Book Review: “The Citadel of Lost Ships” by Leigh Brackett (Four Stars)


Book Review: “The Citadel of Lost Ships” by Leigh Brackett

(Four Stars)

“Now the Kraylens were going the way of the others, straws swept before the great bloom of Progress.”

First published in 1943, this story reads well today, despite some anachronisms. Good plot and character development without data dumps and preaching. Yes, vintage SF authors were just as pulpit-prone as moderns. Brackett was sensitive to minority and native population rights.

“But Romany will be happier.” “We don’t ask to be happy. We only ask to be free.”

Some anachronisms: wooden ladder, cigarettes, the protagonist’s attitude toward the female lead. The idea that Venus might have a hot, wet atmosphere was common to older SF writers, just like canals on Mars long after we knew better.

“They take us and place us in camps in the great cities. Small groups of us, so that we are divided and split. We will die first.”

Trivia: Bracket wrote the first draft of Empire Strikes Back just before she died.

“Why do earthmen have to change everything they lay their hands on?”

(1944 Best Retro Novelette Hugo Award finalist)