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 →
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.
A 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 →
This 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.
Brackett 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 →
I’m not a huge Simon and Grafunkle fan, but I couldn’t help but steal the title of this post from “I am a Rock”. Here are my reading/writing/blogging plans for the last month of the year.
The big thing is that Leigh Brackett’s birthday is next Monday, December 7. It’s her centennial, and I’ll be focusing a lot on her work this month. I’m not the only one. Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward will be discussing “The Moon the Vanished”, one of her novellas set on a swampy Venus next Monday on Howard’s blog. Click here for details and join the discussion. I’m not going to be discussing that particular story here, but I will take some detailed looks at some others. I’m probably going to start with “Lorelei of the Red Mist”, which she began and Ray Bradbury finished when Howard Hawks offered her a job writing the screenplay to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep with William Faulkner. You can get electronic copies of both stories in Swamps of Venus from Baen ($4), or get the Solar System bundle for $20. Continue reading →
“A God Named Kroo”
Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1944, p. 13-43
Henry Kuttner was one of the most prolific science fiction and fantasy authors who wrote for the pulps in the 1940s, although he didn’t limit himself to those genres. The winter 1944 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories is an example. He has three stories in this issue. The one given top billing on cover is what we’ll look at today. Oddly, the illustration is for a story not listed on the cover, “Venusian Nightmare” by Oscar J. Friend writing as Ford Smith.
The second story of Kuttner’s is “Trophy” as by Scott Morgan. This wasn’t one of Kuttner’s more common pen names. I’ll be looking at it on Futures Past and Present in a day or so. The third story, “Swing Your Lady”, is bylined Kelvin Kent and is part of Kuttner’s Pete Manx series. Haffner Press is going to reprint this one in a collection of Kuttner’s stories under his Kelvin Kent pseudonym, so I’ll hold off on reviewing that one.
Kroo was once a powerful, if minor, Tibetan deity. He enjoyed worship, human sacrifices, the whole nine yards. Now his only follower is a yak that wandered into his temple grounds one night looking for a place to graze. As you might can guess, this isn’t going to be a serious story. Kuttner was known for his dry and often sardonic sense of humor, and it’s on display here. Continue reading →
No, that’s not a typo, it’s a deliberate misspelling. It’s a weisenheimer attempt at alliteration.
About a decade ago, give or take a year, I had a little extra money from summer teaching. So did I save the money or invest it wisely? No, I didn’t. I decided to try and obtain as many copies of Henry Kuttner stories that had never been reprinted at that time that I didn’t have, along with a few other unreprinted stories by people such as Eric Frank Russell. Except for some copies of Weird Tales which were out of my price range, I managed to get most everything I didn’t have copies of. Haffner Press has reprinted the Weird Tales material. When pursuing a project like this, eBay is not your bank account’s friend an invaluable tool. Continue reading →
This one is on The Young Magicians, the second anthology of the series that Lin Carter edited. It’s a companion to Dragons, Elves, and Heroes. This one starts at William Morris and continues up to what was then the present day (1969). Included are selections by Lovecraft, Smith, Howard, Kuttner, Merritt. and de Camp, as well as Lin Carter himself.