Henry Kuttner's influence on a HPL story?

Discussion in 'H P Lovecraft' started by AE35Unit, Mar 15, 2010.

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    AE35Unit

    AE35Unit ]==[]===O °

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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    I lean more towards the influence that Dagon had on that story.
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    AE35Unit

    AE35Unit ]==[]===O °

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    I wasnt impressed with Dagon at all, or rather i was underwhelmed. I suppose it was because I'd not read any HPL before-Dagon was my first, and with all the talk on here I was looking forward to some really creepy stuff.
    I need some Chthulu!
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    Read Lovecraft's "The Picture in the House".

    Dagon was in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" but the predecessor story "Dagon" must also have been influential. The two stories where written over a decade apart from each other. There's a lot of evidence within a number of these stores about physical transformation and paganism, so the ending in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" is not that unique, but if you want creepiness than "The Picture in the House" is a good one, especially since the antagonist is still around.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    Also that article, it looked like it said that the ending influenced Henry Kuttner, so I wouldn't go by that. It sounds about as real as H.P. Lovecraft's heading of the Black Panthers.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    No, the ending was not influenced by Kuttner, who wasn't even publishing at the time the story was written (late 1931). On the other hand, Kuttner was influenced by HPL (as he was by Robert E. Howard and others); in fact in his early career, he was an inveterate mimic, until he began to find his own voice and then the combined voice with his wife -- another member of the Lovecraft Circle with Kuttner -- C. L. Moore); his tales in the Lovecraft vein were collected together in the Chaosium volume The Book of Iod.

    Lovecraft had a brief correspondence with Kuttner the final year of HPL's life, giving the young, emerging writer critiques and encouragement, as well as numerous pointers on the benefits of accurate research and the like; his letters to Kuttner were published by Necronomicon Press in 1991.

    "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" was originally rejected by Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright as well as others, and lay unpublished for some time before being released as a very small print run by an amateur publisher correspondent of Lovecraft's, William J. Crawford, in 1936, through his Visionary Publishing Company. The first professional publication of the tale was in the first Arkham House title, The Outsider and Others (1939).

    By the time Kuttner was publishing, Lovecraft's fictional career was essentially over... Kuttner began publishing, as I recall, in 1936, and Lovecraft's last original tale was "The Haunter of the Dark" (1935); all that remained of his fictional output were a small handful of revisions or collaborations, such as the (admittedly brilliant) "The Night Ocean" (largely written by Robert H. Barlow) and "In the Walls of Eryx" (a science fiction horror tale) with Kenneth J. Sterling....

    The following offers a very brief (but essentially accurate) account of the history of the tale:

    The Shadow Over Innsmouth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Member

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    The quote in that blog reads, "Very cool ending that has obviously influenced Henry Kuttner..." I see no reference to Kuttner's influence on Lovecraft's fiction, which wou'd have been minimal, since he didn't start to correspond with HPL until the elder man's final year of life. One of life's profound disappointments came from the reading of The Book of Iod, the collection of Kuttner's Mythos fiction edited by Bob Price for Chaosium. These are some of the most poorly written, lackluster Cthulhu Mythos tales I have ever struggled through. I've often wonder'd if I read the book while in a bad mood and thus came away with my negative reaction. Have any of you read much of his fiction? Didn't he go on to gain a very good reputation as an SF writer?
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, Wilum, I have read The Book of Iod, and though there are some very good passages there, and some fascinating ideas, on the whole it is among the (to use your very accurate phrase) most "lackluster" things Kuttner ever wrote... which is a pity, because the ideas themselves are often capable of becoming superb tales, while some of the visions are truly weird and impressive.

    But then, I see these as "apprentice" works by Kuttner, of interest to the Mythos or Kuttner fan/completist rather than the general reader.

    As for his other work... yes, he did indeed gain such a reputation, and deservedly so. Much of the work he did with C. L. Moore is among the most beautiful and poetic in the sf canon... I highly recommend such tales (though I know I name these over and over and over) as "Mimsey Were the Borogoves", "The Children's Hour", and "Vintage Season"... poignant, heartbreaking, and simply beautiful....
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    I tried reading a few pages of Kuttner on Amazon because there was a good build up. It talked about sword and sorcery, werewolves, cthulhu mythos, etc. It did not read like Lovecraft, but than Herbert West reads quite different, and it was more in that direction, although Herbert West is horror, so it is better. Anyway, Kuttner sounds good, but I wont buy it based on what I read.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Kuttner did do some horror which was rather good; but is best known as a writer of science fiction. If you aren't open to the more humanistic sort of sf (that is, people-centered, rather than technology-centered), then it may not appeal to you. However, if you like good prose, and beautiful and moving stories well told (with more than a bit of strangeness and "magic" to them), then you really should give the ones mentioned above a go....

    Also keep in mind that Wikipedia, while a useful source, is often to be taken with a grain of salt....
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Well for anyone interested I can suggest the collaborative anthology The Two Handed Engine. If features in the main collaborative efforts by Moore and Kuttner, along with some of their earlier individual works. Of what I've trawled though, which admittedly isn't much to date, it appears to be an excellent publication, produced as it is by our friends at Centipede Press.

    Along with the works already mentioned by J.D. you may also be interested in taking a look at "The Graveyard Rats" (Kuttner), "Clash By Night". "No Woman Born" and possibly "Shambleau" (Moore).

    Despite some flaws, Moore's Jirel Of Jory is also worth a look if you are into Sword and Sorcery.

    I also believe that "Mimsey Were The Borogoves" and "Vintage Seasons" are two of the finest stories ever written in the field.

    Speaking of the Old Gent J.D., would you consider Kuttner's Graveyard Rats an example of Lovecraft's influence on this writer?

    Also, on wiki, sections of what appear there may be taken with a grain of salt but as a first point of reference/call for when I'm wishing to research a topic or literary movement, I'm yet to find a more useful online resource.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    On "Graveyard Rats" -- I would say so, yes.

    On Wiki: The problem there, as with so many online sources, is that it can so easily be tinkered with, the references are not always of the best, and there's a lot more questionable opinion than actual critical judgment in many instances.

    Still, for finding out some basic information, Wikipedia is handy and easy to refer to....
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    That's rather what I was getting at actually. As a first point of call to provide some kind of handy framework from which to further flesh things out using more "reliable" sources, especially when dealing with literary movements or concepts...:)

    On "Graveyard Rats" it has always struck me that the Old Gent's influence seemed to be rather hovering over that particular narrative. Also IMO one of Kuttner's finer efforts.

    So have you got Two Handed Engine? I have no real hesitation in recommending it, albeit I've only dipped into it periodically to date.

    Also, the preface to this collection mentions 3 standout novels by the pair that apparently remain OOP, namely "The Well Of The Worlds", "The Dark World" and "Earth's Last Fortress". Have you read these or are able to shed any light upon them?

    I seem to be full of questions today don't I?...:D
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    I DO have Two-Handed Engine (picked it up recently for a very small sum), though I've not yet had a chance to read it; and I also have Earth's Last Citadel... ditto. The other two I do not have....
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks.

    I'll look forward to reading any of your comments on that antholgoy then when you have the chance to peruse it. I have a HB edn. and feel it is a quite attractive looking publication. I rather like the cover.

    OH...and don't forget to respond to my PM when you get the chance OK?

    Cheerio.
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    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    Mimsey Were the Borogoves is indeed a masterpiece of a story - one of the few stories I've read that come close to a real evocation of how completely alien our descendants' mental world might be to our own, and a great story on a number of other levels as well (none of which were captured in the film version). I am also very fond of the Gallagher tales written by Kuttner and Moore, featuring an inventor who invents when drunk and then has to figure out just what he's invented when sober. However, I was not especially impressed by Moore's solo fantasy tales.
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Are you referring to her Jirel Of Jory stories or something else? If you are I agree they're flawed but I still found them to be highly entertaining reads. Overall I probably like them more than her Northwest Smith stories but maybe that's because I'm an S&S fan boy....:)

    I've never read the Gallagher stories before but my Two-Handed Engine collection appears to contain a couple of them. It's interesting you should say that these tales were written by the two of them as I've seen references where both De Camp and Moore appear to have stated that Kuttner in fact wrote these himself but I've no idea if that's actually true or not??

    I can also recommend Moore's early story Shambleau to you. You should also really try to get hold of the novella Vintage Seasons too if you haven't already, it's an unequivocal masterpiece like "Mimsey" IMO.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    The two Sword and Sorcery stories that Lovecraft read and apparently liked were "The Shadow Kingdom" and "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" both by Robert Howard. The couple pages of Kuttner that I did read were quite different than Howard's writing style but Kuttner did have something happening with a witch in that one book and now that sounds interesting....
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    Ningauble

    Ningauble Lovecraftian

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    He read the Bran Mak Morn and Conan stories as well.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    That last sounds as if you're talking about the tale, "The Salem Horror", which Lovecraft saw in a very early version. Not a great tale, but there are some quite good moments there. As for Kuttner's S&S... HPL was dead by the time Kuttner began to do things like his "Elak of Atlantis" tales. These, too, are entertaining, but hardly the best in the field.

    No, Kuttner only began to blossom a few years down the line... and when he did, he was one of the best. Together, he and Moore turned out some tales which remain high-water marks in the fields of sf&f 60-70 years later....

    J.P.: The Jirel stories are... odd. Often quite elegantly written, with fascinating concepts, imagery, and characters, they nonetheless often feel too studied, too removed, to realize their full impact. Nonetheless, I find them strangely fascinating pieces that deserve a fair amount of their reputation.

    I, too, would suggest "Shambleau", if you've not read it. A notable contribution to the weird field....

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