C.L. Moore

1911 - 1987

American writer

Catherine Lucille Moore achieved instant fame with her first story, "Shambleau," a femme fatale tale set on Mars that appeared in Weird Tales in 1933. Over the following decade she continued to chronicle the exploits of the story's hero, Northwest Smith, alone and in collaboration with others, most notably with Henry Kuttner, whom she married in 1940.

Published under many pseudonyms, most of Moore's and Kuttner's subsequent works were to some extent collaborations; each writer could reportedly pick up any story where the other had left off. Kuttner's wit, deftly audacious deployment of ideas and neat exposition well complemented Moore's perhaps greater talents of fluency and assiduity.

Moore and Kuttner helped usher in the "Golden Age of Science Fiction" when they became part of the stable of writers working for John W. Campbell, Jr.'s Astounding Science Fiction magazine during World War II. Stories such as "Clash By Night" (1943) and its sequel Fury (1947), each set in cities located under the seas of Venus after nuclear war has destroyed life on Earth, and "No Woman Born" (1944), about a badly burned dancer who is given a robot body and becomes a cyborg, are considered Moore's classics from this period.

Moore and Kuttner wrote a series of novels for Startling Stories in the late 1940s, which continued the colorful tradition of the Northwest Smith stories. Neatly fusing the strengths of Moore's romanticism with Kuttner's vigorous plotting, these tales became archetypes of the hybrid genre of science fantasy. In 1950 the couple went to study at the University of Southern California, and although they wrote a number of works thereafter, little of it was science fiction. After Kuttner's death, Moore moved into television writing; her television work included scripts for such series as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip. Upon remarrying in 1963 she abandoned writing for good.

Moore was the more prestigious writer by far when she married Kuttner, and remained the better half of their partnership, although unthinkingly sexist reportage has always lavished the greater praise on her husband. Her true status can be accurately judged from the collection The Best of C.L. Moore (1977).

Selected Bibliography:
Robots Have No Tails (1952)
Northwest of Earth (1954)
Doomsday Morning (1957)
The Best of C.L. Moore (1975)
Black God's Shadow (1977)

Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Copyright © John Clute and Peter Nicholls 1993, 1999, published by Orbit, an imprint of the Time Warner Book Group UK.