Free book review on shambleau by c.l more

Shambleau by C. L. Moore: A Summary
Northwest Smith is a famous and respected guy on a dozen wild planets. He was walking the street of Earth’s latest colony in Mars when he met Shambleau, who was then being chased by a mob of Earthmen, Martians, Venusians, and other nameless denizens of unnamed planets. Despite himself, Smith helped the berry-brown girl wearing a tattered garment in red. After staking his claim on the girl, the chasers backed down and looked at Smith with complete disgust, while some even spat on the ground. With an important business to attend to in Mars, Smith quickly forgot his bewilderment over the reaction of the mob and the people they saw as they made their way to the camptown where he was staying. There he left her as he went to take care of his business.
When Smith came home that night, the girl was there waiting for him. She was called Shambleau, and she came from “ far – from long ago – far country –,” and does not speak the language that Smith speaks. She has green eyes with slit-like, feline pupils that unsettled Smith when their gazes first met, there was no hair on her face, her tongue, which she flicks and runs over her lips, was thin, pink, and flat, and she has three fingers and a thumb on her hands and feet which were all tipped with claws resembling that of a cat’s. Alone with the girl in the room, Smith felt a stirring excitement within him brought about by the girl’s curves, the velvety skin and the white flashing smile. Almost as instantly, Smith felt the same revulsion that he had seen in the faces of the mob and made him swung the girl away from him. Thinking he was just too drunk, he went to sleep. That night, he dreamt of something soft and wet and warm caressing him intimately. He was left weak after the ecstasy he has experienced and belatedly realized with horror that despite the revulsion he felt, his body was delighted and found the experience most foully sweet.
The next morning, he went out again to meet his Venusian friend Yarol. At night when he got home, he stopped by the stores to buy food for the girl. Like the night before, the girl refused to eat and simply said cryptically, “ Before long – I shall – feed. Have no – worry.” Smith asked her if she was a vampire to which the girl replied, “ You think me – vampire, eh? No – I am Shambleau!”
In the middle of the night, Smith woke up with the moon shining brilliantly and saw the girl unbinding her turban. With a mixture of sick, fascinated incredulity, he stared transfixed at the scarlet worms that squirmed and continued to lengthen until she was covered with it. Smith was frozen, shocked and revolted. When their eyes met, he shuddered and was seduced. He walked to her open arms and stared to her eyes which promised “ beauty and terror, all horror and delight,” and with his arms holding her body to his, “ a nauseous, smothering odor” surrounded him as the worms enveloped them completely. Smith was torn between the horror and revulsion and despair and at the root-deep ecstasy that held his body captive. In the end, his struggle ended, and he found himself completely consumed by the darkness that was oblivion.
After failing to meet Smith on the third day, Yarol the young Venusian that was Smith’s friend came to his house. There he saw the horrendous sight of his friend rise from the midst of the writhing worms. He was slimy and looked like a walking dead, but on his face was “ the look of terrible ecstasy” caused by more than just the pleasure of the flesh. In a monotonous voice, Smith answered Yarol’s desperate pleas for him to wake up. “ Go away. Go away. Go –“ Gripping his gun tightly, Yarol prepared himself for the rising red, writhing mass of tendrils, where the face of a half human with green cat eyes looked at him. He prayed long forgotten prayers, and with a dreadful recognition, he raised his arm to avoid looking at the girl. As he felt those eyes on him, he was lost and almost gave in to the temptation, but he remained determined in order to help his friend. He fought the worms that clung to him and half turned his body to avoid looking at the girl’s eyes. Lifting his eyes, he saw the image of the girl on the cracked mirror on the wall. With a clarity brought about by something he has read long ago, he gasped with relief and hope. Swinging the gun on his shoulder, he shot the reflected horror in the mirror.
Smith woke up to something wet and cold slapping his face. He figured it was Yarol and he was forcing the segir-whiskey down his throat. Recovering his wits, Smith was slow to remember what happened. Yarol then explained that the girl was a Shambleau, a race that was one of the oldest that nobody even knew where they really came from. He went on and said that the Shambleaus draw nourishment from the life-forces of men, giving a horrible foul pleasure as they feed. According to Yarol, there were some men who survived, but found themselves coming back for more until they lose their lives. He related how his memory of Perseus was able to kill Medusa, a woman with snakes for hair and a gaze that turned men into stones.
Smith told Yarol of his experience, how he was left powerless to fight off the awful experience it brought him, and those things that were “ utterly at odds with everything human.” After their talk, Yarol looked at Smith with serious intensity and asked him to promise that should he ever meet a Shambleau again, he would draw his gun and burn it instantly after recognizing it. With pale and resolute eyes, Smith answered “ I’ll – try” with his voice wavering.


Moore, C. L. “ Shambleau.” Avon Fantasy Reader No. 7. 3 – 28. Web.
Moore, C. L. “ Shambleau.” Avon Fantasy Reader No. 7. 3 – 28. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.