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The Book of Skaith (Appendix N Quick Look)

A quick book at Leigh Brackett's The Book of Skaith (Appendix N Quick Look).

by R. Nelson Bailey

The Book of Skaith is a three book anthology from Leigh Brackett. These stories feature John Eric Stark, a human raised on the Mercury by beings native to that planet. These are not the first books from Brackett featuring this character. Previous books were set on Mars. After a ten gap in writing, the setting was moved to the fictional planet of Skaith. Reluctant hero, John Eric Stark, lands on this dying world to search for a missing friend and gets drawn into a series of adventures. While nominally science-fiction, these books are more fantasy with magic being substituted with psionics, and supernatural monsters with mutants. The hero and setting of these books are clearly modeled on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter stories. However, Brackett’s stories are more gritty and less self-aggrandizing the ERB’s. The writing is terse, with no wasted words. Brackett excels at moving the story toward, never encumbering the plot with excessive backstories, subplots, or character philosophizing. In addition to The Empire Strikes Back, Brackett also wrote the screenplays for the Big Sleep and the Long Goodbye. The noir elements of these movies show up in the fated nihilism if the characters and setting of Skaith.

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