The 1945 Retro Hugo awarded to Science Fiction legend Leigh Douglass Brackett

No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”
― Leigh Brackett, The Empire strikes back. 

The 2020 Hugo’s have just been announced and one of the strands awarded is the retrospective Hugo given to writers writing exceptional Science Fiction before the Hugo’s started. The winner of this year’s retrospective Hugo is one of the most remarkable and versatile writers from that time and a legend in both science fiction and film noir circles. Leigh Douglass Brackett was born in 1915, she published her first science fiction story in her mid 20’s and contributed to the to Pogo’s STF-ETTE, probably the first ever all-female science fiction fanzine.

Proving her versatility and talent her first novel was not a science fiction work but was instead a hard boiled mystery called No good from a corpse. Which led to Leigh being approached by Hollywood director Howard Hawks to help write the script for 1946’s The Big sleep, staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, the film is now commonly regarded as one of the finest Hollywood film noir movies. Leigh went on to work on a whole host of films such as Rio Bravo and famously The Empire strikes back writing some of Yoda’s most memorable lines. But her interest in science fiction remained constant throughout her career writing many science fiction novels and short stories earning Leigh the affectionate title “Queen of Space Opera”. Her most celebrated science fiction novel was her 1955 book The long tomorrow set after a nuclear war, and portraying a world where scientific knowledge is restricted and feared. The book was nominated for a Hugo the following year 1956.


The long tomorrow / Brackett, Leigh
“Two generations after the nuclear holocaust, rumours persisted about a secret desert hideaway where scientists worked with dangerous machines and where men plotted to revive the cities. Almost a continent away, Len Coulter heard whisperings that fired his imagination. Then one day he found a strange wooden box.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The big sleep ; Farewell, my lovely ; The high window / Chandler, Raymond
” The Big Sleep, Chandler’s first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralyzed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail, and murder. In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women. In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself deep in the tangled affairs of a dead coin collector.”(Adapted from Catalogue). For the availability of The Howard Hawk’s version of Big sleep film click here. 

William Shakespeare’s The Empire striketh back : Star Wars part the fifth / Doescher, Ian
“Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare’s The Jed Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Illustrated with beautiful black-and-white Elizabethan-style artwork, these two plays offer essential reading for all ages.” (Catalogue) For the availability of the Empire strikes back film click here. 

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