Monday, December 14, 2009

The Story Behind the Story - Leigh Brackett

Thrilling Wonder Stories, Spring 1944, (May 1944, Oscar J. Friend, Standard Magazines, Inc., $0.15, 116pp, Pulp, magazine)

"You want to know how I came to write THE VEIL OF ASTELLAR? Well, one day I happened to read Dunsany's tale, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN EAR-RINGS. It's a fascinating little thing, and the end stuck in my mind: "And he said, 'I work in the Sargasso Sea, and I am the last of the pirates, the last left alive.' And I shook him by the hand I do not know how many times. I said: 'We feared you were dead.' And he answered sadly: 'No. No. I have sinned too deeply on the Spanish seas: I am not allowed to die. 'I have sinned too deeply. I am not allowed to die.'
What more do you need for a story germ? It worked in me like yeast in dough. The Sargasso Sea is old and cramped, but in the gulfs of space there must be worlds and ways of sinning on them that man on this mundane pebble has never thought of. I got to thinking about that, and gradually the jewel-crystal world of Astellar and its black gateway beyond space and time took shape, and with it Shirina and the Veil and the golden Cloud, and the men who were afraid to die. One man in particular—Stephen Vance, the Judas goat who led the sheep to slaughter. The story grew easily, and the deeper I got into it . .
Presently you're in another space, another time. You can take over any body that pleases you, for as long as you want. You can go between planets, between suns, between galaxies, just by thnking about it. You can see things, do things, taste experiences that all the languages of our space-time ricele continuum put together have no words for.
Memories—shade under sums that never burned for you. And the interlocking universes are infinite. . .
Stephen Vance was afraid to die. But immortality is a long time. . . .
I wish I knew the way to Astellar.—Leigh Brackett."

4 out of 5

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