A Century of Kuttner

Apr 7, 2015 by

Startling Stories 47-05One-hundred years ago today, author Henry Kuttner was born. A very prolific writer, Kuttner freelanced for AMAZING STORIES, ARGOSY, ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION, FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES, GALAXY, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, MARVEL TALES, PLANET STORIES, STARTLING STORIES, STRANGE STORIES, SUPER DETECTIVE, THRILLING ADVENTURES, THRILLING MYSTERY, THRILLING WONDER STORIES, UNKNOWN, WEIRD TALES, and many other magazines. Employing a large number of pseudonyms, Kuttner wrote supernatural fiction, mystery and detective stories, space operas, sociological science fiction, scientific romances, and more. As Charles Stoddard, he wrote the Thunder Jim Wade hero-pulp series for Standard’s THRILLING ADVENTURES. He also wrote for television and comic books, including the Golden Age Green Lantern series for DC Comics. In later years, most of his writing was done in collaboration with his wife, C. L. Moore, another talented writer in a range of genres.

Much of Kuttner’s early fiction owed a great deal to H. P. Lovecraft, whose 125th birthday will be feted at this year’s PulpFest. His enjoyment of the pulp magazine WEIRD TALES, led the emerging writer to correspond with the “Old Gentleman from Providence.” Soon Henry Kuttner was adding to Lovecraft’s evolving Mythos:

“My dizziness, my half-fainting state, saved me from seeing the thing too clearly. As it was, a scream of utter horror ripped from my throat as I saw, through a spinning whirlpool of darkness, a squamous, glowing ball covered with squirming, snake-like tentacles–translucent ivory flesh, leprous and hideous–a great faceted eye that held the cold stare of the Midgard Serpent . . . . dimly I could hear Hayward still chanting.

‘Iä! Rhyn tharanak . . . Vorvadoss of Bel-Yarnak! The Troubler of the Sands! Thou Who waiteth in the Outer Dark, Kindler of the Flame . . . n’gha shugg y’haa . . .'” (from “The Invaders,” as by Keith Hammond, STRANGE STORIES, February 1939)

Although he worked for a variety of publishers including Street & Smith, Popular Publications, Short Stories, Inc., and Culture Publications, a great portion of Henry Kuttner’s fiction saw print under the auspices of Ned Pines’ Standard Magazines or Better Publications. In addition to the Thunder Jim Wade stories for THRILLING ADVENTURES, Kuttner contributed weird-menace fiction to THRILLING MYSTERIES; supernatural tales to STRANGE STORIES; science fiction to THRILLING WONDER STORIES, CAPTAIN FUTURE, and others; and scientific romances to STARTLING STORIES. It’s also believed that he wrote a number of the Phantom Detective novels for the long-lived Thrilling hero pulp. In addition to Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES, PulpFest 2015 will be paying tribute to the Standard line of pulp magazines.

Henry Kuttner died of heart failure in 1958, at the age of forty-two.

(Artist Earle Bergey began contributing to pulp magazines during the Great Depression, at first creating good girl art for pin-up magazines. In the late thirties, he found a ready market for his work at Ned Pines’ Thrilling Group, painting covers for the publisher’s sports and science-fiction lines–including this one for the May 1947 issue of STARTLING STORIES. As the pulp market started to shrink, Bergey’s work increasingly found its way to the covers of paperback books, particularly those published by Pines’ Popular Library. He died in 1952 at the age of fifty-one.)