Now available: Leigh Brackett’s The Sword of Rhiannon, “a love song and eulogy to a planet…a hymn to the lost past of a Mars that never was.” With an intro by yours truly. (Why yes, that quote is mine. It makes the book sound kind of awesome, doesn’t it? And it is.)
The Sword of Rhiannon was first published as “The Sea Kings of Mars,” in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1949: sixty years ago. Leigh Brackett was 33. That year saw the discovery of a moon of Neptune (Nereid), the first flight of a jet-powered airliner, and the debut of the very first local on-air TV station (KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh). The Big Bang theory had been published only the year before–right around the time the United Nations established the World Health Organisation, and the arrival of first shipload of Caribbean immigrants in the UK marked that country’s beginnings of multi-culturalism.
Earth was changing, growing smaller and more culturally interknit, while the universe was only just beginning to be known. Our understanding of our own solar system was poised on the cusp between the exuberance of frontier imagination and the discipline of science…
To read more you’ll have to buy the book. Buy it from the publisher, or get it from the evil empire, just buy it. You know you want it.
14 thoughts on “The Sword of Rhiannon”
If you subscribe at Planet Stories you get ’em much earlier than the release date, too, it seems.
Two great tastes that go great together: Paizo's pulp & Nicola Gee. WORD UP.
It’s a pretty awesome book: time travel, romance (personal and planetary), evil mutants, swords…
Um, it sounds like you are describing the DnD game I ran last night. For real. Anyhow; I will put this on my shortlist.
Somewhere in a box, I’ve got a copy–an Ace edition that probably cost me $.20 used.
I remember it as a decent read, but Brackett’s habit of pulling random names from mythology and slapping them on an alien landscape bothered me a bit, as I recall.
<>anonymous<>, you have a good memory. Yes, it’s an annoying habit, the promiscuous and pointless mixing of names. I think she was trying to shortcut to a sense of myth and legend; I wish she had simply trusted her own skill, which was more than sufficient.
:-) I have an oddly good memory for books, generally. I believe I enjoyed her Skaith books more than Sword. She certainly wrote better than some of the other pulp SF/S&S authors of the time!
(I sucked it all down, though–ERB & Kline & Hamilton & Anderson & … And oh, I still remember the indignation I felt when they kicked the price up to forty cents! Highway robbery!)
I remember when beer was 29p a pint. Sigh. (Cue Four Yorkshiremen sketch.)
I have a crap memory for details in books and film–I remember the overall taste, and my opinion, but not plot or names or, well, anything specific. Sad.
well, romance (…planetary) does sound intriguing, although my preferred planetary crush usually involves moons shadowing rings…
What’s your favourite?
The Cassini photos of Saturn have ruined me for any other planet — this isn’t one of the more spectacularly colored or ranging ones, but I love it, the universe skipping a moon across Saturn rings: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA10456_modest.jpg
As promised, I read this. I posted my brief review up on my diary but I can't seem to cut-n-past to this box (probably a wise anti-spam measure).
I think you capture it well. It's not her best book but it does, as you say, balance precariously at the edge of many literary wave fronts.
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