With the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story in theaters now what better time for my profile of the Han Solo of the 1930s. Female author C.L. Moore wrote a series of pulp adventures about her often neglected science fiction figure Northwest Smith.
THE HERO: Space traveling anti-hero Smith was created by the female writer C.L. Moore in the 1930s. Four decades before Han Solo, Northwest Smith was a ruthless swashbuckling smuggler, thief and all-around mercenary. Smith’s less than sterling character made him a refreshing change from the usually wholesome pulp heroes of the time.
THE STORIES: Northwest Smith’s adventures take place in the far future, when regular trade exists between Earth and the native inhabitants of Mars and Venus. The other planets in the solar system have been colonized by those Big Three worlds, providing a backdrop that combines elements of westerns, seagoing adventures and colonial-era war stories.
Wielding a blaster like a six-gun and piloting his deceptively fast and maneuverable spaceship The Maid Smith and his Venusian partner Yarol roam the solar system making a living by plying various illegal trades. Though Northwest and Yarol are career criminals they often find themselves forced by circumstances into taking actions similar to those of traditional heroes. Their motive is usually their own survival rather than altruism.
Martian women called Shambleaus lure Smith into perverse erotic addiction, Venusian pimps run a flesh trade featuring genetically altered women and tomb raiders throughout the solar system involve Smith and Yarol in activities that threaten to unleash cosmos-destroying forces from the distant past.
One adventure even finds Northwest stranded in a different dimension that features red grass that sucks blood, winged abominations and carnivorous trees. West’s sultry female acquaintances in the tales often go the way of James Bond’s women unfortunately.
CL Moore’s style was sort of a science fiction version of Anne Rice and provided the Northwest Smith stories with a lurid sensuousness that made them stand out from other science fiction tales. In my Pulp Heroes section I examined the Northwest Smith stories one by one. Click below:
NORTHWEST SMITH STORIES 1 and 2 – https://glitternight.com/2014/04/19/pulp-hero-northwest-smith-stories-1-and-2/
NW SMITH STORIES 3 and 4 – https://glitternight.com/2014/04/26/pulp-hero-northwest-smith-stories-three-and-four/
NW SMITH STORIES 5 and 6 – https://glitternight.com/2014/05/03/pulp-hero-northwest-smith-stories-five-and-six/
NW SMITH STORIES 7 and 8 – https://glitternight.com/2014/05/10/pulp-hero-northwest-smith-stories-seven-and-eight/
NW SMITH STORIES 9 and 10 – https://glitternight.com/2014/05/17/pulp-hero-northwest-smith-stories-nine-and-ten/
NW SMITH STORIES 11 and 12 – https://glitternight.com/2014/05/24/pulp-hero-northwest-smith-stories-eleven-and-twelve/
THE FINAL NW SMITH STORY – https://glitternight.com/2014/05/31/pulp-hero-northwest-smith-his-final-story/
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