“Story-teller of Many Worlds,” by Edmond Hamilton

Found in The Best of Leigh Hamilton, Nelson Doubleday, 1977. (Remember Nelson Doubleday?)

One of the nifty things about doing the research for my first women in sf project is all the material I find while looking for great short stories. Like this piece in one of Leigh Brackett’s collections.

“Story-teller of Many Worlds” started as a pretty standard introduction to the collection, and then it became something else. For those of you who don’t know, Ed Hamilton and Leigh Brackett were married, so he saw her career up close and personal.

Even though Brackett was one of the most important writers in sf, and even though dozens of later writers stated that she influenced their work, she had encountered difficulty and criticism about her stories toward the end of her life. Hamilton addresses this thusly:

Those were the days when we were all writing, in accordance with the latest guesses of astronomers and scientists, about a Mercury that kept one face always to the sun and the other to space and had a Twilight Belt between those extremes of savage heat and bitter cold, where there were alternate sunsets and sunrises due to the rocking of the planet, and where life might conceivably exist. Today those concepts have been shot down by better data from probes and more advanced scientific methods. But in those days they were valid….

He was defending her work (and the work of others), just a little jab at the critics, but a necessary one. Because her stories hold up. Yeah, they might not be hard science fiction any longer, but they’re great science fantasy, and should be read for the wonderful adventures that they are. That she chose to name the planets she deals with Mars and Mercury should be irrelevant.

The introduction also touches on how-to-write and collaboration themes as well. It’s a great way to enter a collection of Brackett’s work.

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