Kuttner, Henry

Tagged: Author

(1915-1958) US writer, married to C L Moore from 1940 until his death; his childhood interest in Weird Tales early led him to correspond with H P Lovecraft and others: his first sale to the magazine was a poem, "Ballad of the Gods", in February 1936, followed by "The Graveyard Rats" (March 1936 Weird Tales). His stories for the magazine included a Robert E Howard-like Sword-and-Sorcery series collected as Elak of Atlantis (stories May 1938-January 1941 Weird Tales; coll of linked stories 1985). Limited selections of this early work have been assembled as Prince Raynor (April, August 1939 Strange Stories; coll 1987 chap), Book of Iod (coll 1995) and The Graveyard Rats and Other Stories (coll 2010 ebook); a more systematic coverage of these years has begun with The Early Kuttner, Volume One: Terror in the House (coll 2010). Kuttner began to publish sf stories in October 1937 with "When the Earth Lived" for Thrilling Wonder Stories, remaining prolific in several modes, including Space Opera, a substantial selection of the latter being assembled as Thunder in the Void (coll 2012); nearly 300 stories are credited to him as a writer of sf and fantasy into the early 1950s, though (see below) much of his later work is inextricably entwined with that of C L Moore. Early sf work includes a series about the movie business of the future: "Hollywood on the Moon" (April 1938 Thrilling Wonder), "Doom World" (August 1938 Thrilling Wonder), "The Star Parade" (December 1938 Thrilling Wonder), "The Energy Eaters" (October 1939 Thrilling Wonder) and "The Seven Sleepers" (May 1940 Thrilling Wonder), the last two in collaboration with Arthur K Barnes. (He and Barnes also wrote together as Kelvin Kent.) Kuttner achieved a certain notoriety with the slightly risqué stories he wrote for Marvel Science Stories, notably "The Time Trap" (November 1938 Marvel Science Stories). He used many pseudonyms in this part of his career, and even more after marrying C L Moore in 1940, when the two wrote very many stories in collaboration; these names included Paul Edmonds, Noel Gardner, Keith Hammond, Hudson Hastings, Robert O Kenyon, C H Liddell, K H Maepenn, Scott Morgan and Woodrow Wilson Smith. Kuttner also published stories under various House Names, including James Hall and Will Garth; although he wrote "Dr Cyclops" (June 1940 Thrilling Wonder) under his own name – a novelette confusingly unconnected with the novelization as by Will Garth (probably Alexander Samalman) of that same year's film Dr Cyclops (1940) – Kuttner's tale was reprinted as the title story of Dr Cyclops (anth 1967) edited anonymously (see Will Garth for more details).

After their marriage, most of Kuttner's and Moore's works were to some extent joint efforts – it is said that each could pick up and smoothly continue any story from wherever the other had left off typing on the single typewriter they seem to have used for at least some of their work together. Moore seems to have been the more fluent and perhaps the more assiduous (indeed, talented) writer, but Kuttner's wit, deftly audacious deployment of ideas and neat exposition complemented her talents very well. During World War Two they became part of John W Campbell Jr's stable of writers, working for Astounding Science-Fiction. It was then that they devised their best known pseudonyms, Lewis Padgett and Lawrence O'Donnell, much of their best work appearing initially under these names. The Padgett stories are ingenious and slickly written, often deploying offbeat Humour. Kuttner may have been the sole author of the Padgett Galloway Gallegher series collected as Robots Have No Tails (stories January 1943-April 1948 Astounding; coll of linked stories 1952 as by Padgett; vt The Proud Robot: The Complete Galloway Gallegher Stories 1983). Other notable Padgett stories include "The Twonky" (September 1942 Astounding), filmed as The Twonky (1952), and the classic "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (February 1943 Astounding), about educative toys (see Toys in SF) Timeslipped from the future; this was loosely adapted for Cinema as The Last Mimzy (2007). Two Padgett short novels, Tomorrow and Tomorrow & The Fairy Chessmen (January-February 1946, January-February 1947 Astounding; coll 1951) [for vts see Checklist] are intensely recomplicated tales in the tradition of A E van Vogt, whose influence is also evident in the Baldy series about persecuted Supermen with the power of Telepathy (see Pariah Elite), assembled as Mutant (stories February 1945-September 1953 Astounding; fixup 1953 as by Padgett; 1954 UK as Kuttner). Most of the O'Donnell stories have been attributed to Moore, including the remarkable Clash by Night (March 1943 Astounding; 1952 chap), a preliminary study in the Keeps sequence, which climaxes in Fury (May-July 1947 Astounding as Lawrence O'Donnell; 1950; vt Destination: Infinity 1956), credited (misleadingly) to Kuttner alone. Over and above its virtues as a Planetary Romance set on Venus, the sequence is notable for the clarity and power of its depiction of the Keeps which house humanity Under the Sea.

Kuttner and Moore wrote many colourful novels for Startling Stories during the 1940s. "When New York Vanished" (March 1940 Startling) and The Creature from beyond Infinity (November 1940 Startling as "A Million Years To Conquer"; 1968) are slapdash sf probably by Kuttner alone, but subsequent works – which became archetypes of the hybrid genre Science Fantasy – neatly fused Kuttner's vigorous plotting with Moore's romanticism. These included The Dark World (Summer 1946 Startling; 1965); Valley of the Flame (March 1946 Startling as by Keith Hammond; 1964), a Lost World tale set Underground; "Lands of the Earthquake" (May 1947 Startling); The Mask of Circe (May 1948 Startling; 1971); The Time Axis (January 1949 Startling; 1965); Beyond Earth's Gates (September 1949 Startling as "The Portal in the Picture"; 1954 dos) as by Padgett and Moore; and Well of the Worlds (March 1952 Startling; 1953; vt The Well of the Worlds 1965) as Padgett, released as a Galaxy Science Fiction Novel. Earth's Last Citadel (April-July 1943 Argosy as by Kuttner and Moore; 1964) also belongs to this sequence, although one other Startling Stories novel, "Lord of the Storm" (September 1947 Startling as by Hammond), does not. For Startling's companion Thrilling Wonder Stories Kuttner wrote the humorous Hogben series about an ill-assorted family of weirdly gifted Mutant hillbillies: "Exit the Professor" (October 1947 Thrilling Wonder), "Pile of Trouble" (April 1948 Thrilling Wonder), "See You Later" (June 1949 Thrilling Wonder) and "Cold War" (October 1949 Thrilling Wonder).

In 1950 Kuttner and Moore went to study at the University of Southern California; they wrote a number of mystery novels thereafter but very few sf stories. Kuttner graduated in 1954 and went on to work for his MA, but died of a heart attack before it was completed. During his career Kuttner rarely received the credit his work merited, being to an extent overshadowed by his own pseudonyms; his posthumous stature was similarly overshadowed, in this case by an understandable desire to give fair credit to C L Moore, the absence of whose name on many shared publications being perhaps attributable to her sex: women in the 1940s and 1950s not being seen as attractive to sf readers. This argument may have stretched a point with regard to the Kuttner/Moore partnership, but clearly needed making. Kuttner's reputation as one of the most able and versatile of modern sf writers, and as a competent partner to his wife, has risen steadily since; Two-Handed Engine (coll 2005) as by both authors is a balanced presentation of their work together. Kuttner's influence on the young Ray Bradbury was considerable, and many later writers have acknowledged their debt to him. His short stories are distributed over numerous overlapping collections: A Gnome There Was (coll 1950 as by Padgett), Ahead of Time (coll 1953), Line to Tomorrow (coll 1954 as by Padgett), No Boundaries (coll 1955 as by Kuttner and Moore), Bypass to Otherness (coll 1961), Return to Otherness (coll 1962), The Best of Kuttner, Volume 1 (coll 1965) and Volume 2 (coll 1966), The Best of Henry Kuttner (coll 1975) with introduction by Ray Bradbury, Clash by Night and Other Stories (coll 1980 UK as by Kuttner and Moore), Chessboard Planet and Other Stories (coll 1983 UK as by Kuttner and Moore) and Secret of the Earth Star and Others (coll 1991). If in the end Kuttner was a journeyman writer, he was a journeyman of genius. [MJE/BS/JC]

see also: Anti-Intellectualism in SF; Atlantis; Automation; Chess; Children in SF; Colonization of Other Worlds; Comics; Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award; Crime and Punishment; Dimensions; Ecology; Economics; Fantasy; Far Future; Games and Sports; Gods and Demons; Golden Age of SF; Intelligence; Invention; Messiahs; Outer Planets; Parallel Worlds; Psi Powers; Rays; Recursive SF; Religion; Robots; Scientists; Superman; [theme]; Time Travel; Time Viewer; UFOs.

Henry Kuttner

born Los Angeles, California: 7 April 1915

died Los Angeles, California: 3 February 1958

works

Kuttner's creative relationship with C L Moore complicates the listing below. Without its implying undue conclusions as to the authorship (sole or primary) of titles variously signed by one or another or both or under pseudonyms, the Checklist below is divided into four sections: works as by Henry Kuttner; works as by Kuttner and C L Moore; works as by Lawrence O'Donnell; and works as by Lewis Padgett. For books as by Moore alone, see her entry.

works as by Henry Kuttner

series

Keeps

  • Clash by Night (Sydney, New South Wales: The Malian Press, Pty, 1952) as by Lawrence O'Donnell [chap: first appeared March 1943 in Astounding as by O'Donnell: probably by C L Moore alone: in the American Science Fiction series: Keeps: pb/Stanley Pitt]
  • Fury: A Science-Fiction Classic (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1950) as by Henry Kuttner [first published May-July 1947 in Astounding as by Lawrence O'Donnell: Keeps: hb/uncredited]

individual titles

collections and stories

works as by Henry Kuttner and C L Moore

collections

works as by Lawrence O'Donnell

  • Clash by Night (Sydney, New South Wales: The Malian Press, 1952) [novella: chap: first published in 1943 in Astounding: Keeps: American SF: pb/Stanley Pitt]

works as by Lewis Padgett

collections

series

Galloway Gallegher

individual collections

about the author

links

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