Derek's Reviews > Northwest Smith

Northwest Smith by C.L. Moore
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's review
Sep 20, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: pulp, weird-horror
Read from September 13 to 19, 2011

Admittedly, the style isn't for everyone. Moore plays in the same space as Leigh Brackett, with pulpish adventures in a habitable solar system featuring a dangerous, almost feral antihero. But while Brackett's writing is lean and efficient, Moore is more syrupy and tends towards purple prose, especially in scenes of phantasmagoria or extraplanar/extradimensional/dreamlike states. These scenes seem to appear in each story: Northwest Smith is subjected to such mind-blasting horror and outre experiences that it's a wonder he's not reduced to a gibbering idiot.

Rendered in such loving, slow detail, they do go on seemingly indeterminably, and it takes serious attention to keep track of the story.

The common thread among all of them is of Smith being lured into some "business arrangement" which turns out to be far more troublesome and Lovecraftian than expected. There's a degree of passivity to the circumstances which doesn't sit well with Smith being some kind of pirate and outlaw. That and all the monsters seem to want to suck out his soul or essence.

While nominally science fiction, there's an awful lot of alien gods and magic going on. It shares more characteristics with sword and sorcery, honestly.
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