- Series: Planet Stories Library
- Paperback: 220 pages
- Publisher: Paizo Inc. (March 25, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1601250819
- ISBN-13: 978-1601250810
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,745,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith (Planet Stories Library) Paperback – March 25, 2008
Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
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Top Customer Reviews
That being said however, for the right person, these are truly gemstones of fabulous value. The tales are written in a style that is regrettably no longer seen, a pulp-Lovecraftian style that is heavy on detail, nameless horror and sensual description. If you are a fan of Lovecraft you'll probably enjoy this, if you either don't know or don't have strong feelings for HPL, I think that a good number of the stories will still be interesting and fun to read. If you hate Lovecraft, you'd probably be better to get your hands on the paper copy, scan-read a few pages and see if there is still something there that will catch your interest. It's worth the effort.
If there is a major problem however, it is in the repetition of the basic plotlines. Many of the other reviewers have noted that there is a kind of pattern to the stories, and I'm not going to say there isn't. This is probably the thing I like least about the series myself. In a way, this phenomenon is a "nature of the beast" thing, the common problem of the era in which it was written. That's not a cop-out, while the story structures may have some similarities, the description and the "meat" of them are still worthy of delving into. Think of them as variations of a theme. So even with that caveat, I recommend these tales highly and have bought more than one as a gift for some of my friends with similar tastes to my own.
This is science fiction by way of H. P. Lovecraft, where ancient evils meet ray guns and iron will. Northwest Smith is a smuggler and outlaw adventuring through the solar system - Mars, Venus and the moons of Jupiter. He has a Venusian sidekick, Yarol, and it is never clear whether Yarol is near or part human, or something else. That doesn't really matter though, and nor does the fact we see all of one spaceship, and that while heat-guns exist, they are rarely used.
These are tales of femme fatales, forgotten gods and lost civilisations. The imagery is superb - the fall of gardens of the moon in the light of the Earth is vivid in my mind's eye. The action is there, but the real struggle is in the character's head in almost every case.
The stories are somewhat formulaic - as other reviewers have pointed out - but to an extent, that misses the point. It's the sensual, decedent prose used to tell the story that makes us read on. Its better to read only one tale at a time, putting the book aside from time to time, as this is similar to how the stories were originally read (and written) : as monthly (or so) instalments in the pulp magazines of the 1930's.
The way I've heard it described, with Northwest Smith being a Han Solo prototype, I was expecting good pulpy action with rayguns and gross monsters. It's more like Han Solo nearly getting seduced/killed by Lovecraftian beasties (often disguised as women) and just barely surviving. The writing is much better than I expected, like Michael Moorcock at his pulpy best. The stories are fairly creepy and held my interest. The one gripe I had was that many of them are fairly similar in plot and structure.
In conclusion, creepy: yes, action-packed: no.
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