Leigh Brackett (December 7, 1915 March 18, 1978) was an American science fiction (and sometimes crime/western) author and Golden Age Hollywood screenwriter (e.g. ''Film/TheBigSleep'' and much later ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack''[[note]]which she wrote a first draft for before dying; it was later re-written by Creator/LawrenceKasdan (the film is dedicated to her, although very little of her first draft remains in the finished script)[[/note]]). She has been called the "Queen of SpaceOpera."

Thematically, Brackett's stories often deal with colonialism-induced clashes of civilizations as space-travelling humans settle on planets with older (or younger) aboriginal cultures and have commerce or conflict with them. Her early SF stories had a detective/noir flavor, which gradually developed into frontier stories set in space. Her later stories became more elegiac, lamenting civilizations passing away.

She wrote most of her stories (short stories and novelettes) for pulp magazines, but also wrote several novels. Quite a few stories feature pulp hero Eric John Stark, a human born on Mercury and raised by a tribe of insectoid Mercurian aborigines. As an adult Stark has sympathies both for humans and for non-humans, which sometimes causes loyalty conflicts and troubles with the (human) authorities. Stark is also, as is common for Brackett's Mercurian humans, black-skinned and black-haired, which also sometimes leads to prejudice and tension. (Most illustrators depicted him as [[HumansAreWhite white-skinned and sometimes blonde]], though.)

She created her own {{Verse}} for her {{Planetary Romance}}s, the ''Leigh Brackett Solar System''. More than half her stories are set in a (mostly) internally consistent parallel of our solar system with human settlers and alien cultures on Mercury, Venus, Mars, the Asteroids, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. During the [[TheForties 1940s]] and [[TheFifties 1950s]] her stories described worlds consistent with early theories about the habitability of the planets, but in the [[TheSixties 1960s]] when the Mariner space probes started to bring back data about Mars, Venus and Mercury that made the premise of life on those planets utterly implausible she used her Verse less often and eventually stopped writing such stories in 1964. In the [[TheSeventies 1970s]] she invented an "extra-solar" planet, Skaith, where Eric John Stark could have his later adventures.

As the market for pulp fiction evaporated in the 1950s she switched to a successful career of writing for film and television, especially in association with Creator/HowardHawks, for whom she wrote or co-wrote the screenplays of six movies. She occasionally revisited her SF milieus in novels (some of which reworked earlier short stories), especially near the end of her life in the late 1970s. She died of cancer in 1978.
!!Works by Leigh Brackett contain examples of:

* PlanetaryRomance: The Eric John Stark adventures.
* {{Telepathy}}: Some of the Martian people, including Captain Phil Kirby's Martian wife Shari, in ''Alpha Centauri or Die''. When Kirby's ship makes it to Alpha Centauri, Shari encounters indigenous creatures who are true telepaths, able to teleport things and people at will. They can even see inside atoms.
* {{Tsundere}}: Shairn in ''The Starmen of Llyrdis''. At the end, she straight-up tells Trehairne that she hates him for what he's done, but then she tells him that she loves him, and asks whether he'll have on those grounds. He realizes that they will never have a peaceful life together, but he says yes.
* VenusIsWet: Stories in the planetary romance 'verse, including "Lorelei of the Red Mist", "The Moon That Vanished", and "Enchantress of Venus", depict Venus as warm, wet, and cloudy; most of its surface is ocean or low-lying swamp.