Henry Kuttner at 100

kuttnerOne of my all-time favorite writers was born 100 years ago on this date.  Henry Kuttner was a prolific author who wrote in multiple genres.  Kuttner started out writing Lovecraft pastiche for Weird Tales.

Kuttner mentored Ray Bradbury and wrote the ending to Bradbury’s “The Candle” when Bradbury got stuck.  In the introduction to the Ballatine/Del Rey edition of The Best of Henry Kuttner (there was a 2 volume British edition by the same name with more and different stories), Bradbury says in reference to “The Graveyard Rats” that Kuttner didn’t want to be remembered as a minor league Lovecraft.  That’s a paraphrase, as I don’t have the book here with me.  I looked at “The Graveyard Rats” on Kuttner’s birthday last year.

Kuttner went on to marry C. L. Moore, who had gained fame for her Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry stories in Weird Tales.  At that point almost everything they wrote was a collaboration until Kuttner’s death in 1958.Terror in the House

Haffner Press has done a fantastic job of bringing much of Kuttner’s early work back into print.  Yet there still remains a good deal that hasn’t been reprinted.  A number of years ago I came into a little extra money.  Instead of being fiscally responsible, I used it to buy copies of as many pulps with unreprinted Kuttner stories as I could find and afford.  Later this year, I’m going to look at some of those is a series I’m calling Kuttner Uncollected.  That will probably start up this summer.

In the meantime, I’ll celebrate Kuttner’s birthday by reading some of his short fiction this evening.  As soon as I finish the next BAF post for Black Gate.

Watcher at the DoorUPDATE: A couple of hours after invoking Haffner Press, I received their email newsletter.  There was a birthday tribute and a new Kuttner collection announcement.  The second volume of The Early Kuttner:  The Watcher at the Door is now available for preorder.  Terror in the House is OOP, but for a short time you can get a copy when you preorder the next volume.  Paul McNamee saw the announcement before I did and was kind enough to post a link in the comments.  Many thanks, Paul.

6 thoughts on “Henry Kuttner at 100

  1. Paul McNamee

    I just finished up The Book of Iod this weekend. Kuttner definitely was not at his strongest in the HPL pastiche mode. They are his earlier efforts, of course. He had good ideas and some good atmosphere, but I felt a lot of the Iod tales were too telegraphed and too direct.

    I’m glad he moved on to other genres where he was much better, experienced and deservedly lauded.

    BTW – worth a mention that a lot of his titles popped up as ebooks (finally) last year for those who can’t afford the Haffners. I am speaking of the books handled by “Diversion Books” – not the same old public domain short story one-offs that had been available before.

    Henry Kuttner ebooks from Diversion Books

    Though, if you can support Haffner Press, you most certainly should get the gorgeous print editions!

    1. Keith West Post author

      Yea, the really early stuff can be pretty creaky. One thing I noticed about Kuttner was that he wasn’t afraid to take chances. There are certain stories he sold to other markets a year or two before be started selling to John Campbell where you can watch the improvement. His risks weren’t always complete successful, but he wasn’t afraid to try something new and to stretch himself. I think this is a large reason why he became such a good writer.

      Thanks for the link. Someone, and I’m thinking it was you but may have been David J. West, pointed those out to me last year. I’ve got all of the sf in print and have the mysteries on preorder from Haffner. I bought a couple of them to have so I can read on my phone. Which is probably what I’ll do today and finish the BAF post when I get home tonight after my son’s diving practice.

  2. Fletcher Vredenburgh

    There’s so much of his later work I want to get to. Fury has been sitting on the shelf unread for years.

    1. Keith West Post author

      I read Fury when I the summer between 9th and 10th grades. I don’t remember many details, just that I was blown away. I’ve been wanting to get back to it. I’ll try to work it in this summer.


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