The Best of C L Moore - C L Moore A collection of some of the best work from pulp-era SF writer C. L. Moore.

"Shambleau" - a very good introduction to her work that is also a variation on the old medusa myth. The main character, Northwest Smith, is very much in the mould of Han solo (or more accurately Han Solo was very much in the mould of Northwest Smith) - he's a rougish starfarer who lives in the criminal underbelly and has various adventures that showcase just how badass he is. This is an interesting tale about erotic desire, addiction and the dangers of what lurks in the great vastness of space. There's sort of a Lovecraftian edge to this story about what can happen when man goes out to space and meets creatures that have existed far longer than his own race and whose hungers and desires may prove dangerous to both body and soul.

"Black Thirst" - Another Northwest Smith tale that takes on another old world myth and turns it into a science fiction morality tale. Another one with a neat Lovecraftian vibe, though perhaps not quite as strong as "Shambleau".

"Bright Illusion" - A pretty good SF story about loving the alien with a valiant attempt at creating truly alien aliens (as opposed to humans in rubber suits), but they are mostly alien because the author says so than because of any exemplary job of description. Ok story, but I like Northwest Smith better.

"The Black God's Kiss" - The first tale of Jirel of Joiry, one of the the ur-Warrior-Princesses (Moore seems to have had a hand in moulding a fair number of archetypes for the genre), in which she follows a quest for vengeance when her demesne is conquered by a rival lord, the overbearing Guillaume. In order to enact her vengeance Jirel enters a tunnel in her castle dungeons which proves to contain a portal to another world. Given that the story takes place in a faux-medieval setting Jirel views this place as a version of Hell, but Moore's vivid depiction of it allows the reader to see the place just as easily as another dimension as presented by Lovecraft, or another planet in the mould of Clark Ashton Smith. Jirel gains an unorthodox weapon with which to defeat her enemy and brings it back to her world, only to find the taste of revenge bitter in her mouth. I'm not quite sure I fully 'get' the ending of the tale, but it's another morality fable in sword & sorcery guise. Not bad, but I wasn't blown away by it.