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 →
“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 →
“The Dancing Girl of Ganymede”
Originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb. 1950
I read “The Dancing Girl of Ganymede” for the first and, until I reread it yesterday, only time when I read The Halfling and Other Stories back in high school. I’m not sure why I haven’t reread it more. It’s an excellent story, and one that put me in mind of two other famous works, one of science fantasy and one of science fiction.
This story is a mature work by Brackett, one of her later works, and you can see it in the way she both executes the story, the twist the tale takes midway through, and the serious themes she injects. This one is more than must pulp adventure escapism (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Edmond Hamilton, her husband, writes in the introduction to The Best of Leigh Brackett, that she would write science fiction when not actively writing screenplays in Hollywood. A quick check with the ISFDB shows a hiatus of Brackett stories from the mid-1940s until about 1950, when there was another wave of her work hitting the magazines, the story under consideration among them. I’ll be looking at this story in detail, so consider this to be the standard SPOILER ALERT. Continue reading →
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 →
Born on January 24, 1911, C. L. Moore is one of the favorite writers around these here parts. As I stated a couple of days ago on Robert E. Howard’s birthday, I’m going to be focusing on a work by writers I’ve done multiple birthday posts on rather than trying to come up with something original in a tribute essay. Today’s story is “Jirel Meets Magic”.
Originally published in the July 1935 issue of Weird Tales, “Jirel Meets Magic” is the third story of the Lady of Joiry. It opens with Jirel leading a charge over the drawbridge of a castle, breaking the ranks of the defenders trying to stand against her, and calling for her soldiers to bring her a wizard named Giraud.
Why is Jirel attacking the castle? Who is Giraud? What is Jirel’s reason for wanting to kill him? Who cares? Moore’s writing pulls the reader in, sweeping him along at a breakneck pace. These questions will be answered, but for now all that matters is the heady rush of battle.
Well, sort of. Merritt’s birthday was actually yesterday, but classes started the day before yesterday. I was kinda busy.
Abraham Merritt was born on January 20, in Beverly, New Jersey. He died in 1943. Merritt was arguably the most highly regarded fantasy author of his day, with a fantasy magazine named for him after his death. He was an assistant editor and later editor of The American Weekly, a position which apparently left him little time to pursue his own writing. Even so, his work cast a long shadow over the field and his influence is still felt today, although most readers are probably unaware of that influence. Continue reading →
The 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.
Today, 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.
“Black God’s Shadow”
C. L. Moore
First published in Weird Tales, December 1934
“Black God’s Shadow” is the second Jirel of Joiry tale, a direct sequel to “Black God’s Kiss“. The story opens while Jirel waking from a dream in which Guillaume is calling her named. She’d sent Guillaume to his death with a kiss from the Black God she had encountered in a strange world she’d entered through a tunnel beneath her castle.
Now she realizes that she’s doomed him to an eternity of torment. Overwhelmed by guilt, Jirel returns to that strange otherworld to seek some way of freeing Guillaume’s soul so he can go to his eternal rest. Continue reading →
Today marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of science fiction and fantasy author C. L. Moore. I wrote last year about what a pioneer she was on both her birthday and later in the year.
This year I’m going to mark that anniversary differently. Rather than repeat myself, this will be a short announcement, a reminder if you will. Before her marriage to Henry Kuttner, at which point everything they wrote became a collaboration to a greater or lesser degree, Moore had established herself as one of the premiere writers in both the science fiction and fantasy fields. Her iconic characters Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry became the template of numerous characters to come.
I’ve blogged about both Smith and Jirel over the last couple of years, but those projects have gotten stalled. I’m going to reboot them and finish those stories. Look for a new Jirel post soon.
Until then, raise a glass in Catherine Moore’s memory and read some of her stuff. You’ll be glad you did.