Leigh Brackett is perhaps my favorite writer of the Pulp Era. Her science fantasy tales were a staple of the original Planet Stories magazine, and when I launched my own Planet Stories fiction line I did so with a Leigh Brackett book on the original slate of offerings.
Since then I’ve tried to include a Brackett book at least once a quarter. That’s had me furiously reading all of the Bracketts in my collection, keeping an eye out for more publishable material. So far we’ve done The Secret of Sinharat/People of the Talisman (expanded Planet Stories novellas that last appeared in a 1965 Ace Double), The Ginger Star, The Hounds of Skaith, The Reavers of Skaith, and The Sword of Rhiannon.
I came to The Big Jump with hopes that it might make a good Planet Stories release, but instead I’ve found it to be the least engaging Brackett book I’ve read so far. It originally appeared in 1953 as a “complete novel” in Space Stories, a pulp I know almost nothing about.
Brackett’s most famous stories, featuring the interplanetary explorer cum swordsman Eric John Stark, stand out from their pulp contemporaries in that their main character is a complex, compelling individual.
I spent the first half of The Big Jump wondering who the main character, Arch Comyn, was, and why I should care about him. The guy gets some depth at the end of the book (which gets delightfully complex, actually), but it’s too little too late.
I’ve ripped through every Brackett book I’ve read (and published) in record time. It took me about a month to work my way through The Big Jump.
But hey, cool cover.