Today marks the 100th birthdayof the incredibly talented Leigh Brackett.
As Queen of the Space Opera, Brackett took us to exotic planets, both far and near. From Mars and Venus to Skaith, her planetary romances combined lush imagery with Edgar Rice Burroughs sensibilities. Not satisfied with that, she also went on to write mature science fiction such as The Long Tomorrow and The Big Jump. Her friendship and influence on such writers as Ray Bradbury had an impact on science fiction that is often overlooked. She was married to writer Edmond Hamilton for 31 years until his death.
Her first novel happened to be a mystery, No Good from a Corpse, a hard-boiled mystery in the Raymond Chandler vein. Her output in that field included five well-regarded novels (including one ghost-written for actor George Sanders) and a handful of excellent stories.
Her 1963 western Follow the Free Wind won a Spur award for best novel.
As a screenwriter, Brackett's credits are impressive: The Big Sleep (with William Faulkner), Rio Bravo (Brackett also wrote the novelization), Hatari!, El Dorado, Rio Lobo, The Long Goodbye, and The Empire Strikes Back, among others.
Although she never broached feminism in her work, Leigh Brackett can be consider a female pioneer in several genres.
Her work remains immensely readable and enjoyable.
The link below will take you to one of her stories, "The Shadows," from the February 1952 issue of Startling Stories. Enjoy.