Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Scarlet Dream

In a bazaar, Northwest Smith buys a scarlet scarf with a strange pattern. After going home, he falls asleep and is trapped inside a strange dream of scarlet fields. While there, he consoles a distraught girl whose sister was taken by some Thing, which will come to take them both, one by one. Under this ever present threat, the two grow closer, until Northwest Smith can no longer endure the dread.

This time it wasn't even Northwest Smith's fault. The smuggler had the bad luck to buy the wrong shawl. For that, he gets whisked away to a dream world that is closer to a living coral reef than a grassland. I did expect that one of the inhabitants of the dreamworld would vanish when it was feeding time for the rest, as blood is the only meal, but I never noticed it. Also, while this is yet another poisoned garden, complete with love interest and the escape that kills her there was a sense that this dream was tucked away inside a monster's digestive system, rather than the hunting ground for a predator.

If there is one complaint to the Northwest Smith tales in the collection, it's that for all talk of the inseparable Northwest Smith and Yarol and their swift ship the Maid, we see very little of Yarol and nothing of the Maid.  Fortunately, there are thirteen Northwest Smith tales, two of which deal specifically with their partnership. These are "Dust of Gods" and "Yvala", and can be found in Northwest Smith.

As a final note, for those who would read more of Moore, take a good close look at the contents of any of the new ebooks out there before you buy. Not only are "Shambleau" and "Black God's Kiss" frequent reprints throughout all of her books, at least one of her books is sold under two different titles by the same company. On a more cheerful note, make sure you check out the work of her husband, Henry Kuttner. Not only was he an excellent writer in his own right, once thought to be one of the original Big Three of science fiction (alongside van Vogt and Heinlein), the couple often wrote together. Their collaborations are legendary for how well they meshed, with the two of them often unable to tell which partner wrote what. Fortunately, after a long ebook embargo on Kuttner's work, official collections are now available.


Check out the Frisky Pagan's take on "Scarlet Dream" here.

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