Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"The Best of C L Moore" (collection): Annotated table of contents & review

A few observations before I get own to ToC:

  1. This book is generally best read in reverse order of ToC - best stories seem to be clustered near end of ToC.
  2. If you have a taste for poetry, you may like her early stories more than me. Lot of adjectives, sometimes long passages that sound good but don't really move the story.
  3. 9 out of 10 stories here are from the time before she married Henry Kuttner. So she's the only author rather than joint authorship of later stories.
  4. Afterward of the book may be of interest to aspiring story writers. Here she dissects in some detail how her first published story, "Shambleau", came into being. How characters got invented, got their personalities, etc. There is also some advice for authors.
  5. When introducing the book, Lester del Rey tells us her "Shambleau" (1933) was the first story where aliens were really treated as aliens, rather than modeled after humans. Till now, I used to think the credit went to Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey" (1934). She does have a penchant of thinking up the most weird aliens you will see in science fiction, & they are far more alien than Weinbaum's.
  6. Comparing the del Rey's introduction to this book, & Ray Bradbury's to "The Best of Henry Kuttner", I see a personality difference between del Rey & Bradbury. While both say good things about authors & stories - as is expected - Bradbury specifically talks only about the stories that are really great, refusing to talk about others; del Rey pays glowing tribute even to lousy stories. I could choose the stories based on Bradbury's recommendations in introduction, but del Rey's introduction is no help in this.

Table of contents (10 stories, best first, unread last).

  1. [novella] "Vintage Season" (with Henry Kuttner) (as by Lawrence O'Donnell) (A); Astounding, September 1946; science fiction: Uncaring future time travelers visit our time on vacation to enjoy a major disaster!
  2. [novella] "No Woman Born" (A); Astounding, December 1944; science fiction: Among the first modern cyborg stories - a victim of fire gets a metallic robot body as the new home of her original brain.
  3. [novelette] "Daemon" (A); Famous Fantastic Mysteries, October 1946; fantasy: Precursor to Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon"?
  4. [novelette] "Fruit of Knowledge" (A); Unknown Fantasy Fiction, October 1940; religion: Retelling of Biblical story of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. Covers their days there till expulsion, but story is from the point of view of Lilith, Adam's first woman.
  5. [novelette] "Shambleau" (A); download; Weird Tales, November 1933; part of Northwest Smith series; science fiction: A cocktail of a vampire story & the story of Medusa from Homer's "Odyssey" - science fictionalized.
  6. [ss] "The Bright Illusion" (A); Astounding, October 1934; science fiction: How different can two lovers be?
  7. [novelette] "Greater Than Gods" (B); Astounding, July 1939; science fiction: Depending on which of the two woman a man marries, their will be two futures of mankind. His telepathic descendants from far future of either branch are now reaching out to his time - to canvass for their branch of future!
  8. [novelette] "Tryst in Time" (C); Astounding, December 1936; science fiction: A romance spanning multiple lifetimes. Story has some unconventional ideas about time travel.
  9. [novelette] "Black God's Kiss" (C); Weird Tales, October 1934; fantasy: The defining story of sword-&-sorcery genre. A woman warrior must travel to netherworld & overcome many dangers to acquire a weapon to take revenge on a man who humiliated her.
  10. [novelette] "Black Thirst" (C); Weird Tales, April 1934; part of Northwest Smith series; fantasy: A god-like very-long-lived alien has been selectively breeding human females for beauty in a harem on Venus since forever.

See also.

  1. "The Best of Henry Kuttner": Features a lot of Moore's superlative stories written jointly with Kuttner.

Fact sheet.

First published: 1975.
Credits: Some first published information picked up from ISFDB.

Legend: ss = short story.