‘The Secret Of Sinharat’ By Leigh Brackett

 Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark novels are essentially Conan novels set on and Edgar Rice Burroughs-esque Mars (and also Venus and Mercury). I won’t call this book feminist because, Lord knows, it is not. But it was important to the history of the genre that a woman was contributing to a male dominated genre and was once considered one of the top writers in scifi/fantasy (not anymore, but mostly because tastes have changed).

She’s got the fast pace of a pulp writer and you can catch bits that influenced later works (she worked on the script for The Empire Strikes Back and you can see how she  could have been an influence on Lucas’s space operas). There are lost civilizations, rapacious mining companies (a bit of the western pulp style, that), and ancient mind stealing vampires. And, though the figure on the cover is white, Brackett describes her hero as having skin as black as his hair.

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