Northwest Smith

Northwest Smith is a fictional character, and the hero of a series of stories by science fiction writer C. L. Moore.

Cover to a hardback edition of Northwest of Earth

Story setting

Smith is a spaceship pilot and smuggler who lives in an undisclosed future time when humanity has colonized the solar system.

The stories are set in a milieu common to science fiction stories of the pulp era. All of the planets of the system are able to support life and have their own civilizations. Many of the intelligent races living on the planets have comparatively primitive cultures. The relationship of the "planetary primitives" to the earth colonists is analogous to the situation of Native Americans, Africans and other indigenous people facing colonialism. Exceptions to this rule are the planets Mars and Venus which Moore depicts as having ancient and decadent cultures (which might stand for China and other ancient Asian cultures, as they seemed to Westerners at the time). This general milieu was shared by a number of other writers, including Moore's friends Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett.

Character description

By profession, Smith is an outlaw who lives by a variety of criminal means, including smuggling. By nature, he is an anti-hero, ruthless, self-serving, and cynical. Despite this, he has a core of goodness and often does the right thing in spite of himself. Smith is described as a dark haired man with "space bronzed" skin and pale eyes, who wears brown spacer's leathers and carries a raygun at his side like an old west gunfighter. His ship, the Maid, is small and unspectacular but surprisingly fast and agile. His closest ally is the equally amoral Venusian, Yarol.

His stories often involve ancient alien beings who have been worshipped as gods. This theme is similar to the tales of H. P. Lovecraft though, unlike Lovecraft's tales, Moore provides a hero who always manages to win out over hopeless odds. The classic Northwest Smith story is "Shambleau" in which Moore plays with themes of sexuality and addiction in Smith's encounter with a strange female alien.

The story "Quest of the Starstone" is also worth noting because it connects Smith with Moore's other most famous character, Jirel of Joiry.

Moore originally created Smith as a western character and kept the name when she switched to science fiction.[1] She reportedly liked the absurdity of a character named "Northwest" in space, where compass points are meaningless.

Moore traced the origin of the character's name to the typing work which she was doing for a living while writing Shambleau and which included a letter addressed to a "Mr. N.W.Smith." [2] Moore admitted that the name of Smith's Venusian buddy, Yarol, was simply a permutation of the name of her favorite typewriter.

It should be noted that in the history of both the United States and Canada, the term "Northwest" recurs in various contexts, greatly variant with time and place but all carrying associations of wild frontier areas, exploration and adventure (Northwest Territory in early US history, North-Western Territory/Northwest Territories in Canada, Northwest Passage, North-West Rebellion and more).

Northwest Smith is sometimes compared to the Star Wars character Han Solo; both are violent, gun-wielding, rogue smugglers with hearts of gold who travel among planets that are stand-ins for existing Earth cultures.[3]

Story listing

The Northwest Smith stories include the following:

Primary stories

  • "Shambleau" (Weird Tales, November 1933). On Mars, Northwest rescues a strange, beautiful girl from the Lakkdarol mob. They become very close - but in fact, she is not a girl, nor a human being at all, and the mob had a good reason to try to kill her...
  • "Black Thirst" (Weird Tales, April 1934). A Minga woman invites Northwest into the forbidden Venusian fortress where she lives. It turns out to be even larger than expected.
  • "Scarlet Dream" (Weird Tales, May 1934). An oddly-patterned shawl that Northwest picks up in Lakkdarol gives him unpleasant dreams.
  • "Dust of Gods" (Weird Tales, August 1934). Northwest and Yarol take a job searching for the physical remnants of a dead god in northern Mars.
  • "Julhi" (Weird Tales, March 1935). Northwest takes a wrong turn in the ruins of Vonng, Venus.
  • "The Cold Gray God" (Weird Tales, October 1935). In the polar city of Righa on Mars, Northwest meets a Venusian lady who isn't quite herself.
  • "Yvala" (Weird Tales, February 1936). Northwest and Yarol go looking to capture slave-women on one of Jupiter's moons and find out more about themselves.
  • "Lost Paradise" (Weird Tales, July 1936). A little old man with a big secret helps Northwest learn more about ancient Lunar history.
  • "The Tree of Life" (Weird Tales, October 1936). In the ruins of Illar, Northwest finds out more about the Martian drylanders' past.

Fanzine stories and collaborations

  • "Nymph of Darkness" (Fantasy Magazine fanzine, April 1935; written with Forrest J. Ackerman)
  • "Quest of the Starstone" (Weird Tales, November 1937; written with Henry Kuttner)
  • "Werewoman" (Leaves fanzine, Winter 1938/39)
  • "Song in a Minor Key" (Scienti-Snaps fanzine, February 1940). Northwest meditates on his own past life.


Northwest Smith stories appear in the following collections:

  • Shambleau and Others (1953): "Shambleau", "Black Thirst", "The Tree of Life", "Scarlet Dream" (the collection also includes "Black God’s Kiss", "Black God’s Shadow" and "Jirel Meets Magic", three Jirel of Joiry stories)
  • Northwest of Earth (1954): "Dust of Gods", "Julhi", "Lost Paradise", "The Cold Gray God", "Yvala" (the collection also includes "The Dark Land" and "Hellsgarde", two Jirel of Joiry stories)
  • Scarlet Dream” (1981): "Black Thirst", "Dust of Gods", "Julhi", "Lost Paradise", "Shambleau", "The Cold Gray God", "The Tree of Life", "Yvala", "Scarlet Dream", "Song in a Minor Key"
  • Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams (2002): The same stories as Scarlet Dream, together with five stories of Jirel of Joiry.
  • Northwest of Earth (2007): All of the Northwest Smith stories, both primary and fanzine/collaborations.


  1. ^ "The Women of Space Westerns".
  2. ^ "Note to Shambleau... and others" at the end of "The Best of C.L.Moore", 1975
  3. ^ Fred Kiesche (2008-07-17). "REVIEW: Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith by C. L. Moore". Retrieved 2015-07-21.
2nd World Science Fiction Convention

The 2nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Chicon I, was held September 1–2, 1940, at the Hotel Chicagoan in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The event had 128 participants.The guest of honor at the second Worldcon was E. E. "Doc" Smith. Also attending were Robert A. Heinlein, Jack Williamson, and Forrest J Ackerman. The event was chaired by Mark Reinsberg with Erle Korshak (secretary) and Bob Tucker (treasurer) as equal partners. It was organized by fans Russ Hodgkins, T. Bruce Yerke, and Walt Daugherty. This was the first Worldcon to include a masquerade.

Adeline Smith

Adeline Smith (March 15, 1918 – March 19, 2013) (Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe) was an American elder, lexicographer, activist, and cultural preservationist. She was a member of one of four indigenous Klallam communities of the Pacific Northwest.

Smith was one of the last two native speakers of the Klallam language who spoke it as her first language. Smith led efforts to revive the Klallam language. Adeline Smith created the first Klallam alphabet with Timothy Montler, a professor of linguistics at the University of North Texas. Smith and Montler also developed the first Klallam dictionary, which was published in December 2012. She was the largest contributor, offering 12,000 words and phrases to the dictionary. Her revitalization work has enabled the Klallam language to be taught to public and private students from preschool through high school.Smith also championed the preservation of Tse-whit-zen, a historic Lower Elwha village which is approximately 2,700 years old, rediscovered during a construction project on the waterfront in Port Angeles, and the restoration of the Elwha River. The removal of the Elwha dams, beginning in September 2011, drained Lake Aldwell reservoir, which had been created before she was born. The destruction of the dams and drainage of the lake uncovered the Klallam ceremonial creation site.

C. L. Moore

Catherine Lucille Moore (January 24, 1911 – April 4, 1987) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer, who first came to prominence in the 1930s writing as C. L. Moore. She was among the first women to write in the science fiction and fantasy genres, though earlier woman writers in these genres include Clare Winger Harris, Greye La Spina, and Francis Stevens, amongst others. Nevertheless, Moore's work paved the way for many other female speculative fiction writers.

Moore married her first husband Henry Kuttner in 1940, and most of her work from 1940-1958 (Kuttner's death) was written by the couple collaboratively. They were prolific co-authors under their own names, although more often under any one of several pseudonyms.

As "Catherine Kuttner", she had a brief career as a television scriptwriter from 1958 to 1962. She retired from writing in 1963.


Cosplay (コスプレ, kosupure), a portmanteau of the words costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture, and a broader use of the term "cosplay" applies to any costumed role-playing in venues apart from the stage. Any entity that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject and it is not unusual to see genders switched. Favorite sources include anime, cartoons, comic books, manga, live-action films, television series, and video games.

The rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since 1990s has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture in Japan and some other parts of Asia and in the Western world. Cosplay events are common features of fan conventions and there are also dedicated conventions and local and international competitions, as well as social networks, websites and other forms of media centered on cosplay activities.

The term "cosplay" was coined in Japan in 1984. It was inspired by and grew out of the practice of fan costuming at science fiction conventions, beginning with Morojo's "futuristicostumes" created for the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in New York City in 1939.

Damsel in distress

The damsel-in-distress, persecuted maiden, or princess in jeopardy is a classic theme in world literature, art, film and video games; most notably in those that have a lot of action. This trope usually involves beautiful, innocent, or helpless young female leads, placed in a dire predicament by a villain, monster or alien, and who requires a male hero to achieve her rescue. Often these young women are stereotyped as very physically weak and almost completely dependent on the male lead. After rescuing her, the hero often obtains her hand in marriage. She has become a stock character of fiction, particularly of melodrama. Though she is usually human, she can also be of any other species, including fictional or folkloric species; and even divine figures such as an angel, spirit, or deity.

The word "damsel" derives from the French demoiselle, meaning "young lady", and the term "damsel in distress" in turn is a translation of the French demoiselle en détresse. It is an archaic term not used in modern English except for effect or in expressions such as this. It can be traced back to the knight-errant of Medieval songs and tales, who regarded protection of women as an essential part of his chivalric code which includes a notion of honour and nobility. The English term "damsel in distress" itself first seems to have appeared in Richard Ames' 1692 poem "Sylvia’s Complaint of Her Sexes Unhappiness."

Denny Smith

Dennis Alan "Denny" Smith (born January 19, 1938) is a businessman and former United States congressman from the state of Oregon. A native of the state, he served in the Air Force before working in the airline industry and taking over the family's newspaper business. A Republican, he served ten years in Congress from 1981 until 1991. His father was former Oregon Governor Elmo Smith.

Dying Earth genre

Dying Earth is a subgenre of science fantasy or science fiction which takes place in the far future at either the end of life on Earth or the End of Time, when the laws of the universe themselves fail. Themes of world-weariness, innocence (wounded or otherwise), idealism, entropy, (permanent) exhaustion/depletion of many or all resources (such as soil nutrients), and the hope of renewal tend to dominate.

Hiram F. Smith

Hiram F. "Okanogan" Smith (1829 – September 9, 1893) was one of the first American settlers in the Pacific Northwest. Smith was born in Maine and learned the printer's trade, working on papers in Detroit and with Horace Greeley in New York. He came to California during the 1849 Gold Rush, and remained there until the Terry-Broderick duel, an affair he lamented deeply as an intimate of both parties. He then went to The Dalles in Oregon, where he operated a pack train, and prospected gold in the Fraser River valley of British Columbia. Unsuccessful in that venture, he located a claim on the east bank of Osoyoos Lake, near today's Oroville, Washington, in 1859, where he opened a trading post.

The post became an oasis in a wilderness for traders and travelling miners, and earned Smith a reputation for hospitality. He introduced vegetable farming and fruit orcharding to the region, and is remembered is a pioneer of Washington's apple industry. His fair dealings with the Indians won him their respect, and he was often consulted as an arbiter. According to Tonasket, a chief of the Okanogans, Smith was a better friend to the Indians than the government:

The government was always promising what it would do and never doing it, and the [government] agent was always telling the Indians what they must do, and did not know how to do it himself; and that if Smith promised them a thing, they got it; and if he told them how to do something, he showed them how to do it; also that Smith never lied to them, and the government did.

He married a woman named Mary, the daughter of a Similkameen chief. In 1865, he began a series of terms in the territorial, and later the state legislatures.

He may have averted a massacre in 1891 when the frenzied citizenry at the camps of Ruby and Conconully feared an imminent Indian attack. Before the people could arm themselves, Smith counseled, "The Okanogan Indians are peaceful. They have taken little stock in the Messiah craze, nor is it likely that they will join with the Canadian Indians."

He died in Olympia, Washington at the age of 62 of a cold and dysentery.

Indiana Jones

Dr. Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr. is the title character and protagonist of the Indiana Jones franchise. George Lucas created the character in homage to the action heroes of 1930s film serials. The character first appeared in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, to be followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles from 1992 to 1996, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008. The character is also featured in novels, comics, video games, and other media. Jones is also featured in several Disney theme parks, including the Indiana Jones Adventure, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril, and Epic Stunt Spectacular! attractions.

Jones is most famously portrayed by Harrison Ford and has also been portrayed by River Phoenix (as the young Jones in The Last Crusade) and in the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles by Corey Carrier, Sean Patrick Flanery, and George Hall. Doug Lee has supplied the voice of Jones for two LucasArts video games, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, David Esch supplied his voice for Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, and John Armstrong for Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings.Jones is characterized by his iconic accoutrements (bullwhip, fedora, satchel, and leather jacket), wry sense of humor, deep knowledge of ancient civilizations and languages, and fear of snakes.

Since his first appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones has become one of cinema's most famous characters. In 2003, the American Film Institute ranked him the second greatest film hero of all time. He was also named the 1st Greatest Movie Character by Empire magazine. Entertainment Weekly ranked Indy 2nd on their list of The All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture. Premiere magazine also placed Indy at number 7 on their list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.

Jirel of Joiry

Jirel of Joiry is a fictional character created by American writer C. L. Moore, who appeared in a series of sword and sorcery stories published first in the pulp horror/fantasy magazine Weird Tales. Jirel is the proud, tough, arrogant and beautiful ruler of her own domain — apparently somewhere in medieval France. Her adventures continually involve her in dangerous brushes with the supernatural.

These stories are the first to show the influence of Robert E. Howard on sword and sorcery; they also introduced a female protagonist to the genre.Moore's Jirel stories include the following:

"Black God's Kiss" (October 1934)

"Black God's Shadow" (December 1934)

"Jirel Meets Magic" (July 1935)

"The Dark Land" (January 1936)

"Quest of the Starstone" (November 1937), with Henry Kuttner

"Hellsgarde" (April 1939)These stories, except for "Quest of the Starstone", appear in the collection Jirel of Joiry (1969), and in the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks compendium Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams (2002). All six appear in a collected edition under Paizo Publishing's "Planet Stories" imprint, compiled under the title Black God's Kiss.

Jirel of Joiry (collection)

Jirel of Joiry is a collection of five fantasy stories by C. L. Moore, often characterized as sword and sorcery. The volume compiles all but one of Moore's stories featuring the title character, a female warrior in an imagined version of medieval France. All the stories were published in Weird Tales during the 1930s. After being published as a paperback original by Paperback Library in 1969, the collection was reissued by Ace Books in the 1980s and 1990s.

Donald M. Grant published an illustrated hardcover edition in 1977, under the title The Black God's Kiss.

In 2007, a British omnibus combining Jirel of Joiry with Moore's "Northwest Smith" stories appeared as Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams.

An expanded edition, also titled Black God's Kiss, was published by Paizo Publishing in 2007.

Northwest (disambiguation)

Northwest is a compass point.

Northwest or north-west or north west may also refer to:

Northwest (direction), an intercardinal direction

Northwest of Earth

Northwest of Earth is a 1954 collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories by C. L. Moore. It was first published by Gnome Press in 1954 in an edition of 4,000 copies. The collections contains stories about Moore's characters Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry. The stories all originally appeared in the magazine Weird Tales.

Scarlet Dream

Scarlet Dream is a collection of science fiction short stories by C. L. Moore with illustrations by Alicia Austin. It was first published in 1981 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in an edition of 1,820 copies, of which 220 were bound in buckram, boxed, and signed by the author and artist. The stories feature Moore's character Northwest Smith. All but the last story originally appeared in the magazine Weird Tales.

Science fantasy

Science fantasy is a mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon and/or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy. In a science fiction story, the world is scientifically possible, while a science fantasy world contains elements which violate the scientific laws of the real world. Nevertheless the world of science fantasy is logical and often is supplied with science-like explanations of these violations.During the Golden Age of Science Fiction, the fanciful science fantasy stories were seen in sharp contrast to the terse, scientifically plausible material that came to dominate mainstream science fiction typified by the magazine Astounding Stories. Although at this time, science fantasy stories were often relegated to the status of children's entertainment, their freedom of imagination and romance proved to be an early major influence on the "New Wave" writers of the 1960s, who became exasperated by the limitations of "hard" SF.Eric R. Williams lists the following "microgenres" which can belong to science fantasy: Discovery, Dying Earth, ET Relations, Mad Scientist, Space Opera, Sword and Planet. Carl D. Malmgren classifies science fantasy by the type of the violation of science and distinguishes the following main types: the time-loop motif, the alternate-present world, the counterscientific world, and the hybridized world.


"Shambleau" is a short story by American science fiction and fantasy writer C. L. Moore. Though it was her first professional sale, it is her most famous story. It first appeared in the November 1933 issue of Weird Tales and has been reprinted numerous times. It features one of Moore's best-known heroes, Northwest Smith, a gun-toting spacefarer, and is a retelling of the Medusa myth; it looks at themes of sexuality and addiction.

Shambleau and Others

Shambleau and Others is a 1953 collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories by American writer C. L. Moore. The book was originally announced by Arkham House but never published by them. It was first published by Gnome Press in 1953 in an edition of 4,000 copies. The collections contains stories about Moore's characters Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry. The stories all originally appeared in the magazine Weird Tales.

Space Western

Space Western is a subgenre of science fiction which uses the themes and tropes of Westerns within science fiction stories. Subtle influences may include exploration of new, lawless frontiers, while more overt influences may feature literal cowboys in outer space who use ray guns and ride robotic horses. Although initially popular, a strong backlash against perceived hack writing caused the genre to become a more-subtle influence until the 1980s, when it regained popularity. A further critical reappraisal occurred in the 2000s with Firefly.

The Green Hills of Earth

"The Green Hills of Earth" is a science fiction short story by American writer Robert A. Heinlein.One of his Future History stories, the short story originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post (February 8, 1947), and it was collected in The Green Hills of Earth (and subsequently in The Past Through Tomorrow). Heinlein selected the story for inclusion in the 1949 anthology My Best Science Fiction Story. "The Green Hills of Earth" is also the title of a song mentioned in several of Heinlein's novels.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.