I get this story recommended to me often. In truth, the circles I run in love older stories, and they seem to always extol Black Amazon of Mars as one of the better tales from the past.
Leigh Brackett was once called the “Queen of Space Opera”, and I have to admit that this story lives up to the hype.
Black Amazon of Mars has vivid storytelling, a fast pace, interesting action and characters, and twists and turns I didn’t see coming.
The story follows Eric John Stark, a recurring character in Brackett’s work. First published in 1951, it was originally in PLanet Stories, but subsequent publications used either the changed version or the original (depending). I read the original.
In this story, Eric is with his friend Camar, who is dying. Camar held in his possession a lens of some type that has some powerful abilities. As Camar dies, he Eric volunteers to take the lens back to his Martian people. However, a band of marauders, lead by the mysterious Lord Ciaran, are planning an attack on the city Camar comes from.
Stark is a good character, though he felt pretty generic. His “wandering rogue” aesthetic held pretty standard for a pulp story, but the real shining stars were the other characters. Lord Ciaran, in particular, was fascinating. There are a lot of martians in the city that interested me, but mostly by that part of the story, Ciaran’s uniqueness eclipsed the other characters.
All in all, I’d recommend this for anyone who likes science fiction or fantasy. It’s only about 70 pages, so I think it’s worth it. It’s fantastic.
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