Category Archives: Henry Kuttner

Kuttner’s Death, Moore’s Silence

Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore

Deuce Richardson pointed out to me in an email that today is the 60th anniversary of Henry Kuttner’s death. Since I don’t think I’ll be able to finish what I had intended to review today, this is a good topic to talk about.  (Thanks, Deuce.)

I’ve done a few posts on the anniversary of a person’s death  before, but I prefer to acknowledge birthdays. However, a 60th anniversary is a milestone. So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a few somewhat random thoughts.

Kuttner had been teaching a course on writing at USC when he died, and Moore took over. I’m not sure how long she continued teaching, if it was only to finish out the semester or if she taught beyond that semester.

She remarried in 1963. Her husband Thomas Reggie didn’t want her writing anymore. At least that’s the legend, and I’m inclined to believe it. C. L. Moore’s voice fell silent. She never wrote fiction again.

Her husband supposedly (according to Wikipedia) asked the Science Fiction Writers of America not to honor her with a Grand Master Award because by that time Catherine was suffering from Alzheimer’s by then. Her husband thought the ceremony would be too stressful and confusing.

Let that sink in for a moment. This had to have been sometime in the early to mid-1980s. Moore died in 1987.* Andre Norton was the Grand Master for 1984. There wouldn’t be another woman to receive the honor until Ursula K. LeGuin in 2003, nearly 20 years later. I don’t know why Moore couldn’t have been presented with the award and it simply be announced that she was unable to attend for unspecified health reasons.  Essentially, her husband denied her recognition that was well deserved.** Continue reading

Cross Genre-ing

I got into a conversation on Twitter this morning with PC Bushi that grew to include several other individuals. Mr. Bushi initiated things by saying Leigh Brackett’s short story “The Woamn From Altair” demonstrated her range as a writer because it was a well-written story that wasn’t an adventure story.  I agreed. (If you’re interested, my review from a couple of years ago is here.)

Early in the course of the conversation, he linked to a post he had written about Jack Vance and Andre Norton, discussing their versatility as writers.  He says some good stuff, and you should check it out.

The conversation moved onto to all the genres Brackett wrote in.  In addition to space opera and science fiction, she also wrote detective stories (which is what got her the job writing for Howard Hawks on The Big Sleep) and westerns. This discussion got me to thinking… Continue reading

Happy Brithday, Farnsworth Wright

Weird Tales editorial office, l. to r., unknown, Farnsworth Wright, Henry Kuttner, Robert Bloch

By the time of his death in 1940, Farnsworth Wright had become one of the most influential editors the field of the fantastic would ever see. Wright was born in 1888 on July, 29.  I would argue his influence on science fiction, fantasy, and horror has been greater than any other editor, including John W. Campbell, Dorothy McIlwraith, Fred Pohl, Ray Palmer, or Hugo Gernsback.

Yes, I realize that last sentence could be controversial, especially the inclusion of Campbell and Gernsback.  So be it.  Farnsworth Wright edited Weird Tales during what is considered to be the magazine’s golden age.  The authors he published have had a greater impact on the literature of the fantastic than those of any other editor at any time in history. Continue reading

Birthday Bonus: A Collaboration Between Bloch and Kuttner

“The Grab Bag”
Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner
Originally appeared in Weird Tales, Spring 1991

Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner were friends, and they collaborated on a handful of stories before Kuttner’s death.  Since the two previous posts dealt with their birthdays, I thought I would talk about one of those collaborations as sort of a birthday bonus.

I know nothing about the provenance of “The Grab Bag”.  Bloch is attributed as the first author.  I speculate on the authorship at the end of this post.  For now is a synopsis.  I’m going to avoid spoilers since this is a horror story, and I don’t want to give away the ending. Continue reading

Breaking the Bough on Kuttner’s Birthday

“When the Bough Breaks”
as by Lewis Padgett
originally published in Astounding Science Fiction November 1944

Henry Kuttner was born on April 7, 1915.  Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that Kuttner is probably my favorite author, at least on days ending in “y”.  After his marriage to C. L. Moore, everything he and Moore wrote was a collaboration to one degree or another.

Both authors were masters of fantasy, science fiction, and and everything in between, including horror.  Much of their best work was published in Astounding in the mid-1940s.  Almost all of these stories have been collected in at least one of Kuttner’s collections, either in his lifetime or in the years since.  There are a few that haven’t, which I’ll address at another time.  Continue reading

An Ode to the Ballantine Best of Series and Why We Need it More Than Ever

The original Star Wars came out when I was in elementary school, and it was a mind-warping experience.  I had come to science fiction and fantasy through comics, but it was the sense of wonder and excitement this movie generated that turned me from reading mystery books to reading science fiction books checked out from the school library.  As I read above grade level, I was soon searching out science fiction in the adult section of the public library and in book stores.  Like a second hand book store at the flea market.

This place sold second hand paperbacks for a quarter, IIRC.  The covers were stripped, which meant the books had been reported to the publishers as having been been pulped and the covers returned for credit.  In other words, they were technically stolen.  I didn’t know that then.  There were a number of titles I recognized, such as some H. P, Lovecraft.  I picked up The Best of Jack Williamson there, and later The Best of L. Sprague de Camp.

The Williamson volume started with stories from the 30s and went up to the 70s.  There was an introduction by Frederik Pohl and an afterward by Williamson.  This was the pattern of the series.  An introduction by an author or editor associated with the writer of the book, and if the author was still living (most were but not all) he or she contributed an afterward.  My mind was blown.  David Hartwell once said the golden age of science fiction is thirteen.  I was, and it was. Continue reading

A Look at The Fairy Chessmen

ASF_0182The Fairy Chessmen
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore writing as Lewis Padgett
originally published in two parts in Astounding Science Fiction, Jan. 1946 and Feb. 1946

I’ve had a copy of this short novel for years but have never gotten around to reading it until recently. For some reason, I struggled a bit to get into to it. That’s not normally a problem I have with Kuttner, even when he isn’t at the top of his game. It may have had something to do with reading it on my phone. I tend to be interrrupted more when I’m reading in that format.

But I digress.  Here’s what I thought of the story. Continue reading

Henry Kuttner at 101

Kuttner pensiveToday, April 7, 2016, marks the 101st birthday of author Henry Kuttner.

I was going to read and review one of Kuttner’s longer works and had chosen The Fairy Chessmen.  That review will come in a few days.  I’m not quite halfway through it and won’t be able to finish it before tomorrow.

Since Robert Bloch’s birthday was a few days ago, I though I would share a few photos of Kuttner and Bloch.  Bloch and Kuttner were friends and collaborated on a few short stories.  Those stories were “The Black Kiss“, “The Grip of Death“, and “The Grab Bag“. Continue reading

Blogging Kuttner: A Gnome There Was

A Gnome There WasA Gnome There Was
Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore)
Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 276 pg., $2.50
Cover drawing by Ed Cartier

I’ve got about half a dozen posts I need to write, including one for another blog, but with the blizzard, we’ve been cooped up in the house.  That means between my wife watching TV with the volume up too loud and my son monopolizing the laptop everytime I have to do something responsible, I’ve not gotten much done as far as reading, blogging, or writing is concerned.  I’m typing this after everyone else has gone to bed.

I started A Gnome There Was just before Thanksgiving.  I tracked down a copy some years ago simply because I was trying to find a copy of the short story “Jesting Pilot”, and this was the easiest way.  Turns out there is another story in it that I discovered last night has never been reprinted since this book was published.  At the time I thought “Jesting Pilot” was the only story I hadn’t read.

Anyway, I was getting tired of some of the stuff I was being sent to review, something I’ll discuss in my year end post in a day or so.  I decided to revisit some of my favorite Kuttner stories (something like literary comfort food).  Since many of them are in this book, that’s the one I chose.   Continue reading

Brackett and Bradbury: “Lorelei of the Red Mist”

Planet Stories - Lorelei of the Red MistThis is a unique item.  The only collaboration between two great science fiction authors, Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury.  Here’s how it came about:

Both authors were living in the Los Angeles area in the 1940s, and both had been working hard to develop their craft as writers.  Both were regulars in Planet Stories at the time.  They were friends who had both been mentored by Henry Kuttner.  They used to meet once a week to read and critique each other’s work.

no good from a corpseBrackett had sold some detective short stories as well as one novel, No Good From a Corpse.  The novel caught the attention of movie producer Howard Hawks, who decided he wanted Brackett to work on the screenplay for his next project.  She was approximately halfway through a novellette she was writing for Planet Stories that was set on Venus (More about Brackett’s Venus in a bit.) when she got a call from Hawks, or more probably his secretary.  Which is how Brackett launched her screenwriting career by coauthoring with William Faulkner the script for Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  How freakin’ cool is that? Continue reading