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SFF Author: Henry Kuttner

(1915-1958)
Henry Kuttner was alone and in collaboration with his wife, the great science fiction and fantasy writer C.L. Moore, one of the four or five most important writers of the 1940’s, the writer whose work went furthest in its sociological and psychological insight, to making science fiction a human as well as technological literature. He was an important influence upon every contemporary and every science fiction writer who succeeded him. In the early 1940’s and under many pseudonyms, Kuttner and Moore published very widely through the range of the science fiction and fantasy pulp markets.



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Clash by Night: An inventive mixed bag of a novella

Clash by Night by C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner

Clash by Night (1943) , by the wife-husband team of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, is an odd bit of a bird, feeling less like a smoothie that blends together different story types and writerly styles and more like a salad where you can easily spot the tomatoes, greens, peppers, etc. Uneven overall, but it does have its good points.

The opening gives us the setting quite directly, with an unknown narrator of the future telling us,


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Valley of the Flame: Quite a little package of wonders

Valley of the Flame by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore

Yeah, I know that one has to take inflation into account when computing these things, but still, what incredible deals the sci-fi lover could acquire 60 or so years ago! Take, for example, the March 1946 issue of Startling Stories, with a cover price of just 15 cents. For that minimal charge, the reader got stories by sci-fi greats Frank Belknap Long, Jack Williamson and Henry Kuttner, PLUS the entire novel Valley of the Flame,


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The Dark World: Another great fantasy from Kuttner & Moore

The Dark World by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore

1946 was a very good year indeed for sci-fi’s foremost husband-and-wife writing team, Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. Besides placing a full dozen stories (including the acknowledged classic “Vintage Season”) into various magazines of the day, the pair also succeeded in having published three short novels in those same pulps. The first, The Fairy Chessmen, which was released in the January and February issues of Astounding Science-Fiction,


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The Mask of Circe: Guaranteed to provide a few evenings of wonder

The Mask of Circe by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore

Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, sci-fi’s preeminent husband-and-wife writing team, eased back a bit from earlier years’ prolific outputs in 1948, coming out with only four short stories and a short novel. The previous year had seen their sci-fi masterpiece Fury serialized in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction, and to follow up on that brilliant piece of work, the team switched gears, as it were, and wrote what was in essence an example of hard fantasy,


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The Time Axis: Exciting, but not fully satisfying

The Time Axis by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore

Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore’s sole novel of 1948, The Mask of Circe, was a very way-out excursion in the fantasy realm, and in early 1949, the pair followed up with an equally way-out piece of hard sci-fi. The Time Axis, which initially appeared in the January ’49 issue of “Startling Stories,” finds science fiction’s foremost husband-and-wife writing team (my apologies to Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm!) at the top of their game,


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Fury: A classic of Golden Age science fiction

Fury by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore

1946 had been a very good year indeed for Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, with a full dozen stories published plus three fine novels (The Fairy Chessmen, Valley of the Flame and The Dark World), and in 1947, science fiction’s preeminent husband-and-wife writing team continued its prolific ways. Before the year was out, the two had succeeded in placing another 15 stories into the pulp magazines of the day,


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Robots Have No Tails: Unfailingly inventive and often laugh-out-loud funny

Robots Have No Tails by Henry Kuttner

Originally released in 1952 by the early sci-fi/fantasy publisher Gnome Press, the meaninglessly titled Robots Have No Tails collects the five stories that Henry Kuttner wrote featuring the drunken inventor Galloway Gallegher. (As to that title, in the book’s original introduction by Kuttner’s equally celebrated wife, C.L. Moore, she tells us that her husband was at a loss for an appropriate name for this collection, and so told the publisher, “I can’t think of one. Call it anything you like.


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Mutant: Kuttner & Moore’s final novel

Mutant by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore

By the early 1950s, the great husband-and-wife writing team of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore had moved to the West Coast to acquire degrees at the University of Southern California, and were concentrating more on their scholastic pursuits than their (formerly prodigious) sci-fi/fantasy output. In 1953, the pair released Mutant, which would turn out to be their final, novel-length work of science fiction as a team. Mutant is what is known as a “fix-up novel,” consisting of four short stories originally published in 1945 and a final story released in 1953,


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The Well of the Worlds: Kuttner & Moore went out with a doozy!

The Well of the Worlds by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore

Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore’s final science fiction novel, Mutant, was released in 1953. There would be sporadic short stories from the famous husband-and-wife writing team throughout the ’50s, as well as a mystery series from Kuttner featuring psychoanalyst/detective Dr. Michael Gray, not to mention a superior sci-fi novel from Moore herself, Doomsday Morning, in 1957, but Mutant was, essentially, the last word,


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Earth’s Last Citadel: Had me fairly riveted

Earth’s Last Citadel by C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner

Catherine Moore and Henry Kuttner, generally acknowledged to be the preeminent husband-and-wife writing team in sci-fi history, initially had their novella Earth’s Last Citadel released in the pages of Argosy magazine in 1943 (indeed, it was the very last piece of science fiction to be serialized in that publication). It was finally published in book form 21 years later. This is a pretty way-out piece of sci-fi/fantasy that reveals its debt to a handful of writers who had been major influences on the pair,


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The Creature From Beyond Infinity: Kuttner’s first novel

The Creature From Beyond Infinity by Henry Kuttner

The Creature From Beyond Infinity was the first novel published by Henry Kuttner, an author who was one of the half dozen or so pillars of the Golden Age of Sci-Fi. It first saw the light of day in a 1940 issue of “Startling Stories” magazine under the title A Million Years to Conquer, and finally in book form in the 1968 Popular Library paperback that I recently completed. Although that original title may perhaps be a more accurate descriptor,


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Chessboard Planet and Other Stories: A wonderful collection from Kuttner and Moore

Chessboard Planet and Other Stories by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore

Chessboard Planet and Other Stories is a collection by science fiction’s foremost husband-and-wife writing team, Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. The collection is comprised of a novella, two longish short stories, and a short piece.

The novella, “Chessboard Planet,” originally appeared under the title “The Fairy Chessmen” in the January and February 1946 issues of John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science-Fiction and, in my opinion, is an unjustly forgotten masterpiece. In it, the United States and the European union known as the Falangists have been at war for decades,


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Secret of the Earth Star: A wonderful package from Starmont House

Secret of the Earth Star by Henry Kuttner

Starmont House had a wonderful thing going for itself in the early 1990s. The Seattle-based publisher, with its line of Facsimile Fiction, was taking the old pulp magazines of the ’30s and ’40s, making photocopies of selected stories, and packaging them in a line of reasonably priced paperback and hardcover editions; a genuine blessing for all fans of these old, rapidly moldering monthlies. Secret of the Earth Star, number 6 in the Facsimile Fiction line, in a series that stretched to at least 14,


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Elak of Atlantis: Shows Kuttner in his formative writing years

Elak of Atlantis by Henry Kuttner

When budding author Henry Kuttner wrote a fan letter to the already established Weird Tales favorite C.L. Moore in 1936, little did he know that the object of his admiration was a woman… a woman who, four years later, would become his wife, and with whom a collaboration would begin that was ultimately recognized as one of the sturdiest pillars of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Such a melding of talents was Henry and Catherine Lucille’s, it has been said,


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Lands of the Earthquake and Under a Dim Blue Sun: Another winner from DMR

Lands of the Earthquake by Henry Kuttner  &  Under a Dim Blue Sun by Howie K. Bentley

The publishing company known as DMR Books had previously been a very solid 2 for 2 with this reader.

Earlier this year, I had hugely enjoyed DMR’s recent releases The Sapphire Goddess and The Thief of Forthe and Other Stories, showcasing as they did two undersung authors who had been popular with the Weird Tales audience of the 1920s and ‘30s;


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SHORTS: Roanhorse, VanderMeer, Theodoridou, Moore & Kuttner, Divya

Our exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we’ve read that we wanted you to know about.

“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM” by Rebecca Roanhorse (2017, free at Apex Magazine, $2.99 Kindle magazine issue)

Accolades have been pouring down on this 2017 SF short story, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and is also a Sturgeon Award nominee, a Locus Recommended Short Story, a Apex Magazine Reader’s Choice Winner. Additionally, Rebecca Roanhorse won the Hugo’s John W.


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SHORTS: Bolander, Kritzer, Padgett, Moore & Kuttner

SHORTS: Our exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few Hugo-nominated stories we’ve read recently. (Due to Mother’s Day and other life events, SHORTS appears on a Wednesday this week.)

“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander (2018, free at Uncanny Magazine, $3.03 Kindle magazine issue). 2019 Hugo award nominee (short story).

I was intrigued by the title of “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters,


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SHORTS: The Retro Hugo-nominated novellas of 1944

SHORTS: Our column exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. In today’s column we review the 2020 Retro Hugo nominees in the novella category, other than The Jewel of Bas, which we’ve previously reviewed here as part of The Best of Leigh Brackett. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s column, where we turn our attention to the Retro Hugo novelettes and short stories.

A God Named Kroo by Henry Kuttner (1944, published in Thrilling Wonder Stories,


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SHORTS: The Retro Hugo-nominated novelettes and short stories of 1944

SHORTS: Our column exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. In today’s column we review the 2020 Retro Hugo nominees in the novelette and short story categories, following up on yesterday’s column, in which we reviewed the novellas.

RETRO HUGO NOVELETTES:

Arena by Fredric Brown (1944, published in Astounding Science Fiction, free online at Internet Archive). 2020 Retro Hugo award nominee (novelette).

Two massive fleets hang outside the orbit of Pluto, about to engage in a furious battle to the death: Humans and the aliens they call the Outsiders.


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The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction: Of Stark and Crag and Court and Cord

The Giant Anthology of Science Fiction edited by Oscar J. Friend & Leo Margulies

For the past five years, all the books that I have read, be they novels or short-story collections, and whether in the field of sci-fi, fantasy or horror, have had one thing in common: The were all written during the period 1900 – 1950; a little self-imposed reading assignment that I have often referred to as Project Pulp. But all good things must come to an end, and to bring this lengthy series of early 20th century genre lit to a close,


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They Came From Outer Space: 12 Classic Science Fiction Tales That Became Major Motion Pictures

They Came From Outer Space: 12 Classic Science Fiction Tales That Became Major Motion Pictures edited by Jim Wynorski

It really was a splendid idea for an anthology: Select a dozen of the most famous, beloved and influential science fiction movies of all time and then gather together the 12 short stories and novellas that had served as their source material. And that is precisely what editor Jim Wynorski did, resulting in his 1980 collection They Came From Outer Space: 12 Classic Science Fiction Tales That Became Major Motion Pictures.


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Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg

Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a “Who’s Who” of 20th century horror and fantasy literature.


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Rivals of Weird Tales: Nary a clinker in the bunch!

Rivals of Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg

From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as Weird Tales helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a “Who’s Who” of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of “the Unique Magazine,” and had loved them all.


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Weird Vampire Tales: 30 Blood-Chilling Stories from the Weird Fiction Pulps

Weird Vampire Tales: 30 Blood-Chilling Stories from the Weird Fiction Pulps edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Martin H. Greenberg

The 1992 Weird Vampire Tales anthology is the only collection of stories derived from the famed pulp magazine Weird Tales to limit itself to a single subject. The slim paperbacks Worlds of Weird and Weird Tales had merely offered a hodgepodge of stories, as did the thick hardcover Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies.


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Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror: Another wonderful collection from “The Unique Magazine”

Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror edited by John Betancourt & Robert Weinberg

This is the seventh anthology that I have reviewed that has been drawn from the pages of Weird Tales, one of the most famous pulp magazines in publishing history. Each of the previous collections had employed its own modus operandi in presenting its gathered stories. Weird Tales (1964) and Worlds of Weird (1965) had been slim paperbacks featuring previously uncollected stories. The Best of Weird Tales: 1923 (1997) had spotlighted tales solely from WT’s very first year.


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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey‘s other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of “fabril” literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the “smith”


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Next SFF Author: Carrie Laben
Previous SFF Author: Ellen Kushner

We have reviewed 8327 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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