Leigh Brackett's Future History - Connecting the Stories: An Examination

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LEIGH BRACKETT'S FUTURE HISTORY - Connecting the Stories: An Examination

It is well known that Leigh Brackett has a group of stories that share a common setting, and that those are based on the planets of the Solar System, primarily on Venus and Mars.

However, there is much other SF included in 50+ short stories and ten novels.

I thought it might be interesting to see what work might coherently fit in one Future History, even if it was never explicitly stated. I haven't seen anything written talking about the interstellar and other stories in general, whereas there are good articles at Wikipedia about the planetary romance era.

Very few dates are given in Brackett stories, so this is an attempt at division into rough periods, in order. There is no mention of medical technology or lifespans given for humans, either, at least insofar as they may differ from the known range of readers of the times.


Firstly, there are definitely a small number of works that definitely do not. The novel The Long Tomorrow and its on-Earth postapocalyptic lost technology religious setting definitely does not.

Secondly, the short story The Tweener has a soldier return from a Mars that is empty apart from some small rabbit-like native animals, that are actually discovered to be sentient. This is not relevant.

Thirdly, The Citadel of Lost Ages is set on a future earth that astronomical calamity has caused to have a Darkside and a Lightside, like Mercury. There is no evidence of such directly in any work. It is in fact somewhat Planet of the Apes-like, Darkside notwithstanding, with hybrid beastmen running the planet, and humans as slaves. An outsider enters with forgotten knowledge, a trove of past human technology including atomic power. Nothing is mentioned of spacefaring or starship technology. Therefore it is extremely unlikely this story is relevant.

Fourthly, her last story, 'Mommies and Daddies' has a near future Earth dystopia ravaged by a drug destroyed populace and their abandoned children. Or at least the American part of this world is. This certainly does not fit with the rest of the Future History. Given these multiple bad times on Earth stories all do not seem to fit at all, it is presumably deliberate on her part.

Fifthly, Runaway is obviously out thematically with its investigation of the psychological destabilisation of an accountant. Content makes this certain: "He knew that Venus was important because it produced very large amounts of uranium, thorium, germanium, and a lot of other things that Earth was using up too fast. And that was all he knew, except that people had to live there under domes, and that it never rained."

It appears that she did indeed intend them to share a common history and setting.


If you want to believe in this exercise, the greatest problem is the lack of explicit reference to the interstellar travel at the same time that there is intense focus on the local Solar System, so you have to get past that in a handwaving manner. Brackett of course was American, so you could perhaps assume that the Solar System chroniclers have the same intense inward looking focus that Americans do. The colonisation does have an American flavour. That is, making the happenings around other stars analogous to international affairs as far as interest goes for the average denizen of either at the time. There may also be author notes or mostly forgotten conversations that render this particular exercise moot, but these are unlikely to ever come to light to trouble us, given the passing of multiple decades already. Spaceports are mentioned often, without detailing the types of ships they serve. Certainly starships are given names like Stellar and Starflight.


Some background is given of Martian ancient history:

There is a reference to the Quiru living a million years ago or so, which sounds like an extremely rough ballpark figure. Rhiannon was a Quiru, see The Sword of Rhiannon. "The Quiru, said the myths, had for that sin crushed Rhiannon and locked him into a hidden tomb. And for more than a million years men had hunted the Tomb of Rhiannon because they believed it held the secrets of Rhiannon's power."