Earlier this year, I wrote an article about The Best of Edmond Hamilton, one of the volumes of DelRey’s influential “Classics of Science Fiction” paperback line from the 1970s. Black Gate was running a series of articles written by James McGlothlin covering all of the DelRey series. Since I had recently completed reading the Edmond Hamilton collection, I asked James if he wouldn’t mind if I contributed an entry. James not only didn’t mind, he was excited to have help with the endeavor. I also checked with Black Gate‘s editor John O’Neill because he’s often stated that Edmond Hamilton is his favorite pulp SF author.
I discovered it was impossible to write about The Best of Edmond Hamilton without also writing about Leigh Brackett, his wife and one of the great science-fantasy authors of the twentieth century. Not only did Brackett edit the collection celebrating her husband’s work—providing an unusually close perspective rarely found in anthologies—but Hamilton in turn edited The Best of Leigh Brackett that DelRey released a few months later. It was an important double tribute. Both writers died soon after, leaving the two collections as an interesting swap of letters of admiration.
After reading my Best of Edmond Hamilton article, James told me it only made sense for me to also tackle The Best of Leigh Brackett. I was glad to, with some apprehension. Leigh Brackett is on the short list of my favorite authors of all time, and I often find myself more nervous writing about someone who means so much to me. The emotional tangle and flood of knowledge makes it hard for me to tell if I’m writing clearly about the subject. There’s also the pressure I place on myself to write something I feel is worthy of a beloved author.
I wrestled for a month writing notes on the stories in The Best of Leigh Brackett and trying to hammer them into something readable that’s around 1,500 words long. I finished the task (or at least let myself be finished with it) late on Friday night. You can read the results now, but I think I have much better articles on Leigh Brackett left in me in the future. (You can also read an earlier tribute to my favorite Brackett novel, and therefore one of my favorite novels, period: The Sword of Rhiannon.)