Leigh Brackett might not have worked in Hollywood had she been named Susan. Raised by a household of women and schooled by nuns, in the 1920s no less, it is remarkable how the legendary sci-fi writer would always move with such ease among the realms of men, both real and fictional. Before the age of thirty Brackett had penned a hard-boiled novel that so intrigued filmmaker Howard Hawks he insisted on meeting the man behind the book. Surprised to find Leigh was of the gentler sex, Hawks hired her anyway to write The Big Sleep, alongside William Faulkner. Brackett went on to author several of Hawks’ later films, including Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Rio Lobo, and the truly weird and magnificent Hatari!, as well as Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. Her screenplays are lone-hero western and crime vehicles for the likes of Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne, yet when you consider there exists an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the fantastical Brackett solar system it is clear: Leigh Brackett’s lasting legacy is science fiction. So much so that a young geek named George Lucas, fresh off the first Star Wars, enlisted his favorite author to write Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Although Brackett delivered an initial draft she passed away only a few weeks later, before production could begin. She remains credited as the screenwriter and earned a posthumous Hugo Award for the film, and indeed all throughout the Star Wars universe one finds traces of the writer’s celebrated imagination.
Jedi Master Yoda is pure Brackett.–Jerry Weist, science fiction historian