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The Ginger Star (Trade Paperback)

****( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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by Leigh Brackett, with an introduction by Ben Bova

Beware the Dark Man!

When Eric John Stark’s foster father Simon Ashton goes missing on the barbaric planet of Skaith, the hard-bitten mercenary journeys to the dying world intent on bringing him back, even if it means taking on an entire civilization single-handed. Once there, however, he finds himself at the center of a mysterious prophecy about the Dark Man from another world, a symbol of hope to an oppressed people seeking freedom in the stars. Accompanied by a small band of heroes, including a beautiful prophetess, Stark must brave sadistic mobs, slavers, telepathic hounds, cannibalistic wizards, and the genetically altered remnants of the planet’s former civilization before finally confronting the malicious Lords Protector in their citadel at Worldheart. But will he arrive in time to save Ashton?

Talented enough to co-write The Big Sleep with William Faulkner and imaginative enough to pen the original screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back, Brackett never fails to deliver breathtaking worlds and fantastic adventure.

“We feel for Eric John Stark. We want him to succeed, to win against the forces of evil... When Stark bleeds, we bleed. When he feels pain or cold, we feel it too. The dangers he faces are our dangers, and his ultimate triumph is our own.” —Ben Bova, award-winning author of Mars

200-page softcover trade paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-084-1

About the Author

Though Leigh Douglass Brackett (1915–1978) was one of the most prominent science fiction authors of her time, she was equally adept in both crime fiction and westerns. While many of her early stories, beginning with "Martian Quest" in 1940, were science fantasy with a strong adventure theme, her first novel, "No Good From a Corpse"(1944), was a hard-boiled detective mystery that so impressed director Howard Hawks that he had his staff call in "this guy Brackett" to help William Faulkner write the script for The Big Sleep. The film, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, is considered a shining example of film noir, and launched Brackett's scriptwriting career, which would go on to include such notable pictures as Rio Bravo, The Long Goodbye, and the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back, which was written shortly before her death and later revised significantly. During this time, however, she maintained her status as a pulp science fiction icon, writing numerous stories and occasionally collaborating with protégé Ray Bradbury or husband Edmond Hamilton. It was during this busy period that she created her most famous character, criminal and wild-man Eric John Stark, an anti-hero who allowed her to explore colonialism's affect on native cultures, a theme that pervades much of her work. Despite her death from cancer in 1978, Brackett's works live on today as some of the most important in the genre.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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Swashbuckling Planetary Romance

****( )

From the beginning this brisk adventure hooked me and kept me hooked, as the main character Stark barrels through all who would block his quest to save the life of the man who had saved his own humanity. The alienness of the world of Skaith and its inhabitants is a palpable bed in which the plot's action swiftly flows. There are no false notes in Brackett's prose, and the dominance of action does not crowd out the carefully placed details that give the narrative its richness. Thence the cultures convey verisimilitude and the characters retain a sense of individuality (the latter seeming to be particularly difficult for many in this genre). On a perhaps less important, though personally valued, detail, Brackett is one of those writers with the knack for making up fantasy names that feel right, thus adding to rather than distracting from the narrative. Further setting it apart from many works in the genre, there is a subtext (the theme of the nature of humanity) that adds a depth of interest, without grating or coming across as special pleading.

Those of us whose introduction to the world of pulp fantasy/sci-fi came even after its silver age, and is therefore spotty at best, owe an ongoing debt of gratitude to Erik Mona for his salvage and rescue operation. He has recovered gems of the past I otherwise would have likely never enjoyed, and Brackett shines among them.

An RPG Resource Review

****( )

This is an excellent story in the classic mould: hero in search of childhood mentor journeys through hostile environs to rescue him, changing the very course of the world through which he travels almost as happenstance. The setting is vivid, the treachery makes you clench your fists, and you really, really want the hero to win through. Read it and find out if he does!

****( )

The Dark Mark cometh.

As part of a most excellent Brackett 'Space Opera Noir from the master' ebook bundle, from Baen.

The title refers to the color of the sun of the planet Skaith, where this series is based.

Stark ventures there looking for an old friend and mentor, someone who was pivotal in his survival and upbringing.

Then it gets stranger. Skaith is a backwater, and speakof the Dark Man and other such Robert E. Howard appellations - that is what a prophesy suggests Stark might be - a pivotal figure in the planet's conflict.

Once he arrives, he could be in a Burroughs or Howard story, Witchfire story, backstabbing madwomen, tough guy enemies - ok, apart from the telepathic hounds, perhaps.

Certainly monster fighting and sword swinging to be done, however.

Not a brilliant book by any stretch, as you would probably guess, but it is very compelling, as he who was N'Chaka the wild man, the Wolfshead (has anyone been called by the titles of two Howard stories in one book before?), searches for his friend among many deadly enemies on a planet full of people disinclined to believe in the existence of the outsided Galactic Union.

I don't think anyone who likes the whole family of space hero/planetary romance supermen type of story will regret reading these books for a second, as Brackett certainly has more talent than most of the writers of the same.

Stark in Skaith

****( )

As Sinharat has so far been my favourite of the Planet Stories book published so far I was looking forward to the return of Eric John Stark.
Stark cuts a swath across the planet Skaith as he searches for his foster father.
Brackett's setting shines in every page of the novel. The age of the planet, its fatalistic peoples, grim theocracies and the old weak sun bearing down at the planet. It's a striking setting and I look forward to seeing more of Skaith in the later novels.
The novel has some dissapointments but nothing too big. The secret of the Lord Protectors is a little dissapointing and the resolution at the end does feel rather rushed.
Nonetheless a promising start to a series. Gift Certificates
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