Tag Archives: Haffner Press

Announcing The Vampire Stories of Robert Bloch

If you get the Haffner Press newsletter in your inbox, then you already know about this. But if don’t (and why not, I might add), then you’ll want to know.

One of the greatest writers of the macabre in the 20th Century was Robert Bloch.  I’ve written about him before. Like here. And here. And here. While he will probably always be best known as the author of Psycho, Bloch was many other things as well, including but not limited to a master of the short form. a member of the Lovecraft circle, and an accomplished screenwriter.

Haffner Press has announced The Vampire Stories of Robert Bloch.  Tentative publication date is sometime next year. Here’s the table of contents: Continue reading

Blogging Brackett: “The Dragon-Queen of Venus”

“The Dragon-Queen of Venus”
Originally published as “The Dragon-Queen of Jupiter”
Planet Stories, Summer 1941

This one is an early tale by Brackett, one of her first. And while it isn’t as polished as some of her later work, and certainly doesn’t have the depth of her longer and better known stories, you can still see the writer she would become.

The story concerns a group of soldiers manning a besieged outpost in the early days of Terran settlement on Venus.  They’re running low on everything:  food, fresh water, ammunition, personnel.  They’re sort of a French Foreign Legion in space; at one point the commander makes a statement that no one knows anyone else’s real name.  The viewpoint character is from Texas, and of course everyone calls him Tex. Continue reading

Blogging Brackett: “The Sorcerer of Rhiannon”

ASF Feb 42“The Sorcerer of Rhiannon”
Astounding February 1942

“The Sorcerer of Rhiannon” predates The Sea-Kings of Mars AKA The Sword of Rhiannon by seven years.  Other than the word “Rhiannon” in the title, there doesn’t appear to be much connection between the two, at least on the surface.  But the seeds of the later work can be seen in “Sorcerer” if one takes the time to look.  Spoiler Alert for both stories.

In this story archeologist Max Brandon is searching for the mythical Lost Islands in one of the dry sea bottoms of Mars.  He’s trying to outrace a lawman intent on arresting him, a rival from Venus intent on beating him to the find, and a woman intent on marrying him.  Lost in a sandstorm, he stumbles upon the remains of an ancient ship.  There he finds a room that has been sealed for ages and takes shelter in it.

The room isn’t empty, nor does it and the contents look as old as they must be.  A man and a woman sit across a table from each other.  About the man’s head is a metal band.  The woman isn’t human, but Brandon recognizes her as a member of an extinct race called the Prira Cen.  She’s wearing a golden girdle over a white tunic and a ring.  The Prira Cen died out forty thousand years earlier when the Lost Islands were the dominant power on Mars.  Both the man and the woman appear to be alive but in some sort of stasis. Continue reading

Happy 100th Birthday, Leigh Brackett

Leigh BrackettSo today is the centennial of Leigh Brackett’s birth.  If you’ve paid any attention to this blog in the last few weeks, you know that I’ve been making a big deal of that and will continue to do so.

Some of you good people might be wondering:  So just who was this Leigh Brackett person and why was she so important?

I’m glad you asked. Continue reading

RIP, Jon Arfstrom 1928-2015

Weird-Tales-52-01-204x300Jon Afrstrom passed away December 2.  He was believed to be the last surviving artist to work on the original Weird Tales.  While he wasn’t as well known as Margaret Brundage or J. Allen St. John, Jon Arfstrom created several striking covers in the final years of the magazine, such as the one shown on the right, which from January 1952.  This was his first cover.

In recent years he’d returned to fantasy art and provided cover art for publishers such as Haffner Press and Fedogan & Bremer among others.  He was the artist on the Stoker Award winning collection The Early Fears by Robert Bloch.

Fortunately, Arfstrom was a guest at PulpFest 2015.  You can see an interview with him here.

New Leigh Brackett Story Announced!

LB100-cover2-300x434I just preordered this!  This year is the centennial of Leigh Brackett’s birth.  I’m ashamed to say I missed that.

Fortunatley, Stephen Haffner is on the ball and has prepared a book to mark the occasion.  It contains an unpublished story as well her nonfiction and interviews with a number of friends.  You can order your copy here.

If the style of the lettering on the book is familiar, there’s a reason for that.  Before her untimely death from cancer in 1978, Leigh wrote the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back.   She also wrote the screenplays for the films The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Rio Bravo starring John Wayne.

Brackett brought a hard boiled sensibility to her tales of outer space adventure.  Haffner Press is to be thanked for bringing her work back in high quality archival format.  Many of Haffner’s Brackett titles are out of print, but check out the ones that aren’t.  And order Leigh Brackett Centennial before all the hardcore Star Wars fans find out about it and buy up all the copies.

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. Continue reading

Moore Than Just a Kuttner Kornucopia

Detour to OthernessDetour to Otherness
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
Cover art by Richard Powers
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
Afterward by Frederik Pohl
Haffner Press
Hardcover $40, limited edition hardcover $150

In the history of the science fiction and fantasy fields, there have been few authors as versatile as the husband and wife team of Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore. This is especially true at short lengths. (Since Kuttner was an early mentor of Ray Bradbury, this is hardly surprising.)

In the early 1960s, Ballantine Books published two collections of their work, Bypass to Otherness and Return to Otherness. Stephen Haffner states on the page for Detour to Otherness that a third volume was planned but never published. I’ve never heard this before, but I’m more than willing to take his word for it.

The first two Otherness titles contain selections from several of Kuttner’s most popular and well-remembered series. The Hogbens are represented, as is Galloway Gallegher, a scientific genius but only when he’s drunk. Also included is the first of the Baldy stories that comprised the mosaic novel Mutant. They don’t have some of his best known stories, which may not have been available at the time because they were in another book from a different publisher (Line to Tomorrow, Bantam), but this is one of the best samplings of Kuttner and Moore’s work.

Haffner has assembled enough stories for a third collection and combined them in the present volume. That section of the book is called Detour to Otherness, which is also the title of the omnibus.

Haffner had nothing to do with the selections in Bypass and Return, he was responsible to the stories in Detour. Thus, while critiquing the choices in the original volumes is a waste of time, it is very much on the strength of the stories in Detour that the volume will rise or fall. None of these stories has appeared in a Kuttner collection before, although most of them have been reprinted somewhere. I’d read almost all of them before. Let’s look at them more closely. Continue reading

Graveyard Rats for Kuttner’s Birthday

kuttnerHenry Kuttner was born on this date in 1915.  His first published story was “The Graveyard Rats”, which appeared in the March 1936 issue of Weird Tales.  It has been reprinted at least 35 times, the latest being in Zombies from the Pulps, edited by Jeffrey Shanks, which where I recently reread it.Zombies from the Pulps Front cover

Kuttner started out as part of the Lovecraft circle, and “The Graveyard Rats” is very much in the vein of Lovecraft.  The story concerns Masson, a gravedigger in an old cemetery in Salem.  The man has a profitable little sideline going, digging up the bodies and removing any valuables buried with them.  The problem is the rats which infest the graveyard.  They’ve dug a series of tunnels and steal the bodies themselves.

When the rats literally pull a fresh corpse out of the coffin and into the tunnels as Masson is opening the coffin lid, he decides to follow them in and retrieve his prize.  This isn’t the smartest move he could have made…

Terror in the HouseKuttner became a prolific author, writing some of his best work for Weird Tales, Astounding, and Thrilling Wonder.  He wasn’t afraid to take chances and stretch himself as a writer and wrote horror, fantasy, sword and sorcery, science fiction, and mystery.  After his marriage to C. L. Moore, the two collaborated on almost everything they wrote.

Haffner Press has been bringing Kuttner back into print, but even so, there are a number of his stories that are still in crumbling pulp magazines that deserve to be reprinted.  I’ll be looking at some of those tales later this year.

RIP Neal Barrett, Jr.

Neal-Barrett-JrBlack Gate is reporting that Neal Barrett, Jr. has passed away.  Barrett was born on November 3, 1929 and died Sunday, January 12, 2014 at the age of 84.

Neal had a unique voice and was one of the most under appreciated writers in the field.  While I never knew him well, I had the privilege of meeting him at a number of Texas conventions, such as Armadillocon and AggieCon.  I can still remember his GoH speech from Armadillocon 14 (1992).  Neal’s sense of humor was on full display.

While not prolific, Neal Barrett never stopped writing.  He was always willing to share a kind word and a signature whenever I asked for one.  Subterranean Press recently published the massive retrospective Other Seasons.  It’s still available and contains Barrett’s most acclaimed short fiction.  I’ll be spending some time in that volume tonight to honor his memory.  I also want to track down the rest of his Aldair series.  I’ve got the first and last volumes, but I haven’t read them because they’re signed.  I’m going to look for the complete set online.Other_Seasons_by_Neal_Barrett_Jr_200_296

Another series that I thought was great was the Finn the Lizard Master series, consisting of The Prophecy Machine and The Treachery of Kings.  Great fantasy that’s not really like anything else.

It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost another unique voice in the field.  Jack Vance passed last year.  It seems everything on the shelves these days looks pretty much like everything else.  I’m grateful to small presses such as Subterranean and Haffner, which have kept these authors in print.  Hopefully Barrett will be discovered by new readers through their efforts.

I know first hand that Neal was loved and respected in the Texas sff community.  Several of his friends spoke of him often and always fondly.  He will be missed.  Scott, Willie, Chuck, Bill, James, Joe, I’m sorry for your loss.