right to avoid the great copper posts that held the cables, strung through holes drilled in the solid rock of the gallery's outer wall, Gray urged the girl along.

The cleft his hand was searching for opened. Drawing the girl inside, around a jutting shoulder, he stopped, listening.

Footsteps echoed outside, grew louder, swept by. There was no light. But the steps were too sure to have been made in the dark.

"Infra-red torches and goggles," Gray said tersely, "You see, but your quarry doesn't. Useful gadget. Come on."

"But where? What are you going to do?"

"Escape, girl. Remember? They smashed my ship. But there must be another one on Mercury. I'm going to find it."

"I don't understand."

"You probably never will. Here's where I leave you. That Martian Galahad will be along any minute. He'll take you home."

Her voice came soft and puzzled through the dark.

"I don't understand you, Gray. You wouldn't risk my life. Yet you're turning me loose, knowing that I might save you, knowing that I'll hunt you down if I can. I thought you were a hardened cynic."

"What makes you think I'm not?"

"If you were, you'd have kicked me out the waste tubs of the ship and gone on. You'd never have turned back."

"I told you," he said roughly, "I don't kill women." He turned away, but her harsh chuckle followed him.

"You're a fool, Gray. You've lost truth—and you aren't even true to your lie."

He paused, in swift anger. Voices the sound of running men, came up from the path. He broke into a silent run, following the dying echoes of Caron's men.

"Run, Gray!" cried Jill. "Because we're coming after you!"

The tunnels, ancient blowholes for the volcanic gases that had tortured Mercury with the raising of the titanic mountains, sprawled in a labyrinthine network through those same vast peaks. Only the galleries lying next the valleys had been explored. Man's habitation on Mercury had been too short.

Gray could hear Caron's men circling about through connecting tunnels, searching. It proved what he had already guessed. He was taking a desperate chance. But the way back was closed—and he was used to taking chances.

The geography of the district was clear in his mind—the valley he had just left and the main valley, forming an obtuse angle with the apex out on the wind-torn plain and a double range of mountains lying out between the sides of the triangle.

Somewhere there was a passage through those peaks. Somewhere there was a landing place, and ten to one there was a ship on it. Caron would never have left his men stranded, on the off chance that they might be discovered and used in evidence against him.

The men now hunting him knew their way through the tunnels, probably with the aid of markings that fluoresced under infra-red light. They were going to take him through, too.

They were coming closer. He waited far up in the main gallery, in the mouth of a side tunnel. Now, behind p. 65them, he could hear Dio's
men. The noise of Caron's outfit stopped, then began again, softly.

Gray smiled, his sense of humor pleased. He tensed, waiting.

The rustle of cloth, the furtive creak of leather, the clink of metal equipment. Heavy breathing. Somebody whispered,

"Who the hell's that back there?"

"Must be men from the Project. We'd better hurry."

"We've got to find that damned Gray first," snapped the first voice grimly. "Caron'll burn us if we don't."

Gray counted six separate footsteps, trying to allow for the echoes. When he was sure the last man was by, he stepped out. The noise of Dio's hunt was growing—there must be a good many of them.

Covered by their own echoes, he stole up on the men ahead. His groping hand brushed gently against the clothing of the last man in the group. Gauging his distance swiftly, he went into action.

One hand fastened over the fellow's mouth. The other, holding a good-sized rock, struck down behind the ear. Gray eased the body down with scarcely a sound.

Their uniforms, he had noticed, were not too different from his prison garb. In a second he had stripped goggles, cap, and gun-belt from the body, and was striding after the others.

They moved like five eerie shadows now, in the queer light of the leader's lamp. Small fluorescent markings guided them. The last man grunted over his shoulder,

"What happened to you?"

"Stumbled," whispered Gray tersely, keeping his head down. A whisper is a good disguise for the voice. The other nodded.

"Don't straggle. No fun, getting lost in here."

The leader broke in. "We'll circle again. Be careful of that Project bunch—they'll be using ordinary light. And be quiet!"

They went, through connecting passages. The noise of Dio's party grew ominously loud. Abruptly, the leader swore.

"Caron or no Caron, he's gone. And we'd better go, too."

He turned off, down a different tunnel, and Gray heaved a sigh of relief, remembering the body he'd left in the open. For a time the noise of their pursuers grew remote. And then, suddenly, there was an echoing clamor of footsteps, and the glare of torches on the wall of a cross-passage ahead.

Voices came to Gray, distorted by the rock vaults.

"I'm sure I heard them, just then." It was Jill's voice.

"Yeah." That was Dio. "The trouble is, where?"

The footsteps halted. Then, "Let's try this passage. We don't want to get too far into this maze."

Caron's leader blasphemed softly and dodged into a side tunnel. The man next to Gray stumbled and cried out with pain as he struck the wall, and a shout rose behind them.

The leader broke into a run, twisting, turning, diving into the maze of smaller tunnels. The sounds of pursuit faded, were lost in the tomblike silence of the caves. One of the men laughed.

"We sure lost 'em!"

"Yeah," said the leader. "We lost 'em, all right." Gray caught the note of panic in his voice. "We lost the markers, too."

"You mean...?"

"Yeah. Turning off like that did it. Unless we can find that marked tunnel, we're sunk!"

Gray, silent in the shadows, laughed a bitter, ironic laugh.

They went on, stumbling down endless black halls, losing all track of branching corridors, straining to catch the first glint of saving light. Once or twice they caught the echoes of Dio's party, and knew that they, too, were lost and wandering.

Then, quite suddenly, they came out p. 66into a vast gallery, running like a subway tube straight to left and right. A wind tore down it, hot as
a draught from the burning gates of Hell.

It was a moment before anyone grasped the significance of that wind. Then someone shouted,

"We're saved! All we have to do is walk against it!"

They turned left, almost running in the teeth of that searing blast. And Gray began to notice a peculiar thing.

The air was charged with electricity. His clothing stiffened and crackled. His hair crawled on his head. He could see the faint discharges of sparks from his companions.

Whether it was the effect of the charged air, or the reaction from the nervous strain of the past hours, Mel Gray began to be afraid.

Weary to exhaustion, they struggled on against the burning wind. And then they blundered out into a cave, huge as a cathedral, lighted by a queer, uncertain bluish light.

Gray caught the sharp smell of ozone. His whole body was tingling with electric tension. The bluish light seemed to be in indeterminate lumps scattered over the rocky floor. The rush of the wind under that tremendous vault was terrifying.

They stopped, Gray keeping to the background. Now was the time to evade his unconscious helpers. The moment they reached daylight, he'd be discovered.

Soft-footed as a cat, he was already hidden among the heavy shadows of the fluted walls when, he heard the voices.

They came from off to the right, a confused shout of men under fearful strain, growing louder and louder, underscored with the tramp of footsteps. Lights blazed suddenly in the cathedral dark, and from the mouth of a great tunnel some hundred yards away, the men of the Project poured into the cave.

And then, sharp and high and unexpected, a man screamed.

The lumps of blue light were moving. And a man had died. He lay on the rock, his flesh blackened jelly, with a rope of glowing light running from the metal of his gun butt to the metal buttons on his cap.

All across the vast floor of that cavern the slow, eerie ripple of motion grew. The scattered lumps melted and flowed together, converging in wavelets of blue flame upon the men.

The answer came to Gray. Those things were some form of energy-life, born of the tremendous electric tensions on Mercury. Like all electricity, they were attracted to metal.

In a sudden frenzy of motion, he ripped off his metal-framed goggles, his cap and gun-belt. The Moultons forbade metal because of the danger of lightning, and his boots were made of rubber, so he felt reasonably safe, but a tense fear ran in prickling waves across his skin.

Guns began to bark, their feeble thunder all but drowned in the vast rush of the wind. Bullets struck the oncoming waves of light with no more effect than the eruption of a shower of sparks. Gray's attention, somehow, was riveted on Jill, standing with Dio at the head of her men.

She wore ordinary light slippers, having been dressed only for indoors. And there were silver ornaments at waist and throat.

He might have escaped, then, quite unnoticed. Instead, for a reason even he couldn't understand, he ran for Jill Moulton.

The first ripples of blue fire touched the ranks of Dio's men. Bolts of it leaped upward to fasten upon gun-butts and the buckles of the cartridge belts. Men screamed, fell, and died.

An arm of the fire licked out, driving in behind Dio and the girl. The guns of Caron's four remaining men were silent, now.

Gray leaped over that hissing electric surf, running toward Jill. A hungry worm of light reared up, searching for Dio's gun. Gray's hand swept it down, to be instantly buried p. 67in a mass of glowing ropes. Dio's hatchet face snarled at him in startled anger.

Jill cried out as Gray tore the silver ornaments from her dress. "Throw down the guns!" he yelled. "It's metal they want!"

He heard his name shouted by men torn momentarily from their own terror. Dio cried, "Shoot him!" A few bullets whined past, but their immediate fear spoiled both aim and attention.

Gray caught up Jill and began to run, toward the tube from which the wind howled in the cave. Behind him, grimly, Dio followed.

The electric beasts didn't notice him. His insulated feet trampled through them, buried to the ankle in living flame, feeling queer tenuous bodies break and reform.

The wind met them like a physical barrier at the tunnel mouth. Gray put Jill down. The wind strangled him. He tore off his coat and wrapped it over the girl's head, using his shirt over his own. Jill, her black curls whipped straight, tried to fight back past him, and he saw Dio coming, bent double against the wind.

He saw something else. Something that made him grab Jill and point, his flesh crawling with swift, cold dread.

The electric beasts had finished their pleasure. The dead were cinders on the rock. The living had run back into the tunnels. And now the blue sea of fire was flowing again, straight toward the place where they stood.

It was flowing fast, and Gray sensed an urgency, an impersonal haste, as though a command had been laid upon those living ropes of flame.

The first dim rumble of thunder rolled down the wind. Gripping Jill, Gray turned up the tunnel.

The wind, compressed in that narrow throat of rock, beat them blind and breathless, beat them to their bellies, to crawl. How long it took them, they never knew.

But Gray caught glimpses of Dio the Martian crawling behind them, and behind him again, the relentless flow of the fire-things.

They floundered out onto a rocky slope, fell away beneath the suck of the wind, and lay still, gasping. It was hot. Thunder crashed abruptly, and lightning flared between the cliffs.

Gray felt a contracting of the heart. There were no cables.

Then he saw it—the small, fast fighter flying below them on a flat plateau. A cave mouth beside it had been closed with a plastic door. The ship was the one that had followed them. He guessed at another one behind the protecting door.

Raking the tumbled blond hair out of his eyes, Gray got up.

Jill was still sitting, her black curls bowed between her hands. There wasn't much time, but Gray yielded to impulse. Pulling her head back by the silken hair, he kissed her.

"If you ever get tired of virtue, sweetheart, look me up." But somehow he wasn't grinning, and he ran down the slope.

He was almost to the open lock of the ship when things began to happen. Dio staggered out of the wind-tunnel and sagged down beside Jill. Then, abruptly, the big door opened.

Five men came out—one in pilot's costume, two in nondescript apparel, one in expensive business clothes, and the fifth in dark prison garb.

Gray recognized the last two. Caron of Mars and the errant Ward.

They were evidently on the verge of leaving. But they looked cheerful. Caron's sickly-sweet face all but oozed honey, and Ward was grinning his rat's grin.

Thunder banged and rolled among the rocks. Lightning flared in the cloudy murk. Gray saw the hull of a second ship beyond the door. Then the newcomers had seen him, and the two on the slope.

Guns ripped out of holsters. Gray's heart began to pound slowly. He, and Jill and Dio, were caught on that p. 68naked slope, with the flood
of electric death at their backs.

His Indianesque face hardened. Bullets whined round him as he turned back up the slope, but he ran doubled over, putting all his hope in the tricky, uncertain light.

Jill and the Martian crouched stiffly, not knowing where to turn. A flare of lightning showed Gray the first of the firethings, flowing out onto the ledge, hidden from the men below.

"Back into the cave!" he yelled. His urgent hand fairly lifted Dio. The Martian glared at him, then obeyed. Bullets snarled against the rock. The light was too bad for accurate shooting, but luck couldn't stay with them forever.

Gray glanced over his shoulder as they scrambled up on the ledge. Caron waited by his ship. Ward and the others were charging the slope. Gray's teeth gleamed in a cruel grin.

Sweeping Jill into his arms, he stepped into the lapping flow of fire. Dio swore viciously, but he followed. They started toward the cave mouth, staggering in the rush of the wind.

"For God's sake, don't fall," snapped Gray. "Here they come!"

The pilot and one of the nondescript men were the first over. They were into the river of fire before they knew, it, and then it was too late. One collapsed and was buried. The pilot fell backward, and then other man died under his body, of a broken neck.

Ward stopped. Gray could see his face, dark and hard and calculating. He studied Gray and Dio, and the dead men. He turned and looked back at Caron. Then, deliberately, he stripped off his gun belt, threw down his gun, and waded into the river.

Gray remembered, then, that Ward too wore rubber boots, and had no metal on him.

Ward came on, the glowing ropes sliding surf-like around his boots. Very carefully. Gray handed Jill to Dio.

"If I die too," he said, "there's only Caron down there. He's too fat to stop you."

Jill spoke, but he turned his back. He was suddenly confused, and it was almost pleasant to be able to lose his confusion in fighting. Ward had stopped some five feet away. Now he untied the length of tough cord that served him for a belt.

Gray nodded. Ward would try to throw a twist around his ankle and trip him. Once his body touched those swarming creatures....

He tensed, watchfully. The rat's grin was set on Ward's dark face. The cord licked out.

But it caught Gray's throat instead of his ankle!

Ward laughed and braced himself. Cursing, Gray caught at the rope. But friction held it, and Ward pulled, hard. His face purpling, Gray could still commend Ward's strategy. In taking Gray off guard, he'd more than made up what he lost in point of leverage.

Letting his body go with the pull, Gray flung himself at Ward. Blood blinded him, his heart was pounding, but he thought he foresaw Ward's next move. He let himself be pulled almost within striking distance.

Then, as Ward stepped, aside, jerking the rope and thrusting out a tripping foot, Gray made a catlike shift of balance and bent over.

His hands almost touched that weird, flowing surf as they clasped Ward's boot. Throwing all his strength into the lift, he hurled Ward backward.

Ward screamed once and disappeared under the blue fire. Gray clawed the rope from his neck. And then, suddenly, the world began to sway under him. He knew he was falling.

Some one's hand caught him, held him up. Fighting down his vertigo as his breath came back, he saw that it was Jill.

"Why?" he gasped, but her answer was lost in a titanic roar of thunder. Lightning blasted down. Dio's voice p. 69reached him, thin and
distant through the clamor.

"We'll be killed! These damn things will attract the bolts!"

It was true. All his work had been for nothing. Looking up into that low, angry sky, Gray knew he was going to die.

Quite irrelevantly, Jill's words in the tunnel came back to him. "You're a fool ... lost truth ... not true to lie!"

Now, in this moment, she couldn't lie to him. He caught her shoulders cruelly, trying to read her eyes.

Very faintly through the uproar, he heard her. "I'm sorry for you, Gray. Good man, gone to waste."

Dio stifled a scream. Thunder crashed between the sounding boards of the cliffs. Gray looked up.

A titanic bolt of lightning shot down, straight for them. The burning blue surf was agitated, sending up pseudopods uncannily like worshipping arms. The bolt struck.

The air reeked of ozone, but Gray felt no shock. There was a hiss, a vast stirring of creatures around him. The blue light glowed, purpled.

Another bolt struck down, and another, and still they were not dead. The fire-things had become a writhing, joyous tangle of tenuous bodies, glowing bright and brighter.

Stunned, incredulous, the three humans stood. The light was now an eye-searing violet. Static electricity tingled through them in eerie waves. But they were not burned.

"My God," whispered Gray. "They eat it. They eat lightning!"

Not daring to move, they stood watching that miracle of alien life, the feeding of living things on raw current. And when the last bolt had struck, the tide turned and rolled back down the wind-tunnel, a blinding river of living light.

Silently, the three humans went down the rocky slope to where Caron of Mars cowered in the silver ship. No bolt had come near it. And now Caron came to meet them.

His face was pasty with fear, but the old cunning still lurked in his eyes.

"Gray," he said. "I have an offer to make."


"You killed my pilot," said Caron suavely. "I can't fly, myself. Take me off, and I'll pay you anything you want."

"In bullets," retorted Gray. "You won't want witnesses to this."

"Circumstances force me. Physically, you have the advantage."

Jill's fingers caught his arm. "Don't, Gray! The Project...."

Caron faced her. "The Project is doomed in any case. My men carried out my secondary instructions. All the cables in your valley have been cut. There is a storm now ready to break.

"In fifteen minutes or so, everything will be destroyed, except the domes. Regrettable, but...." He shrugged.

Jill's temper blazed, choking her so that she could hardly speak.

"Look at him, Gray," she whispered. "That's what you're so proud of being. A cynic, who believes in nothing but himself. Look at him!"

Gray turned on her.

"Damn you!" he grated. "Do you expect me to believe you, with the world full of hypocrites like him?"

Her eyes stopped him. He remembered Moulton, pleading for her life. He remembered how she had looked back there at the tunnel, when they had been sure of death. Some of his assurance was shaken.

"Listen," he said harshly. "I can save your valley. There's a chance in a million of coming out alive. Will you die for what you believe in?"

She hesitated, just for a second. Then she looked at Dio and said, "Yes."

Gray turned. Almost lazily, his fist snapped up and took Caron on his flabby jaw.

"Take care of him, Dio," he grunted. Then he entered the ship, herding the white-faced girl before him.

p. 70

The ship hurtled up into airless space, where the blinding sunlight lay in sharp shadows on the rock. Over the ridge and down again, with the Project hidden under a surf of storm-clouds.

Cutting in the air motors, Gray dropped. Black, bellowing darkness swallowed them. Then he saw the valley, with the copper cables fallen, and the wheat already on fire in several places.

Flying with every bit of his skill, he sought the narrowest part of the valley and flipped over in a racking loop. The stern tubes hit rock. The nose slammed down on the opposite wall, wedging the ship by sheer weight.

Lightning gathered in a vast javelin and flamed down upon them. Jill flinched and caught her breath. The flame hissed along the hull and vanished into seared and blackened rock.

"Still willing to die for principle?" asked Gray brutally.

She glared at him. "Yes," she snapped. "But I hate having to die in your company!"

She looked down at the valley. Lightning struck with monotonous regularity on the hull, but the valley was untouched. Jill smiled, though her face was white, her body rigid with waiting.

It was the smile that did it. Gray looked at her, her tousled black curls, the lithe young curves of throat and breast. He leaned back in his seat, scowling out at the storm.

"Relax," he said. "You aren't going to die."

She turned on him, not daring to speak. He went on, slowly.

"The only chance you took was in the landing. We're acting as lightning rod for the whole valley, being the highest and best conductor. But, as a man named Faraday proved, the charge resides on the surface of the conductor. We're perfectly safe."

"How dared you!" she whispered.

He faced her, almost angrily.

"You knocked the props out from under my philosophy. I've had enough hypocritical eyewash. I had to prove you. Well, I have."

She was quiet for some time. Then she said, "I understand, Duke. I'm glad. And now what, for you?"

He shrugged wryly.

"I don't know. I can still take Caron's other ship and escape. But I don't think I want to. I think perhaps I'll stick around and give virtue another whirl."

Smoothing back his sleek fair hair, he shot her a sparkling look from under his hands.

"I won't," he added softly, "even mind going to Sunday School, if you were the teacher."


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The Treasure Of Ptakuth - Leigh Brackett

Online story.

3.5 out of 5

The Stellar Legion - Leigh Brackett

Online story.

4 out of 5

Shadow Over Mars 1-4 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

4 out of 5

The Secret Of Sinharat 1-4 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

4 out of 5

Sea-Kings Of Mars 1-5 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

4 out of 5

The Reavers Of Skaith 1-7 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

4 out of 5

People Of the Talisman 1-4 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

3.5 out of 5

No Man's Land In Space - Leigh Brackett

Online story.

3.5 out of 5

No Good From A Corpse - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

4 out of 5

Interstellar Reporter - Leigh Brackett

Online story.

3.5 out of 5

The Hounds Of Skaith 1-7 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

4.5 out of 5

The Ginger Star 1-7 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

3.5 out of 5

Enchantress Of Venus 1-4 - Leigh Brackett

Online novella extract.

4 out of 5

The Demons Of Darkside - Leigh Brackett

Online story.

4 out of 5

Alpha Centauri Or Die! 1-4 - Leigh Brackett

Online novel excerpt.

3.5 out of 5

Leigh Brackett's Future History--An Examination


It is well known that Leigh Brackett has a group of stories that share a common setting, and that those are based on the planets of the Solar System, primarily on Venus and Mars.

However, there is much other SF included in 50+ short stories and ten novels.

I thought it might be interesting to see what work might coherently fit in one Future History, even if it was never explicitly stated. I haven't seen anything written talking about the interstellar and other stories in general, whereas there are good articles at Wikipedia about the planetary romance era.

Very few dates are given in Brackett stories, so this is an attempt at division into rough periods, in order. There is no mention of medical technology or lifespans given for humans, either, at least insofar as they may differ from the known range of readers of the times.


Firstly, there are definitely a small number of works that definitely do not. The novel The Long Tomorrow and its on-Earth postapocalyptic lost technology religious setting definitely does not.

Secondly, the short story The Tweener has a soldier return from a Mars that is empty apart from some small rabbit-like native animals, that are actually discovered to be sentient. This is not relevant.

Thirdly, The Citadel of Lost Ages is set on a future earth that astronomical calamity has caused to have a Darkside and a Lightside, like Mercury. There is no evidence of such directly in any work. It is in fact somewhat Planet of the Apes-like, Darkside notwithstanding, with hybrid beastmen running the planet, and humans as slaves. An outsider enters with forgotten knowledge, a trove of past human technology including atomic power. Nothing is mentioned of spacefaring or starship technology. Therefore it is extremely unlikely this story is relevant.

Fourthly, her last story, 'Mommies and Daddies' has a near future Earth dystopia ravaged by a drug destroyed populace and their abandoned children. Or at leas the American part is. This certainly does not fit with the rest of the Future History. Given these multiple bad times on Earth stories all do not seem to fit at all, it is presumably deliberate on her part.

Fifthly, Runaway is obviously out thematically with its investigation of the psychological destabilisation of an accountant. Content makes this certain: "He knew that Venus was important because it produced very large amounts of uranium, thorium, germanium, and a lot of other things that Earth was using up too fast. And that was all he knew, except that people had to live there under domes, and that it never rained."

Lastly, I have not seen the story 'Last Call From Sector 9-G', and no-one seems to know what it is about that I have asked. My guess is this might be an inclusion in the Future History, from the title.


If you want to believe in this exercise, the greatest problem is the lack of explicit reference to the interstellar travel at the same time that there is intense focus on the local Solar System, so you have to get past that in a handwaving manner. Brackett of course was American, so you could perhaps assume that the Solar System chroniclers have the same intense inward looking focus that Americans do. The colonisation does have an American flavour. That is, making the happenings around other stars analogous to international affairs as far as interest goes for the average denizen of either at the time. There may also be author notes or mostly forgotten conversations that render this particular exercise moot, but these are unlikely to ever come to light to trouble us, given the passing of multiple decades already. Spaceports are mentioned often, without detailing the types of ships they serve. Certainly starships are given names like Stellar and Starflight.


Some background is given of Martian ancient history:

There is a reference to the Quiru living a million years ago or so, which sounds like an extremely rough ballpark figure. Rhiannon was a Quiru, see The Sword of Rhiannon. "The Quiru, said the myths, had for that sin crushed Rhiannon and locked him into a hidden tomb. And for more than a million years men had hunted the Tomb of Rhiannon because they believed it held the secrets of Rhiannon's power."


1) Mars

Much later, on a far wetter Mars the Dhuvians ruled an empire as seen in Sea-Kings of Mars. As told to Matt Carse:""You know at least that since long ago there have been human peoples on our world and also the not-quite-human peoples, the Halflings. Of the humans the great Quiru, who are gone, were the greatest. They had so much science and wisdom that they're still revered as superhuman.
"But there were also the Halflings-the races who are manlike but not descended of the same blood. The Swimmers, who sprang from the sea-creatures, and the Sky Folk, who came from the winged things-and the Dhuvians, who are from the serpent.""

An alien race with advanced technology was also living in the City of Shandakor, as per The Last Days of Shandakor. While not a million years in the past, tens of thousands of years it would have taken Mars to dry out.

Also The Thinkers, as mentioned in Shadow Over Mars also likely also were around tens of thousands of years in the past: "But these Thinkers have done a lot of good from time to time."
Mak nodded. "Sure. Theoretically at least they guide the viewpoint of Mars-when they feel like bothering. It has to be some big important split, like the inter-hemispheric war back in Sixty-two Thousand and Seven, when the Sea Kings had trouble."

As did the Prira Cen: "Ancient things. Things deeply buried, nearly forgotten, clouded by superstition and legend. Forty thousand years—" from The Sorcer of Rhiannon.

The serially immortal Ramas had also existed since long in the past as talked about in Queen of the Martian Catacombs/The Secret of Sinharat. The Rama Berild talks of just one relationship:"'Delgaun has had me for a thousand years, and I am weary of him. So very weary!'" Given they are the last of their people, they must have existed a lot further back in the past.

2) Earth

Brackett appears to have liked Robert E. Howard and Abraham Merritt. As far as Howard goes, from The Jewel Of Bas: "He gave them a lament, one of the wild dark things the Cimmerians sing at the bier of a chief and very appropriate to the occasion" and "The priests of Dagon, of all the temples of Atlantis, spoke against me. I had to run away. I roamed the whole earth before the Flood, carrying the Stone."

Her husband of course was a writer for Weird Tales, so these are likely a small nod towards a favored writer. A further nod to the Weird Tales boys: "Ciaran, because he was a gypsy and a thief and had music in him like a drunkard has wine, had heard it, deep in the black forests of Hyperborea where even gypsies seldom go." The Jewel Of Bas is itself set on a hidden world in the Solar System.

Lord of the Earthquake is an Abraham Merritt style adventure where two men enter a portal that takes them back twelve thousand years in the past to Ancient Mu. So a tribute by story type, with Brackett of course injecting one of her favored hardboiled misfit-types in the character of Coh Langham. There may even ben a Doyle influence : "I devoured Burroughs, Haggard, Balmer and Wylie, Doyle's unforgettable "Maracot Deep," with this exploration of the deep in a submarine. The same applying to 'Out Of the Sea', with its attack on the USA by human created sea monsters.

The horror story The Tapestry Gate also has an otherworldly portal contained therein, but is utilised in an horrific vein, as opposed to fantasy adventure.

So Brackett has linked Mu, Atlantis, Cimmeria, Hyperborea and Lovecraftian Elder Gods in to the ancient background of her work.

3) Venus

There were no advanced technological or even literate cultures on Venus, so any history as yet known is limited to fragmented oral traditions, divulged grudgingly, if remembered at all, such as those of the Moon Cult.

4) Mercury

A much harsher place than Venus, aliens such as Shannach, long-lived, may have been there in the past, but not literate natives, so nothing is known.


There is no reason, in a creative mythography sense, that the adventures of sheriff John T. Chance in protecting his town along with his friends cannot be included here, or even James Beckwourth's frontier work. There is actually no direct mention of the historical 19th century at all that I am aware of in her stories other than these.


As goes the Wild West, the same for the mean streets of 1940s USA and the crooks, cops, dicks, dames and other unfortunates in the following: No Good from a Corpse, Stranger At Home, Murder Is Bigamy, Red-Headed Poison, Murder in the Family Design for Dying, I Feel Bad Killing You, No Star Is Lost and The Misfortune Teller or even the late fifties in The Tiger Among Us, An Eye For an Eye, and So Pale, So Cold, So Fair. The sixties are represented by Silent Partner and The True Death of Juanito Rodriguez.


The 1950s saw aliens with starfaring capability come into contact with humans who discovered what they were, but only in isolated incidents. Wisely, they appeared to have kept away from the big cities. Possibly due to the prevalence of too many smart investigators in places like Los Angeles that may have discovered them eventually and blown the whistle.

In 1950, a local Newhale reporter discovers the Hrylliannu using the area to bring people to Earth in The Queer Ones. In fact, there is even a hybrid child produced, but they cover their tracks well. This year also saw a Pennsylvania farmer and his children encounter joyriding alien children in The Truants. Parents from both worlds were happy for no-one to know about this.

Cornwall in 1952 sees earthman Michael Trehearne discover he is of Varddan extraction in The Starmen Of Lyrdis. As such he possesses the mutant gene to allow him to survive their particularly exacting form of interstellar travel, over which they have a monopoly. As we see here, and with later human ingenuity on display, the Varddans are far from the only people with interstellar travel technology, so they rapidly become of little interest, barely a curiosity. Those that require genetic quirks to survive space travel are not going to be able to compete with the crews of ships that do not, by sheer weight of numbers.


A detailed examination of the colonisation era of the Inner Worlds is beyond the scope of this article (see the Wikipedia articles), but the collection above does give some dates:

There were conflicts and uprisings on Mars that were pro-native. The Martians were more technologically advanced and capable than the native Venusians, so did not suffer the same wars and brutal colonialist programs of slaughter and military action.

1998 The Beast-Jewel of Mars
2016 Mars Minus Bisha
2024 The Last Days of Shandakor
2031 Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon
2038 The Road to Sinharat

Queen of the Martian Catacombs would happen around these times as mention is made of the Shanga trade in that story: "Stark realized now what secret vice Kala sold here. Shanga – the going back – the radiation that caused temporary artificial atavism and let men wallow for a time in beasthood. It was supposed to have been stamped out when the Lady Fand's dark Shanga ring had been destroyed. But it still persisted, in places like this outside the law." So the later Stark stories Black Amazon of Mars and Enchantress of Venus should all be in this range, them or their expanded versions.

In Cube From Space, there is an encounter with representatives of two interstellar capable alien races:"I am Crom. I was king once, in a land called Yf. And they are the Rakshi. The time came when we had to fight them, we humans, because we couldn't take any more."


Things changed considerably when the Cochrane Company make the breakthrough to discover a method of fast interstellar travel thanks to their engineer Ballantyne and his drive (The Big Jump). The failure of Barnard II as a colony and exploitation site because of the Transurane was never going to deter further exploration. Nor was the fact that prototypes will have problems. "... whole robot-shift for the drive had bugs in it. The relays won't take the load. Rip it out and rebuild it ..." Even though the Cochranes may lost the taste for it, others would not.


The Preliminary Planetary Survey revisits Barnard II in How Bright the Stars: "It was a hellish world to be wandering on, this second planet of Barnard's Star."... "Man had finally made the Big Jump outward, with the Wenz-Boroda FTL (faster-than-light) drive, and the exploration of the galaxy had begun." The more stable starship propulsion technology had made this possible. Men could also live on Barnard II if they wanted to, but as Jerry Baird discovers, it is still pointless. The galaxy is a hostile environment, in general, but has countless other stars to explore.

Here man has been concentrating on nearby reachable neighbourhood stars, such as Altair in The Woman From Altair. One of the spacemen here actually brings back a wife from one of the Altairan planets, to tragic consequences.


So succesful has man been at least with the ability to explore, if not the usefulness of end targets even getting to stars and planets without name so many have been visited. The Galactic Survey era shows the technology has been developed to enable ships to push past the nearby sites such as Barnard's Star, Proxima and Alpha Centauri, etc.

During The Shadows tired and disillusioned Exploration Team leader Barrier finds the remnants of a race destroyed by astrological catastrophe, and their faithful doglike servants. "Maybe there enough worth in us that here and there some little world will give us another chance. Anyway, it's nice to know there's one place where we have some friends.""

An explicit reference to a far away settlement is givein in Come Sing the Moons of Moravenn. The planet in this story has a topaz colored star in the vicinity of the Vela Spur, which could mean it is up to thousands of light years away.

However, things do change, as should have pleased Barrier greatly. There is a Galactic Union out there, and races involved in this organisation do come into contact with Earth and the Solar System. In fact, in All the Colors of the Rainbow Mintakan weather engineers on Earth have a violent encounteer with nowheresville USA racist rednecks. As the engineer Flin notes: "It was his first big job on his own responsibility, with no superior closer than Galactic Center, which was a long way off." Racism has always been in existence in the Solar System, but such recidivism again is not going to deter the benefits of expansion and exploration.

Sometimes though, it takes some special people becoming involved to sort some planets out. To whit, Simon Ashton and Eric John Stark in The Ginger Star: " A newly discovered, newly opened world called Skaith that hardly anyone had ever heard of, except at Galactic Center. Skaith was not a member of the Union but there had been a consulate. Someone had called to the Union for help, and Ashton was the man who went to see about it."


Even though expansion can take off some of the population pressure, resources are still an issue, and wars still happen. Mars is particularly water-poor when looking to rapidly increase population by colonisation.

While not a war, Water Pirate is certainly about resources. "It was early in 2418 that the Solar System realized that there was a Water Pirate. The great tanker ships, carrying water to the rich dry-world mines and colonies, began to vanish from the space-lanes, with their convoys. The Trans-Galactic Convoy Fleet, which for two hundred years had kept the space-ways safe, was suddenly helpless."

The Earth-Venus War saw Mars neutral in No Man's Land In Space, and Mars also fought against the Jovians with Earth and Venus as seen in Outpost On Io.

Mars fought a World War in 2504, then became embroiled in an Interplanetary conflict later in the 26th century and tried a disguised sneak attack on Venus, which was foiled in Interplanetary Reporter.

In A World Is Born: "who had conceived this plan of building a new world for the destitute and desperate veterans of the Second Interplanetary War". It is not clear if this is meant to refer to one of the past wars, as a well understood by veterans term, or a completely new conflict. It is possible that the Second Interplanetary War meant is referenced in Thralls Of the Endless Night, with a documentary discovery: "Treaty of Alliance between the Sovereign Earth and the Union of Jovian Moons, providing for Earthly colonization and development of the said Moons, and mutual aid against Aggressor Worlds.
A single sheet fell out of the bundle. "...have taken the precaution of Halm, the treaty secretly in a ship of colonists, in care of the captain who knows nothing of its nature. It has been rumored that our mutual enemy, the Martio-Venusian Alliance, may try to intercept it, possibly with the aid of hired pirates. This would, as you know, mean war. It is my prayer that the treaty will safely..."


Alpha Centauri or Die shows a Solar System government either disillusioned with interstellar travel, or perhaps having more jackboot clad reasons. They do not want the people to have the freedom to travel and communicate in an uncontrolled fashion. This is explained by the bitter would be escapees: "But damn them all eternally, even so. Because of them all the Stabilization Acts had passed. Trade Stabilization. Population Stabilization. Crop Stabilization. The busy minds of the experts working. Take the manned ships out of space and there can't be any trade wars or any other kinds of wars. The worlds can't get at each other to fight. Stop expansion outward to the stars and eliminate the risks, the economic upsets that attend every major change, the unpredictable rise and shift of power. Stabilize. Regulate. Control. We may lose a few unimportant liberties but think what well gain. Security for all, and for all time to come! And the dark ships of the Government will keep you safe.
The populations of the Solar System had been carefully figured to the last decimal point and portioned out among the planets according to food- and employment-potential, so that nowhere was there a scarcity or an overplus, and nobody's individual whim was allowed to upset the balance. If you wanted to change your residence from one sector or one world to another, the red tape involved was so enormous that men had been known to die of old age while waiting for a permit."

If this sort of control is extended and expanded, then the consequences could easily appear in 'Retreat To The Stars'. The 40th century shows a more extreme Soviet-like political structure in the Tri-State, compared to the more extreme right-wing colonialism or American style capitalistic expansion of earlier times. In Retreat To the Stars there are a few rebels on an asteroid base still resisting state control. They are desperately building a starship to escape. The implication here is that starfaring technology is government controlled.

With a Future History of many centuries, cycles of political ideologies and experiments would not be at all surprising. Few dates are given in Brackett stories, so the Alpha Centauri or Die/Ark of Mars situations could have been followed by relaxing restrictions and great expansionism again, cycling around again until the 40th century.

For example, A Peace and Happiness doctrine backed up by actual brainwashing technology saw President Hilton rule the Federation of Worlds in Child Of the Sun. 'There was no way out ahead, either. Mercury was there, harsh and bitter in the naked blaze of the sun. The ships of Gantry Hilton, President of the Federation of Worlds, inventor of the Psycho-Adjuster, and ruler of men's souls, were herding him down to a landing at the lonely Spaceguard outpost." The Unregenerate rebels have almost lost completely and are also looking for a place to flee. "Unregeneracy was almost dead in the inhabited worlds." Falken and Moore do so, and find an immensely powerful stellar energy being using a small world as a plaything, and hope to use him to help them survive Hiltonist oppression.

Two thousand years between The Coming of the Terrans and Retreat To the Stars leaves a lot of time for things to change and plenty of chronological slots for the above to fit in.


Leigh Brackett (ology)
The Coming of the Terrans - Leigh Brackett
The Halfling and Other Stories - Leigh Brackett
The Eric John Stark Saga - Leigh Brackett
The Solar System - Leigh Brackett
Sea-Kings of Mars
Martian Quest: The Early Brackett - Leigh Brackett
Lorelei Of the Red Mist: Planetary Romances - Leigh Brackett
The Big Jump
The Starmen Of Lyrids
Leigh Brackett Summary Bibliography
Leigh Brackett Solar System
Mars in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Venus in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Mercury in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett
Jupiter in the Fiction of Leigh Brackett