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Lost Ships- Three Novelettes by Leigh Brackett

Lost Ships by Leigh Brackett

Lost Ships – Three classic science fiction novelettes by Leigh Brackett, known as the Queen of Space Opera.

Book Details

Book Details

Lost Ships – Three classic science fiction novelettes by Leigh Brackett, known as the Queen of Space Opera.

Outpost on Io (1942) – In a crystalline death lay the only release for those prisoners of that Ionian hell-outpost. Yet MacVickers and the men had to escape—for to remain meant the conquering of the Solar System by the inhuman Europans. A four chapter novelette.

The Citadel Of Lost Ships (1943) – It was a gypsy world, built of space flotsam, peopled with the few free races of the Solar System. Roy Campbell, outcast prey of the Coalition, entered its depths to seek haven for the Kraylens of Venus – only to find that it had become a slave trap from which there was no escape. A five chapter novelette.

Last Call For Sector 9G (1955) – Out there in the green star system; far beyond the confining grip of the Federation, moved the feared Bitter Star, for a thousand frigid years the dark and sinister manipulator of war-weary planets. An eight chapter novelette.

Leigh Douglass Brackett (1915 – 1978) was an immensely talented writer of science fiction, and is known as the “Queen of Space Opera.” She was also a very talented screenwriter and worked on such films as The Big Sleep (1945), Rio Bravo (1959), The Long Goodbye (1973) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

Leigh Brackett was born December 7, 1915 in Los Angeles, California, and grew up there. On December 31, 1946, at age 31, she married fellow science fiction writer Edmond Hamilton in San Gabriel, California. Ray Bradbury, a very good friend to both, served as best man. She died of cancer in 1978 in Lancaster, California.

Lost Ships – Three Novelettes contains 8 illustrations.


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Excerpt: The Citadel of Lost Ships


ROY CAMPBELL woke painfully. His body made a blind, instinctive lunge for the control panel, and it was only when his hands struck the smooth, hard mud of the wall that he realized he wasn’t in his ship any longer, and that the Guard wasn’t chasing him, their guns hammering death.

He leaned against the wall, the perspiration thick on his heavy chest, his eyes wide and remembering. He could feel again, as though the running fight were still happening, the bucking of his sleek ship beneath the calm control of his hands. He could remember the pencil rays lashing through the night, searching for him, seeking his life. He could recall the tiny prayer that lingered in his memory, as he fought so skillfully, so dangerously, to evade the relentless pursuer.

Then there was a hazy period, when a blasting cannon had twisted his ship like a wind-tossed leaf, and his head had smashed cruelly against the control panel. And then the slinking minutes when he had raced for safety—and then the sodden hours when sleep was the only thing in the Universe that he craved.

He sank back on the hide-frame cot with something between a laugh and a curse. He was sweating, and his wiry body twitched. He found a cigarette, lit it on the second try, and sat still, listening to his heartbeats slow down.

He began to wonder, then, what had wakened him.

It was night, the deep indigo night of Venus. Beyond the open hut door, Campbell could see the liha-trees swaying a little in the hot, slow breeze. It seemed as though the whole night swayed, like a dark blue veil.

For a long time he didn’t hear anything but the far-off screaming of some swamp beast on the kill. Then, sharp and cruel against the blue silence, a drum began to beat.

It made Campbell’s heart jerk. The sound wasn’t loud, but it had a tight, hard quality of savagery, something as primal as the swamp and as alien, no matter how long a man lived with it.

The drumming stopped. The second, perhaps the third, ritual prelude. The first must have wakened him. Campbell stared with narrow dark eyes at the doorway.

He’d been with the Kraylens only two days this time, and he’d slept most of that. Now he realized that in spite of his exhaustion, he had sensed something wrong in the village.

Something was wrong, very wrong, when the drum beat that way in the sticky night.

He pulled on his short black boots and went out of the hut. No one moved in the village. Thatch rustled softly in the slow wind, and that was the only sign of life.

Campbell turned into a path under the whispering liha-trees. He wore nothing but the tight black pants of his space garb, and the hot wind lay on his skin like soft hands. He filled his lungs with it. It smelled of warm still water and green, growing things, and. . . .

Freedom. Above all, freedom. This was one place where a man could still stand on his legs and feel human.

The drumming started again, like a man’s angry heart beating out of the indigo night. This time it didn’t stop. Campbell shivered. The trees parted presently, showing a round dark hummock.

It was lit by the hot flare of burning liha pods. Sweet oily smoke curled up into the branches. There was a sullen glint of water through the trees, but there were closer glints, brighter, fiercer, more deadly.

The glinting eyes of men, silent men, standing in a circle around the hummock.

There was a little man crouched on the mound in the center. His skin had the blue-whiteness of skim milk. He wore a kilt of iridescent scales. His face was subtly reptilian, broad across the cheekbones and pointed below.

A crest of brilliant feathers—they weren’t really feathers, but that was as close as Campbell could get—started just above his brow ridges and ran clean down his spine to the waist. They were standing erect now, glowing in the firelight.

He nursed a drum between his knees. It stopped being just a drum when he touched it. It was his own heart, singing and throbbing with the hate in it.

Campbell stopped short of the circle. His nerves, still tight from his near-fatal brush with the Spaceguard, stung with little flaring pains. He’d never seen anything like this before.

The little man rocked slightly, looking up into the smoke. His eyes were half closed. The drum was part of him and part of the indigo night. It was part of Campbell, beating in his blood.

It was the heart of the swamp, sobbing with hate and a towering anger that was as naked and simple as Adam on the morning of Creation.

Excerpt From: Leigh Brackett. “Lost Ships – Three Novelettes.”

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