Tuesday, August 8, 2017

From the Book of the Dead: C. L. Moore

Where were you when you first read "Shambleau" by C. L. Moore? In his Book of the Dead, E. Hoffman Price remembers; he was there when Farnsworth Wright plucked it out of the slush pile!
Whenever Farnsworth found an outstanding story, his enthusiasm was wonderful to see. His talks on the fine points of each yarn made it seem that he was the author's agent, and I the prospective buyer. 
H. Warner Munn's horror story, The Chain, and Donald Wandrei's striking cosmic concept, The Red Brain, were things I had to read, at once, and be damned to sociality. The peak was reached in 1933, when he handed me something by one C. L. Moore. 
"Read this!" he commanded, the moment I stepped into the new editorial rooms at 840 North Michigan Avenue, in Chicago. 
I obeyed. The story commanded my attention. There was no escape. I forgot that I needed food and drink--I'd driven a long way. For nearly six years, I'd not lived in Hammond, as Farnsworth's neighbor. The stranger's narrative prevailed, until, finally, I drew a deep breath, exhaled, flipped the last sheet to the back of the pack, and looked again at the by-line. Never heard of it before. 
"For Christ's sweet sake, who and what is this C. L. Moore?" 
He wagged his head, gave me an I-told-you-so grimace. 
We declared C. L. Moore day. I'd met Northwest Smith, and Shambleau.

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