Cover art of a recent omnibus edition, by Andrew Hou
"Man has conquered space before, you may be sure of that."
A series of science fiction stories written by CL Moore
. Published in the famous pulp magazine Weird Tales
between 1934 and 1939, the series consists of 12 novellas and one vignette. The series is notable for it's rich style and emotional descriptions, something highly unusual in pulps at the time. The stories sit somewhere between classic pulp adventure, ambiguous fantasy elements, and a strong dose of Lovecraftion horror. Northwest Smith is a known smuggler and criminal in the spaceways of the solar system. He is most often broke throughout and will work for just about anyone provided they pay well. This is all just the background of the series however, as most of the stories dtail NW's encounters with the strange creatures that remain from the solar system's ancient times. Which as it turns out, are quite a lot more numerous than you might think. He is often accompanied by his sinister Venusian partner, Yarol. The stories are:
- "Black Thirst"
- "Scarlet Dream"
- "Dust of Gods"
- "The Cold Gray God"
- "Nymph of Darkness - Written with Forrest J Ackerman
- "Lost Paradise"
- "The Tree of Life"
- "Quest of the Starstone" - A Crossover story with her other famous character Jirel of Joiry, co-written with her husband Henry Kuttner.
- "Song in a Minor Key"
- Ancient Astronauts: A variation. It is implied that a prehistoric human civilization mastered spaceflight and brought back tales of the creatures they encountered on other world, inspiring later legends.
- Crossover: With Moore's fantasy character Jirel of Joiry. This is not as mad as it sounds - both characters often end up in strange realms facing powerful, mysterious creatures and the word "magic" even pops up a few times in the Northwest Smith stories.
- Decoy Damsel: The eponymous Shambleau from the first story.
- Ray Gun: Northwest Smith carries one around.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Smith and Yarol the Venusian provide an interesting variation on the trope. While Smith is a rugged, muscular space cowboy and Yarol is a delicate-looking young man who resembles a choirboy, the former occasionally displays flashes of sensitivity whereas the latter doesn't possess a shred of kindness or decency.
- Sesquipedalian Smith: Northwest Smith.