…a contest winner, I mean.
Haffner Press, a small press specializing in Pulp Fiction reprints, recently had a drawing for a new release — “The Watcher at the Door: The Early Kuttner Volume Two.” And I won! Today I received my prize. And here it is, still wrapped. Haffner Press does a deluxe job with these books, they’re simply gorgeous. I’m excited to have this one in my collection.
Henry Kuttner (1915-1958) wrote science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery during the 1930’s through the 1950’s. He frequently had more than one story in a magazine at a time and wrote under no less than NINETEEN pseudonyms. My favorite moments in the letters columns were readers calling out one of Kuttner’s pseudonyms as a bum who couldn’t write, while praising another for writing like a boss. Tee-hee.
If you read enough Kuttner you begin to see patterns in his works, grouped under different pseudonyms. For example – some of his stories/novels were written in collaboration with his wife, C. L. Moore. Lewis Padgett, Lawrence O’Donnell, and C. H. Liddell were names he used when he wrote partnered with Moore. These stories had a distinct feel to them and were generally sophisticated in tone, plot, and theme. His stories written as Kelvin Kent were science fiction and humor, in all but one instance. These were the “Pete Manx” stories, some of which were written by Kuttner and some of which were written by Arthur K. Barnes (1909-1969). Kuttner also collaborated with Barnes on the Tony Quade/Gerry Carlyle Hollywood on the Moon stories. IMHO, Kuttner’s stories written as Will Garth had plot lines that might be considered conspiracy theory today (although they were good science fiction adventures and not, apparently, written as political statements or whistle-blowing.) I could go on and on with this…but, let’s save that for another time.
I’ve never counted how many Henry Kuttner stories were published. If you’re curious, all the stories that I’m aware of are on this list. You can see that there are many! LOL
I’ve now read most of them. Not an easy task as so many were published only once in magazines printed 70 and 80 years ago. (Wow, that sounds like a long time, doesn’t it?) Despite this, I’ve been able to lay my hands on most of them, through luck, pluck, and the occasional eBay auction. There are thirty stories in The Watcher at the Door and I’ve already read more than half of them. There are some really great ones in there — “Suicide Squad,” “When New York Vanished,” and “No Man’s World” being a few of my favorites. But there are thirteen stories in that volume that I have not read, mostly horror. When I’m done savoring these it’ll be a matter of just few more obscure rarities and I’ll be done! I know I’ll find these last few eventually, somewhere, somehow.
Why the obsession?
I believe that if you’re going to study how to write speculative science fiction/adventure stories then read the very best. To me, Henry Kuttner is that. He’s not the only one on my “Masters of Classic Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror” reading list, but he is the tops.
Thank you Stephen Haffner for getting me thirteen stories closer to my goal.