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C. L. Moore

C. L. Moore penned many of her science fiction and fantasy stories while working as a stenographer and secretary at the Fletcher Trust Company in the 1930s.


C. L. Moore
b. 1911 – d. 1987

Literary Inspiration

“The Black God’s Kiss”

Published 1934


10 East Market Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

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“The Black God’s Kiss” in Weird Tales

C. L. Moore

Gradually the universal focusing of lines began to exert its influence upon her. She took a hesitant step forward without realizing the motion. But that step was all the dormant urge within her needed. With her one motion forward the compulsion closed down upon her with whirlwind impetuosity. Helplessly she felt herself advancing, helplessly with one small, sane portion of her mind she realized the madness that was gripping her, the blind, irresistible urge to do what every visible line in the temple’s construction was made to compel. With stars swirling around her she advanced across the floor and laid her hands upon the rounded shoulders of the image—the sword, forgotten, making a sort of accolade against its hunched neck—and lifted her red head and laid her mouth blindly against the pursed lips of the image.

In a dream she took that kiss. In a dream of dizziness and confusion she seemed to feel the iron-cold lips stirring under hers. And through the union of that kiss—warm-blooded woman with image of nameless stone—through the meeting of their mouths something entered into her very soul; something cold and stunning; something alien beyond any words. It lay upon her shuddering soul like some frigid weight from the void, a bubble holding something unthinkably alien and dreadful. She could feel the heaviness of it upon some intangible part of her that shrank from the touch. It was like the weight of remorse or despair, only far colder and stranger and—somehow—more ominous, as if this weight were but the egg from which things might hatch too dreadful to put even into thoughts.

The moment of the kiss could have been no longer than a breath’s space, but to her it was timeless. In a dream she felt the compulsion falling from her at last. In a dim dream she dropped her hands from its shoulders, finding the sword heavy in her grasp and staring dully at it for a while before clarity began to return to her cloudy mind. When she became completely aware of herself once more she was standing with slack body and dragging head before the blind, rapturous image, that dead weight upon her heart as dreary as an old sorrow, and more coldly ominous than anything she could find words for.


One of pulp’s greatest authors, C. L. (Catherine Lucille) Moore, was a sickly child who turned early to the fantastic for solace. She studied for a year and a half at Indiana University before the financial pressures of the Depression forced her to leave; IU Archives holds one of her earliest publications in the student magazine The Vagabond.

She was working as a typist at a bank in Indianapolis when she sold her first story to Weird Tales. When editor Farnsworth Wright received the manuscript, he was so excited that he closed his office door and declared that it was “C. L. Moore Day.” It was her first sale to the magazine, and there would be many others.

—Rebecca Baumann, Head of Public Services
Lilly Library, Indiana University

Catherine Moore was born in Indianapolis and worked as a secretary at the Fletcher Trust Company after dropping out of Indiana University. Her first professional stories appeared in pulp magazines beginning in 1933 under the name C. L. Moore, which she used in order to keep her employers at Fletcher Trust from knowing that she was working as a writer on the side.

She continued to write throughout her life under that name as well as others that she used when authoring joint stories with her husband, Henry Kuttner. Moore’s most famous works include “No Woman Born, “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (the basis for the 2007 film The Last Mimzy) and “Vintage Season” (the basis for the 1992 filTimescape).


Indianapolis is a place that inspires creativity. This is one of a dozen original pieces of visual and performing art created by Hoosier artists inspired by Bookmark Indy authors.

Abi Ogle

Royal Typewriter
Vintage typewriter, spray foam, mixed media
www.aogleart.com | Abi’s Instagram

Author C. L. Moore wrote and published her science fiction and fantasy stories while employed as a secretary at the Fletcher Trust Company in the 1930s. Artist Abi Ogle recognized and was inspired by the parallels between Moore’s own life and the dynamics at play in her work. Moore fabricated bizarre worlds and creaturely experiences for her readers that are alien but alluring, vivid but camouflaged, humanbut not entirely; in brief, things are rarely what they seem. Ogle’s Royal Typewriter pays homage to the extraordinary, otherworldly and uncanny imagination of Moore, hidden in plain sight behind the secretary’s typewriter. 



(Now Hilton Garden Inn Indianapolis Downtown)

10 East Market Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204


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Pop-up sci-fi Poetry

May 15, 2021 | 4:00-7:00 p.m. | Monument Circle

Join us on Monument Circle to receive a complimentary poem inspired by C. L. Moore from poet Tony Brewer!

Partner: Tony Brewer

Report Back.

Read the location passage. What questions would you ask the author? What would help you understand the author's viewpoint?

Added TEXTure.

Writing is about more than just words. Look around to discover what textures are most prevalent in this place. Do a texture rubbing using a piece of paper and a crayon or pencil.

In the Margins.

What inspires you most about this place? Draw a quick doodle of it in the margin of one of your books.

Found sound.

Walk around the location and record the sounds of surroundings. Did what you hear depend on what time you visited?

Backward / Forward.

Cities change—what did your location look like in 1920? What will it look like in 2120?


Find another perspective by walking to a different spot around this location. Do you notice anything new? Which of your five senses notices a change first?

Strike a Prose.

Write a short passage describing how this place inspires you.

Love Letter / BreakUp Letter.

Think about your relationship with the place you’re visiting or perhaps with your own neighborhood. Is it time to commit? Or time to let go? Write a letter as if you’re speaking directly to the place you have in mind.

Field Notes.

Explore your stream of consciousness by writing down every thought that enters your mind.