Tag Archives: Han Solo

PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: HIS FINAL STORY

Northwest Smith no letteringBalladeer’s Blog concludes its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed our solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

13. SONG IN A MINOR KEY – For this farewell vignette featuring Northwest Smith we get an oddly touching piece that enhances Smith’s character without ruining the mystery. He and Yarol are back on Earth to visit the spot where Northwest committed his first crime exactly 20 years earlier, setting his life on its present course.

Northwest Smith 3He reveals that Northwest Smith is not his real name (Well, duh! I always figured his real name was Northwest Rabinowitz.) and is uncharacteristically serious- minded as he soaks in the atmosphere of the woodland area where his fate was determined so long ago.  

Our melancholy outlaw ruefully ponders his life that might have been and the woman he might have shared that life with. He contemplates the home they might have had together and more as we get tantalizing glimpses into Smith’s past here in this place … where he killed his first man. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES NINE AND TEN

Northwest Smith 6Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

9. LOST PARADISE (1936) – A smuggling job has taken Northwest Smith and Yarol to Earth. Afterward the pair find themselves relaxing in New York City which, in their era, is a multi-leveled metropolis reaching high into the sky.

The pair witness the theft of an enigmatic parcel from a very small and fragile man. That man turns out to be a member of the Seles race; a people who have secretly lived among humans for millions of years. The Seles are so ancient in fact that they lived on Earth long before the continents had their present shape. The tectonic shifts that created the modern-day layout of the planet destroyed the cities of the Seles, who established subterranean bases where they have lived undetected by humanity since then. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES FIVE AND SIX

Northwest Smith: C.L. Moore's ruthless swashbuckler of the spaceways.

Northwest Smith: C.L. Moore’s ruthless swashbuckler of the spaceways.

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

5. JULHI (1935) – After a smuggling run to Venus Northwest Smith foolishly lets his guard down in an underworld tavern and gets shanghaied away to the Venusian island called Vonng. Smith is the latest kidnap victim from lowlife hangouts to wake up weaponless on the deserted island as a sacrifice to Julhi, a lovely yet monstrous creature with a beautiful upper body but multiple lower limbs.

Julhi is just one of a race whose dimension shares the same space as Vonng’s crumbled ruins but where time passes much more slowly than in our realm. The story wouldn’t be out of place on the renewed Doctor Who series. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES THREE AND FOUR

Northwest Smith 3Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930’s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here:  https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

3. SCARLET DREAM (1934) – Once again lying low between illegal activities of some sort Northwest Smith finds himself in the Martian city of Lakkmanda. The city’s illicit markets are legendary throughout the solar system and Smith buys a very odd scarlet blanket made of some otherworldly silk-like material. The blanket was found on a deserted spaceship with no sign left of the original crew, which should have warned our hero away from the odd blanket but if it had there would be no story. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH – STORIES 1 AND 2

PZO8005-Cover.inddBalladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

1. SHAMBLEAU (1933) – In this Northwest Smith debut story our anti-hero is lying low between smuggling capers in the Martian city of Lakkdarol. While passing time in the more dangerous quarters of the city Northwest gets the hots for a Martian woman of the Shambleau species and saves her from being killed by a pursuing mob of Martians, Earth colonists and expatriate swamp-men from Venus. Continue reading

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REBOOTING STAR WARS

masc chair and bottleBalladeer’s Blog is all about responding to reader questions and requests. Some of you have mentioned that you’d like to see me write about what revisions I’d have made to the Star Wars sequels in the same way I write about revisions I’d have made to old Killraven stories or how I’d have handled the unfinished Harry Flashman novels.

I have only ever been a casual (at most) Star Wars fan so it’s possible that lets me approach the subject with a certain detachment that many others lack. I have no favorite characters and I’m not really invested in the story or its universe outside of the original lightning-in-a-bottle 1977 film.

My take is that the sequel trilogy is too much of a mess and has nothing worth salvaging. However, since there is more and more talk about recasting the major roles like Luke, Han and Leia for a potential reboot or tv series I figured THAT’S what I’d look at.

Star WarsThe original 1977 Star Wars is about as close to perfection as you can get in terms of a movie succeeding at what it was intended to be: in this case a fun, uncomplicated valentine to the days of simpler storytelling as a nice antidote to the glut of self-consciously “deep” movies by that point in the 70s.

There’s nothing wrong with deep or introspective movies, of course, but by 1977 it seems that audiences were VERY hungry for a movie that didn’t wallow in unsolvable problems and was instead sheer feel-good spectacle. (I often speculate that if the Robert Shaw film Swashbuckler had come out after Star Wars instead of before it, it might have been received much more enthusiastically.)

My own take on potentially casting a new Luke, Han & Leia and starting over would be that the original Star Wars should remain untouched. Begin the reboot AFTER that film but eliminate the overrated twist in which Darth Vader turns out to be Luke’s father and Leia turns out to be his sister. Continue reading

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THE HAN SOLO OF THE 1930s: NORTHWEST SMITH

Northwest Smith

Northwest Smith

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. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: HIS FINAL STORY

Northwest Smith 3Balladeer’s Blog concludes its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed our solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

13. SONG IN A MINOR KEY – For this farewell vignette featuring Northwest Smith we get an oddly touching piece that enhances Smith’s character without ruining the mystery. He and Yarol are back on Earth to visit the spot where Northwest committed his first crime exactly 20 years earlier, setting his life on its present course. He reveals that Northwest Smith is not his real name (Well, duh!) and is uncharacteristically serious- minded as he soaks in the atmosphere of the woodland area where his fate was determined so long ago.   Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES ELEVEN AND TWELVE

 

Even though Northwest Smith always used ray-guns but NEVER a sword this artist drew him holding one anyway. Go figure.

Even though Northwest Smith always used ray-guns but NEVER a sword this artist drew him holding one anyway. Go figure.

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed our solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

11. QUEST OF THE STAR STONE (1937) – It’s crossover time! C.L. Moore decided to do a story in which her two most famous pulp creations – Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry – meet each other. Trouble is Jirel’s adventures take place around the year 1500 while Northwest Smith’s stories are set over 1,000 years later. Any reader of pulp fiction knows that’s no real obstacle so let’s dive in.

The story opens in Jirel’s time. She is leading her obedient band of male outlaws in an assault on the castle of a sorceror named Franga. Our sword-wielding heroine battles her way through to Franga’s chamber where she seizes a mystic gem called the Star Stone. That jewel is so powerful but so unfathomable that even Franga was still trying to discover how to harness its arcane energies. Jirel defeats Franga and forces him to flee between dimensions, but as he leaves he promises Jirel that he’ll return to get revenge on her and get the Star Stone back – just as soon as he finds a champion capable of matching Jirel’s courage, cunning and force of will. “No matter what world or what time I find them in” he adds, letting the reader know what’s coming up. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES NINE AND TEN

Northwest Smith 6Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

9. LOST PARADISE (1936) – A smuggling job has taken Northwest Smith and Yarol to Earth. Afterward the pair find themselves relaxing in New York City which, in their era, is a multi-leveled metropolis reaching high into the sky. The pair witness the theft of an enigmatic parcel from a very small and fragile man. That man turns out to be a member of the Seles race; a people who have secretly lived among humans for millions of years. The Seles are so ancient in fact that they lived on Earth long before the continents had their present shape. The tectonic shifts that created the modern-day layout of the planet destroyed the cities of the Seles, who established subterranean bases where they have lived undetected by humanity since then.

The man whom Smith and Yarol are helping is one of the many agents the Seles have sent topside to infiltrate and keep an eye on the surface-dwellers over the eons. He hires the two outlaws to recover the stolen parcel and offers huge amounts of money. Yarol calculates that the legendary secret of the Seles’ technology is more valuable than any other offers from the diminutive man and, desperate to get his parcel back, the Seles agent agrees to those terms. Continue reading

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