Everyone collects something. I collect stories. Not books, but stories…and sometimes illustrations too.
My motivation in doing this is to learn.
In Art classes I discovered the best way to study an accomplished artist is to copy their work, line by line. It sounds tedious, but it’s not. It’s really a fascinating study.
Art is a mental and a physical skill also. You train your body to make repeating line marks and then learn where to put them.
Writing is a mental skill (unless you count the typing/writing.) You learn the rules of grammar and punctuation first. Oddly, I have no memory of learning either of these things. It’s as though I came in knowing them and never had to be taught.
I did need to learn flow and style however.
It’s difficult to choose a writer that you want to learn from. The writer’s aims and the sounds of their sentences must resonate with your own. I spent a long time looking.
The writers you choose to emulate create a crazy quilt. Some of them might be contemporary, others, long dead. I happen to resonate with several science fiction authors from the pulp era — Henry Kuttner being the primary one.
I’ve studied Kuttner’s extensive list of stories for the past few years. Many of his works are collaborations with his wife, C.L. Moore. He wrote under multiple pseudonyms, and in several genres. Some of his works were only published once in mid-twentieth century pulp magazines.
Needless to say, the obscure ones are hard to find.
I made great progress today closing the circle of my collection when four “new” Kuttner stories arrived in the mail. A few days ago I discovered that some of the old magazines are being reprinted in new editions. They cost much less then the now-fragile, original, pulp magazines. They also don’t smell moldy and make me sneeze.
Here are today’s acquisitions (there are two Kuttner stories in the book with the giant ants on the cover):
And here are two Fredric Brown books that I recently bought at Powells in Portland, OR.. I think of Brown as one of my second stringers. He’s very good, don’t get me wrong, but we don’t resonate quite as well as some of the other authors.
Other pulp authors that I like are: C.L. Moore, E.E. Doc Smith, Murray Leinster, Edmond Hamilton, and Jerry Shelton. The latter is a VERY obscure author who only published a few stories during WWII. He was simply too good to appear and disappear like he did. Either Shelton was a pseudonym or he wrote in a different genre most of the time. I can find nothing on him to give me that answer.
Anyway, it’s safe to say that I’m a pulp science fiction geek.
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