Monday, March 21, 2011

"The Tree of Life" — 1936 weird Northwest Smith tale

Thanks to the pulp blog Two-Fisted Tales of True-Life Weird Romance run by Brit Joe Ackerman, you can read "The Tree of Life" (jpeg), a short story penned by female American science fiction & fantasy writer C. L. Moore, as it was originally published in the October 1936 issue of Weird Tales magazine. A gripping tale set on Mars that features Moore’s famous interplanetary space hero Northwest Smith, here are the opening lines:

OVER time-ruined Illar the searching planes swooped and circled. Northwest Smith, peering up at them with a steel-pale stare from the shelter of a half-collapsed temple, thought of vultures wheeling above carrion. All day long now they had been raking these ruins for him. Presently, he knew, thirst would begin to parch his throat and hunger to gnaw at him. There was neither food nor water in these ancient Martian ruins, and he knew that it could be only a matter of time before the urgencies of his own body would drive him out to signal those wheeling Patrol ships and trade his hard-won liberty for food and drink. He crouched lower under the shadow of the temple arch and cursed the accuracy of the Patrol gunner whose flame-blast had caught his dodging ship just at the edge of Illar's ruins....

"The Tree of Life" is just one of several weird tales written by Moore that are set on the Red Planet and star Northwest Smith. Others include "Shambleau" (1933), "Scarlet Dream" (1934), "Dust of Gods" (1934), and "The Cold Gray God" (1935).

Thanks to Dave Tackett of the blog QuasarDragon for the tip!

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