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The best of C. L. Moore by C. L. Moore

The best of C. L. Moore (edition 1977)

by C. L. Moore

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256644,720 (4)1 / 14
Title:The best of C. L. Moore
Authors:C. L. Moore
Info:New York: Taplinger Pub. Co., 1977, c1975. 309 p. ; 22 cm.
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, science fiction, short stories, space opera

Work details

The Best of C. L. Moore by C. L. Moore

  1. 10
    Black Amazon of Mars: And Other Tales from the Pulps by Leigh Brackett (jillmwo)
    jillmwo: Similar descriptive writing; space opera heroes, Eric John Stark and Northwest Smith are similar in outlook.
  2. 10
    Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith by C. L. Moore (NightHawk777)
    NightHawk777: The best of has two stories with Northwest Smith. Northwest of Earth has all of the stories with Northwest Smith in one book.

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
If you read no other part of this, please at least consider the Afterword, by the author, which is instructive.

Catherine Moore changed the face of science fiction when she began publishing. Unlike many of the writers of the day (1930s), she used words to paint rich tapestries of reality, to invoke the characters and the places she spoke of, and some of them were hard to shake.

She wrote about women who were strong, who took the lead in their lives, and they were one of my role models from an early age. Thank you, Catherine. ( )
  Lyndatrue | Dec 9, 2013 |
A collection of some of the best work from pulp-era SF writer C. L. Moore.

"Shambleau" - a very good introduction to her work that is also a variation on the old medusa myth. The main character, Northwest Smith, is very much in the mould of Han solo (or more accurately Han Solo was very much in the mould of Northwest Smith) - he's a rougish starfarer who lives in the criminal underbelly and has various adventures that showcase just how badass he is. This is an interesting tale about erotic desire, addiction and the dangers of what lurks in the great vastness of space. There's sort of a Lovecraftian edge to this story about what can happen when man goes out to space and meets creatures that have existed far longer than his own race and whose hungers and desires may prove dangerous to both body and soul.

"Black Thirst" - Another Northwest Smith tale that takes on another old world myth and turns it into a science fiction morality tale. Another one with a neat Lovecraftian vibe, though perhaps not quite as strong as "Shambleau".

"Bright Illusion" - A pretty good SF story about loving the alien with a valiant attempt at creating truly alien aliens (as opposed to humans in rubber suits), but they are mostly alien because the author says so than because of any exemplary job of description. Ok story, but I like Northwest Smith better.

"The Black God's Kiss" - The first tale of Jirel of Joiry, one of the the ur-Warrior-Princesses (Moore seems to have had a hand in moulding a fair number of archetypes for the genre), in which she follows a quest for vengeance when her demesne is conquered by a rival lord, the overbearing Guillaume. In order to enact her vengeance Jirel enters a tunnel in her castle dungeons which proves to contain a portal to another world. Given that the story takes place in a faux-medieval setting Jirel views this place as a version of Hell, but Moore's vivid depiction of it allows the reader to see the place just as easily as another dimension as presented by Lovecraft, or another planet in the mould of Clark Ashton Smith. Jirel gains an unorthodox weapon with which to defeat her enemy and brings it back to her world, only to find the taste of revenge bitter in her mouth. I'm not quite sure I fully 'get' the ending of the tale, but it's another morality fable in sword & sorcery guise. Not bad, but I wasn't blown away by it.
  dulac3 | Apr 2, 2013 |
Once upon a time when I was a little girl, before Buffy and Xena before the likes of Tamora Pierce in the YA section, I yearned for heroines, and found little beyond Wonder Woman comics. Then as a teen, I found Jirel of Joiry, a kickass sword and sorcery heroine in an anthology and was entranced. C.L. Moore was a pioneer among women in modern science fiction and fantasy who isn't as well-known as she should be today, so I'm glad I found this anthology of her pulp era short works in a used book store. She only wrote one novel, Doomsday Morning, which I haven't read and have heard doesn't represent her at her best. She's best known for her shorter stories--stories that don't tend to anthologize well as the introduction explains, since they all tend to be over ten thousand words, at the long end of the spectrum for short fiction. Besides her Jirel of Joiry, Moore was known for her stories about Northwest Smith, a kind of space opera Sam Spade more than a little reminiscent of rogues with a heart of gold such as Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. The stories were written from 1933 to 1946, and the earliest ones have a bit of a purplish pulp age tinge, but are sensuous and just great yarns.

The first two stories are ones featuring Northwest Smith, and "Shambleau" for all it's science fiction trappings (it's set on Mars) reads more like a classic horror story with a Lovecraftean feel. Her first published story, it's deliciously creepy with a truly alien character. I was less enamored of the other Northwest Smith story, "Black Thirst," another story with a horror feel set on Venus, I thought it was a bit too reminiscent of the earlier story, while being more than a little bit cheesy. "Black God's Kiss" is the Jirel of Joiry story, and yes I still love it. I wasn't crazy about "The Bright Illusion" or "Tryst in Time"--I find love at first sight eye-rolling. Although I have to say, both had truly striking premises, especially the first. "Greater Than Gods" is...interesting. Published in 1939 it anticipates DNA, a theory of multiverses I've heard connected with quantum physics--and concerns sex selection. Some might consider the premise at its base dated, but I'm not so sure. There's a strain even in some kinds of feminism today that sees matriarchy and the female gender connected to environmentalism and pacifism and patriarchy with war and crime. I even saw a recent book arguing that the growing gender ratio favoring boys may lead to a more aggressive culture. So I found it in the end surprisingly still relevant. The following stories take us into the 40s and a strengthening of style and vigor of ideas that commentators have connected with her marriage and collaborations with her husband. "The Fruit of Knowledge" is a delightfully subversive tale of Adam, Eve, Lucifer--and Lilith. "No Woman Born" is a story about a cyborg that asks what it is that makes us human. "Daemon" is the one first person story in the anthology--and I can see why she chose that form, because in this one the voice is so important. And finally there's the story many consider her best, "Vintage Season," a chilling and powerful tale about vacationing time-travelers. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Mar 25, 2012 |
This is a very very good book. I picked it up in a used bookstore, and I'm glad I did.

The intro gives a brief history of C.L. Moore (Catherine Moore). The stories gathered herein were originally published between 1933-1946.

There are 10 stories gathered here, of which I highly enjoyed almost every one.

Sci Fi tale introducing Northwest Smith. He's basically a rogue, i'm not even sure he's a good guy. He might be one of the original anti-heroes.

Another fun thing, this story is set on Mars...before writers would know that Mars was uninhabited, they would tales of various peoples and societies on these planets.

He takes it upon himself to stick his nose into a lynch mobs business, by rescuing a mysterious female. Lets just say that dude ends up in a soul sucking Lovecraftian nightmare before the story is over. It quickly goes from Sci Fi to a Dark Fantasy/Horror hybrid. The characterizations are nice.

Black Thirst
Sci Fi (?) Dark Fantasy
Northwest is on Venus this time. He is by chance approached by one of the mysterious Minga girls. They have been bred to perfection for kings and royalty. She spies NW and piques his interest enough to investigate her offer. The fact that more regular shmoes have never even gotten an eyeful of a Minga girl drives him on. Before the end of this tale, NW will once again find himself in another Dark Fantasy/Horror hybrid situation.

The Bright Illusion
Sci Fi Dark Fantasy Bizzaro Love story
The main character here is Dixon. He is dying in a desert and comes upon a being of immense power. Or maybe he's delusional and dying. I'm not sure, lol. He is convinced by this being to become a herald, and go to some distant planet to make the way for it to come and do battle with the god of that world.

I recently read a book Parallel Universes by Michio Kaku. This is a physics book of sorts. He describes some of the ideas that Ms. Moore used in this story. Dixon can't observe the planet, because it is apparently in the 4th dimension. The light being has to put an illusion in Dixon's eyes so he can deal with going onto the planet. It also covers the eyes of the inhabitants of the planet, so he appears as one of them. This is where the title comes from. I kid you not, this becomes a tragic love story by the end.

Black God's Kiss
Sword and Sorcery, Dark Fantasy
Jirel is introduced here. She is the ruler/queen or something of Joiry, which seems like it is based on medieval France?
Joiry has been conquered, and she escapes to seek vengeance. She enters something like hell to get a weapon to face her conqueror.

Tryst in Time
Sci Fi
Some bored ADHD type guy convinces an oddball scientist to let him try out an experimental time machine. As he wanders through time, he seems to run across a woman in each epoch, that appears to be the same woman. Very interesting.

Greater Than Gods
Sci Fi
This tale involves a man who stumbles upon a way to see into potential realities by a choice he makes. This is also fun because this concept was also explained in that book by Michio Kaku. It's actually a fun tale, because of the two situations that are staring him in the face.

Fruit of Knowledge
Doomed romance fantasy?
Retelling of the story of the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve, etc.
This story was probably my favorite in the book.
In retelling the story of Adam and Eve, she introduces some other players. I don't want to say much about it here, but it is really fun. It's like you know what is going to happen in general, but the additional actors introduced make it a lot of fun. A love triangle involving Adam and Eve? lol

No Woman Born
Sci Fi
This was probably my least favorite. It involves a beloved female entertainer, who has had a serious accident. She is "saved" by some scientist and her agent, by them putting her brain into a mechanical construct. The story is about what would happen if you basically lost your body, but were inhabiting a robot body. Would you slowly lose your connection to humanity?

This story has some unintentionally funny moments (for me at least):

"There was applause from an invisible audience. Then someone came out and did a dance with lighted torches that streamed long, weaving ribbons of fire among clouds of what looked like cotton wool, but was most probably asbestos."
- OOPS, did the audience all die of cancer after this performance?

Here's a funny description of one of those old scientists who are teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown:

"He began to pace up and down with quick,uneven steps, striking his hands together. His face was twitching with a little tic that drew up one eye to a squint and released it again at regular intervals. Harris could see how very near collapse the man was."
- This vivid description really strikes my funny bone, even though
it's meant to be serious :)

Dark Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery (maybe like Solomon Kane)
This is a story about a poor mentally challenged kid who gets kidnapped by a ship full of pirates. The kid can see demons hanging around these guys. Nobody else can see them. Somehow, she managed to pull the Fey into it lol. Very fun story.

Vintage Season
Sci Fi
Wouldn't it be cool if time-travel was common? Some companies might even set up group tours of momentous events in history. ( )
  NightHawk777 | Feb 12, 2010 |
C. L. Moore was one of the best writers of Science Fiction. Her stories tended to include a depth of humanity not found in the science fiction of many male writers of Science Fiction. ( )
  fduniho | Dec 30, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
C. L. Mooreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
del Ray, LesterEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hildebrandt BrothersCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Had Northwest Smith been able to foresee the future, he would not have shielded the frightened, scarlet-clad girl from the wild mob pursuing her through the narrow streets of Lakkdarol on Mars. "Shambleau! Shambleau!" the crowd cried with loathing and disgust, but Smith drove them off with his blaster and took the exhausted girl to his quarters. There was no hair upon her face - neither brows nor lashes. And what horror lay hidden beneath the crimson turban bound tightly around her head?
One of the strangest, and surely one of the most imaginative stories ever written, Shambleau was acclaimed by readers, authors and editors as the debut of a truly gifted talent in the field of science fiction. C.L. Moore was to live up to expectations when she followed Shambleau with other stirring and beautiful tales - the best of which are presented in this exciting volume. Included are:
Black God's Kiss - a unique saga which describes Jirel of Joiry's strange adventures in another dimension, a nightmarish land that lies far below the dungeons of her defeated castle. In search of a weapon to wipe the taunting from the face of her conqueror, Jirel travels to the shore of a black lake filled with sparkling fallen stars; she passes over an invisible bridge into a forbidding temple where her quest ends in a dramatic and chilling fashion.
The Bright Illusion - Dixon looked down at the alien city below him and reeled with horror. The entire metropolis was a collection of blinding colors and impossible angles. But even more repellent were the inhabitants - writhing, one-eyed snake beings that filled Dixon's mind with revulsion. From his vantage point in space, the view was terrifying enough; but soon he would have to set foot on that hellish planet. How could Dixon have realized he was headed for one of the greatest love affairs the universe has ever known...
The publication of THE BEST OF C.L. MOORE is an event that SF readers have been demanding for many years. It is a rich, colorful collection of ten fantastic tales - including such classics as No Woman Born, Black Thirst and Greater Than Gods - that will send the mind to new heights of imagination. This edition contains a special introduction by Lester del Rey and an afterword by C.L. Moore herself.
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