Monday, May 26, 2008

Planet Stories

One of those strange coincidences yesterday (maybe Sci-Fi Channel will let me hunt ghosts for them). I was cleaning out one of my bookcases to keep it from collapsing when both volumes of Anthony Boucher's Collected Reviews (Ramble House) fell at my feet and begged to be picked up. So of course I started reading and in between writing sessions I'm still reading.

I was particularly interested in his takes on two mystery novels by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner), The Brass Ring (1946) and The Day he Died (1947). Of Ring he says: "(Padgett--top man in science fiction) ) threatens in this first novel to take over the take over the mystery field with equal success." Of Died he says, "Power and terror to lift it far above the formularized conventions of the `suspense novel.'"

I haven't read these in some time but I recall them being quick dark reads that work very well, especially Died which skirts both horror and the supernatural. I also remember the tone reminding me of early Philip K. Dick which isn't surprising given Kuttner's influence on Dick.

I decided to Google Kuttner and see if anybody had reprinted these in the recent past. So far no luck. These books seem to be forgotten.

Here comes the convergence.

One of the sites I came across in my search was for Planet Story books. What a line of fine pulp novels in reasonably priced ($12.99) trade editions.

Planet Stories™ presents classic fantasy, science fiction, and science fantasy novels and short story collections to a generation of new readers and lifelong fans. Unforgettable tales from acknowledged masters like Michael Moorcock, Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, and Henry Kuttner stand side by side with lesser known but no less worthy yarns from tomorrow's superstars. Introductions from popular modern authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Ben Bova, and Michael Moorcock provide amusing and informative entry points to each book. With new releases every month, Planet Stories promises a master class in the genre aimed at building the greatest fantasy and science fiction library ever assembled.

For pulp fans this is like dying and going to heaven. I grew up reading Kuttner and I read him still. Friday for no particular reason I reread "Call Him Demon," one of the finest horror stories I've ever read. And again if you want to see the Kuttner-Dick connection read Demon and then Dick's "The Father Thing," similar takes on the same theme of children who see things adults can't. Both equally chilling and equally moving.


Fred Blosser said...

It's good to see the reprints from PLANET (the first Kuttner was an Elak of Atlantis collection, with THE DARK WORLD promised as an upcoming release). But sobering to remember that I bought the originals for 40 or 50 cents at paperback racks in stores that no longer exist.

Ed Gorman said...

Yeah I remember that run of Ace's around 64 and 65 all those Kuttner magazine novels from Thrilling Wonder and Startling in the Forties all done up in bright new packages for 49 cents each. Great stuff then great stuff now.