Translating Lavie Tidhar’s wonderful Central Station brought back memories of C.L. Moore’s Shambleau.
Easily one of the most influential short stories in the history of science fiction, Shambleau was published in 1933 in Weird Tales. It introduced the character of Northwest Smith and more importantly created the alien, parasitic Shambleau and its mythos.
A story about sex and addiction, and about good deeds never going unpunished, I first read it in the mid ‘80s, in the Italian edition of the complete Northwest Smith stories.
To say it made an impression would be an understatement.
It was also a signal – one of many, actually – that the often dismissed “sci-fi” of the golden age was not just childish drivel and poor writing.
Shambleau is – together with a handful of other titles – certainly one of the stories that awakened my interest in the old pulps.
I later read it in English in The Best of C.L. Moore (lost somewhere in the 1990s), and finally I read it in French when I discovered the gorgeous edition illustrated by Forest – the artist behind Barbarella.
I still think that a director like John Carpenter should do a movie version of Shambleau. Or maybe Guillermo del Toro, considering his interest in monsters and layered narratives.
In case you are interested, complete scans of the French edition can be found here.
And if you never read Shambleau, beg, steal or borrow a copy – it was often reprinted, most notably in Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams by Gollancz (part of their Fantasy Masterworks series), and more recently as part of the book Women of Future Past (that is highly recommended).
And now, back to translating.