Henry Kuttner 1914-1956) was a consummate pulp writer, using at least 17 pseudonyms during a career that lasted a bit over two decades, ending with his untimely death at age 42. During the 1940s and 1950s much of his work was done in collaboration with his wife C(atherine) L. Moore; their collaboration was so seamless that it is impossible to determine what he wrote from what she wrote.
Kuttner's first story*, "The Graveyard Rats" (Weird Tales, March 1936), has become a recognized classic in horror literature. During 1936 and early 1937, Kuttner began a correspondent friendship with H. P. Lovecraft, sending him a number of stories in progress for Lovecraft's comments (Lovecraft died in March 1937). Many of Kuttner's early stories were inspired by Lovecraft and were part of the Cthulu Mythos -- a shared universe created by Lovecraft and written by him and by a number of Lovecraft's writer friends who expanded on the concept. These stories by Kuttner are basically juvenilia, early and often over-written and imitative attempts by the author before finding his true voice. Robert M. Price, a Lovecraft afficiando and editor of The Crypt of Cthulhu, gathered eight of these stories for issue 41 of that small-press magazine (Volume 5 Number 7, Lammas 1986). These eight stories -- with two others by Kuttner and three by other writers -- were then included nine tears later in The Book of Iod**, edited by Price and published by Chaosium (creators of the "Call of Cthulthu" role-playing game) as part of their Call of Cthulhu Fiction series. In some cases, the stories' connection to Lovecraft is tenuous, at best.
The Book of Iod is not great literature, folks, but it is an amusing time-waster, especially for Lovecraft fans and for Kuttner completists. The most accurate judgement of this book is: Them what likes this sort of thing will like this sort of thing.
- "The Secret of Kralitz," from Weird Tales, October 1936
- "The Eater of Souls," from Weird Tales, January 1937, a Dunsanian tale of Bel Yarnak, a city (country?) somewhere not here
- "The Salem Horror," from Weird Tales, May 1937, one of two stories featuring Michael Leigh (Kuttner worked part-time at Lawrence D'Orsey's literary agency where he picked some early submissions by Leigh Brackett from the slush pile and helped her with the first story she sold. Coincidence? Who knows?)
- "The Black Kiss," from Weird Tales, June 1937, as by Robert Bloch (Published here as by Robert Bloch and Henry Kuttner; Kuttner evidently wrote the first draft of the story and Bloch completely rewrote it. The story was reprinted under the title "Sea Kissed" as the title story in a British pamphlet of four of Bloch's stories in 1945, along with a vignette by Benson Herbert. 'The Black Kiss" was the second Michael Leigh story, added here as one of the three "extra" stories.)
- "The Jest of Droom-Avvista," from Weird Tales, August 1937, another tale of Bel Yarnak
- "Spawn of Dagon," from Weird Tales, July 1938, one of four stories about Elak of Atlantis, the only one that could be squeezed into the Cthulhu Mythos
- "The Invaders," from Strange Stories, February 1939, as by "Keith Hammond" because the issue already had a story under the Kuttner name (below)
- "The Frog," from Strange Stories, February 1939, taking place in Kuttner's fictional town of monk's Hollow
- "Hydra," from Weird Tales, April 1939, featuring the "blind, idiot god" Azathoth, created by Kuttner and continued by other writers
- "Bells of Horror," from Strange Stories, April 1939 as "The Bells of Horror"
- "The Hunt," from Strange Stories, June 1939, another story set in Monk's Hollow
- "Beneath the Tombstone" by Robert M. Price, from Footsteps IV, 1984; an earlier version appeared in Crypt of Cthulu, Number 6, St. John's Eve 1982
- "Dead of Night" by Lin Carter, from Crypt of Cthulhu, Number 54, Eastertide 1988, featuring Carter's occultist character Anton Zarnak
*ISFDb lists "The Monkey Wrench" (Jungle Stories, August 1931, as by "Bertram W. Williams") as Kuttner's first story -- almost four and a half years before "The Graveyard Rats." If so, Kuttner would have been 17 when the story was published.
**Iod was an interdimensional being added to the Cthulu Mythos by Kuttner in his story "The Secret of Kralitz:'' ("Iod, the Source, is worshiped beyond the outer galaxies.')
I'm a big fan of Henry Kuttner. THE BOOK OF IOD sounds great! I'll have to track down a copy. Once again, you've reviewed an obscure book that many of us must have! Good work!ReplyDelete
Though I think I've read a couple of these stories elsewhere, I don't think this book is for me, not being much of a horror genre fan. Nice review, though.ReplyDelete
Jerry, I tried to send the following message to you a couple days ago but couldn't find an email addy: The Talmage Powell book came today. Eager to read The Thing in B-3. Thanks much!ReplyDelete
De nada, Matt.Delete
PS: email is firstname.lastname@example.org