Friday, January 07, 2011
Terror in the House:The Early Kuttner
I think it was Ray Bradbury who said that if Henry Kuttner hadn't been such an all around good writer he might be better remembered today. Kuttner never really found a niche and stuck with it. He wrote horror, science fiction, heroic fantasy, mystery, suspense, and any number of other genres equally well. He also apparently used a lot of pen names and thus no reliable record of how many stories he wrote for the pulps exist. But there is no question that Kuttner was both talented and prolific.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, he's not that well known to general readers. My own knowledge of Kuttner has been limited mostly to his Cthulhu Mythos stories, the occasional reprinted horror tale, and to his forays into sword & sorcery. (Ellak of Atlantis and Prince Raynor) So I was very pleased to get my hands on a new book called Terror in the House:The Early Kuttner. Starting with Kuttner's first published story, The Graveyard Rats, this massive book collects a ton of never before reprinted and hard to come by stories.
You'll find Cthulhu Mythos and other horror stories from Weird Tales and Strange Tales, Science Fiction yarns from Thrilling Wonder Stories and Marvel Stories and mystery and suspense tales from Spicy Mystery and Thrilling Mystery. A nice cross section of Kuttner's early work. My only complaint is that there are perhaps a few too many stories from the "Weird Menace" pulps. Not really my cup of tea, but a big market in the pulp magazines of the 1930s. Kuttner was a working writer who wrote in any genre that paid and even these stories are well written, so that's a small complaint, and the majority of the stories in the book are more to my taste.
There's also a nifty preface by Richard Matheson and a fascinating and informative introduction by Dr. Garyn G. Roberts.
This massive hardcover is volume one of a projected two volume set and a steal at only 40 bucks. Available from Haffner Press.