My posts about C. L. Moore (Shambleau)

These are the posts I wrote at the Puppy of the Month Book Club about Catherine L. Moore’s Shambleau and her other stories:

Gender Bending with the Dark Gods

A comment concerning Shambleau and drunken Indians [sanity check required]

More about Moore


5 thoughts on “My posts about C. L. Moore (Shambleau)

  1. dmdr

    Yeah I think I’m going to read Moore again, it’s been a few years.
    Incidentally, were you reading from an older English edition that credited her as ‘C. E. Moore’ on the spine and cover? Wouldn’t it be exciting if we had the same book?!?!?!!?!?!!?


      1. dmdr

        It occured to me after posting that that there may be a standardised list of stories that we were both reading from. Anyway I’m reading the collection entitled and about Jirel of Joiry now. Here’s some rambling thoughts that may or may not make much sense:

        Jirel is better than Northwest
        Although that might have to do with modern genre conventions poisoning my mind, ie. the journey to the otherworld stuff makes more sense to me in a fantasy context, even though the Northwest stuff is extremely light on any SF stuff, even for the time — even Doc Smith’s stories which are about as scientific as alchemy still have spaceships. Still, her overcoming the various villains and so on seems to have more to do with her specific personality as opposed to NW’s common-or-garden-variety stoicism. NW also gets more help (eg. Yarol in Shambleau, the sexy chick in Black Thirst).
        Most obviously written by a woman moment: pottering round the local marketplace being one of Northwest’s ‘chiefest joys’ in Scarlet Dream (lolol)
        Most evocative setting: Scarlet Dream (speaking of Quake, I imagined the temple with big chunky pixels and some nice blue-grey fog like you might find in a modern user-made level)
        Best/most imaginative villain: Pav out of The Dark Land (a bit like Thag, but with a personality), in the Jirel of Joiry collection.
        Best NW Smith story: Tree of Life. Shambleau has the best ending but the more prosaic nature of the villain is a negative for me, so I don’t like it as much.
        You’re right about Black God’s Kiss though, unless Hellsgarde is batter. I haven’t finished reading that one yet.
        You’re also right about the formulaic nature of the plots. I’ve read all these before, but don’t really remember much about the stories because their chief strength is being evocative rather than good action. I wonder if her collaborations with Kuttner have better plots? Not that what little I’ve read of Kuttner made much of an impression either.

        Overall I’d say she’s no Brackett. Of the pulp authors I guess she’s tier 1.5, definitely not as good as Howard/Lovecraft/A-Smith but as a rule much better than the later imitators like Carter et al. (I like Carter and have read, like, 5 Thongor books and a couple of stand-alones. He’s still a hack).


        1. emperorponders

          “Most obviously written by a woman moment: pottering round the local marketplace being one of Northwest’s ‘chiefest joys’ in Scarlet Dream (lolol)”

          Hahah, that’s a good observation.

          I have read that her collaborations with Kuttner were great and flowed naturally, but I have not read them personally. I am reading a bit of Clark Ashton Smith now.


          1. dmdr

            It seems like they’re harder to find than her solo stuff — I saw on wikipedia that the ‘standard’ Jirel collection leaves out the collaborative story she did with HK (the Paizo version has it but I’ve just got an old Tor paperback from the early 90s).

            I should reread some CAS, but it’s hard going — I had to consult a dictionary roughly every paragraph, although it does flow well if you don’t have OCD and a copy of the OED like I do. Makes Lolita look like learn-to-read shit for preschoolers in comparison.

            Anyway, I finished the Jirel stories and found Hellsgarde to be the anti-Shambleau; maybe Moore’s most menacing story, even though it has the most boring seting out of all of them (a crumbling castle in a marsh), an interesting mystery… and then the ending just kinda farts out, without Jirel having to do anything much. Oh well. I’m going to smash some nonfiction next:

            Liked by 1 person

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