Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leigh Brackett: American science fiction writer--her life and work - John Leonard Carr


Leigh Brackett: American science fiction writer--her life and work
by Carr, John Leonard, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1988 , 240 pages; AAT 8820263

"Abstract (Summary)
Leigh Brackett (1915-1978) was a versatile and respected genre writer. She wrote film scripts, detective novels, a western, science fiction and science fantasy, radio and television scripts, even scripts for Batman and Superman comic books. Just before her death she completed the first draft of the screenplay for the George Lucas film, The Empire Strikes Back. However, her reputation today rests primarily on the romantic space opera, derived from Edgar Rice Burroughs, that she wrote for pulp science fiction adventure magazines, especially for Planet Stories.

My dissertation opens with a life of Leigh Brackett. Much of the material comes from written sources: her own writing; her interviews (including several previously unpublished); what others wrote about her. A good deal of original research was also conducted. I interviewed, often at considerable length and sometimes several times, more than twenty of her friends and fellow writers. A significant amount of previously unknown information was uncovered."

My second chapter, besides containing a brief history of pulp magazines in America, also attempts to recreate the working conditions and attitudes of the pulp writer. In particular, I discuss the unusual evolution of the science fiction magazines. Chapter three considers Leigh Brackett as a pulp writer, especially in her persona "Queen of the Space Opera." The characteristic traits of the fiction she wrote for the pulps are analyzed. The five stories in The Coming of the Terrans (1967) are examined in detail, as is a representative Brackett science fiction adventure novel, The Starmen of Llyrdis (1952), and one of the strongest of her science fantasies, People of the Talisman (1964).

My final chapter is given to Brackett's last and longest novel, The Book of Skaith (1976). I relate the novel to her earlier pulp work, but show as well the extent and variety of the changes she made in the pulp model. The Book of Skaith is Leigh Brackett's best integration of science fiction and fantasy.


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