Northwest Smith
Created by Catherine L. Moore (1911-1987; pseudonyms include Lawrence O'Donnell & Lewis Padgett)

Is that a ray gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

NORTHWEST SMITH isn't quite a private eye, but he is an interplanetary adventurer/gun for hire type who works the shady side of the law. He appeared in several short stories way back in the thirties in the pages of Weird Tales and other science fiction pulps, and in the course of his adventures, he does the usual P.I. things -- snoop around, duke it out with bad guys, and come to the aid of beautiful (albeit usually alien) damsels in distress.

But he's no knight -- Smith is a hardcase more than anything, a callous, pragmatic survivor whose motives are usually far from chivalrous, a far cry from the usual stalwart heroes that populate the space opera genre. And with each dark and often disturbing adventure, Smith becomes more and more "part of the nastiness," as Chandler would subsequently put it.

Bill Crider says, "What Smith nearly loses each time isn't his life
so much as some part of himself, maybe his soul. These stories are all
about color, mood, and emotion rather than plot, and the mood is noirish, especially in "Shambleau." The concluding lines of this one are, I'd say, pretty despairing."

Catherine Lucille Moore was born in 1911 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and her first sale was "Shambleau" (also Smith's debut) to Weird Tales. Before she moved on to other interests, Moore was to publish a total of nine Northwest Smith tales and five starring another character, Jirel of Joiry, including the 1937 tale "Quest of the Starstone," which features -- through the miracle of a time warp -- both of her most popular characters. She later married (and frequently collaborated with) fellow sci-fi writer Henry Kuttner. Lewis Padgett was the best known of their joint pseudonyms.


  • "Shambleau" (November 1933, Weird Tales)
  • "Black Thirst" (April 1934, Weird Tales)
  • "Scarlet Dream" (May 1934, Weird Tales)
  • "Dust of Gods" (August 1934, Weird Tales)
  • "Julhi" (March 1935, Weird Tales)
  • "Nymph of Darkness" (April 1935, Fantasy Magazine; with Forrest J Ackerman)
  • "The Cold Gray God" (October 1935, Weird Tales)
  • "Yvala" (February 1936, Weird Tales)
  • "Lost Paradise" (July 1936, Weird Tales)
  • "The Tree of Life" (October 1936, Weird Tales)
  • "Quest of the Starstone" (November 1937, Weird Tales; co-written with Henry Kuttner; also features Jirel of Joiry)
  • "Werewoman" (1938, Leaves #2)
  • "Song in a Minor Key" (February 1940, Scienti-Snaps)


  • Shambleau and Others, (1953)
  • Northwest of Earth (1954)
  • Shambleau (1958)


    French illustrated anthology
  • "Shambleau" (Summer 1955)
    Written by Catherine L. Moore
    Illustrated by Jean-Claude Forest

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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