Who Was Leigh Brackett? A Screenwriter’s Life

Her first screenplay was actually The Vampire’s Ghost, a 1945 Lesley Selander film “about a bar owner who is secretly a 400-year-old vampire, weary of his lonely life. He wants his ‘girl’ to join him in his undead existence but finds opposition from her family and friends. Intelligent script (co-written by Leigh Brackett)…” according to Leonard Maltin’s review of the film.

Brackett-Red-MistFrom 1948 to 1951, she produced a series of longer format science fiction adventure stories. During this period classic representations of her visionary planetary settings – referred to as the Planetary Romances – as The Moon that Vanished and the longer Sea-Kings of Mars (1949), later published as The Sword of Rhiannon, an illuminating description of Mars before its oceans evaporated.

Brackett actually created a newly invented universe in which many of her novels took place called the Leigh Brackett Solar System. Her universe provided for interplanetary commerce and competition on planets – including Mars – that were habitable and populated by ancient humanoid civilizations.

Brackett’s imagination and vision vaulted her to the pinnacle of a genre where few women wrote in the science fiction genre. Her later work explored the changes and passages of civilizations instead of stories about the conflicts of frontier worlds in the Brackett Solar System. Her reflective and retrospective stories now concentrated more on mood than on plot through her last publication of the genre in 1955.

Influenced by the times, she published one of her most critically acclaimed science fiction novels The Long Tomorrow. The story details an agrarian society, deeply technophobic after a nuclear war has devastated their world.


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